PhD Health & Wellbeing


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If you're interested in applying for a PhD then join our webinar in December 2016 where you can find out more.


Qualifications and durations

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme comprises a significant piece of research which will enable you to contribute to the academic community through a large written thesis (typically up to 90,000 words). You can complete your PhD in 2 to 4 years (full-time) or up to 6 years (part-time).


Within this interdisciplinary pathway, students explore the interaction between three important lifestyle behaviours – nutrition, physical activity and substance use (i.e. smoking and alcohol consumption), and their impact on public health and risks for chronic diseases. A particular focus is on preparing students with a range of skills to develop and evaluate interventions and strategies to improve health behaviour.

The pathway is supported by a unique integration of research groups that engage in the latest critical thinking on disease risk determinants and correlates across the lifespan (personal, socio-cultural, environmental, psychobiological); behaviour change of individuals and societies; health inequalities; broader social, political and economic contexts in which research on health and wellbeing is carried out and applied in national and international policy making processes; and strategies to enhance collaboration between academia, industry, and third sector organisations to successfully improve public health indicators.

We encourage applications from students interested in exploring how theory, knowledge, concepts, methodology, and skills from various distinct disciplines can be integrated in a coordinated manner to coherently address important issues, problems and challenges to lifestyle behaviours and public health.

South West Doctoral Training Partnership

This course is accredited by the Economics & Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the larger South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP).

If you wish to study for both the MRes and the PhD (the 1 + 3) you should apply for the PhD but indicate on the Application Form, that you also wish to study for the MRes.

Progression from the MRes to the PhD stage is dependent on achieving an acceptable level of achievement (typically an overall average of 60% on at least the taught component of the MRes).

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

  • A good first degree in a social science subject, or
  • an equivalent degree in another subject, together with substantial relevant work experience.

Underlying these conditions is a belief that students must bring a minimum combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience to the programme. Marginal cases are often dealt with at interview, and it is not uncommon for relatively inexperienced students to be asked to defer entry.

English requirements

  • IELTS 7 (with no less than 6.5 in each component)
  • PTE Academic of 69 with no less than 62 in any component

Financial information


You will find details of available University postgraduate research funding opportunities by checking the Graduate School funding pages. We also welcome applications from candidates who are able to self-fund or who have funding from elsewhere.

Unique funding opportunities

  • This is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognised programme, suitable for ESRC-funded 1+3 awards or subsequent +3 applications.

ESRC-funded students are able to claim (during their studies) for three additional allowances:

  • Overseas Fieldwork Allowance
  • Difficult Language Training
  • Overseas Institutional Visits

For more information on these allowances please see the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide. Please note that if you anticipate such activities you should outline the details in your application.

You can find our more about funding opportunities by viewing our webinar.

How to apply

Applications must be made through the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Graduate School.

Two references are required for this programme (at least one of these should be an academic reference).


Tel: +44 (0)1225 385233


Main areas of research

The Department carries out research and teaching in health, medicine, exercise and sport, making significant contributions to national and international health agendas.

The Department aims to produce high-quality research with a strongly applied focus. We aim to contribute to promoting the health of the population and to improving the quality and efficiency of the health services that people rely on and pursue this agenda with a variety of partners at local, regional, national and international levels. Our work is organised around the two main themes of population health and healthcare. We are also pleased to offer a range of Research degrees.

Population health

Historically, health policy has focused almost exclusively on sickness services provided by agencies such as the National Health Service. Although this focus on healthcare remains hugely important, it is increasingly complemented by aspirations to improve the health of the population by tackling the social determinants of health such as poverty and pollution and by encouraging people to adopt health promoting behaviours such as healthy diets and increased physical activity and to stop health damaging ones such as smoking. There is also growing national and international concern that improvements in health should be fairly distributed by reducing health inequalities. The Department for Health organises its work related to population health improvement in three main ways. Much the largest element in the population health portfolio is related to sport, health and exercise science, but the School attaches growing importance to tobacco control and health inequalities.


