About the course

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The Professional Doctorate in Design (DDes) is aimed at candidates who currently work in a design discipline, and who wish to engage in research that relates to their professional role. It is also appropriate for candidates who wish to enhance their experience and employability through research training in Design, including those who wish to pursue an academic career. Fields of study may include, but are not limited to:

  • Graphic Design and Typography
  • Digital Design
  • Interaction Design
  • 3D printing/additive manufacture
  • Architecture
  • Product Design
  • Interior Design
  • Fashion

The DDes is a structured doctorate that can be undertaken part-time using a combination of online and on-campus research activities and supervision. This allows candidates to study in their home countries and to attend at the University only once per year. Candidates can also choose to attend for blocks of full-time study at the University, thereby shortening the overall duration of their studies, and playing an active role in the university’s research community.

The course philosophy is that practice and research cannot be separated. Candidates will be expected to continue with their professional practice and to bring this to bear upon the research questions in the professional doctorate. Most candidates will have established workplaces. For those who do not, or for self-employed or studio practitioners, we offer blocks of time at the University with studio and workshop space provided. At the end of the course we expect that candidates will present a portfolio of both textual and non-textual work, including a written thesis and supporting artefacts that tell a comprehensive story about the research project, its context, its methods and for whom the outcomes will have impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why choose this course?

  • Outcomes include both written thesis and practical
  • Part-time doctorate that can be undertaken by candidates based overseas via a virtual research environment, with attendance on campus once a year.
  • Directly addresses the international debate concerning the nature of research in creative areas.
  • Equips candidates with a range of conceptual and practical skills.
  • Structured assignments providing a thorough grounding in practice-led research and the relationship between academic and professional values individual supervised research in the candidate’s own area of professional expertise.
  • Individual supervised research in the candidate’s own area of professional expertise.
  • Leads to an internationally recognised UK doctorate in Design.

Key staff

Dr Barbara Brownie
Programme Tutor: b.k.1.brownie@herts.ac.uk
Find out more about Dr Barbara Brownie

Course details


After successfully completing the doctorate the candidate will have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue research and to contribute to the development of commercial, institutional and national structures for research in creative areas in their home countries. Research in the Creative Arts is an emerging area and we expect graduates from our programme will take leading roles in its international development.

Graduate profiles

Daniel Goodbrey

Daniel began his DDes in 2011 and has been studying alongside his research on the Electricomics project. His study “seeks to understand how the key characteristics of the form of comics are impacted by digital mediation.” His practice involves experimenting with videogame hybridisation and digital extensions of the page. As part of his research he has produced a series of prototype and experimental works in both physical and digital domains which can be viewed on him website, E-merl.com

Sahar Khajeh

Sahar began her DDes in 2015 and has been studying while establishing her freelance graphic design business. As many of Sahar’s professional design work is for multi-lingual audiences, she is using her professional experience to inform her research into kinetic bilingual typography, focusing on the convergence of Persian and Latin script.

Teaching methods

The course begins with a series of online study and research skills, which provide a thorough grounding in the philosophical and theoretical issues surrounding notions of so-called practice-based research and the relationship between academic and professional values. At the end of Year 1 when this Phase has been successfully completed, the candidate then undertakes an individual supervised research project in his or her own professional discipline. During this second Phase there are online study materials and structured learning experiences that guide the candidate towards the presentation of a comprehensive outline of the doctoral research. Once the second Phase has been successfully completed (normally during Year 3), the candidate focuses on the production of a written thesis and accompanying artefacts that communicate the content of the research project. Throughout the whole programme we expect both practice and theoretical research to be completely integrated.

Work Placement

This course does not offer work placement. The concept of the professional doctorate (in contrast to the PhD) is that students are already professionally engaged in the workplace, and use this experience as the basis of their doctoral study. Research questions that are grounded in the workplace form the focus of the inquiry, and solutions are implemented through the workplace.

Fees & funding

*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

View detailed information about tuition fees

Other financial support

Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

Living costs / accommodation

The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

View detailed information about our accommodation

Entry requirements...

Normally a postgraduate degree in a relevant subject, IELTS 6.5 minimum for non-native English speakers.

To apply, we ask you to develop a project proposal of 1000 words which outlines your research. This should demonstrate knowledge of existing practice and literature related to your field of interest, an indication of research questions, some thought about research methods and how your own project will make an original contribution to the wider field of practice and research. You will need to identify the broad subject area of your research, and the professional context in which your questions or issues arise and describe who is interested in these questions and who may benefit from your research. 

For advice on writing your proposal for entry, please see our latest proposal writing guidelines.

How to apply


Start DateEnd DateLink
05/09/201931/07/2020Apply online (Full Time)
05/09/201931/07/2020Apply online (Part Time)


Start DateEnd DateLink
05/09/202031/07/2021Apply online (Full Time)
05/09/202031/07/2021Apply online (Part Time)