Why a Professional Doctorate with the RVC?

If you are a professional working in the agricultural and food, or veterinary sectors our Professional Doctorate programmes can offer you the opportunity to develop your professional role; acquiring advanced research skills, alongside taught knowledge.

The programmes are part-time distance learning, but also offer the opportunity for face-to-face contact.

Students take between a minimum of four, and a maximum of eight years to complete the course.

The taught component will help you to increase the breadth and depth of your knowledge, as well as providing training in research methodologies and professional skills. Assessment is through in-course assignments and/or examinations. As a member of the RVC's postgraduate student population, you will also be able to attend transferable skills training workshops and research seminars. 

Your Professional Doctorate will culminate in an organisation focused study and an organisation focused research project. The study and project will relate to a relevant workplace issue connected to professional practice or directly relevant to the company that is sponsoring you. Most students carry out their research within their workplace/organization.

Throughout your time at the RVC you will be supported by the Graduate School and your supervisory team (both at the RVC and in your workplace).

If you are interested in a Professional Doctorate please drop the Grad School and email (researchdegrees@rvc.ac.uk) so we can guide you through the application process.

Our Professional Doctorates offer 540 credits (360 at Level 8/D level and 180 at Level 7/M level) and consist of five parts. 

Part I – 90 credits Part II – 30 Credits Part III – 60 Credits Research Methods Part IV – 60 Credits Part V – 300 Credits
Choice of CertAVP/or any level   7 (Masters) RVC Modules  Foundations of Professionalism

Methods of Enquiry 1 (30 credits)

Methods of Enquiry 2 (30 Credits)

Organisation focused study (OFS) (Level 8) Research Study (Level 8)

Candidates possessing a European/American/ RCVS Diploma or an RVC MVetMed

(or equivalent Postgraduate Clinical/Professional level 7 qualification)

may enter through the alternate entry route and begin the course with Foundations of Professionalism


You should note that that:

  • Level 7 Modules (Part I-III) can be taken in any order, subject to agreement by your supervisor and the Programme Director.  
  • You will need to complete and pass Methods of Enquiry 1 before taking MoE2.
  • You will need to complete and pass Methods of Enquiry 1 and Foundations of Professionalism before commencing the OFS, and must also complete and pass MoE1 before starting data collection for their research study.          
  • You will need to complete all taught modules and the OFS before the final compilation of your research thesis.  
  • The research thesis and OFS are intended to fit within your existing workload, with additional study as required to prepare the final thesis and study document for assessment.

Methods of Enquiry 1 and 2

MoE1 starts by providing a broad overview of research methodology, including basic research methods, literature searching, critical analysis of papers, developing a research proposal and writing a project report, a journal article or a thesis. MoE 2 progresses to provide a detailed examination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and statistical techniques, allowing students to select methodologies of most value to their research plans.

Foundations of Professionalism

This module will allow students to explore the concepts that surround professionalism, professionalisation and professions. For those who have already undertaken a professional certificate with a module focused on professional skills, it will build on these foundations. Students will explore literature from a variety of traditions dealing with professionalism, and, depending on their background, current interests and roles, and building on relevant debates, develop their own original, critical appreciation of professional thinking and professional attitudes and behaviours. Considerations will include socio-political attitudes and values, including the “legitimacy” of professions, rationalisation and ways of thinking, ethics across the full spectrum of professional responsibilities, inter-professionalism and inter-professional communication and working, characteristics of successful organisations, leadership and team-working, and the implications of all this for self. The latter will include self-awareness, consideration of identity, allegiances and professional and personal values and development.

Organisation-Focused Study

The OFS is a small-scale scholarly study usually based on the doctoral student’s own institution. This calls for particular skills in research and negotiation, and raises some of the complex issues of ‘insider research’. Students are first required to develop a detailed research proposal with a clear statement of the professional context in which the research will be undertaken. They should also show how the proposed study will contribute to their professional understanding and development and to the organisation on which their research has focused.

