Professional Practice

Professional Practice - MA, MSc


The Professional Practice programme is a work-related learning programme designed for participants from private, public and third sector settings such as health and social care; education; local government; public services; human resources; administrative services; cultural industries or the arts.



The programme offers you the opportunity to attain academic recognition for the skills, knowledge and experience that you have developed in the workplace. Focusing on a specific area of practice relevant to your work, it builds on your work experience and qualifications to enhance your career progression.

You explore your profession further and consider the professional challenges associated within your specific area of practice, with modules that have been designed to help you review and analyse the current debates relevant to the professional context in which you are working.

The Centre for Professional Practice (CPP)

The Centre for Professional Practice is a transdisciplinary academic department focused on flexible work-related learning within higher education. The Centre is founded on the belief that employers can benefit from the University of Kent’s academic and research excellence, quality teaching, design and development activities to create positive change and to forge new knowledge within their organisation.

We work with a wide range of external partners and employers to create distinct and original work-based and work-related developmental and educational solutions, which respond to the unique workforce challenges experienced by employees and organisations across the region and beyond.

The Centre’s programmes are designed to enhance career progression and foster intellectual and professional development and practice.

National ratings

Kent is ranked 21st in the Times Higher Education (THE) ‘Table of Tables’ 2017.

Kent was awarded gold, the highest rating, in the UK Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework*

*The University of Kent's Statement of Findings can be found here

Course structure

This flexible programme has been designed to encourage you to think more deeply about the challenges associated with your professional practice while enabling you to tailor your degree to your particular interests and career aspirations.

Core modules and optional modules offered by the Centre for Professional Practice are taught on campus via a series of extended weekend sessions.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year. You study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You have the option to take modules of personal and professional interest from the Centre for Professional Practice and/or the University of Kent Module Catalogue, enabling you to review and analyse the current debates relating to key issues relevant to the professional context in which you are working.

Stage 1 (Year 1)

You take all compulsory modules

Stage 2 (Year 2)

You take the compulsory module Research Skills and then choose from a list of optional modules. You can select a combination of optional modules from the Centre for Professional Practice and or a combination from the University Module Catalogue based upon their own personal and professional interests and subject to availability.

Stage 3 (Year 3) MA/MSc only

You take the Work Related Project and Dissertation (listed as optional below)

Taught sessions are delivered in a welcoming, supportive and flexible academic environment, by an academic team with extensive professional practitioner experience. They are experienced in delivering work-related programmes and understand the constraints of balancing a career with the demands of higher education.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will focus on promoting the skills of the professional practitioner to become an effective user of research findings with a view to the enhancement of quality service outcomes.

Sessions will focus on the analysis of literature in order to inform evidence based practice. This will include understanding critical appraisal tools and statistical principles used to analysis data. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills to evaluate the quality and integrity of data, assessing the appropriateness, validity and range of data. The module will culminate in a forum designed to promote dialogue regarding the extent of external evidence available from systematic research and how this can be applied to improve outcomes within the participant's area of professional practice.

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This module raises awareness about collaborative working as an increasingly important part of workplace culture. You focus on collaborative working through a journey of examination, discussion and reflection on emerging collaborative practices. The role of research in, and its impact on, interdisciplinary and collaborative working is also explored. The overall theme of the module stresses the importance of building on experiential learning when working together with others, while developing critical perspectives on project management and leadership in an inter-professional context.

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The aim of this module is to able students to demonstrate that they have the relevant professional experience to be able to undertake the programme and develop the academic knowledge and skills to complete their studies. It will assist students to understand the relationship between professional and academic knowledge and the importance of understanding the context in which their professional knowledge is developed. Students will be required to produce a convincing argument that shows the connection between their existing professional knowledge and the requirements of academic study, such as the ability to structure concepts when thinking and making professional judgements in their professional practice, or using experiential approaches to experience and/or act out the behaviours, knowledge and values of their own professional practice. Although the knowledge base will primarily be the students own professional experience students will be introduced to theories of experiential learning and reflective practice which will support them to understand how professional knowledge is generated and the importance of self directed study.

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Compulsory modules currently include Credits

As an evidence-based approach to professional working increases throughout organisations, there is a need for professionals to analyse critically within their own practice. This module prepares you to take part in research related to your own workplace and supports you to develop the skills to enable this process. You critically analyse research methodology and appraise the ever-increasing body of literature to enable an evidence-based approach to enhance professional effectiveness. There is the opportunity to develop a research proposal relevant to the workplace and use the project to develop skills in accessing literature databases and the internet, as well as critically assessing the limitations and appropriateness of research findings and methodologies.

