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Business & Management Business Management

Doctor of Business Administration

Distance Learning | Heriot-Watt University
Awarded by
Heriot-Watt University
Course Code
Application Code
Study mode
Start Date
11 Sep 2023 (Mon)
Next intake(s)
Jan 2024
48 months to 60 months
Course Fee
Total fees around £28,000 to £29,000 (estimate based on 4 years of study)
1) Course Stage : £1,160* per module x 3 modules (inclusive of assessment fee)
2) Research Stage : £8,070* per year
3) Thesis Examination fee : £500

* Fees may be subject to change without prior notice.
Deadline on 12 Aug 2023 (Sat)
2867 8310
2861 0278
How to Apply
One-on-one consultation is available.

Doctor of Business Administration, Heriot-Watt University, UK
The programme is designed to fit around your working life as a self-study, online programme. There is no fixed start date for this programme, so you can begin at any time. This programme aims to improve your research skills and cultivate bold thinking. The first year of the programme will focus on research methods and skills. Once the student has passed the 3 research models, they will move to focus on writing the doctoral thesis.
The programme is suitable for professionals with basic research skills that prefer to study independently on their own at the research stage and with an appointed supervisor from Heriot-Watt University during the thesis stage.


  • Highly flexible – study at your own pace (minimum of 4 years and maximum of 10 years of study).
  • 100% distance learning so you can study anytime at anyplace.
  • Only 3 research courses before embarking on the DBA thesis, each course to be assessed by a three-hour examination

Target Student Group

  1. Business leaders, executives and professionals that wish to go beyond their master level qualification and contribute to their profession by developing the skills needed to deliver unique solutions, based on an accurate, un-biased analysis of the situation.
  2. Professionals in the academic profession that wish to further their expertise by developing the skills needed to deliver unique solutions, based on an accurate, un-biased analysis of the situation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop a clear understanding of the nature of the problem or challenge to be addressed;
  2. Critically examine the relevant bodies of knowledge across management, innovation and strategy that may form a potential solution;
  3. Design a research and data strategy to evaluate the effectiveness of the potential solution; and
  4. Conduct the research and communicate findings of the research.
⇒ We accept application throughout the year.
  • "The DBA programme at Edinburgh Business School offers a unique opportunity to study a part-time, flexible doctorate. It couples first-class research methods training with senior academics to produce world-leading practitioners of research-based business solutions"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dr Jesus Canduela, Head of DBA Programme


Download Handbook

The DBA is a professional research degree, designed to support you and give you the skills you need to deliver unique solutions in your sector or organisation, based on accurate and unbiased analysis of situations therein.

The programme is led by academics at the Edinburgh Business School and is suitable for professionals with a number of years of work experience who wish to explore advanced principles of business administration.

We have designed the DBA to fit around your working life as a self study, online programme.   

Programme Duration and Teaching Mode

The minimum time needed to complete the DBA is four years. There is no fixed start date, so you can begin at any time.

The programme consists of two stages: the course stage and the research stage, and builds on the learning gathered on completion of an MBA or MSc programme. 


The Course Stage

Doctoral Business Research 1: an Introduction to Research Methods        Download course taster                                                                                                                                               

This course presents the first step in a basic review of the nature of research and methods for business and management doctoral students. It will provide students with the practical research tools and the theoretical background for critiquing and designing research on a variety of topics. It also serves as a useful guide as to the content required in a thesis, the nature of examination for a doctoral degree, and how to generate research questions and write in an appropriate ‘academic’ style.                                                

Doctoral Business Research 2: the Qualitative Researcher        Download course taster                                                                                                                                                                      

This course introduces qualitative research methods for business and management doctoral students. It will help students to assess the advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative methods and look at how they can combine with each other. Moreover, it provides a holistic understanding of the qualitative research process starting from outline of philosophical underpinnings to qualitative data collection, analysis and reporting.                                                                                                                                                                       

Doctoral Business Research 3: the Quantitative Researcher     Download course taster                                                                                                                                                                 

This course introduces quantitative research methods for business and management doctoral students. It will provide an understanding of the different techniques available from data collection through to analysis. The course is designed as an introduction to quantitative techniques, bridging into more advance ones with a comprehensive coverage of the most commonly used methods. The course will also train students on the use of SPSS statistical software to carry out analysis and apply the techniques covered within the course. 

On successful completion of the three courses, not only will you have the theory, knowledge, tools and techniques required to embark on a doctoral research programme but you are also awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Business Research Methods, a significant University award in its own right.


The Research Stage 

On completion of the three courses and the submission of a viable research idea, you will commence the research stage. Here you will have the support of a dedicated Edinburgh Business School supervisor to guide you throughout the development of your proposal to the final thesis. You will have approximately six hours of contact time with the supervisor every month; electronic communication takes place on a secure web board within your student portal and is supplemented by telephone/Skype conversations. Your final thesis will be examined by an oral defence (viva voce) of your research.



Stage 1: Each module will require a 3-hour timed-online coursework with a minimum of 50 marks to pass. The examination will be conducted in Heriot-Watt appointed testing centres in Hong Kong.

Stage 2: Thesis is submitted for examination by the Doctoral Review Committee and each student will undergo an oral “defence” of their thesis.



On successful completion of stage 1, the course stage, students will be awarded the “Postgraduate Certificate in  Business Research Methods” by Heriot-Watt University.

Upon completion of both stages 1 & 2, students will be awarded the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) by Heriot-Watt University.



What is the ranking of Heriot-Watt University?


Heriot-Watt University was founded in 1821, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the university is currently ranked number one for research impact in Scotland.  It is ranked 33rd in the UK from QS World University Rankings 2022.


