PhD in Public Health

Study for a PhD by blended learning

This PhD programme offers people working in public health an opportunity to gain key skills in qualitative and quantitative research methods and research ethics, as well as a more critical insight into their practice. The format of the programme (part-time blended learning) has been specifically designed to meet the needs of public health professionals wishing to complete doctoral training and make an original contribution to knowledge development within their field, whilst at the same time fulfilling their existing responsibilities. Students will gain advanced knowledge and critical understanding of:

  • Public health theory, research, practice and policy
  • 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?

This PhD programme will appeal to a wide range of people working in public health, in the UK and internationally:

  • Clinical and non-clinical public health practitioners
  • Policy makers
  • Researchers
  • Educators

Research Areas

Our academic staff have expertise in:

  • Understanding pathways from the wider social determinants of health to health (in)equity, particularly material disadvantage and social exclusion, the impact of chronic illness on employment, the relationship between place and health, the salience of lay knowledge about health and illness, sexuality and gender
  • Evaluating complex area based interventions, public policies, and natural experiments that aim to reduce health inequities by addressing macro social determinants of health (in)equities
  • Adolescence and health related risk taking with a focus on sexual health, pornography and alcohol
  • Developing and evaluating methods for effective knowledge exchange
  • Policy, practice, organisation and delivery of health and social care services, particularly in relation to the integration and coordination of health and social care services
  • Disability research
  • Health economics

Before applying, we suggest you explore the public 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 (i.e. Masters in Public Health), and relevant experience of working within public 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 Public Health
  • A CV
  • All applications must include an Additional Information form

Mode of Study

The PhD in Public 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 public health theory, research, practice and policy. 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 Public Health can be made via the University's online applications system from 1st September 2014. The deadline for applications is 1st April 2015.


Applications to the PhD in Public Health can be made via the University's online application 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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