This article sets out to explore how professional learning and identity may be developed through the recognition of experiential learning in professional doctorate education. It begins by outlining theories that attempt to explain learning about self from experience and in situ. There then follows a summary of current practice in educating for self knowledge at doctorate level, and the notion of professional identity is considered. The article reports on an exploratory study
undertaken with the first graduates of a new type of Professional Doctorate by Public Works (PDPW) programme in the UK, which recognises in-depth reflective and critically analysed, prior high-level work-based learning with attendant evidence (Armsby, 2012a). The main aim is to illustrate the effects of undertaking this process on the candidates’ professional learning and identity, and reveal an understanding of the development of professional identity through this particular kind of programme. Research questions included the following.