The University of Southampton
Southampton Business SchoolPostgraduate study

Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)

Gain fresh insights into a real-world business problem on this DBA degree. Its strong emphasis on rigorous research will help you take your critical and analytical skills to a new level to enhance your professional credentials.

Introducing your degree

Advance your career by studying for a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) at Southampton Business School. This DBA, which is among the research-focused courses offered in the UK, will give you access to the latest ideas in your sector and enable you to apply them to a real-world problem within your organisation. As well as sharpening your critical and analytical skills, you will develop your managerial capabilities and apply your learning in the workplace. You’ll be supervised by leading academics with expertise in your area of research, who will share their knowledge and support you throughout your DBA journey. This part-time degree is designed for senior managers and consultants who want to study at an advanced level while working full time. It can be completed over four years, with the flexibility to pause your studies or extend the course duration to fit around your professional commitments.

Programme overview

Make a step change in your career by studying for a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) at Southampton Business School. The DBA is equivalent to a PhD, but focuses on high-level strategic business problems rather than purely academic questions. Supervised by expert academics, you’ll apply the latest concepts and methodologies to a real-world issue within your organisation or business sector. You’ll also devise and follow a professional development plan, through which you will demonstrate the impact of your studies on your own practice and development. 

To ensure we maintain our reputation for academic excellence, this course has a small, select intake. Our students are senior managers or consultants who are looking to challenge themselves and who have approached us with a robust research idea.

We welcome applications from candidates with either an MBA or MSc (preferably in a management-related subject), or a professional business qualification. In addition, candidates must have at least seven years’ work experience, with a substantial part of this spent in a managerial or equivalent role. Applications from international students are welcome, but please note that this degree is not available on a full-time basis.

Programme structure

The DBA is a part-time degree designed for professionals in full-time employment. It can be completed within four years, based on around 16 to 20 hours per week of study. However, we recognise that some people may take longer to qualify due to changing professional demands. The maximum time for completion of the course is 84 months.

The degree has a two-part structure:

Part one covers the first two years of study. During this time you’ll attend a one-week induction module, which will introduce you to the nature of doctoral research, critical evaluation skills and the principles of academic writing. You’ll meet the supervisors who will guide you through the research process and agree how you can best work together. You’ll also be required to complete a five-day residential research module and submit a number of assignments, including a literature review, thesis critique and your research proposal.

Part two (years three and four of the programme) is spent conducting independent research, analysing the results and writing them up for your thesis. 

In every year of study you’ll take part in at least one two-day doctoral workshop, known as a colloquium. This offers a chance to present your research proposals, discuss the development of your ideas and gain feedback from your fellow students and the academic team.

Expert supervision 

You’ll be supported by two leading published academic supervisors who are active researchers and therefore well placed to guide you through the degree. Our supervisors include experts in a range of areas including human resources management, business strategy, organisation behaviour, leadership, change management, accounting and marketing.

Through quarterly meetings, either online or face to face, they will support you throughout your DBA studies. Many of our supervisors are experienced management practitioners, so will be able to provide mentoring in relation to your professional development goals.

For example, Dr Mel Ashleigh, Director of the DBA programme: 

  • was an HR specialist in industry and has a wealth of experience in people management and training
  • is a fully qualified team trainer
  • is a consultant and trainer in psychotherapy and coaching, for independent clients and counselling organisations
  • ran training programmes for outside agencies for student recruitment, such as PwC
  • advised on HR management and training issues as a school board governor for an independent school
  • is in private practice as a counsellor and life coach
  • is an active researcher whose interests include trust at individual, team and organisational levels, team training, transactive memory, and trust in technology

View the programme specification document for this course.

Learning and Assessment

Most of your DBA studies will involve independent research and study, with one taught module on research methods.

Before you start the course, you’ll be asked to assess yourself against a set of professional and research competence criteria, and to prepare an outline proposal for your research project. These will be discussed during your induction.

You’ll be assessed through a range of assignments and on your thesis.

During part one of the course you will be required to:

  • complete a five-day residential research module and submit a 5,000-word essay for assessment
  • present a 5,000-word literature review and your research proposal
  • present a 3,000-word reflective document outlining how your studies have contributed to your professional development
  • present a 5,000-word critique of a PhD thesis related to your area of research

Your final assessment will be in the form of:

  • a 70,000-word thesis based on your original research
  • a formal interview, known as a viva, at which you’ll defend your thesis
  • a 5,000-word reflective report showing how the learning experience has contributed to your professional development and how you have been able apply your learning to your professional practice

Supporting your studies

This is a challenging degree so we ensure you have plenty of support to help you succeed. Your supervisors will offer support, guidance and constructive criticism throughout the course, and may be able to offer mentoring as part of your professional development plan. You’ll also have access to professional development courses and the University’s world-class library resources, both on campus and online.

Regular research colloquia provide an opportunity for peer review and support. If you are interested in developing your academic skills and networks further, you’ll be encouraged to prepare academic papers and present at conferences.

Entry requirements

Your application will be carefully considered by a specialist member of the academic staff who will weigh up many factors. These include your academic achievements, interests and aptitudes, as well as your motivation and your referee's confidential report. 

We make our decisions in most cases on the application form and supporting documents alone. Candidates who require special consideration, eg on grounds of age, disability or non-standard entry qualifications, may be interviewed.

Career opportunities

Whatever your sector or your motivation for studying, the research-based approach of the Southampton Business School DBA will help you to advance your career. Achieving a DBA qualification will:

  • develop your analytic and critical skills, enabling you to approach business challenges in new ways
  • build your credentials and differentiate you from other consultants or professionals in your field
  • enable you to develop an evidence-based consulting model or management tool that will give you a competitive advantage
  • help you to move towards a career in academia, or a portfolio career that includes academic aspects

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The course fees for the DBA are £9,000 for UK/EU students, £12,000 International and Channel Islands Students. View the full list of course fees.

Further admission details for EU and International students can be found here.

Email: admissions team

To apply

To apply to the School's DBA programme:

  • submit a brief outline proposal to for your research project by email to Dr Mel Ashleigh, so that your supervisors can be identified
  • complete a University of Southampton online application form and submit your supporting documents online
Apply for this courseOrder a brochure

Key facts

Designed for senior executives and consultants who want to make a step change in their career or stand out from their competitors.

This DBA concentrates on rigorous, independent research, unlike many other UK DBA degrees that include more taught or project-based elements.

You’ll tackle a real business issue, informed by the latest concepts and research findings and underpinned by recognised robust academic research methodologies.

You’ll work with two research-active supervisors who will offer expert support and guidance throughout your studies.

Usually completed over four years part-time, but with the flexibility to pause your studies or extend the course duration to accommodate changing professional commitments.

Degree awarded: Doctorate

Director of Programme

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×