Health Services Research PhD / MPhil / MD

The Department of Health Services Research have a large number of postgraduate research students using a mixture of methods applied to a wide range of applied health service research contexts.

Why study with us?

I thoroughly enjoyed my PhD experience, I would do it again tomorrow. I was well supported throughout by my supervisors, fellow students and the department.

Dr Lauren Hepworth - Health Services Research PhD student
  • 200+

    leading academics.

  • £13.5m

    annual support to extend the impact of our studies.


The Institute of Psychology, Health and Society conducts internationally acclaimed research into many aspects of psychology and human behaviour, including perception, language development, pain, addiction, appetite, and offending behaviour.

The multi-disciplinary research environment with strong NHS and NIHR partnerships means we are an inspiring environment for postgraduate students.

We have expertise and ongoing research using both quantitative and qualitative methods, systematic reviews and clinical trials in a variety of community, primary and secondary care contexts. Examples of our current work include the management of musculoskeletal problems in primary and intermediate care, the use of urgent dental care services, orthoptic and vision services and palliative care.

We have highly active, internationally renowned research groups and, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), 95% of our research activity was rated as of international standard. Our work is theoretically robust and problem and policy focused, with a research agenda that's socially relevant and postgraduate teaching that's truly research-led.

Targeting our key areas of interest we've systematically enhanced our research base, culture and infrastructure, whilst building internationally influential groups. We hold the Athena Swan Silver award. We have a strong track record in attracting fellowship funding and are closely linked to the NIHR Research Design Service that helps applicants build more competitive grant bids. We have strong links with the NHS, Social Care and Public Health as well as robust systems of, and support for, public engagement in our research.

Our research interests closely match our research themes.

Research themes

Dr Paula Byrne - Interests include invisible or hidden work in the making and use of medical knowledge; communication of test results; the use and abuse of primary care services; sickness certification; and the use of medical technologies.

Professor Rumona Dickson - The conduct of systematic reviews of the clinical and cost effectiveness of health technologies.

Dr Lucy Frith - Lucy is interested in supervising research students in the following areas: general topics in bioethics and health care ethics, social approaches to health and well-being and social science methods in bioethics (empirical ethics).  Her particular interests are: reproductive technologies (infertility treatment, embryo and gamete donation, organisation of fertility care); maternity and childbirth (ante-natal care and organisation of maternity provision); ethical decision-making and health care public policy and organisation.

Professor Mark Gabbay - His research interests include investigating absenteeism and presenteeism, factors influencing development of incapacity for work, sickness certification processes, complex interventions and health inequalities including trials of treatments; mental health and wellbeing; sexual health and substance misuse.

Professor Rebecca Harris - Rebecca is interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of inequalities in oral health and service use, community health interventions both nationally and globally, dental service organisations and delivery of care, dental clinical trials, public policy and health education/ promotion.

Professor Susan Higham - In vitro and in situ modelling and clinical trials to study dental caries, periodontal diseases and erosion. Dental plaque metabolism and plaque regrowth studies. Development of novel optical technologies to quantify mineral loss/gain in vivo using orthodontic, restorative and xerostomic patients and other clinical applications.

Dr Ruaraidh Hill - Ruaraidh has a broad role which includes research, capacity development and teaching and learning related to evidence synthesis. Its reach includes Institute, University and national collaborations across health, social care and education sectors.

Professor Mari Lloyd-Williams - Mari leads the Academic Palliative and Supportive Care Studies Group (APSCSG); a group of multidisciplinary researchers. The group carries out qualitative and quantitative studies and clinical trials exploring interventions which support people to live well with life limiting illness. 

Professor Elizabeth Perkins - Her primary research interest is in patient and professional communication and decision making.

Professor Fiona Rowe - Fiona leads the VISION group which evaluates visual impairment in acquired brain injury and neurological conditions, explores and develops outcome measures in orthoptics, and seeks to explore the complexity of co-existent visual and functional impairments. 

Professor Richard Whittington - Richard is interested in improving care and treatment in inpatient mental health services and leads a research programme on these topics with close collaborations with local mental health service providers. 

Professor Nefyn Williams - Nefyn’s research interests include the rehabilitation of chronic disease such as hip fracture in the frail elderly, osteoarthritis and cancer, the promotion of physical activity in primary care populations and the re-design of primary healthcare services in the NHS, particularly the role substitution of doctors by nurses, pharmacists and therapists.

Research groups

We have a number of key partnerships that provide excellent research and educational opportunities for our postgraduates. These partners include NIHR CLAHRC NWC, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and other research groups in IPHS and the wider Faculty and University.

Clinical academic links such as these mean we're well placed to support and host PhD studentships provided by UKCRN partners, such as the MRC, ESRC, DH and EPSRC.

Our researchers collaborate with academic colleagues in Public Health, Psychological Sciences and other departments across the university which provides a rich inter-disciplinary environment for our students. There are particular overlaps with the Psychology of Healthcare group.

Study options and fees

The fees below reflect one year of study during the 2024/25 academic year

MPhil / PhD / MD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,786
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £29,750 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £29,750 (Band A)^ or £23,400 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £23,400 (Band B)
Part time 4-6 years £2,393
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £14,900 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £14,900 (Band A)^ or £11,700 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £11,700 (Band B)

The fees stated in the table above exclude potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees’. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

* Please note that if you are undertaking a PhD within the Faculty of Science and Engineering the fee you pay, Band A or Band B, will reflect the nature of your research project. Some research projects incur a higher fee than others e.g. if you are required to undertake laboratory work. You will be informed of the fee for your programme in your offer letter.

^ Self-funded, full-time international students studying a PhD programme classified as Band A will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

You'll need a first class or equivalent first degree in a relevant discipline (a 2:1 with additional Masters level training may be considered), such as medicine, dentistry, health sciences, psychology sociology or anthropology. This breadth reflects our commitment to multidisciplinary approaches when investigating complex questions.

English language requirements

IELTS Academic requirement - SELT and non-SELT Overall score of 7.0 with no less than 6.0 in each component
TOEFL iBT requirement Minimum 100 overall with L 21 R 21 W 21 and S 23
C1 Advanced CAE requirement Overall 185 with no less than 176 in any paper
PTE Academic requirement69 with minimum scores of 61 in each component
Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE II)Please confirm with the department
Cambridge IGCSE as a First LanguageGrade C
Cambridge IGCSE as a Second LanguageGrade B
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Proficiency)Overall 185 with 176 in components
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 185 with 176 in components
Cambridge English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 185 with 176 in components

Additional requirements

Your research can be in any area that matches our research interests and expertise, outlined above. CRB and other checks may be necessary for some project types and every proposal will need to receive ethical approval.

You'll also need coherent writing skills, along with the stamina, self-motivation and organisation to complete a demanding research project.

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

Apply online

Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal

Related studentships: self-funded and funded PhD projects

Find a scholarship

We offer a range of scholarships to help you meet the costs of studying a research degree.

See scholarships