Research Degrees at the School of Health Sciences  PhD / MPhil


The School of Health Sciences is committed to developing the future research, practice and policy leaders for the healthcare sector. With world class researchers and experienced practitioners leading our courses, students graduate with a high level of skill in research methods and in the implementation of evidence-based care. Academic expertise in the School spans a broad range of healthcare disciplines, methodological disciplines and professional areas, creating an environment where researchers and students from diverse backgrounds research, learn and work together.

Research-active staff engage in wide-ranging projects and collaborative research with academic institutions nationally (e.g. University College London, Imperial College, Universities of Newcastle, Leeds, Aberdeen) and internationally (e.g., Universities of Melbourne, Toronto, Ottawa, Singapore, Brunei and the University of California, LA). There are also productive links with service user groups, government bodies and NGOs. For those planning to do clinical research: The School's close links with St Bartholomew's Health NHS Trust, UCL Partners and other clinical centres have facilitated the development of honorary clinical academic posts. Research-active clinicians in the Trust and Partnership are appointed to honorary research positions in the School ensuring that MPhil/PhD research can be undertaken under the supervision of internationally respected clinical experts.

This activity is organised into six Research Centres:

  • School of Health Sciences
  • Start Date:

    Research students may commence their degree studies on 1st October or 1st February.

    Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements vary by subject area and applicants should approach academic staff working in their area of interest to discuss their proposal ahead of submitting an application. Applicants should normally hold an upper second class honours degree or the equivalent from an international institution. Where the applicant's academic profile shows no evidence of training in research methods, it will normally be recommended that students first complete an MSc or MRes programme to prepare them for MPhil/PhD studies. Substantial employment or research experience may be considered for some subject areas alongside or in place of academic qualifications. For the Clinical MRes programme, applicants are required to be registered with a clinical professional group such as Nursing, an Allied Health profession or Medicine.

    English Language Requirements

    For applicants whose first language is not English, an IELTS score of at least 7 (with a minimum of 7.0 in writing) is required.

    Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

    Visa Requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

    The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

    • Students on courses of more than 6 months
    • Students on courses of less than 6 months
    • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

    Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

    For more information see our main Visa page.

    Start Dates / Duration of Studies

    Start Date

    Research students may commence their degree studies on 1st October or 1st February.

    Duration of Studies

    • PhD Full-time: 2 - 4 years
    • PhD Part-time: 3 - 7 years
    • PhD by prior publication: 1 - 2 years
    • MPhil Full-time: 1 - 3 years
    • MPhil Part-time: 2 - 5 years

    Following the minimum period of candidature, doctoral students may transfer to a 'writing up' phase provided that the supervision team decide that supervision is no longer required.

    Degree Pathway

    A range of Masters level courses are offered at the School of Health Sciences including an MSc in Advanced Practice with units tailored to each of the Research Centres and professional groupings within the School. Although these and other MSc courses have research components and may involve a research focussed dissertation, they are not Masters in Research programmes.

    The Masters in Clinical Research (MRes) degree is a programme especially designed to give training and experience in conducting clinically focused research. It is normally undertaken over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time), and involves taught components aimed at developing clinical research skills followed by a major research dissertation. The MRes provides the skills and qualification necessary for clinical academic research and therefore may be particularly useful to prepare students for commencing a doctoral programme.

    Study for an MPhil/PhD

    Doctoral level study involves independent academic research, supported by supervisors, that makes an original contribution to knowledge within the discipline. The work carried out is therefore of sufficient quality to satisfy academic peer review and merit publication.

    There are two main routes to doctoral-level research degrees (PhD) within the School.

    The main approach - MPhil/PhD by major thesis - centres on conducting original research and presenting this in a thesis of around 70,000 words (and no longer than 100,000 words). Articles prepared or submitted for publication, or published peer-reviewed articles, will typically be appended to the thesis, as producing such work is a key expectation of engagement and indicator of achievement in doctoral study.

    An alternative route to doctoral qualification is PhD by publication, which involves the candidate either linking together a coherent body of previously conducted research papers with a critical commentary (PhD by prior publication) or preparing and submitting a series of papers for peer reviewed publication during the period of registration (PhD by prospective publication). A PhD by publication is no less rigorous than that pursued through the traditional route. Further details of these two routes are given below:

    MPhil/PhD by major thesis

    The standard route involves the accepted candidate pursuing a research project under the guidance of their supervisors over a period of 3 years (full-time) or 4-6 years (part-time). Candidates register initially for an MPhil (which is a substantial and valid qualification in its own right), and following an Upgrade examination, typically conducted at the end of the first year of study for full-time students, may transfer to the PhD programme.

    MPhil and PhD study will commonly involve a structured programme of research activity, potentially comprising systematic literature review, pilot or developmental study, and main study phases. This focus on building a coherent body of work via structured activities may be particularly appropriate to health professionals engaging in clinical research. Preparing work of a standard appropriate for peer-reviewed publication is central to study at doctoral level, and typically MPhil and PhD students will produce several such works as part of their research (for example, presenting such elements as their literature review, preliminary studies, protocol or main study findings), which will be appended to the thesis.

