Taking security education to the next level
As the job market becomes more competitive, universities offering security related degrees are seeing a growth in student numbers, and new courses are being created. The latest include MSc courses in Nuclear Security (Cumbria) and Maritime Security (Greenwich), welcome developments that are extending the choice and number of institutions involved in security education.
Following a masters degree, a growing number of security practitioners are seeking the next step. This may involve an MBA, or a step upwards to doctoral level. A PhD is based on a supervised research study of about 80,000 words, and on a part-time basis this takes about six years. Many practitioners are opting for the alternative route of a Professional Doctorate, involving a more manageable four years of part-time study.
What is a professional doctorate?
Professional doctorates began to emerge in the UK in the 1990s. They have been driven by growing demand among professionals for higher level academic qualifications and increasing engagement in continuing professional development. There has also been more emphasis by government, industry and universities on promoting educational routes that are better tailored to the needs of practitioners and the wider economy.
Professional doctorate courses are subject specific. They comprise a taught element for the first two years, usually delivered in short blocks to accommodate individuals working full-time, and then involve two years of supervised research leading to a thesis. The taught phase offers students the camaraderie of a group studying in the same subject area, and more structure and support than a PhD, Courses include Portsmouth’s new Security Risk Management programme; Policing, Security and Community Safety at London Metropolitan University, and Information Security at East London. Other options are the Doctorate of Business Administration offered at a number of universities, or Criminal Justice at Portsmouth and De Montfort Universities.
Such courses not only enhance individual professional development. They will increasingly support the development of targeted research by practitioners for practioners, strengthening the evidence base underpinning security practice.
Dr Alison Wakefield
Senior Lecturer in Security Risk Management, University of Portsmouth