Delivered by leading universities

This four-year programme in health data science includes one year of foundational training followed by a three-year thesis project. You can read about some of our current students’ research projects in their profiles here.

Where you will study

There are up to five studentships are available for 2023/24 entry, based at our partner universities: Birmingham, UCL, Edinburgh, Manchester and Queen’s University Belfast. Applicants can indicate preferences for universities, and provide relevant information for their choice such as caring responsibilities or personal circumstances.

During the foundational training year students will benefit from events around the UK. Courses may be residential (expenses provided) with up to a week away from their home university or online.

Please sign up below to find out when we next open our PhD recruitment:

Sign up here

Key information for applicants:

  • The programme offers:

    • Enhanced and tax-free stipends with increases every year (Y1: £19,919 outside London and £22,278 in London)
    • Fully-paid tuition fees at the UK ‘Home’ rate (and college fees where required)
    • Research expenses and travel costs
    • Bespoke training delivered with our industry and academic partners
    • A bursary to support the next step of your career post-PhD
    • Learning from and alongside a cohort of fellow students
    • Your own Director of Studies as a point of contact throughout your PhD
  • Applicants must have (or be on track to obtain):

    • A First Class or 2:1 undergraduate degree in statistics, mathematics, computer science, physics or an allied subject or
    • Any undergraduate degree subject and outcome but can demonstrate their suitability for this programme through additional qualifications or research experience.

    Allied subjects can include: engineering, machine learning, data science, robotics, systems biology, bioinformatics/biostatistics, epidemiology. Active or currently registered clinicians are not eligible and should consider the Wellcome Clinical PhD programmes.

    Applicants also need to meet the following criteria:

    • Successful admission to the specified degree programme at one of our partner universities. Students will be expected to meet the admissions requirements of that department and university but do not need to hold the offer at the point of application.
    • Two satisfactory academic or relevant references.
    • Acceptable proof of a legal right to study in the UK or ability to satisfy the current requirements of UK Visa and Immigration.
    • Training is in a mixture of formats (in-person, hybrid and virtual) throughout the first year so we cannot accept from applicants who wish to be remotely-based or from those who aim to study whilst continuing in full-time employment.
  • There are no nationality restrictions and international students are able to apply. However, applicants are advised the award only covers fees at the UK/Home level. International students will be required to secure an additional scholarship from our partner universities (after receiving a offer from us at interview) to cover the difference between Home and Overseas fees. This will limit the university choices available:

    (Please be aware that these are usually highly competitive and will need to be applied for separately in your application to the university post-offer. A successful application to the PhD programme does not guarantee a fee waiver or scholarship. We do not accept applications from candidates who are self-funding.)

    University Programme Subject specialties International fee awards Comments
    Queen’s University Belfast None specified Cancer epidemiology, public health, health economics, bioinformatics and computational biology None  
    University of Birmingham PhD Computer Science Medical imaging, causal reasoning, model-based learning, network models in biology None  
    University of Birmingham PhD Cancer and Genomic Studies Bioinformatics, genomics, electronic health records None  
    University of Cambridge PhD Public Health Public health, molecular epidemiology, biostatistics, computational biology and bioinformatics Not recruiting for 2023-24 academic year  
    UCL PhD Statistical Science Bayesian statistical modelling, health economics Available One international fee award available for 2023 entry with the Department of Statistical Science. Student must remain with the department for the duration of their studies.
    UCL PhD Institute of Health Informatics None
    University of Edinburgh PhD MRC Human Genetics Unit Medical imaging, computational biology and bioinformatics, health informatics, genetic epidemiology, public health Available All international applicants welcome.
    University of Manchester PhD HDR UK Health Data Science Clinical prediction models, text mining, medical image analysis, statistical epidemiology and wearable biosensors Available One international fee scholarship is available for 2023 entry.
    University of Oxford DPhil HDR UK Health Data Science Medical imaging, epidemiology, infectious diseases, computational biology and bioinformatics, public health, genetics Not recruiting for 2023-24 academic year

    These are only initial programmes of study for Year 1. Students may transfer to a new university programme from Year 2 after research projects have been confirmed.

  • Our programme is fully committed to creating a diverse and inclusive research culture. We welcome applications from everyone and in particular those under-represented in STEM subjects and academia. We will:

    • seek to understand the challenges and barriers to equality in order to eliminate discrimination, creating an environment where differences are valued;
    • welcome applications from returning students and those in employment who wish to re-enter academic research;
    • promote a culture of inclusion, recognising and celebrating difference and acknowledging the benefits achieved by diversity of thought and experience;
    • create a safe, non-judgemental space where we can discuss any issues that arise relating to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and support one another to understand and acknowledge a range of perspectives;
    • embed equality, diversity and inclusion across all levels of the programme and in everything that we do;
    • educate our community and raise awareness in all areas relating to equality, diversity and inclusion ensuring our commitment to EDI is understood by all.

    We aim to accommodate specific needs and personal circumstances but rely on applicants sharing this information with us. Please make us aware of individual circumstances when applying or contact us directly at phd@hdruk.ac.uk. Please note our applicant privacy notice.

  • Applications are now closed. To complete and submit a PhD application, you will require the following information:

    • Your contact details
    • Details and transcripts of your university qualification(s)
    • Any relevant job history
    • Your answers to personal-statement type questions
    • Contact details for two referees
    • Any preferences you may have for university

    There is no need to apply to universities, submit a research proposal, provide IELTS scores or contact supervisors at this stage.

    Submitted applications will first be checked for eligibility and then will undergo a first stage review. This will involve triage by the programme team and then review by academics from our partner universities in December 2022. Successful applicants will be invited to an interview via remote video conferencing in January 2023.

    After receiving an offer, we will invite you to begin an application to relevant partner universities.

  • Applicants should demonstrate that they meet the following criteria:

    Criterion First Stage (Shortlisting) Second Stage (Interview)
    Experience in mathematical or statistical sciences Y Y
    Experience of computer science or programming skills Y Y
    Clear motivation to develop and apply their quantitative skills in a health data science setting Y Y
    Emerging communication and leadership skills and aspiration to develop these across a broad audience  Y Y
    Awareness of the mission of Health Data Research UK and the ethical and societal considerations around conducting research with health data  Y Y
    Scientific comprehension skills* Y
    Scientific reasoning and modelling skills* Y

    *This will be assessed at interview via a pre-interview exercise.

    HDR UK reserves the right to reject applicants who do not meet the criteria at any stage. Regretfully, we can only provide feedback for candidates who reach interview.

What our students say

“What inspires me is the immersion mix. We have attended some events in-person this year which is quite exciting. We visited AstraZeneca who have given us a lot of presentations about their current work using health data science, which inspires me about my future career.” Tianxiao Wang, PhD student at the University of Manchester

Register your interest here

Further information

If you have questions or require adjustments to the application process, please contact us at phd@hdruk.ac.uk or telephone (+44 (0)770 847 8846).