    PhD by publication

    • By prior publication Candidates who have already published a series of significant research papers submit these together with an accompanying analytical commentary. This body of work must be principally the candidate's own work. The number and range of publications must be sufficient to demonstrate that the work forms a coherent contribution to knowledge or scholarship within the particular field, but typically involves around six papers. These publications must show evidence of development of research skills appropriate to the focus of the research. The publications submitted should show the candidate's capacity to pursue further research and demonstrate a depth of scholarship, critical insight and originality comparable with that required in a traditional PhD. The extended analytical commentary which draws together this previously published work into a single thesis will expand on the candidate's involvement in each work, the skills developed and knowledge acquired in undertaking these works, and the contribution of these works individually and as a series of research papers in generating and extending knowledge about the particular field. This commentary is not normally expected to exceed 20,000 words.
    • By prospective publication Candidates publish several (generally around four to six papers, dependent on their depth, quality, significance and impact) significant research papers addressing various aspects of their research topic during their period of PhD registration. These published (or accepted for publication) papers together with a critical analysis which draws together their published work are submitted in a single thesis of between 40,000 and 80,000 words (including the publications), although this word count might vary by subject discipline. As with the prior publication route, the accompanying critical commentary identifies the candidate's knowledge and skills acquisition, their part in developing the research, and the relevance and importance of the work within the submitted publication series.

    Support for PhD study

    Prospective students are encouraged to explore doctoral funding opportunities such the NIHR and MRC Fellowship schemes, Commonwealth Scholarships, British Council Fellowships and specialist scholarship schemes (such as those provided by Arthritis UK, Diabetes UK, and the British Heart Foundation), as well as (if available) City University doctoral studentship awards.


    • Full-time EU: £4,000 per year
    • Part-time EU: £2,000 per year
    • Full-time Non EU: £12,000 per year
    • Part-time Non EU: £6,000 per year

    Writing-Up Fee for Full Time and Part Time Students: £300

    Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.


    City offers a range of bursaries, studentships and funding options, including an annual University doctoral studentship scheme.Find out more.

    How to Apply

    In the first, instance, please contact the Research Student Support Officer, Tracy Rowson. Ms Rowson will ask you about your academic background and the topic area you are interested in investigating. She will then advise the School's Associate Dean for Research and the Senior Tutors for Research, who will recommend appropriate academic staff who could discuss the topic with you.

    After you have discussed your background and your proposed project with a member of the academic staff, you then submit a formal application using this application form. Your application and proposal will be considered by the School's multidisciplinary Research Degrees Committee and you may be invited for interview. The Committee will accept or reject the application based on two criteria:

    1. Whether the proposed research has good fit with the research themes in the School and the research interests of potential supervisors
    2. Whether the academic background and skills of the applicant suggest that they may be successful in pursuing their research degree to completion.

    This application method should be followed for any MPhil/PhD Research Degree, full-time or part-time, in the following disciplines:

    • Nursing, Midwifery, Mental Health, Public Health and Health Services Research
    • Language and Communication Science
    • Optometry and Visual Science
    • Health Psychology

    If you wish to apply for the DPsych in Health Psychology please see our dedicated page.

    Three Doctoral Studentships

    Closing date: 27th May 2016

    The School of Health Sciences at City University London is offering 3 PhD studentships in a variety of projects across the School. The School is one of the most diverse and successful Schools of Health in the country. In the 2014 REF, 82% of the research activity from the School was rated as either 'World Leading' (4*) or 'Internationally Excellent' (3*). It was ranked as 9th out of 94 in the Unit of Assessment in which its research was evaluated and was rated the best in Nursing and Allied Health Professions in London.

    The School offers PhD candidates an outstanding research environment: in REF 2014, 100% of our research environment was judged as world leading or internationally excellent and 100% of research impact was judged as world leading or internationally excellent.

    In the recent Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, 96% of PhD students responding rated the expertise and responsiveness of their supervisors as excellent. Successful applicants would join a critical mass of 102 current PhD students in the School, providing a supportive environment of peers.

    To apply for studentship funding, please:
    • Apply for a place on the PhD programme on the application form
    • Include a research proposal (based on one of the topics described in each proposal summary)
    • Write a short cover letter with your application requesting that your application be considered for studentship funding
    • Submit your completed application form and supporting documents by email (by 27 May 2016) to the doctoral degrees support officer, Tracy Rowson (

    Find out more information on the studentships, including the topics available within the School.


    MPhil/PhD students have the opportunity to become integral members of the School of Health Sciences' research teams based in the School's Research Centres, which assist and encourage students to complete their studies. A wide range of formal and informal research groups are also available to support MPhil/PhD students.

    MPhil/PhD students are assigned to a team of supervisors, usually consisting of two academics who are expert in the field of the student's study. Students meet regularly with their supervisors to review their learning needs and plan their work towards progression and completion of their research studies. All full-time students are provided with a computer and workstation in close proximity to their related research team. Full time students are required to meet with their supervisors at least twice a term and part time students at least once a term and to record notes from these meetings and other indicators of progress on the web-based system, Research And Progress (RAP).

    Students' progress is monitored regularly and supported by an annual review, where they may have the opportunity to discuss their research design and written work with a research advisor from outside their supervision team. They also have access to ongoing support from Senior Tutors for Research.

    All students working towards a PhD (other than those undertaking doctoral study by prior publication or as a structured programme) initially register for MPhil studies. When the student's study has sufficiently developed to demonstrate that it is of doctoral standard then the student may apply to be upgraded to PhD student status, which will involve an oral examination. Upgrading normally occurs between 12 and 18 months for full time study and between 24 and 30 months for part time study.

    Research students are also supported by student representatives who meet regularly with the student-staff liaison committee so they can respond to any student concerns that cannot be addressed by the supervision team.

    Training Provision

    All MPhil/PhD students can access a wide range of MSc modules and other training programmes across the University, normally without charge. Attendance at these programmes is discussed with and, if appropriate, approved by the student's supervision team.

    A number of workshops, seminars and retreats are organised specifically for research degrees students across the School and within particular areas. Students are also invited to attend the research seminars that are organised for academic staff.

    University-wide research related activities can also contribute to your development as a researcher. An annual programme of research and enterprise development activities is kept under review and updated in response to feedback from research students and academic and research staff. Find out more.

    For more information about Graduate degrees, please see theGraduate School