Palliative Care


  • Entry Year 2023 or 2022
  • Duration Part time 48 Months


Education in palliative care is valued across Europe and also internationally, particularly in resource poor countries. This PhD is the first doctoral programme to be offered globally, and the first to support the education of palliative care professionals - generating knowledge that’s relevant and applicable to their working contexts.

The Division of Health Research is home to the International Observatory on End of Life Care and a number of staff who are internationally recognised experts in this field of study. The PhD in Palliative Care is your chance to work with world-leading academics on the production of a thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge development within your area of professional practice.

Combining innovative distance learning and an annual Academy held at the University, the programme will help you to gain an understanding of the development of end of life services; movements in different settings and cultures around the world; the models of care that have been adopted; and the issues involved in assessing the impact of these – individually, socially and societally.

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 at the University. Each of the subsequent academic years start with a compulsory three-day Academy, while the rest of the course is delivered via e-learning. Attendance at the annual Academies is compulsory until you are confirmed on the PhD programme.

Throughout your studies, we will support you as you enhance your leadership skills and effectiveness, and develop advanced skills in research design, practice and dissemination. You’ll foster critical approaches to the review of evidence and improve your written and oral presentation skills.

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant subject and relevant work experience.

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.

Additional Requirements

As part of your application you will also need to provide a 500 word research proposal. Guidance for writing a research proposal 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

Fees and Funding

We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2023/24 entry fees have not yet been set.

Scholarships and bursaries

At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.

Studying by blended learning

The PhD in Palliative Care is offered part-time via blended learning. Teaching and research activities are carried out through a combination of face-to-face and online interaction, allowing you to undertake the majority of study from your own location whilst fulfilling your existing responsibilities. You will benefit from being part of a UK and internationally-based peer group working across a range of sectors.

Face-to-face interactions take place at an annual residential autumn Academy while taught modules are delivered via distance learning using our virtual learning environment and include discussion forums, collaborative digital spaces and video conferencing. All students have access to a hub space that facilitates interaction with their cohort and with students on related programmes, creating a virtual information space that’s also sociable. An academic tutor will support you during the taught phase and two supervisors provide you with support in the research phase.

Blended Learning
Woman wearing a headset and microphone completing distance learning work

Course structure

Years 1 and 2 provide you with training in research and in the theory and practice underpinning healthy organizations. Your specialist module in Year 1 is Palliative Care, which is studied alongside the Philosophy of Research, and, Research Design. In Year 2 you will undertake the following modules: Systematic Reviews; Data Analysis; and Advanced Research Planning.

The Palliative Care module examines the historical and comparative perspectives in palliative care policy and practice in different settings and cultures around the world. You will explore how hospice and palliative care have evolved in different resource settings; the models of care that have been adopted; and the issues involved in assessing the impact of these – individually, socially and societally. Through the course of this module you'll gain insight into the field of palliative and end of life care through perspectives and debates within the social sciences. You'll also explore issues associated with the specific concerns of palliative care research. Your studies will relate closely to the ongoing research programmes of the International Observatory on End of Life Care (IOELC), and you'll have access to a unique set of electronic and paper based archives as well as a major library collection of journals, books and grey literature.

The remaining five taught modules (10 weeks each) are taught across programme streams with peers from a range of other backgrounds, but you are encouraged to consider this teaching from the perspective of palliative and end of life care – applying it as you build towards the final module where you fire up your independent research proposal and ethics application.

Years 3 to 4/5 see you undertake a research project in Palliative Care, which will conclude with the submission of your 35,000 word thesis. The project will be supervised from the University but undertaken in your own location or workplace. Supervisions can be via telephone, e-mail or Skype, depending on preference. Face-to-face meetings with your supervisors will take place during the annual academy.

We aim to provide an opportunity for students - many of whom are working in hospice and palliative care services of various kinds - to develop a critical orientation and a portfolio of skills relating to research and evaluation in the field. We encourage the development of general skills that will be of use throughout the programme. These include critical engagement with reading materials, the ability to effectively synthesise materials, and to use research evidence critically in supporting your arguments.

Dr Lynn Bassett, PhD Palliative Care graduate

"Blended learning offered me an opportunity for doctoral study. However, distance learning has its challenges; it demands self-motivation and determination in a process that is conducted, mostly, alone. Autumn Academies provided bases for networking and peer support and I value greatly the firm friendships made across international and interdisciplinary boundaries. In the last year, I emerged with a new thirst for excellence, greater humility, clarity of thought and confidence in my thesis. The persistence and hard work paid off; I have achieved, I have grown, I am changed."

The Division of Health Research

The Division of Health Research have been offering blended learning postgraduate programmes since 2010. We have many successful graduates and currently around 200 continuing students on a range of programmes who have benefited in progressing their careers from the high quality postgraduate education we provide.

Important Information

The information on this site relates primarily to 2022/2023 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.

More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.

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