Professional Doctorate in Engineering

Welcome to UL's Professional Doctorate in Engineering

Experience Our Course Video

Key Programme Information

Contact Us Email

About the Professional Doctorate

The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) is equivalent in level to a PhD but more vocationally oriented. The traditional PhD requires a contribution to scientific knowledge. In contrast, the Professional Doctorate requires a contribution to professional practice. Rather than one lengthy academically-oriented PhD research project, the Professional Doctorate programme involves solving a significant organizational problem, typically based on the candidate’s work environment.

Many countries are now moving towards the professional doctorate route, notably in Scandinavia. This reflects the growing desire for up-skilling and life-long learning in the modern workplace.

We have a world-class industry base here in Ireland:

  • 9 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies

  • 9 of the top 10 global technology firms

  • 8 of the top 10 medical devices companies

  • 6 of the top 7 global diagnostics companies

These global players are complemented by a vibrant and thriving indigenous company base which is highly export-oriented, and one which boasts many leading players in their market sectors.

A useful metric which indicates the excellence of the work being done in Ireland is that of the Shingo Prize. This is recognized worldwide as a symbol of enterprise excellence. Since 2010, only 13 organisations have been awarded the Shingo Prize, and 3 of these have been in Ireland.

These firms are operating at the cutting-edge; they stay competitive by ensuring that their employees are highly skilled and highly educated. Many of them are already at Masters level. The Professional Doctorate represents a natural progression, it offers an opportunity achieve a Doctoral degree by addressing truly challenging industry problems and making a significant contribution to companies and Irish industry.

Entry Requirements & Fees

Minimum requirements for a PDEng would typically be a 2.1 honours degree in a relevant area as defined in Section 5.4 of the handbook of academic regulations and procedures. This also facilitates recognition of prior learning (RPL) and would recognise candidates with a lower qualification provided they have considerable industrial experience, and evidence of the ability to study at Masters level or above. Research-based patents or peer-reviewed publications would also be recognised. Students in this category may be required to complete MQ5000. Also, modules taken under the auspices of the Engineers Ireland and the Irish Computer Society CPD programs could be accumulated to meet entry criteria. Examples of such modules are listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Example Professional Accreditation Courses.

Engineers Ireland: CPD Diploma in Professional
Engineering (NFQ Level 9, 30 ECTS)
ICS: Chartered IT Professional (Skills Framework
for the Information Age (SFIA) 5), Professionalism in IT

Fees & schedule

Fees for The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) are as follows:

  • €5471 (EU)

  • €12701 (NON EU)

We also ask for a €250 module qualifier before signing up and can be made payable to University of Limerick

You can see more about fees here.

Program Design

The PDEng program differs from traditional PhD programs in three important aspects: context, contact and content.


The traditional PhD program focuses on preparing candidates for an academic career, and is thus focused on training people to rigorously address scientific problems which can result in a contribution to knowledge that can be published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. In contrast, the context for this PDEng program is the practitioner workplace and the focus is on solving real-world problems faced in the daily work-place. The scope of these problems can be sufficiently large to be addressed in a significant piece of research planned and conducted over a period of time and which can ultimately result in an PDEng award.


Traditional PhD programs, if they do include a taught component, place this taught component early in the cycle, a common approach being the 1+3 model with a taught component in year 1 and project work/thesis component in the following three years. In the PDEng model, contact is in more practitioner friendly blocks. These contact components fulfil a critical research socialisation aspect for candidates and thus rather than all taking place at the beginning of the cycle, these contact components are repeated in each year of the program.


The design of many educational programs follows a content-based approach as material is packaged into individual courses delivered and assessed in relative isolation from each other. Bowden (2004) proposed a radically different approach based more holistically on the capabilities a candidate would achieve at the end of the program. The approach has been used successfully in curriculum design in the software area . The difference between the content-based and capability-based approaches to curriculum design is represented in Figure 1 below.

In capability-based curriculum design, the questions considered are what the learner should be capable of achieving at the end, what the optimal arrangement of modules are to achieve this, and what the best way of assessing the achievement of the capabilities. In designing this D.Eng, the capability criteria we considered were the following:

  • Increase candidate ability in relation to carrying out software and enterprise excellence related R&D innovation work relevant to a commercial setting.

  • Understand how to rigorously achieve this innovation and communicate it successfully to different stakeholders.

This leads to a different type of research approach in which design science (e.g. building an artefact) or action research (e.g. solving an actual real-world problem) are paramount as rigorous research approaches, rather than the traditional neutral and passive observer models.

Course Information Graph
Fig 1: Content Versus Capability Focused Curriculum Design (Bowden 2004)


The program begins with a Qualifier module which assesses the capability of the candidate to construct a research proposal. On successful completion of this module, candidates will take specialised courses on a block release format (Friday afternoons and all day Saturday). We envisage six such formal sessions per year with additional online access to material and course-work. Details of the program are provided in Table 2 below.

Course Details

Qualifier Module

The programme begins with a qualifier modulem Personal Professional Portfolio (9 ECTS), students must successfully complete this module before qualifying for the Professional Doctorate.

The Personal Professional Portfolio requires students to attend a one day workshop on Friday 30th September. During this workshop students will gain the information and skills they need to write a Research Proposal.

The Research Proposal must be submitted by Friday 11th November. Students will be admitted to the Professional Doctorate based on the quality of this proposal.

Year One

Term 1 (12 taught)Term 2 (18 taught)Term 3 (12 research)
Research Methods for Professional Practice 1 (6 ECTS)ES8002: Research Integrity (3 ECTS)Professional Doctorate 1 (12 ECTS)
Data collection strategies, basic analysis techniques 1 (6 ECTS)LA8013: Research Ethics (3 ECTS)
CM8003: Communication/ Networking/ Presentation (3 ECTS)
CS8013: Digital Research Management (3 ECTS)
TL8003: Research Planning + Publication (3 ECTS)
TL8013: Academic Writing (3 ECTS)
Dissertation Research PDEng 1 (12 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 2 (12 ECTS)

Year Two

Term 1 (12 taught)Term 2 (6 taught)Term 3 (12 research)
Research Methods for Professional Practice 2 (6 ECTS)Research Impact and Dissemination (6 ECTS)Professional Doctorate 2 (12 ECTS)
Data collection strategies, advanced analysis techniques 2 (6 ECTS)
Dissertation Research PDEng 3 (12 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 4 (12 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 5 (12 ECTS)

Year Three

Term 1 (6 taught)Term 2 Term 3
Conference/Workshop Paper (6 ECTS)Professional Doctorate 3 (12 ECTS)
Dissertation Research PDEng 6 (15 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 7 (30 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 8 (15 ECTS)

Year Four

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Dissertation Research PDEng 9 (30 ECTS)Dissertation Research PDEng 10 (30 ECTS)

Talk To Us


Application Open

Apply Now

About UL

The University of Limerick is a distinctive, pioneering and connected university that shapes the future through educating and empowering people to meet the real challenges of tomorrow. At a time of profound and rapid societal change and a significant evolution in the role of universities UL has delivered innovative teaching, created better learning experiences for our students, undertaken world-class research and made ever-stronger contributions to meeting Ireland's needs. We can currently boast the best completion rates in the country and, even more importantly in these present times, UL has the best employment rates after graduation, a record of which we are very proud. UL also attracts a significant number of international students each year contributing to the internationalisation of our campus.