PhD fellowships

The offer


PhD fellowships are an opportunity for an individual to carry out an extended supervised period of research and contribute to the development of the field of improvement studies.

We are seeking applications from universities who will recruit and select high-calibre students to undertake PhD student fellowships. Universities may appoint clinical and non-clinical candidates.

What we offer

The award ranges from £137,500 to £276,000 per doctoral fellowship, allowing for clinical salaries where appropriate and adjusting for the length of the fellowship (PhD or 1 + 3 model). It is expected, at a minimum, that a university will use the funding to pay for:

  • Relevant Masters / PhD fees (UK rates)
  • A stipend or salary for the PhD student
  • Research costs (e.g. conference attendance, items of small equipment, transcription costs, meeting costs, and expenses for service-user participants)
  • Dissemination and publication costs, including at least one open-access publication

We offer membership of THIS Space and access to a mentoring scheme at no cost to fellows.

What we don’t offer

We don’t provide funds for estates, directly allocated or indirect costs.

Selection criteria

Who can apply

Any UK university may apply to the scheme. Each application should propose a single project. Universities may submit as many applications as they wish, but in general not more than two awards will be made to any one university.

Funding is available for three years (PhD) or four years (Masters + PhD).

THIS Institute will not be involved in the direct selection of PhD fellows. Universities who are awarded funding will be responsible for recruitment.

The PhD fellowships are intended to be held full-time, but part-time applications may be considered by universities, for example, where applicants are undergoing clinical training or other circumstances apply. Those in clinical speciality training will be responsible for making their own arrangements with the relevant deanery or Local Education and Training Board, or equivalent, where appropriate.

We do not accept direct applications from individual students wishing to pursue a PhD. We cannot accept queries from individuals wishing to purse PhD studies at Cambridge.

What we’re looking for

The selection criteria includes:

University criteria

  • Centre of academic excellence with a strong record of research and career development for researchers
  • Extent to which the institution is undertaking multidisciplinary research that will inform the development of theory, methods and application relevant to improvement studies
  • Quality of environment, including facilities, collaborative networks, and ability to work productively with the NHS
  • Suitable training programmes to support the skills and expertise needed to successfully complete the PhD research

Project proposal criteria

  • Specified appropriately to be completed through a PhD study
  • Relevant to improving quality and/or safety in the NHS
  • Synergistic with ongoing research programmes in the university
  • Demonstrates appropriate study design and research methods
  • Describes an area in which the supervisor has content expertise
  • Feasible within a doctoral programme where the student might need to gain approvals and undergo training
  • Likely to make a valuable contribution to the field of improvement research

Application stages

How to apply

All applications must be submitted via our Fellowship Management System. All applications should be submitted by an administrative authority/finance office in the applying university.

Stages of applications

1. Before you apply

We encourage you to check that your application is eligible and competitive by reading the guidance for applicants.

2. Submit your application

All applications must be submitted online through the Fellowship Management System.

3. Review and shortlisting

Applications will be measured against the selection criteria included in the guidance for applicants. Shortlisted applications will be sent for external peer review.

4. Final decision

Successful universities will be responsible for the recruitment and selection of high-calibre students to undertake the PhDs. They will manage their research and development and administer course fees, stipends and other financial aspects of the award.


Our next PhD competition will open in 2020.

Apply for this fellowship

Log in to our Fellowship Management System. You can save your application and return to it at any time.

Start your application