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Who are the consortium members?

The consortium is led by Queen Mary University of London, its members are all nine current members of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) and the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge Students will typically be based in the institution of their primary supervisor.


How many PhDs will be funded?

Ariound five clinical PhDs per year for five years. The students will be hosted across 9 NIHR SPCR members and Cambridge.


How do I apply?

Information on how to apply can be found here. An overview of available projects at consortium members can be found here.


What is the deadline for applications?

Applications need to be submitted by 12 noon Monday 28 February 2022. The interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place Monday 21st March 2022.


When will successful applicants start their PhD?

Those who have been successful at the interviews 21 March, are expected to start their PhD studentship in Autumn 2022.


When will I hear about the outcome of my application?

Applicants will be informed by 14th March if they have been successful in securing an interview place. Shortlisted candidates will generally be informed of the results of the interviews within two weeks. Please Note: Successful candidates will be required to confirm their acceptance of an offer of a place on the programme within two weeks of being notified.


Who can be funded?

The funding is for clinicians of all disciplines working in UK primary care, for example: practice nurses; health visitors; dentists, primary care pharmacists; optometrists working in primary care and general practitioners (NB this list is not exhaustive).  

Eligible primary care clinicians must be fully qualified in their area of practice in primary care and will be working largely or wholly in primary care (i.e. not in secondary care). Candidates should intend to continue their clinical careers in primary care. 

Those who are still undergoing training in their area of practice in primary care, e.g. training as a GP or training as a practice nurse*, are not eligible until they have completed their training. Candidates who will definitely have completed their training by the time their doctorate is due to start are eligible, except where completion of training involves an exit examination. Such candidates must not apply until they have passed their exit exam and thereby completed their training. 

Please note: this programme isn't meant for individuals who have already secured MPhil funding and want to use this programme for the additional two years of doctoral funding.

(*There are a variety of routes to train as a practice nurse)


What funding is available?

  • Three years of current full-time salary (pro rata if part time), please note for general practitioners and dentists salaries are capped at the Pre-2003 Consultant salary rate (£68,163 – £88,358 pa).
  • Training expenses (circa £10k pa) (to include tuition fees, training costs and conference attendance etc)
  • Up to around £25K in research costs across the duration of doctorate with some flexibility for a little more if clearly justified and well argued.
  • Institutional overheads and supervisory costs are not included in awards


Is it possible to study part -time?

There is the opportunity for those working part-time to do a part-time doctorate over 5 years, i.e  at 0.6 WTE, 3 days per week.  It will not be possible to do a part-time doctorate at a lower WTE than 0.6. If you wish to work clinically part time whilst doing your doctorate, please confirm that this will be acceptable to your clinical employers before applying.

Full-time doctoral students are allowed to work in clinical practice for one a day a week to maintain their clinical skills/ professional registration. Please note any clinical work is funded by the practice, not the doctoral award.


Can I propose my own project?

There is the opportunity to propose your own research project. Students who devise their own doctoral projects are strongly advised to discuss their proposed studies with their proposed supervisors and must have agreement from their proposed primary supervisor upon submission of the application.


What will be expected of me if I receive funding?

The application guidance includes a role description which gives further insights into what is expected. As we are required to monitor the successes and future career paths of our doctoral trainees, it is a requirement of accepting a post on the programme that PhD students agree to complete and return annual questionnaires. PhD students will receive these questionnaires whilst studying for their doctorates and for a few years following the award of their doctorate. Collecting this information will help us to improve the programme and support future doctoral opportunities for primary care clinicians. 


Who will be the supervisors?

Across the consortium there are currently approximately 340 potential supervisors. Whether applicants propose one of the available projects or propose their own project, they must have agreement from their proposed primary supervisor. Please note this will be checked with proposed supervisors before the interviews take place on 21st March.

Wherever possible a students' second supervisor will be based in a different consortium member organisation or in a non-member organisation. The programme will provide supervision that crosses institutional boundaries to provide a supervisory team that fits the needs of the student and expands the diversity of the students and their research.

The programme will always pair less experienced supervisors with more experienced ones and, in some cases, students can have up to four supervisors to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of their supervisory pool.


What will the Programme offer students?

  • Students will join the SPCR Trainees community. More information on the benefits this provides can be read here
  • Students can benefit from the best training and academic opportunities across the 10 institutions
  • Students who have already been awarded their PhD through the programme will provide role models for new participants, offering mentoring, workshops and ongoing career support to more junior members of the cohort
  • Students will join peer learning groups. Established peer-learning groups will continue past the duration of the programme, providing a legacy of ongoing peer support
  • Students will have access to apply for follow-on, post-doctoral funding and seed-corn funding by being embedded in the SPCR (this only applies to students based at the all nine current members of the NIHR SPCR, not those conducting their PhD at the University of Cambridge)
  • Students will be able to undertake a secondment in the academic department hosting the second supervisor, if they wish to, virtual attachments will also be available, where appropriate
  • In addition to their supervisors, all students will have a mentor. This will typically be a post-doctoral researcher who will always be from a different University to the student
  • There will be opportunities to network, join educational opportunities and attend events across the three NIHR Research Schools (School for Public Health Research, School for Social Care Research, School for Primary Care Research)


What research training will be available for doctoral students?

  • Bespoke research training programmes for Students will be structured and tailored to meet the needs of the individual and their project. The precise combination of training modules for each student will be decided by the student and their supervisory team and approved by the SPCR Academic Capacity Development Group.  
  • Doctoral students will take a selection of training modules provided by their host institution (or another member of the consortium) to ensure robust training in research methods, as required.
  • In addition, all Fellows will receive training in research integrity, ethics, research governance, maximising research impact, leadership skills and working with the media.
  • The SPCR will offer bespoke training on areas of expertise within the SCPR, such as: interrogating primary care research databases, the challenges and opportunities of primary care research, building a career in academic primary care, and how to influence practice and policy. 
  • The SPCR will record relevant local departmental presentations, seminars and workshops to build a library of research methods presentations given by experts which will be freely available to all 
  • PhD students can, as a group, express training need for other areas, i.e. in particular research related software, which will then be provided by the SPCR


What is the programme's vision on equality, diversity and inclusion?

Equality and diversity are core values underpinning the Programme. Increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of our supervisory pool will help to attract students from under-represented backgrounds, support the development of role models, and strengthen career trajectories in under-represented groups.