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What our students think

DBA Durham, UK doctorate of business administration UK

Dr Robert MacFarlane

Assistant Director, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office

The DBA has been a really neat fit between my personal wish to pursue research and my professional wish to ensure the results are cycled rapidly back into my place of work at the Cabinet Office.

I chose Durham because of the reputation of the School, the international and diverse student body and the standing and reputation of the supervisor I wanted for my thesis.

Having a very highly regarded supervisor who was interested and committed to my research has been hugely important. The research phase involves a critical academic relationship. The academic relationship during the research phase is critical, and being supported and challenged in equal measure is vital. DBA model is different in many ways to the PhD, which I studied previously. The taught modules on the DBA were really effective in making the transition to a more applied and pragmatic yet robust form of doctoral research.

Being a part-time DBA student combining study with work and other commitments such as family is not easy. There are times when I dedicated myself quite heavily to the programme, and other times when study had to go into a form of hibernation. Getting this balance right was tricky. The regular scheduled sessions to attend modules (years 1-2) and progress presentations and reviews (thereafter) set down a clear framework and a chance to catch-up with peers, share experience and insights, and get practical support.

The DBA programme gave me the framework and discipline to make a contribution to a specific area within the civil service – where I have worked for several years. The core framework of my research has been adopted within a British Standard as well as in emergency services guidance and central government and international crisis management training.

With the completion of the DBA programme – which is hopefully imminent – I intend to build on that experience within the relatively specific field of civil contingencies and crisis management within Government.