Population Health Sciences

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Run by Faculty of Health Sciences
Awards available PhD, MD, DSc, MSc by research
Programme length PhD: Three to four years full-time; six years part-time
MD: Two to five years part-time
MScR: One year full-time; two years part-time

This research degree is also available via distance learning.
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date Not fixed.

Programme overview

Population Health Sciences is part of the Bristol Medical School. Staff in the school have extensive national and international research collaborations, with several providing health policy advice for government organisations and international bodies. Staff and students in the department are also members of the cross-faculty Bristol Population Health Science Institute.

Our staff are multi-disciplinary and include statisticians, epidemiologists, geneticists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, health economists, public health physicians, medical ethicists, computational biologists, neuroscientists, and various community-based physicians and nurses. We are keen to attract graduates from all these disciplines to carry out postgraduate research. In the 2017 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, 90 per cent of our students were satisfied with their postgraduate experience. Ratings for quality of supervision, resources, research culture, progress assessment, research skills training and professional development all exceeded sector averages.

A selection of fully funded PhD opportunities are available within the school. We have a Wellcome Trust four-year PhD programme in Molecular, Genetic and Lifecourse Epidemiology. The MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit provides four-year PhD opportunities on a range of cross-disciplinary projects integrating molecular and other data to investigate the causal effects of potentially modifiable exposures on health-related outcomes. The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre offers a number of PhD studentships in translational research relevant to population health, and the school also hosts cross-disciplinary studentships as part of the BHF Integrative Cardiovascular Science PhD programme.

Other funded studentships are available for projects in any research area within the school. Students who have already secured funding, or are looking to secure personal funding, must contact potential supervisors to discuss research topics before applying. Please visit the school website to see current opportunities.

Fees for 2019/20

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-time
Overseas: full-time (Non-clinical)
Overseas: full-time (Clinical)
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2019/20

Funded opportunities are advertised on the school website as they become available. Some funding opportunities are restricted to UK or EU citizens. Funding for this programme for overseas postgraduate students is limited.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) or a master's degree in a subject relevant for the proposed research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile B
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

Child and Adolescent Health

The Centre for Child and Adolescent Health is a joint initiative between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE) which aims to promote the academic study of child health through inter-professional collaboration. Staff at the centre include senior academics and researchers from Bristol and UWE, and clinician-educators from North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Bath.

Our research is structured into themes:

  • Child development and disability
  • Children with complex health needs
  • Child and adolescent injury

Children and young people's participation and international child health are cross-cutting themes.


The school's research programme includes lifecourse epidemiology (studying how exposures at different stages of the lifecourse interact to produce patterns of chronic disease) and clinical epidemiology (eg investigating the prognosis of HIV-infected patients starting antiretroviral therapy).

Major themes within epidemiology include:

Ethics in Medicine

At the Centre for Ethics in Medicine we examine ethics in medicine and bioscience, working together with colleagues from various disciplines (law, palliative medicine, psychiatry, primary care). The main areas of interest are:

  • Educating and supporting healthcare professionals (clinical ethics, research ethics, ethics education, professionalism)
  • Chronic illness, terminal illness and long-term care (end-of-life decision-making, older people, children and young people, psychiatry, health and social care policies)
  • Biotechnologies and biosciences (genetics, human enhancement, reproductive medicine, human tissue, surgical ethics)

Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology

This programme uses molecular (eg genomic, epigenomic, metabolomic) data from large cohort studies to investigate the molecular mechanisms of disease, to aid understanding of the relationships between lifecourse exposures and adult diseases, and to develop methods for disseminating and introducing these findings into practice. Major themes in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit include:

  • Genome-wide association studies
  • Mendelian Randomisation
  • Epigenetics/epigenomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Population genetics
  • Systems biology
  • Laboratory-based genetic epidemiology

Health Services and Public Health Research

We are a hub for methodological and applied research into the effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability of healthcare and health improvement. We actively contribute to health service and public health practice and policy-making.

Our Centre for Public Health includes the UKCRC DECIPHer Centre and we are partners in the NIHR School for Public Health Research. We also host the NIHR Health Protection Unit in Evaluation of Interventions. Our major strengths include the design and conduct of randomised controlled trials led by the MRC CMRC ConDuCT trials methodology hub, the Bristol Centre for Surgical Research and the Bristol Randomised Trials Collaboration. We have vibrant research groups in systematic reviews and evidence synthesis, qualitative methods, biostatistics, health economics and outcomes research.

Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is one of the eight leading centres for primary care research in England that form the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. We conduct high-quality research of practical benefit to patient care and NHS decision-making.

CAPC has an important role in developing research capacity in primary care through hosting studentships and fellowships funded by the NIHR and other funders.

Mental Health

The Centre for Academic Mental Health brings together researchers working on mental health, addiction and suicide research within the school. Our research investigates a wide range of biological, psychological and social factors and how they might influence the causation and course of psychiatric disorders.

Our strengths include:

  • Epidemiology, especially longitudinal studies to investigate depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, psychosis and autism spectrum disorders
  • Randomised controlled trials, particularly the treatment of depression and anxiety in primary care
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses, especially interventions for common mental disorders

In addition, we have interests in the biological basis of psychiatric disorder.


Most of our final-year research students express a wish to continue in the field of research. The vast majority of recent PhD graduates now work in the academic sector, with many others working in the health and private sectors. In addition to excellent research training, our students develop a range of transferable skills to ensure they have the best possible opportunities whatever their chosen career.

Staff profiles

Further details of the current supervisors and their interests are available on the programme website.

How to apply
Application deadline:

Deadlines are advertised on the school website at various times throughout the year. We welcome enquiries at any time of the year.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care:
  • 50% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 36% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 12% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

Sharen O'Keefe Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 928 7274 Email: phs-pgradmin@bristol.ac.uk

Bristol Medical School
University of Bristol
Canynge Hall
39 Whatley Road
Bristol BS8 2PR http://www.bristol.ac.uk/medical-school/ http://www.bristol.ac.uk/population-health-sciences/


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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