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Optional modules may include Credits

The world of work-based practice can be complex and increasingly there is a call for practitioners to demonstrate the ability to manage a project related to particular aspects of policy, practice or an area which warrants specific attention or study.

This module provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their contribution to the workplace or to extending their professional practice through the design, and implementation of a project. The module gives individual students flexibility to design their own special area of study which can be related to innovation on a policy or practice matter or reflect on a project which has been carried out previously.

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Here, you examine the theory and practice of qualitative research. You explore the various aspects of qualitative data collection techniques and methods of analysis as appropriate to an area of work-based enquiry related to your own professional practice. Topics covered include: the interview and interviewing techniques; focus groups; phenomenological methods of enquiry; ethnographic theory and method; case study methods; action research; documentary research; discourse analysis; content analysis; and narrative analysis.

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You gain theoretical and applied knowledge and the opportunity to reflect critically and evaluate the theory and practice of power in the context of your own practice. This enables you to develop and apply strategies and techniques which are contextually relevant to your own workplace. Key topics include: ideological power and the language of power; power – a multifactorial concept; principles of power in relation to interpersonal relationships; critique power theory; dimensions and impact of power; application of concepts of power to your working practice.

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In this module, you focus on the theory and practice of quantitative research. You explore the various aspects of quantitative data collection techniques and methods of statistics analysis appropriate to an area of work-related enquiry related to your own professional practice. Topics include: quantitative data collection methods; survey design; statistical analysis techniques and tools; and interpretation of statistical data.

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Compulsory modules currently include Credits

The purpose of the dissertation is to critically examine, in depth, a research question relevant to the participant's practice. This should be supported by a critical review of the literature, a statement of the methods, an analysis of the data and an extended discussion of the findings.

During the taught sessions the lecturers will outline and confirm key features and structure of the final Dissertation, establish the support structures available to students during the module. Action learning sets will be used for students to deliver, and receive feedback on, a confirmed outline of their final project plans, prior to commencing work.

The project and Dissertation will usually be based on the project detailed in the (WL 817) Research Skills module. For the Dissertation, every student will be allocated an academic supervisor. Students should work with their allocated academic supervisor for the duration of the Dissertation to ensure that their work is completed to meet the submission deadline. Students should direct the work and initiate contact with their supervisor. Projects will only be permitted to proceed subject to prior consultation with the academic team and any necessary ethical approval and, where appropriate, employing organisation permission.

Full details of the requirements for the Dissertation will be provided in the 'Student and Supervisors Handbook Guide’ issued during the taught session. Projects will only be permitted to proceed subject to, where appropriate, prior consideration and approval by the CPP Ethics Committee and, where necessary a NHS (other organisation) Ethics Committee.

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Teaching and Assessment

As the prime objective is to enhance professional practice applied within your workplace or the context of your practice, you will be expected to demonstrate an appropriate level of conceptual and analytical skills.

All assessment and preparatory tasks are designed to allow you to develop expertise in the application of professional practice within the specific context of your working profession.

 Assessments can be through:

  • Oral presentations
  • Written assignments
  • Work-based projects
  • Portfolio assessments
  • Reflecting learning submissions
  • Action Learning Sets

In Stage 3 you complete a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • foster the intellectual and professional development of experienced practitioners to extend and deepen their analytical and critical reasoning capabilities underpinning practice-based learning
  • develop experienced practitioners' competence in applying theoretical and practice skills to advance change and leadership in organisations
  • equip experienced practitioners with the knowledge and understanding to enhance and extend their professional practice experience through work-based learning.
  • enable you to develop your skills in higher-level reflection in relation to work-based practice
  • provide experienced practitioners with opportunities to gain interdisciplinary perspectives on professional practice through collaborative inter/multidisciplinary exchange
  • develop the critical and analytical capabilities of experienced practitioners in relation to project management, data analysis and interpretation of data
  • provide supervision for advanced practitioner-centred research that builds a culture of critical evaluation and enquiry in the practice environment
  • equip experienced practitioners for their role in challenging, questioning and realigning strategies for work-based practice
  • develop practitioners who will actively participate in shaping strategic organisational interests
  • develop opportunities for self-directed learning and reflection
  • enable experienced practitioners from a diverse range of educational backgrounds to access and participate in learning that seeks to capture reflection on experience gained in everyday organisational practice
  • enhance the experienced practitioner’s programme of personal development.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • experiential learning, such as theory, concepts and how they apply to practice
  • reflection on learning, leadership styles and approaches gained through practice
  • principles of strategic decision making in organisations
  • principles and practice involved in inter-professional working
  • reflective evaluation in relation to theoretical methodological frameworks
  • practice-based research and enquiry
  • principles of theory testing in practice in relation to enhancing and developing practice
  • project management skills
  • professional knowledge in your special area of practice
  • your professional profile in relation to current practice that informs into personal career plans.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in the following:

