Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

The DBA at the University of South Wales is a professional doctorate programme specifically designed for senior managers and other professionals in private, public and non-profit organisations.

A specialist DBA in Public Service Management is also available for professionals working in third and public sector organisations, seeking to develop a thesis in this field of study.

You will develop a high level of independent and critical thinking, contributing cutting-edge knowledge through research in your field.

The DBA is ideal for ambitious managers who want to build on their already extensive and individual achievements, and who wish to engage in critical management thinking in a multidisciplinary and supportive environment.


2020/21 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Part-time 6 Years September Treforest A
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Part-time 6 Years September Treforest A

The delivery is described as ‘taught’ but at DBA level the delivery is much more about a process of engagement between the academic staff and the students.

The programme is delivered over five taught workshops, attendance at which is compulsory. Workshops normally take place at our Treforest Campus, within easy reach of the railway station and Cardiff airport.

On this Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) course you will study five modules. These are:

  • Developing the Doctoral Research Project (40 credits)

    This module is designed to introduce you to doctoral-level research, having already submitted a detailed research proposal as part of the admissions procedure. This will be used as the basis of individual counselling and group work to refine the question and explore the theoretical and practical context of your proposed projects. In the assessment for this module, you will produce a comprehensive contextualisation of your research question. This will include a definition of the question, an introduction to the organisational context, and an introduction to the academic context, together with some consideration of a broad research approach.
  • The Theoretical and Practical Context for Doctoral Research (140 credits)

    You will be introduced to the importance of setting an appropriate practical and theoretical framework in which to ground your research. In your assessment, you will be expected to set out the detailed practical context of your research, as well as produce a critical literature review. This will set out the background theories from which the academic context is drawn, together with the conceptual frames that will inform the thesis. It is recognised that theoretical frames can develop throughout the completion of a doctoral research project, so you will have the opportunity later in your studies to reflect on how this has developed over the course of your doctoral study.
  • The Methodological Framework and Methods for Data Collection (40 credits)

    Your third module will develop your understanding of the philosophy of research started in module one, and address these issues in more detail. In addition, you will be introduced to a variety of methods for data collection. You will be introduced to data analysis that will be addressed in more detail in module four. For the assessment, you will produce a paper of 10,000 words that clearly sets out and defends your chosen methodological position, as well as similarly setting out and defending your proposed methods for data collection. On successful completion of this module, and before the next module workshop, you will begin engagement with your main data collection.
  • Analysing, Interpreting and Reflecting on Findings (140 credits)

    This workshop will focus on the analysis and presentation of findings in a critical and reflective manner. It is expected that you will have collected some of your data before this workshop, which at a minimum should take the form of a pilot study or may be more substantive data gathering. You will produce an assessment of 15,000-20,000 words that presents a clear analysis of your findings from the data. The exact structure will depend on factors such as the background methodology and the exact data collection and analysis techniques used.
  • The Nature of the Contribution to Knowledge and Professional Practice (180 credits)

    This is the final module which, as the title suggests, focuses on your contribution to professional and theoretical knowledge. In simple terms, this module is equivalent to the discussion and conclusion chapters of a traditional PhD.

    Guidance will be given on what constitutes a contribution to knowledge, in terms of theory, method and practice. In addition, you will attend workshops on structuring your proposed contribution into a thesis. The notion of conceptual framing will be critically revisited to provide a theoretical context for the findings and to ensure you think about where your own work fits into the ongoing research agenda, rather than simply reflecting on what has gone before.

    The assessment for module five is crucial to the success of the overall thesis. It forms the core of the DBA, clearly discussing the contribution to knowledge that your findings make to the academic and practical context in which the DBA has been situated.


The DBA will be delivered at our Treforest Campus over three day blocks, approximately every six months.

The workshops will typically span a Thursday, Friday, Saturday to minimise disruption for students.

These are supplemented by additional update days where students are recalled for meetings with supervisors and additional input where necessary.

The taught workshops are spaced over approximately 30 months, with production of the final assessment document in the months following the final workshop.

You will attend regular, intensive study workshops that enable you to budget your time and focus your research effectively. You will be supported throughout the DBA course by a network of like-minded students, as well as a high level of support from the teaching team and research supervisors.

Please see our Graduate School pages for more information on support for research students.


Each module results in the production of an assessed piece of work, the length of which varies depending on the module. For example, the assessment for module one will be in the region of 8,000 words, whereas that for module two may be as much as 20,000 words to reflect the depth of enquiry demanded by that module.

In total, you will typically produce some 80,000 words throughout the programme. This is comparable with other methods of doctoral study. Your final examination will involve the submission of an 80,000 word thesis (combination of assignments) and a viva voce.


The course is designed for busy professionals based internationally and in the UK. Attendance is not overly burdensome, approximately three day blocks twice a year. International students can study this part-time course and attend by applying for a visiting student visa. Accommodation can be arranged on campus via the University’s accommodation services or if you prefer to be closer to the city centre, there any many types of accommodation available.

Admission to the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) normally requires a Masters degree from a recognised academic institution. In addition, all applicants are required to provide evidence of significant professional or managerial experience.

All applicants must be able to access organisations to conduct their research. This will normally be your employing organisation but may include others. Access to support for the research study is essential in terms of initial selection and for the duration of the programme.

Applications must include two references on headed paper from your referees which should be uploaded as a supporting document. Please note, we can not accept applications without these two references. At least one referee should be able to comment on your academic/professional ability. References provided by relatives are not acceptable.

You are required to provide a detailed doctoral research proposal prior to the acceptance stage. All applications will be considered by the University’s Research Applications Panel. Once your research proposal has been submitted and approved, you will be subject to a formal interview; this may be a panel interview.

International candidates whose first language is not English should have been taught and assessed in English and be able to evidence English fluency to TOEFL 570 or IELTS 6.5 or higher.



August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

    Part-time UK and EU: £3,300 per year; Part-time International: £4,350 per year.

August 2020 - July 2021 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU: TBC

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Other : Text books
No mandatory textbooks to purchase.

Career enhancement to strategic levels in organisations is often sought by successful DBA candidates. DBA graduates have the ability to create and interpret new knowledge through original research. They produce first-class original research of publishable quality that sets them apart from other managers. This encompasses robust design, implementation, execution, and dissemination. This research also makes significant contributions to practice on many levels, within organisations, on an industry level, and on a policy level. Many of our graduates have progressed to senior positions in public sector, private sector, and academia.