Global Business School for Health


UCL DBA Health programme structure

The UCL DBA Health is designed so that you can study flexibly over 5 years allowing you to develop research skills for evaluating, assessing, and overseeing health projects and research.

Programme overview

The UCL DBA Health provides a professional doctorate degree for individuals in health-related fields who want applied research skills to address health sector challenges. The programme develops applied research skills for evaluating, assessing, and overseeing health projects and research for taking forward healthcare management interventions as well as disseminating findings for informing the practice and application of healthcare.

This DBA Health is designed to produce practitioners and innovators who can interrupt, design, develop and evaluate what is needed for improving healthcare management and health systems through an evidence-based approach. This professional doctorate provides a rigorous programme of advanced study and research. The taught modules which consist of the first two years of the programme provide opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge in key areas of business and health research methods to facilitate career development. The advanced professional portfolio allows you to reflect critically on practice within your organisation and sector. The research component allows for development of skills in critical appraisal as well as the ability to develop the rationale, methodology and methods for research.

The modules also allow development of other transferable skills. The DBA Health utilises the expertise of the academic team across the whole of the Global Business School for Health as well as experts from the Faculty of Population Health Science to support your development, research and scholarship. The programme design is also intended to provide flexibility for professionals who are studying whilst working full-time as senior health leaders and managers.

Programme curriculum 

Infographic of the DBA Health programme

The UCL DBA Health can be viewed as having three distinct parts where there will be two years of taught components followed by three years of research for developing the thesis and submission:

Part 1 constitutes the first 2 years of study and is the taught element of the programme where you will achieve the key learning outcomes required for the professional doctorate programme. You will undertake 120 credits of taught modules which will conclude with a thesis proposal that will inform your doctoral research. During these first two years, you will study using a variety of online learning tools as well as in person blocks of learning for each module. 

Part 2 involves the preparation of a professional practice portfolio where you will reflect and analyse activities or innovations introduced in your current or prior professional environments or other organisations with which you are professionally connected. This reflective assignment would consist of a 5,000 word reflective essay that encompasses your reading, critical analysis and professional reflection. This professional practice portfolio should be completed in Year 3.

Part 3 forms Years 3 to 5 and can only commence once you have successfully completed Part 1 & 2. You will undertake your research to produce your doctoral thesis for the professional doctorate which will normally be a 45,000 word thesis. You will have a supervisor who you will have been assigned at the start of Part 2 who will be your main point of contact to take your research project forward to completion. In addition to the support you will receive from your supervisor, there will be occasional workshops and conferences that our DBA Health students will get to attend in part 3.

The taught and research elements will be weighted 40% and 60% respectively.


Module Teaching is primarily in the form of online synchronised and asynchronized learning material and interaction. Face-to-Face attended sessions will be delivered each term as a one-week blocks to enhance peer learning and engagement. There is considerable independent reading and recorded lecture study expected through each module delivery period.

Module consolidation seminars involving problem or case-based presentations relating to module content during the in-person block allow for knowledge and understanding to be tested, and for formative feedback to be given in advance of summative assessments. The summative assessments will be varied according to the module specifications to ensure a varied assessment diet to ensure you develop the necessary skills to undertake advanced research.

The final three years will be supervised research once the advanced professional portfolio is completed.

Modules in Year 1

  • Term 1   Module - Understanding Applied Research in Healthcare Management

      Monday 13th November – Friday 17th November 2023
      (Please note: they are on-campus teaching weeks)

  • Term 2    Module - Research Methods and Design

      Monday 19th February – Friday 23rd February 2024

  • Term 3    Module - Data Analysis

     Monday 3rd June – Friday 7th June 2024

Understanding Applied Research in Healthcare Management (15 credits)

This module is concerned with ensuring you develop a grounding in the latest developments and themes in healthcare management research. The module is designed to assist you in conducting literature reviews through identifying and examining research articles and reports. Topics within healthcare management and leadership will be evaluated to understand frameworks of analyses as well as other critical aspects to appraising an article such as design, data analysis and findings. The readings will change annually because the field of study is constantly expanding. Some of the topics covered will include rising costs of healthcare, workforce issues, organisational issues, health systems thinking, expanding use of digital innovations, access, patient centred approaches and supply chain management. Students will learn how to undertake a critical appraisal of the various readings as well as understand different approaches to business research through examining articles that employ different quantitative, qualitative, and applied approaches. 