  • presenting critical, analytical reasoning and experiential learning in organised, written and oral formats
  • the critical analysis of case studies
  • engaging in experiential learning that demonstrably enhances practice
  • the ability to develop a reflective professional portfolio
  • the design and implementation of a programme of practice-based enquiry
  • collecting and analysing qualitative or quantitative data from experiential learning to inform evidence-based enquiry
  • designing, implementing, analysing and presenting a substantial research project (the dissertation).

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following:

  • engaging with members of multidisciplinary teams
  • strategic operational planning for organisations
  • being able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of change management
  • being able to enagage with evidence-based practice
  • methodologies for evaluating analysing and appraising organisational practice.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • evaluation
  • report writing
  • reflection on experiential learning
  • effective use of skills related to experiential learning in a practice setting, to establish a future personal plan within the context of professional development
  • independent learning skills required for continuing professional development.


Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we offer many opportunities for you to develop the specific skills and aptitudes that employers will value.

A postgraduate degree in professional practice is a particularly valuable and flexible qualification that can open the door to exciting careers in many professions. Our graduates have gone on to work as head teachers, head of human resources and organisation development, college and university administration managers. Most recent graduates have gone on to work for companies in the UK such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company (KSS CRC), Rochester Grammar School, Chatham Grammar School for Boys and the University of Kent.

Study support

Flexible programmes

At the Centre for Professional Practice we recognise and understand the individual needs of working professionals, who participate as non-traditional part-time learners, and the balance required between study and the specific areas within which they operate. Our flexible programmes of study provide inclusive and coherent educational and work-related opportunities. The Professional Practice programme provides you with the opportunity to study either individual modules or to work towards a postgraduate certificate, diploma or Master’s degree. Taught sessions are delivered in a welcoming, supportive and flexible academic environment, by an academic team with extensive professional practitioner experience.

Professional links

Our staff have a wealth of experience and knowledge in designing and delivering work related programmes, providing valuable contributions to the design, development and delivery of current professional practice programmes. With strong links to local and national employers, the Centre is able to ensure that our programmes are contemporary.

The Centre is also responsible for developing and accrediting postgraduate programmes delivered by NHS Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex (Postgraduate Dental Deanery), Kent Community Health NHS Trust and the New Horizons Teaching School Alliance, Rochester Grammar School and Brompton Academy with whom the University of Kent has close working relationships.

Continuing professional development (CPD) courses

We offer a number of CPD courses in evidence-based practice, research skills, collaborative and inter-professional working. You can obtain further information about these programmes from the Centre.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books, both nationally and internationally.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

The Professional Practice progamme is suitable for professionals from a variety of private, public and third sector settings such as health and social care, education, local government and public services.

Applicants are normally required to have a minimum of two years’ professional experience and hold an undergraduate degree or equivalent professional qualification.

If you do not hold the required entry qualification(s) but believe that you would be able to participate in this programme and have the potential to work at Master's level please contact us.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

In the Research Excellence Framework 2014, Kent was ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity. We have world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of our research is deemed to be of international quality. With programmes of study that are informed by research, our students are able to develop skills and knowledge relevant to contemporary issues.

Current research areas include:

  • power dynamics
  • experiential learning
  • reflective practice
  • professionalisation
  • communities of practice.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Debbie Reed: Head of Centre and Senior Lecturer

Dental communities of practice and teamworking; dental work force development and education; reflective practice; professionalisation.

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Tania Hopper: Programme Director, Professional Practice

Power dynamics and power relationships within educational and organisational environments.

Dr Mike Nicholls: Honorary Senior Lecturer

Design and development of new curricula and methods of delivery; negotiated, work-based and practice-based learning; ‘graduateness’ as a transferable skill; public understanding of the natural world; conservation education; public education in zoos; raptor biology.

Dr Claire Parkin: Lecturer in Professional Practice (Health) Director of Health Programmes

Higher Education field: Evidence-Based Practice. Quantitative Methodology. Use of Technology in HE.

Bioengineering Field: Respiratory physiology, fluid dynamics, thoracic drainage. Clinical field: ITU, cardiothoracics, septic shock.

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Professional Practice (General) - MA at Medway:
UK/EU Overseas
Part-time £2780 TBC
Professional Practice (General) - MSc at Medway:
UK/EU Overseas
Part-time £2780 TBC

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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