The Department’s expertise in Healthcare focuses on innovation in the design, delivery, organization, and evaluation of healthcare interventions. We have a particular emphasis on disabling and distressing, long term or life-limiting conditions, such as chronic pain, stroke, dementia, rheumatic disease, and severe mental health problems. Current research activity involves collaborations with NHS colleagues in Bath at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – RNHRD, the Royal United Hospital, the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Care Trust, the Pan Bath & Swindon Primary Care Research Consortium and RehabNET.

Faculties in the Department have significant research expertise and experience in a range of topics including:

  • Addictions and addictive behaviour
  • Alcohol, drugs and the family
  • Assistive technology and rehabilitation
  • Child and adolescent cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes
  • Dementia care
  • Evidence based pain management
  • Leadership and change
  • Mental health service development and evaluation
  • Spondolarthropathy disease and related disability
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Work, health and wellbeing.

The School for Health was established within the University of Bath in 2003, to centralise the high profile research and teaching in the health-related disciplines already taking place throughout the university, so creating a single entity through which links with the health sector at national and international level can be channelled, co-ordinated and developed.

In 2010 the School joined the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and became the Department for Health, providing excellent opportunities for academic teaching and research collaborations with other departments, such as Psychology and Social & Policy Sciences. The Department's postgraduate teaching and research programmes now form part of the Faculty's new Graduate School, also launched in 2010, providing postgraduate students with dedicated support and a strong community in which to base their studies - whether on campus or by distance learning.

In keeping with government initiatives surrounding population health and more general public concerns, the Department divides its activities between two main pillars: Healthcare and Population Health – one focuses on the NHS, healthcare and health services research and the other focuses on population health, healthy living, sport & physical activity and tobacco control; each of these groups, in turn, contain both teaching programmes and research activities. Furthermore, there is a bridging spine between both pillars and which houses the Professional Doctorate in Health, Research in Health Practice and the administrative, finance, learning & teaching development, marketing and support activities of the Department.

The Department’s aims are:

  • To develop a research portfolio that is both of the highest academic standard and has applications in the real world
  • To build on external links with the public services and other bodies concerned with health and society
  • To innovate design and delivery of healthcare services
  • To change corporate approaches to healthy organisations
  • To support government reform of health and social care provision
  • To identify and facilitate opportunities for academic collaboration and new developments.

The Department's postgraduate taught programmes combine academic excellence with flexible and innovative design and delivery; our postgraduate portfolio is distinguished by the provision of a number of Professional Masters and a Professional Doctorate programme designed to be studied part-time by learners working in a wide range of healthcare roles from all around the world. All our postgraduate courses are taught online and this has proved to be one of our unique selling points, with students able to continue within their practice area or working environment whilst gaining a further qualification.

The Department is renowned for its exemplary attention to educational design, integrating knowledge with research evidence and resulting in programmes which are highly relevant to contemporary practice; in addition, the Department boasts some of the most innovative and successful approaches to online and part-time education, recognised through a number of awards.

At all levels, learning and teaching in the Department provides a strong focus on high quality education for real world situations and produces graduates with skills and knowledge relevant to professional roles and in high demand from employers.

Teaching programmes on offer within the Department include:

  • Sport & Exercise Medicine, the world renowned flexible masters programme exclusively for doctors
  • Sports Physiotherapy, a specialist programme designed by physiotherapists for physiotherapists
  • Research in Health Practice, a programme launched in 2008 aimed at health and social care professionals interested in conducting their own research
  • The innovative Professional Doctorate in Health which focuses on both Population Health and Healthcare within the Department, providing a doctoral level programme to develop expert practitioners and researchers in practice.
Facilities, equipment, other resources

Sport and exercise science and medical science laboratories. Close links with the English Institute of Sport and the Department of Sports Development and Recreation.

International and industrial links

There are current links with primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, the two hospitals in Bath and colleagues in industry. The Department works closely with esteemed international academic institutions, and individual health practitioners, in order to meet the regional, national and global challenges facing health and social care.

Careers information

Postgraduate research students gain a wealth of experience to assist them with their next step and are offered personal career advice at the University. The Department has an established research training skills programme for all research students. The taught programmes enable students to extend their health and social care career pathways and to build important networks for further professional opportunities.