Do I need to attend the class in the HK campus? 


You may study the DBA programme by distance learning. 


When can I apply?


Applications are accepted throughout the year. Prospective students should take note that examinations are held around April, August and December every year and the normal time of study for each module is 4-5 months. Application approvals normally take about 4-6 weeks, so it is advisable to begin the application process as soon as possible to maximise time for study before each examination opportunity.


How much is the total fee of this DBA?


The total fee is around GBP28,000 to GBP29,000 based on 3 research modules and 3 years of research for the thesis (a total of 4 years).


What is the minimum time to complete the DBA programme?


The minimum time needed to complete the DBA is 4 years (which is inclusive of the course stage and the research stage) and a maximum duration of 10 years.


Can I apply first and provide the reference letters later?


The university will only review an application upon submission of full supporting documents (digital copies are fine for the application and certified copies can be submitted upon acceptance).


Am I allowed to enroll in all three modules (course stage) at once, in one payment, or do I have to enroll and pay module by module?


It is recommended for students to enroll in all 3 modules so they can cross-reference across modules during their studies. DBR1 must be studied first, followed by either DBR2 or DBR3.


Is there a separate assessment fee for each module?


The assessment fee is GBP160 per module.


Will students still have access to the research modules once they have passed the research assessments?


Students will have access to the 3 modules for the entire duration of the DBA even if they have already taken the research module assessments. This arrangement will allow students the flexibility to refer to the research modules while they are developing their thesis.


What is the required length of the DBA thesis?


In most cases, the DBA thesis should be around 45,000 to 50,000 words and contain no more than 80,000 words or be longer than 400 pages unless the University Postgraduate Studies Committee has given prior permission. These totals include references and appendices.


How does the oral deference conduct?


The oral deference can be conducted in person at Heriot-Watt University or via electronic means if the student is not able to travel for the oral deference.


If the software is will be necessary to analyse data for the research, would the license be provided by Heriot-Watt University?


Students will all automatically be created an HWU email account upon enrolment on the course. The email credentials will also give them access to online library facilities and some software packages, such as SPSS.

Application Code 2145-MS146A -

  • Self-Study, Distance Learning

Non-Local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance

This is an exempted course under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance. It is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recognise any qualification to which this course may lead.

Stage 1 (Course Stage)

Modules Credits

Doctoral Business Research 1:  An Introduction to Research Methods


Doctoral Business Research 2:  The Qualitative Researcher


Doctoral Business Research 3:  The Quantitative Researcher


Upon completion of Stage 1, graduates will receive the award “Postgraduate Certificate in Business Research Methods” and will be invited to enrol in stage 2 for their DBA thesis by submitting a viable research outline.

Stage 2 (Research Stage)

Module Credits

Supervised Thesis                                                                                                                        


More information on HWU DBA can be obtained Edinburgh Business School website.


>*Edinburgh Business School timetables three assessment sessions in  April, August and December . In accordance with Heriot-Watt University’s policy on examining across international time zones, the start time of each sitting may vary from country to country. The exact local start time of your online coursework will be advised in your assessment details letter.

Distance learners can commence at any time and study on a stage by stage basis.

All candidates are enrolled with Edinburgh Business School (EBS) at the point of entry:

To be eligible for registration as a Heriot-Watt student (matriculated), a candidate shall hold all of the following qualifications:

  • A master’s degree awarded by a recognised institution;
  • Five years of relevant working experience.

If the degree or equivalent qualification is from an institution where the language of teaching and assessment is not English, or the degree (taught in English) is over two years, students shall provide evidence of English proficiency, such as:

  1. a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no score lower than 6.0 in reading, writing, speaking and listening (or equivalent English proficiency test); or
  2. a letter from the HR department of the company that you work within, confirming that English is the main language in your workplace.
Application Fee

HK$200 (non-refundable) as initial handling fee

Course Fee
  • Total fees around £28,000 to £29,000 (estimate based on 4 years of study)
    1) Course Stage : £1,160* per module x 3 modules (inclusive of assessment fee)
    2) Research Stage : £8,070* per year
    3) Thesis Examination fee : £500

    * Fees may be subject to change without prior notice.

Application Form Application Form

Enrolment Method

Applicants are required to complete and return the application form with application fee HK$200 to any of our enrolment centres. Applicants should bring along with the following documents:

  1. Original and photocopy of your HKID card; and
  2. Evidence of every qualification listed on the application form, including original certificates/transcripts and a set of COLOUR COPY of award certificates and full official transcripts (for bachelor degree level and above and/or professional qualifications).
  3. One set of certified true copies of testimonials or other documentary proof of the applicant’s working experience;
  4. COLOUR COPY of CV and two references

* Original certificates and transcripts together with the copies are required to be presented to any HKU SPACE Learning Centre for verification.

Payment Method
  • Application fee  can be paid by cash / EPS / VISA / MASTER / Cheque in any of HKU SPACE enrolment centres.
  • Module fee is paid by Bank Draft payable to HKU SPACE. 
  • For the payment method of other administrative fees, such as Delivery fee for hardcopy of course text, Examination fee and Exemption fee, please contact the programme team at 

High-ranking University, founded in 1821, is located in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the number one ranked Scottish University for research impact. We come 23rd in the UK and 4th in Scotland in The Complete University Guide 2022, and 270th in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

Heriot-Watt University is a high-ranking university (#29 in the University League Table 2021) and a research-led university that was assessed top in Scotland and 9th in the UK for research impact, with 82% of research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2014)

In 2018, Heriot-Watt University won the title of International University of the Year. We have held Royal Charter since 1964 and are subject to the rigorous requirements of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK. This assures you of the highest level of quality in all the programmes we offer.

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