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We are not taking new enrolments at this moment for the Online DBA programme. Please revisit this page for future updates.

The online Doctor of Business Administration consists of a preparation phase and a thesis phase. The cornerstone of the programme is the thesis. In the preparation phase, candidates complete nine Action Learning modules and a Doctoral Development Plan (DDP).

Preparation Phase: Action Learning modules

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The Doctoral Practitioner (11 weeks)


To provide a comprehensive introduction to the DBA programme and to our unique and intensive management learning environment.


The Doctoral Practitioner introduces students to the DBA programme and to the requirements for successful participation in the online environment. The module examines the significance of learning and of fostering personal and organisational learning. It introduces and explores Action Learning, the related concept of Critical Action Learning, and a range of other action modalities. Module assignments focus on practical application of writing and critical-thinking skills and promote professional practice and academic excellence.

Change and Crisis Management (10 weeks)


To understand and apply models for change management and to develop the ability to lead teams and organisations through disruptive change.


The success of any organisation is dependent upon its ability to manage change and handle issues and crises while also creating value for its stakeholders. This module prepares you to lead change initiatives within a variety of organisational settings, encouraging you to analyse and evaluate several models for change management, and to consider their application in practice. You will also explore and apply coaching skills to create interactive dialogue and deeper understanding, and you will analyse the role of leadership in crisis situations.

Knowledge Creation (10 weeks)


To provide students with a philosophical and methodological foundation of knowledge creation in management research.


This module provides you with key theories to support your application of Action Research during the programme and places Action Research in its historical context. You will consider what management research is and will examine various concepts including the relation between cause and meaning; the notion of positivism, idealism, realism and post modernism, and the nature of the qualitative and quantitative processes.

Management Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods (10 weeks)


To introduce students to the qualitative and quantitative aspects of management research.


This module focuses on skill development and demonstration as well as the effective interpretation of published research and the application of that research to workplace problem solving. Both qualitative and quantitative frameworks for inquiry are introduced. Qualitative designs include case study, phenomenology, grounded theory, and ethnography. This module also helps develop your skills in descriptive statistics, statistical inference, quantitative techniques – including analysis of variance and covariance – multiple linear regressions and various nonparametric techniques. Quantitative designs covered include experimental and quasi-experimental, survey, and causal-comparative.

Leadership and Community (10 weeks)


To provide an intensive examination of the concepts and practices underlying the successful leadership of high performing teams and organisations, particularly in a challenging global context.


This module focuses on the theory and practice of (1) effectively leading teams and departments (“micro” communities); (2) strategically managing the interrelationships among teams and departments to create high-performing organisations (the “meso” community); and (3) thoughtfully leading people and organisations in the context of diverse cultures and nations (“macro” communities). Focus areas include leadership development, shared leadership, and development of effective and vibrant organisational communities. The learning organisation and the relationship between leadership and facilitating learning within the organisation are also examined.

Ethics, Sustainability and Social Impact (10 weeks)


To introduce students to the tensions and trade-offs involved in a competitive economy when an organisation adopts a focus on ethics, sustainability and social impact.


Ethical, sustainability, and social impact (ESSI) issues have been largely peripheral concerns for businesses. Now, organisations are fusing social mission with competitive strategy. This module provides students with an understanding of how ESSI relates to strategic development and competitiveness. The module also covers the concepts of stakeholder analysis and the triple bottom line. In addition, as a student, you will consider personal and organisational ethics and issues around transparency and the social impact of non-ethical and non-transparent practices.

Complex Adaptive Systems (10 weeks)


To provide an additional frame of reference for understanding how organisations manage through disruptive change.


Building on concepts covered in Change and Crisis Management, this module looks at modern organisations as complex adaptive systems that face the same dilemma as living species: adapt or die. Considering organisations in this framework leads to new insights about how to lead them effectively. As a student, you will gain an intuitive appreciation of the behaviour of organisations as complex adaptive systems. You will also explore how organisations respond successfully and unsuccessfully to environmental “stimuli” such as emergent technologies, competitive pressures, and economic and political instability

Decision Making with Risk and Uncertainty (10 weeks)


To examine the complexities of managerial decision making with a particular focus on the trade-offs between rationality and intuition, and on risk-mitigation strategies.


This module examines the psychological, social and organisational processes and problems associated with thinking and decision making in various organisational contexts. Current theories and approaches in understanding managerial thinking and decision making are explored as are issues associated with group decision making, conflict and negotiation. A particular focus is placed on the relationship between decision making theory/practice and workplace learning modalities.

Action Research and the Action Research Thesis (10 weeks)


To introduce the concepts and practices of Action Research as a mode of intensive management inquiry and to prepare students to use Action Research for their thesis.


This module explores the notion of Action Research – where the researcher plans an intervention, to both solve a problem and generate new, actionable knowledge. As a student, you will examine case studies to become familiar with the stages of Action Research, the methodologies typically used and the ethical dilemmas often faced by Action Researchers. You will also explore the challenges and opportunities presented by “insider” and external Action Research and learn how to write, structure and present an Action Research doctoral thesis.

Doctoral Development Plan and residencies

Doctoral Development Plan (DDP)

Alongside the modules, each student writes a Doctoral Development Plan (DDP) reflecting on his or her development as a doctoral practitioner and researcher. The DDP helps students develop as scholar practitioners able to use new ideas and skills of inquiry needed for leading businesses and organisations in ambiguous circumstances.

Optional residencies

Students have the option to attend two face-to-face residencies, held in Liverpool, giving them the opportunity to meet with fellow online students and engage with faculty members. The focus of the residencies is on research, and one includes an academic conference at which each participant presents a research paper. The residencies bring together students from different cohorts and include a strong networking component.

Please note that current scheduling may be subject to change and that we cannot guarantee that all modules will be offered in every calendar year.

Thesis Phase: Action Research project

The core of the University of Liverpool DBA is the thesis phase during which candidates focus on planning, implementing and evaluating managerial or executive action.

Students will identify a significant opportunity or problem that requires sustained inquiry, action and originality. Students will find this phase less structured that the Action Learning modules, and success will depend on how well they have developed as scholar practitioners during the preparation phase of the programme. This element of the programme is assessed by way of a 50,000-word thesis and an interview.

The thesis phase will normally take 2 ½ years but students may take up to 4 years subject to the maximum programme registration period not being exceeded.

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