The PhD in Health Economics and Policy meets the needs of those wishing to gain a deep and critical insight into health economics theory, research and practice and to develop or enhance research skills whilst fulfilling their existing responsibilities. The programme is offered part-time and combines innovative distance learning with face-to-face teaching at an annual autumn Academy held in Lancaster.
The programme is suitable for both UK-based and international students working in healthcare settings, pharmaceutical companies, international organisations, local and central government, consultancies, education or research.
This part-time, flexible doctorate runs over a minimum of four and a maximum of seven years. The programme begins with a compulsory five-day Induction Academy in Lancaster. Each of the subsequent academic years start with a compulsory three-day autumn Academy, while the rest of the course is delivered via e-learning. Attendance at the annual Academies is compulsory until students have been confirmed on the PhD programme.
Years 1 and 2 consist of taught modules delivered online that consolidate students’ knowledge of health economics and policy and develop their research skills. In Year 1 students take two specialist modules that cover the theory and practice of health economics and policy as well as a module on data analysis. Year 2 modules may include: Systematic Reviews, Research Philosophy, Research Design and Practical Research Ethics.
From Year 3 onwards, students undertake an independent research study, which will conclude with the submission of a thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge. The research project will be supervised from the University but undertaken in students’ own location or workplace. Supervision meetings take place using video conferencing software such as Skype. During the annual autumn Academy students meet with supervisors face to face.
The Health Economics at Lancaster (HEAL) team has expertise in health economics, health policy and economic evaluation. This expertise is being complemented by the expertise existing in the Economics department at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS).
2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in economics, or other relevant discipline with a significant quantitative content such as statistics, pharmacy, medicine and management.
We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.
If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.
As part of your application you will also need to provide a 500 word research proposal. Guidance can be found on our writing a research proposal webpage.
English Language Requirements
We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.
We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 6.0 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.
Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
Health Economics: principles and practice
e-learning distance module
Autumn Term (weeks 1-10, October – December)
Mode of assessment: 3000 word essay (80%) and a poster (20%).
This module equips students with a set of economic tools to critically appraise issues in health and health care while offering a broad overview of the most relevant and current policy issues. The module begins with a review of microeconomic and statistical tools relevant for health economics. It then introduces an analytical framework for assessing a wide range of health systems. Next, the module looks at the demand for and production of health and health care, including the concept of supplier induced demand. Finally, the module introduces students to the key elements of economic evaluation.
The aim of this module is to provide students with an advanced introduction to the methods commonly used in health research. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- How to use Moodle for distance learning and engage with peers and staff online
- Using the library as a distance learning student
- How to search the literature
- Using End Note
- How to synthesise evidence
- Standards of academic writing
- The nature of plagiarism and how to reference source material correctly
- Theoretical perspectives in health research
- The practical process of conducting research
- How to formulate appropriate questions and hypotheses
- How to choose appropriate methodology
- Quantitative and qualitative research method
- Research ethics
- Disseminating and implementing research into practice
- Programme-specific research.
Philosophy of Research
e-learning distance module
Spring Term (weeks 1-10, January-March)
Mode of assessment: 5000 word essay
This module explores the philosophical underpinnings of research. It begins with an introduction to epistemology, i.e. the philosophical basis of knowledge and its development. It then considers the influence of different epistemological bases on research methodology and explores the role of theory and theoretical frameworks in the research process. It also examines the nature of the knowledge that underpins evidence-based policy and practice and introduces the fundamental principles of ethics.
Theory and Methods: Choices for Health Research
e-learning distance module
Sunmer Term (weeks 1-10, April-June)
Mode of assessment: 5000 word assignment consisting of two 2500 word components
This module introduces a range of methods used in health research. The focus is on justifying research design choices rather than practical skills in data analysis. The starting point is the development of meaningful and feasible research questions. The module then introduces a range of quantitative research designs and quantitative approaches to data collection. Next, the module looks at qualitative research designs and their relation to different epistemological positions. How to integrate quantitative and qualitative methods into mixed methods research is being discussed next. The module also explores issues such as sampling and quality across different research designs.
e-learning distance module
Spring term (weeks 1-10, January-March)
Mode of assessment: two pieces of written work (Qualitative data analysis, 2500 words; Quantitative data analysis, 2500 words)
This module is an introduction to the theory and practice of qualitative and quantitative data analysis. The module consists of two distinct parts: qualitative data analysis and quantitative data analysis. Within each part, there will be an option to take an introductory or an advanced unit.
The introductory quantitative unit covers data management and descriptive analyses and introduces students to inferential testing in general and statistical tests for comparisons between groups specifically. The advanced quantitative unit covers linear regression as well as regression methods for categorical dependent variables and longitudinal data before exploring quasi-experimental methods for policy evaluation and finally providing an opportunity to discuss more specific regression methods such count data models or duration analysis.
The introductory qualitative unit focusses on the technique of thematic analysis, a highly flexible approach and useful foundation for researchers new to qualitative data analysis. The unit takes students through the stage of a qualitative data analysis: sorting and organising qualitative data, interrogating qualitative data, interpreting the data and finally writing accounts of qualitative data. The advanced qualitative unit introduces students to alternative techniques such as narrative analysis or discourse analysis.
Principles of Research Design and Practical Research Ethics
e-learning distance module
Summer Term (weeks 1-10, April-June)
Mode of assessment: A written assignment that includes: a) a 4000 word research proposal and b) a completed FHMREC ethics application form and supporting documents.
This module completes the taught phase of Blended Learning PhD programmes. It enables students to put everything they have learned so far together and produce a research proposal that will provide the basis for the research phase of the programme.
The first part of the module – research design – starts by discussing the components of a research proposal according to different epistemologies and research methods. It then takes students through the process of developing their own proposal, starting with the topic and epistemological framework, through to the study design and data collection methods and finally the practical details.
The second part of the module – practical research ethics – teaches students how to think about their research proposal from an ethical perspective. It covers ethical guidelines and teaches students how to identify the purpose of a guideline, to enable them to translate their proposal into an ethical review application. Finally, students will prepare a practice research ethics application using the FHMREC ethics application form.
Systematic approaches to literature reviews and evidence synthesis
e-learning distance module
Autumn term (weeks 1-10, October-December)
Mode of assessment: 5000 word assignment
This module provides an introduction to the principles and components of systematic reviewing. It takes students through the key steps of a systematic review. The starting point of the module is the construction of an appropriate review question. Next, the module discusses the (iterative) process of creating a search strategy that successfully identifies all relevant literature. The module then moves on to selecting appropriate methodological quality criteria, enabling students to develop their skills in critically appraising studies. After discussing how to prepare a data extraction form the module introduces a key component of a systematic review: synthesising the evidence. Finally, the module will teach students how to put everything together in a systematic review protocol.
Fees and funding
Home Fee £4,350
International Fee £11,340
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small College Membership Fee which supports the running of college events and activities. Students on some distance-learning courses are not liable to pay a college fee.
For students starting in 2023 and 2024, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2025 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Application fees and tuition fee deposits
For most taught postgraduate applications there is a non-refundable application fee of £40. We cannot consider applications until this fee has been paid, as advised on our online secure payment system. There is no application fee for postgraduate research applications.
For some of our courses you will need to pay a deposit to accept your offer and secure your place. We will let you know in your offer letter if a deposit is required and you will be given a deadline date when this is due to be paid.
What is my fee status?
The fee that you pay will depend on whether you are considered to be a home or international student. Read more about how we assign your fee status.
Fees in subsequent years
If you are studying on a programme of more than one year’s duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. Read more about fees in subsequent years.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2024/2025 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
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