PhD in Mental Health

Study for a PhD by blended learning

The PhD Mental Health provides opportunities for future leaders in mental health to gain core research skills, as well as a deeper and more critical insight into mental health theory, translational research, and how this impacts on policy and practice. You will develop quantitative and qualitative research skills, improve knowledge management, enhance leadership skills and effectiveness, and advance scholarship in presenting written and oral arguments. The programme aims to promote advanced knowledge and critical understanding of:

  • Mental health theory, research and practice, particularly from a psychosocial perspective
  • Philosophy of research
  • Research methods, questions and choices
  • Diverse evidence synthesis and systematic review
  • Quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Principles of research design and ethics

Who should apply?

The PhD in Mental Health will be of interest to people with a relevant background who are working, or aspire to work, in the field of mental health, and who wish to engage in a higher level of education and gain advanced research skills. The PhD is international on focus and not restricted to any one professional group or discipline, appealing to individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including:

  • Managers in a range of organisations in the private, public and voluntary sector
  • Educators on mental health
  • Graduates of related disciplines (e.g. psychology, social sciences, social work, occupational therapy)
  • Mental health practitioners (e.g. clinical psychologists, psychological well-being practitioners, counsellors, CBT therapists, mental health workers, occupational therapists, social workers, community psychiatric nurses)
  • Policy makers.

Research Areas

Our academic staff have expertise in:

  • Psychosocial processes underlying the development and maintenance of mental health problems, particularly serious mental illness (e.g. psychosis, bipolar disorder)
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Recovery
  • Stigma
  • Involving relatives and service users in mental health research and practice

Before applying, we suggest you explore the mental health research in the Division of Health Research to ensure we have expertise in your area of interest:

Entry Requirements

The standard minimum entry requirements are normally an upper second class honours degree, or a good Masters in an appropriate subject, and relevant experience of working within mental health.

If English is not your first language an overall IELTS score of at least 6.5 is required (a minimum of 5.5 must be achieved in each separate skill: writing, reading, listening and speaking). Alternative qualifications are accepted.

Applicants must also include with their application:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts
  • Two references from individuals able to comment on the applicant's suitability for study at a PhD level (it is recommended that at least one should be from an academic)
  • A 500 word research proposal which should include an introduction to the study topic, research questions and the methods that may be used. (We recognise that these ideas are likely to change)
  • A personal statement giving a clear indication of their motivation for pursuing a PhD in Mental Health
  • A CV
  • All applications must include an Additional Information form.

Mode of Study

The PhD Mental Health is offered part-time via blended learning over 5 years. Blended learning refers to the methods of interaction between students and course tutors / supervisors on a programme. Teaching and research activities are carried out through a combination of face-to-face and online interaction. Face-to-face interactions include residential academies and work-based workshops while online interactions use our virtual learning environment and include discussion forums, collaborative digital spaces and video conferencing.

Years 1 and 2 will involve online taught modules on research skills, ethical considerations, and mental health theory, research and practice. Online e-learning will be coupled with annual interactive academies held at Lancaster University in September. You must gain an average mark of 60% across the taught element of the programme in order to proceed to the research element in year 3.

From Year 3, you will undertake a research project, which will conclude with the submission of a thesis (35,000 words) that makes an original contribution to knowledge within your area of professional interest, and will be of direct relevance to it. This research project will be supervised from Lancaster University but undertaken in your own location or workplace. Supervisors will be chosen based on relevant theoretical or methodological expertise within the student's area of interest where possible.

Course Duration

The course commences in September and runs part-time (minimum duration 4 years, maximum 7 years)



Applications to the PhD in Mental Health can be made via the University's online applications system from 1st September 2014. The deadline for applications is 1st April 2015.
All applications must include an Additional Information form.


For further information, please contact our admissions team:


Division of Health Research
Faculty of Health and Medicine
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YG
United Kingdom

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