Research Thesis

The thesis must consist of the student’s own account of his/her investigations and must indicate in what respects they appear to advance the understanding of the chosen subject, and how the research has contributed to the student’s professional development and role. It must: make a “distinct contribution to knowledge, affording evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power”; demonstrate the candidate’s capability to pursue original research in the field of study based on a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline; demonstrate the candidate’s understanding of professionalism and his/her own professional role and the contribution of the thesis to his/her own professional development. In the professional doctorate context students should bear in mind that the ‘new facts’ are likely to be in the professional domain ('professional knowledge or insight'). The thesis is expected to comprise a series of 4-5 separate studies connected by a common theme, which should be presented as separate chapters with an overall introduction and discussion.  

Programme Specifications and Assessment and Award Regulations

VetD Programme Specification 

VetD Award and Assessment regulations

DAgriFood programme Specification

DAgriFood Award and Assessment Regulations


You need to have:

  • A university degree that is acceptable to the Royal Veterinary College. Appropriate degrees are an Honours degree (first or upper second class) related to biological sciences, animal sciences, veterinary science or livestock production.
  • An MSc degree related to the previous categories for Honours degrees.

You must have at least two years work experience and currently work in the agri-food industry. Before you apply you need to identify a work-place supervisor.

Subject to the discretion of the Programme Director, applicants with other degrees, or prior equivalent experience, may be considered.

Candidates possessing a European/American/ RCVS Diploma or an RVC MVetMed degree may enter through the alternate entry route and transfer in 90 credits at Level .


You need to have:

  • A veterinary degree registrable with the RCVS

You must have at least two years work experience and currently work in the veterinary sector. Before you apply you need to identify a work-place supervisor.

Subject to the discretion of the Programme Director applicants with other degrees, or prior equivalent experience, may be considered.

Candidates possessing a European/American/ RCVS Diploma or an RVC MVetMed degree may enter through the alternate entry route and transfer in 90 credits at Level 7.

English Language Requirements

You must be able to communicate clearly in English, both verbally and in writing.

If English is not your first language you must take an IELTS-Academic test (from the British Council). You need to achieve an overall score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each sub-test. (Please note, Clinical Training Scholarship positions will require an overall score of 7.5 with a minimum of 7 in each sub-test). The test result must have been obtained within 2 years of the start-date of the course. For further information see English Language Proficiency .

When Can I Start?

Start dates can be flexible but are usually September, January and June 

EU/International Students

If you are based in the EU/EEA or outside the EU please contact the Graduate School (researchdegrees@rvc.ac.uk)

What Happens After I Apply?

If you are interested in applying please contact the Grad School (researchdegrees@rvc.ac.uk ) before formally applying so that we can guide you through the process.

Once you have formally applied through UKPASS these are the next steps:

  • we will check your eligibility
  • your project outline will be considered and we will look to find a suitable academic supervisor for you to work with. 
  • evidence of any prior learning will be considered by a panel who will agree the number of credits of accredited prior learning (APL) applicable 
  • your workplace supervisor may be contacted to confirm that they are happy to support you
  • you will have a panel interview (we do this for all research students)
  • once all these steps have been completed satisfactorily a conditional offer, with an agreed start date, is made

Tuition fees for part time study for are as follows:




VetD or DAgriFood
(per annum) 2016/17




VetD or DAgriFood
(per annum) 2017/18



For more information and the latest news affecting fees see Tuition Fees

Funding Options

Doctoral Loan

How much? Up to £25,000 

Who is eligible? English students

When is it available? From 2018/19

Applications for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan will be available in the summer.

Students can borrow up to £25,000 during their postgraduate Doctoral course. The total amount they borrow will be paid evenly over the length of their course. For example, if the student apply for the maximum amount of Postgraduate Doctoral Loan and study over four years, they’ll get £6,250 in each year of their course. They can apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan amount in any year of their course, but they might not get the maximum loan amount if they apply after their first year.

We will update information on this page as the situation is clarified.

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