Doctorate in Public Health

About the course

The Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) is a programme of advanced study and research designed specifically to develop the research and leadership capacity of public health professionals and practitioners. It is also suitable for individuals who wish to enhance their work-related experience and move into public health from a related field. The purpose of the programme is to foster the development of research competent practitioners and policy professionals so they may apply sound research evidence with which to shape public health in their field and locality. 

The DrPH is a structured doctorate that is undertaken part-time using a combination of online and on-campus research resources and supervision. This allows candidates to study from their home or workplace and to attend the University three times per year. The programme combines guided learning with intensive doctoral supervision to produce a focused research programme leading to the submission of a dissertation.

The five-year part-time Doctorate in Public Health at the University of Hertfordshire offers an exceptional pathway for public health practitioners to undertake postgraduate research. The programme is suitable for even the most senior of public health colleagues, with flexible opportunities to focus on the science of public health. Students are expected to continue with their professional practice and to bring this to bear upon the research questions they wish to address in their doctorate. Enquiries are welcomed from across the professions involved in public health policy and practice, both within the UK and internationally.

The DrPH offers an intensive programme of research-informed methods training underpinned by current theory, ethical, legal, socio-political, economic and governance frameworks. Students on the DrPH will be guided in their learning to develop research expertise to enable them to plan a programme of doctoral studies with their academic supervisors. Two supervisors will usually be appointed to guide the student’s academic and professional development. Guided learning will include resources and training relating to:

• critical thinking, reading and writing in relation to public health evidence and practice

• reviewing research and policy literature

• philosophy of research methodology, research methods and analytical approaches

• research proposal development and research design

• research ethics

• data generation, management and analysis

• the implementation of research evidence.

How to apply

Please contact the Programme Leader, Dr Chaz Simpson ( to discuss the application process and obtain guidance to inform the completion of the required Research Proposal that must accompany any application.

Teaching methods

• Part-time over five years

• Years 1-2 - guided learning, tutorials and supervision aimed at developing a research proposal and gaining ethics approval

• Years 3-5 - guided learning, tutorials and supervision to conduct research and write a doctoral level dissertation (maximum 80,000 words)

Guided learning resources are available online through the University’s intranet and students and tutors will engage in online discussion and tutorials to enhance understanding and to bring student experience from their profession or field to benefit the DPH cohort. Three times each academic year students are encouraged to attend the University campus for more intensive tutorials and research training and to meet with their supervisors. Students unable to attend in person will be able to join in online. Students’ research skills will also be developed via access to the University Doctoral College comprehensive Researcher Development Programme. More than 700 students are currently enrolled in postgraduate research programmes at the University and the Doctoral College provides guidance, support and opportunities to help students navigate their doctoral journey.

Research Ethics

Research ethics must be considered in order to protect participants who participate in research. Students will learn about ethical principles related to their own research as these must be upheld in the design and implementation of research directly involving children, young people or adults.


Typically, two supervisors will be appointed when students begin a research programme to guide the academic direction of the research. These supervisors will have expertise in your specific research area and students should meet their supervision team regularly to discuss their programme of work. Supervisors will encourage students to work independently offering pastoral support and guidance where appropriate. Students are required to submit drafts of their work to their supervisors who will give clear guidance on whether the work is progressing towards doctoral level.

Course experts

Programme Leader Dr Chaz Simpson

Find out more about Programme Leader Dr Chaz Simpson

What’s next for my career?

Why study for a DrPH at the University of Hertfordshire? 

The University of Hertfordshire DrPH is unique in terms of postgraduate research degrees for public health practitioners and academics. It is multi-disciplinary and multi-profession in focus. It draws on a wide range of expertise and academic experience from the social, behavioural and environmental sciences and from across the professions.

University of Hertfordshire academics are experts in research, education and practice spanning broad as well as niche areas of public health that includes, for example novel psychoactive substances, mental health recovery, ageing, dementia, tuberculosis and malnutrition.

The DrPH is delivered in a mode that is sympathetic to the busy professional and personal lives of its students. Students have access to guided learning resources online in a format that encourages group discussion with tutors and peers. You will need to commit to join your fellow students at three time points during the year – coming to the University of Hertfordshire campus is strongly encouraged to maximise what you will gain from the learning experience, but for those students who are unable to be in Hertfordshire, the guided learning and discussion will be available online. 

After completing this programme of advanced study and being awarded a Doctorate of Public Health you will be ideally placed to use the research and leadership knowledge and experience gained to progress your career in public health.

The University's largest unit, Allied Health was ranked in the top 25% of UK universities for research impact (Research Excellence Framework, 2021).



Start DateEnd DateYearLocationLink
01/01/202531/07/20251UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Part Time)


Start DateEnd DateYearLocationLink
01/01/202631/07/20261UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Part Time)
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