Health Sciences PhD

Key information

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Why choose this programme

At Surrey we’ve been conducting health-related research for over 30 years, putting people at the focus of everything we do. We’re addressing global healthcare priorities and generating evidence to underpin effective, compassionate and integrated healthcare, working in partnership with healthcare providers, governments and businesses. 

Our PhD is aimed at healthcare professionals looking to undertake research at the highest level. It’s particularly suited for health psychologists, midwives, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists and social scientists. As one of our students, you’ll embrace a ‘patient focused’ philosophy, working to improve the delivery of healthcare nationally and internationally. 

You’ll work alongside academic staff who’re engaged in leading healthcare research. Their work drives and reflects the change in clinical practice. 

93% of our research was rated world-leading and internationally relevant in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Our research also ranked top 10 in the UK for allied health professions.

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

On our PhD, you’ll complete research into your chosen area of interest over a period of four years (full-time) or eight years (part-time). 

Your first year will lay the foundation for your research project. You’ll work closely with your supervisors to review literature and develop your research proposal. You may start negotiating access for sites and settings for data collection or consider applying for ethical approval from us and the NHS. 

During your second and third years, you’ll conduct fieldwork, collect your data and begin to analyse this. During your final year, you’ll continue to analyse your data and write up your findings, in preparation for your thesis submission. 

Throughout your PhD, you’ll gain substantial subject expertise and an in-depth understanding of research methodology and design. You’ll also develop transferable skills in public speaking, drafting proposals and writing for publications. 

Current students are researching topics including: 

  • The ethical implications of 'spirituality' in residential care for older people. 
  • The role of medicine management activities in the implementation of paramedic advanced practice. 


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

You’ll have a confirmation assessment to formally review your project. If you're a full-time student, this will take place around 12-15 months into your studies or 24-30 months if you’re studying part-time. You’ll be required to submit a written report and successfully complete an oral examination. 

Progress reviews 

In addition to the confirmation process you’ll have six-monthly progress reviews with your supervisors. These meetings are an opportunity to reflect on your progress, discuss successes and challenges and set targets for the next six months. These reviews will be monitored by postgraduate research directors and recorded on your student record. 

You’ll also have at least one formal meeting with your supervisors every month. The regularity of these will depend on the nature and stage of your project. 

Professional development 

You'll be joining a thriving doctoral community of postgraduate research students who meet weekly and offer peer-support in informal student-led support groups. You’ll be invited to join one or more of our research groups, benefitting from our guest speakers and facilitators, both from within the University and externally, who’ll discuss their research with you. 

We also run training to equip you with contemporary healthcare knowledge and research skills, which includes seminars, writing groups and research methods tuition.  

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Research themes

Our research investigates: 

  • Cancer, including early diagnosis, the influence of cancer treatment on people and supportive technologies. 
  • Digital health, including access to primary and community care services, predictive risk modelling, and the remote monitoring and management of conditions. 
  • Ethics in care, including cross-cultural perspectives on caring for the elderly, understanding and responding to fitness to practise complaints, and values-based end-of-life care for young people with learning disabilities. 
  • Long-term conditions and ageing, including dementia care, frailty and multimorbidity in older people and non-medical prescribing. 
  • Maternal, child and family health, including mental health, palliative care, perinatal depression, safeguarding and sexual health. 
  • Workforce, organisation and wellbeing, including staffing and policy implementation, student, employee and patient wellbeing, and supporting healthcare delivery. 

Our academic staff

Throughout your studies you’ll have at least two supervisors from the School of Health Sciences, who’ll have scientific expertise relevant to your research project. Your supervisors will give you academic guidance and tuition, helping you develop your research ideas and plans, underpinning your theory and understanding of methodology and analysis. They’ll read and comment on your draft work, giving you honest and constructive feedback. They’ll provide you with pastoral support and advice, referring you to more specialist services where necessary. 

Supervisors may include Dr Debbie Cooke (an expert in the management of long-term conditions), Dr Richard Green (an expert in the sociology of health and illness), Dr Jill Maben (an expert in positive practice environments for NHS staff and the impact this has on patient care), Dr Freda Mold (an expert in primary and community care delivery). 

Research facilities

Our facilities have recently undergone a multi-million pound investment, giving you access to the latest industry equipment including our Clinical Simulation Centre, consisting of two large wards, an operating theatre, a community flat and an ambulance bay. 

Depending on the nature of your research project you may also use other university facilities, including our 5G/6G Innovation Centre for the development of innovative health technologies, and the Innovation for Health Learning Laboratory

You may also have access to external facilities and equipment if your project is in collaboration with one of our 800+ partners, which includes four local NHS trusts. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree (upper second) in an appropriate discipline, but prior experience in research or health and social care may be acceptable.

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.


Start date: October 2022


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500

Start date: January 2023


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500

Start date: April 2023


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500

For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

More information on the application process.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Kate Granger Building

Our health sciences, nursing and midwifery courses are taught at the Kate Granger Building (30 Priestley Road), on the Surrey Research Park.

University of Surrey Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH