Doctorate in Clinical Communication Science

The Doctorate in Clinical Communication Science programme has been designed so that qualified professionals working with communication impairment (including but not limited to speech and language therapists, audiologists, specialist teachers, psychologists and occupational therapists) can continue to work in the NHS or education sectors whilst studying. It is the first of its kind in the UK and we anticipate that participants will make research links between their professional work and their studies at UCL. This is a 4 year part-time programme, with up to two days per week at UCL in the first two years. By the end of the second year students will have completed a detailed research proposal, obtained ethics approval and written a literature review. The final two years focus entirely on students' own research project.

These questions should help you establish if the programme is right for you.

  • Are you an experienced professional with a strong interest in research?
  • Are you keen to carry out a research project in your work environment?
  • Are you interested in broadening your understanding of research methodologies relevant to communication impairment and the wider health and education provision?
  • Are you willing to learn using on-line material, through action learning, seminars, independently and through supervision?
  • Do you have a masters degree or can you demonstrate research experience in the form of publications?


Students will develop knowledge and skills in applied research that focuses specifically on conducting workplace research in the field of communication disorders.

Key topic areas include:

· Principles and practices of evidence-based practice;

· Skills in critical appraisal of research evidence;

· Qualitative and quantitative methodologies related to communication disorders research;

· Research governance;

· Planning, implementing and managing research with clinical populations in workplace contexts;

· Public engagement in research.

Students will conduct a substantive research project based in their workplace and write this up as a doctoral level thesis of no more than 100,000 words.


In the first two years of the programme students attend taught modules, meet with their supervisors to plan their research project and start ethics applications.  The modules run on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Year 1 Modules

HCSCRS01: Establishing Research Foundations
EDUCGE01: Investigating Research
HCSCRS07: Research Methods for Clinical Communication Science

Year 2 Modules

HCSCRS03: Applied Research Policy and Practice

HCSCRS04: Exploring Academic Writing and Reading

HCSCRS05: Developing a Research Methodology

Years 3 & 4

In year 3 & 4 students will be collecting and analysing their data, having regular contact with their supervisors and writing up their project into a thesis of no more than 100,000 words.

Students will also present their work at events within UCL and at national conferences.


Academic staff with in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences have a wide range of expertise in research methods in communication disorders.  Staff within the Division have close links with other UCL academic units including the Institute of Neurology, the Institute of Child Health and the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

The Centre for Speech and Language Intervention Research brings together experts in speech, language and communication research.

Normally one of your research supervisors should be from one of these key departments based in Chandler House:

Developmental Science

Language and Communication


Speech, Hearing and Phonetics Sciences

Particular areas of expertise include:

· Acquired apraxia of speech

· Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

· Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

· Care of the elderly

· Children with complex special needs

· Cochlear implant

· Deafness

· Dysphagia

· Dyslexia

· Language disorders

· Progressive conditions

· Speech disorders in children

· Specific Language Impairment

· Stammering

· Written language difficulties


To be eligible for this programme applicants should have a masters level qualification or be able to demonstrate research experience e.g. in the form of publications.

There is usually an intake on the doctorate programme every two years. Further details will be published here in September 2015 in regards to applications for the programme.

If you have any queries please contact Rosa Morcom -

If you are interested in applying it is helpful to think about your research topic and discuss this with potential supervisors well in advance. You can contact the programme directors for advice about this.   

Fees and Funding

The fees for this programme for the academic year 2013-14 are £3,050 for UK/EU students and £10,250 for overseas students (per year for each of the four years).

The fees for 2014-13 have not yet been set but they are likely to be similar to the fees for 2013-14.  There is usually a small percentage rise in fees each year.

Unfortunately we don't currently have any studentships available for this programme.  Students are usually self-funding or receive help with their fees from their employer.

Details of UCL scolarships can be found on the following webpage: UCL Scholarships website

What current students say

To watch a video of past and current students talking about why they chose to do the DCCS please click here

Doctorate in Clinical Communication Science (DCCS): A Student’s Experience.

You’ve read the professional DCCS blurb, now what’s it really like from a student point of view?

As I write, I am keeping in mind the questions I pondered upon last year when I apprehensively completed the application form. As the first academic year finishes I have now been given the opportunity to inform you about what this professional doctorate is really like.

Two days per week are allocated the DCCS and the other three are my work based days. I find this balance works well as it allows me to keep my clinical skills in check whilst studying, which a traditional PhD would have prohibited me from doing.

The first year has consisted of a series of modules including Establishing Research Foundations and Research Methods for Clinical Communication Science. These have been carefully selected to lend to work based learning and our individual research projects. A substantial proportion of our programme is via e-learning and the ‘MOODLE’ virtual learning environment. Forums, on-line lectures and discussions have become a way of life simplifying long distance and work based learning.

