PhD in Palliative Care

Study for a PhD by blended learning

The aim of the course is to equip people working in palliative, hospice and end of life care to undertake advanced study within their chosen field, including clinical work, education, research, management, policy and advocacy. The programme aims to promote the development of advanced practice in palliative care service organisation and delivery. Students will gain advanced knowledge and critical understanding of:

  • Palliative care history, concepts and debates
  • 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 Palliative Care will appeal to a wide range of people working in hospice, palliative care and end of life care:

  • Clinicians
  • Managers
  • Educators
  • Policy makers
  • Researchers

It is not restricted to any one professional group or discipline, and is intended to be international in focus, appealing to people working in a variety of settings such as:

  • Health Care
  • Social Care
  • Hospices
  • Charities
  • Foundations
  • Non-Government Organisations

Research Areas

Our academic staff have expertise in:

  • Clinical studies, particularly on the management of pain and other symptoms
  • Understanding the needs of family and carers and planning interventions to support them
  • Addressing the needs of older people including those with dementia and improving the provision of end of life care in residential and nursing homes
  • Public education and awareness of end of life issues
  • Research across the lifespan in chronic illness and end of life care, from childhood to old age.

Before applying, we suggest you explore the ageing and palliative care 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 palliative care.

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 Palliative Care
  • A CV
  • All applications must include an Additional Information form

Mode of Study

The PhD in Palliative Care 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 palliative care history, concepts and debates. 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 Palliative Care 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.


Division of Health scholarships

Useful information on funding sources can be found at Find a PhD and Lancaster Financial Awards


For further information, please contact our admissions team:

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

Praise for our Summer Academy

"The research summer academy was an intensive, stimulating, exhausting and yet exhilarating experience"
Martina O'Reilly, Quality & Research Co-Ordinator, Limerick

"Overall I found the week challenging, extremely informative and an excellent theoretical foundation to build my PhD project"
Loreena Hill, Cardiac Liaison Nurse with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Both Martina and Loreena above were awarded bursaries by All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) to attend our Summer Academy in April 2012.

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