Research Methods and Design (15 credits)

This module will introduce you to data collection and different methods that you can use in your research. You will develop skills and knowledge of different techniques used to address various research questions. The module will help you understand how and when to use different methods. You will be exposed to a selection of approaches for research design, data collection and analysis including sampling, primary and secondary data collection, surveys, interviews and focus groups. You will also learn about research ethics and data storage and privacy issues.

Data Analysis (30 credits)

This module will introduce you to data analysis using both qualitative and quantitative analysis. You will learn how to interpret qualitative data – detect patterns, identify groups, compare and contrast cohorts and construct and test models. In terms of quantitative data, you will learn how to put together descriptive statistics for understanding your dataset as well as an introduction to regression analysis for examining correlations and statistical relationships that help you test theories as part of your analysis.

Modules in Year 2

One elective module to be chosen from the two options below:

Digital Health Research Methods and Tools (15 credits)

Although digital solutions for healthcare diagnostics, detention and prevention are growing at an exponential rate, there remains little research evidence for either the benefits or harms of many of these digital solutions. Consequently, it is extremely important to develop evidence-based insights for the integration and adoption of digital solutions particularly in medical care. This module will consider a number of research methods and tools along with the WHO guidance for digital health to help you understand the importance of designing your innovations in a manner that embeds efficacy assessment endpoints that establish the benefits of digital applications. This module provides a comprehensive engagement with the evidence-based approaches (data and literature review) which underpin research developments.

You will encounter a range of frameworks (ethical and legal), data sets and evidence bases which will develop your capacity to identify, interrogate and interpret digital health projects to draw conclusions that will inform their use. You will have the opportunity to learn about different types of digital health innovations and the ways that researchers undertake studies involving digital health applications such as those used in a clinical setting, consumer health informatics and health apps, patient-generated health data, social media and wearable self-tracking devices.  

You will also explore questions about safety and efficacy particularly as it concerns data privacy and security in terms of the impact it has on the design and conduct of studies for these technologies. There will also be readings on the legal, ethical and regulatory aspects of digital health innovations. Much of this understanding will come from conducting literature searches, critical reading, statistical analysis and evaluative reports.

Health Systems thinking (15 credits)

Healthcare is a very complex sector. It is also a sector that is growing both in terms of size and costs. In this module, you will examine how health systems have evolved not only on a national level, but locally and within organisations as well and how to use systems thinking to address healthcare challenges. Moreover, you will begin to understand the theory as well as practice that sits behind the interprofessional care approach that is system-based. You will examine four major levels of systems in healthcare delivery – the patient, the healthcare team, the organisation (private and public as well as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc.) and the environment (national approach – policies, markets, regulations, etc.). You will learn how to use this approach and thinking for evaluating complex health systems for enhancing quality, creating efficiencies, changing practice, and minimising risk. This module will give you the science, theory and knowledge to see interrelationships, patterns of change, structures and processes underlying our healthcare systems and practices.

Remaining Year 2 modules that are mandatory:

Research and Co-Production with Patients (15 credits)

This course will introduce you to the principles of co-production. Over the course of this module, you will explore a variety of approaches and techniques used in co-production with a focus on patients and other related stakeholders as the co-producers. You will come to appreciate the opportunities and challenges of co-production for better healthcare practices and outcomes of research ideas. Several case studies of co-production in a healthcare setting will be discussed to help you understand these challenges as well as best practices. A reflective approach will be used to help you think about your previous experiences of problem solving with others and the range of practices and principles that you might of used. In addition to explore what is co-production and best practices, you will also learn about co-design and delivery with stakeholders. Patients and the public, moreover, are central to improving healthcare management outcomes. You will learn the importance of evolving these key stakeholders at the beginning of research questions for designing and delivering impactful projects in healthcare. The involvement of end users or benefactors will be emphasised throughout this module.

Communication for Healthcare Management (30 credits)

This module develops your skills in communicating your research to various audiences from inside and outside the University. You will be trained in writing and presenting to academic peers as well as communicating your research at various levels to different stakeholders including the public. You will be able to propose, design and communicate your research to ensure impact. The skills covered will include both written and oral communication of research findings as well as pitches, proposals and grant writing for funding. The module will also cover such topics as engaging with social media to disseminate your research and building your personal brand. These are all critical skills for building your credibility and, moreover, ability to influence policy and practice in your field as a researcher.

Students in Year 2 will need to prepare a research proposal and have it accepted by the DBA committee along with any Ethics approvals.

Activities in Year 3 to 5

  • Advanced Professional Portfolio preparation
  • Prepare a literature review submission and have it accepted by the DBA committee. 
  • Prepare a final thesis and have it accepted by the DBA Committee
  • Present and successfully defend the thesis at viva voce examination.