A recurrent theme among several ‘PhD’ colleagues is that they feel isolated in their studies. I can reassure you that this is not my personal experience on the DCCS. Our group is small, but we very much feel that this is a journey and we are all in it together. The department leads have strongly advocated an open door policy and all our questions or ‘issues’ have been swiftly dealt with.

Initially, I was apprehensive about the format as I was keen to immediately commence my research project. Consequently, I have developed a wider scope of both therapy and academic skills which may have eluded me had I chosen the traditional method. I continue to pursue my academic interests with excellent support but have the benefit of picking up extra skills along the way. Although challenging, the workload is manageable and dare I say it . . . enjoyable.

I suppose in reading this you are questioning if this is the course for you? All I can offer is that if you want to pursue your academic interests whilst continuing to develop your work based skills, then maybe this is one to consider.

Has it been worth it? Definitely, but ask me again this time next year.


Career Development

During the programme you will gain practical research experience, designing experiments and conducting research with your client group. Taught elements include advanced research skills, for example in statistics, research methods and programming.

Research students have a fantastic opportunity to network with the many different world-class researchers and research teams at UCL.  There are strong links between researchers in speech and language therapy, psychology and linguistics and specialist clinicians working in the field through the Centre for Speech and Language Intervention Research. As well as meetings with international scholars visiting UCL, students are encouraged present their findings at national and international conferences, with support from the department.

Career Development of DCCS Graduates

A recent graduate from the programme has taken up an academic post at the University of Ulster while others have continued their careers in advanced clinical practice taking up leadership roles.


What are the differences between the Doctorate in Clinical Communication Science and a traditional PhD?

This programme is designed for professionals working in clinical settings who wish to investigate clinically based research questions arising from their own or their team’s clinical practice. The research will normally be carried out at their place of work. The standard of research expected for this programme is at the same level as for a traditional PhD in terms of the structure of the project and the format and word length of the thesis (100,000 words).

A traditional PhD has no taught modules and is usually 3 years full-time, although it can be carried out on a part-time basis. This programme is a 4 year part-time programme with taught modules in the first two years.

The taught modules provide training in research methods appropriate for researchers beyond Masters level. One of the advantages of these taught modules is that DCCS students meet up with the other students in their cohort on a regular basis, as well as meeting doctoral students from other programmes.

The programme modules are assessed and students must pass modules in order to progress to the following year. The final assessment will be of the thesis, and, as for traditional PhDs, will be by means of a viva voce examination.

Can I use the title Dr after completing the doctorate?


Do I need to have a clinical role?

Yes you must have a clinical/educational post where you can carry out your research.

How many days per week will I need to spend on the doctorate?

The DClinCommSci course has been designed so that students attend UCL 2 days a week so they are able to continue their clinical work the other 3 days.

Students attend UCL for taught modules on 2 days per week during term-time (usually Wednesdays and Fridays) during the first 2 years of the course. Your research may take more than 2 days per week, but it will be integrated with your clinical role. Depending on your research project there may not be a clear divide in the time allocation between your clinical work and your clinic based research work. You will also be coming into UCL on a regular basis to meet your research supervisors.

To view a sample timetable for the programme click here

Do I need to have been in touch with potential supervisors before I apply for the programme?

Yes. You should make contact with potential supervisors before you apply for the programme and you should include their names on your application form.  Students usually have 2 supervisors. One or both supervisors will be a member of staff at UCL. the other may be within or external to UCL.  It is also possible to have two academic supervisors and a senior professional advisor for your research.

Where possible we will arrange for your potential supervisors to attend your interview for the programme.

The research groups and research Centres are a good place to start to inform yourself about supervision expertise in the department. Here is a link to the Research Department groupings webpage.  You may e-mail a potential supervisor to discuss your research plans.

What is the start date for this programme?

The next planned start date for this programme is September 2014.  The start of term is usually the last week of September.

Do I need to have a Masters degree to apply?

Normally applicants should have a masters degree or be able to demonstrate research experience e.g. in the form of publications.

How long should my research proposal be?

There is no set length for the research proposal but you need to include sufficient information for the admissions panel to understand your research question, your proposed methodology and something about the feasibility of the study.  It’s not expected that these ideas will be fully formed at this stage.  Around 2000 words is usually more than adequate.

If you have further queries please contact the Programme Administrator, Rosa Morcom at


For queries relating to application for this programme, please contact the programme administrator, Ms Rosa Morcom - Email:

If you have a query about your eligibility for the programme it is helpful to send a C.V. which includes information about any research experience you have, as well as your work experience.

If you would like advice about who to contact as a potential supervisor please send a brief outline of your proposed project.