Fully-funded MPhil/PhD Studentships in Complexity Systems for Health and Wellbeing

UWTSD is delighted to announce two full-funded MPhil/PhD studentships to the value of £14,057 maintenance per annum plus the payment of tuition fees for eligible students, subject to successful progress onto the University’s PhD programme.

Qualification type:                    




Funding for:

UK Students, EU Students

Funding amount:

£14,057 per annum


Full Time


25th June 2017 (midnight)

Research context

One of the biggest tasks facing any government is the delivery of health and social care systems which are fit for purpose. With a population living ever longer and services becoming more and more centralised to develop expertise, this leads to a particular challenge in rural areas where increasingly large numbers of people settle because of the quality of life and the environment. The traditional NHS ‘sickness’ response is no longer fit for purpose. UWTSD aims to develop a major portfolio of health and well-being initiatives designed to meet the well-being of Future Generations Act’s goal to create ‘A healthier Wales’ and is working with partners to look at innovative multi-disciplinary health, social care and well-being responses, including the creation of the Wales Centre for Rural Health.

UWTSD has established two new PhD studentships to explore the application of systems-thinking for sustainable health and well-being in changing rural environments. The science of complex adaptive systems is gaining considerable traction as a new way of looking at management in government and public services and is a hot topic in forward-thinking global institutions. Systems optics and multi-stakeholder systems thinking has great untapped potential in designing and evaluating systems strengthening interventions of relevance to national policy makers and implementation within communities. In the United States the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology states “systems methods and tools are not yet used on a widespread basis in US healthcare and that systems know-how needs to be promulgated at all levels to enable health system redesign”. Our aspiration is to develop these methodological tools in the Welsh healthcare context.

Project Summary:

Office for National Statistics data indicates that:

  1. All types of health care are less accessible to people living in rural areas than to people living in urban areas
  2. Life expectancy (as a positive measure of health) is higher in rural areas than in urban areas
  3. The inequalities in life expectancy between the most deprived and least deprived are smaller in rural areas than in urban areas.

We are intrigued by these findings and wish to use complexity systems thinking to explore health and well-being in rural areas. These studentships will therefore focus on rural-urban differences, and identify and evaluate methods to investigate complex issues in rural health.

Expected project impact:

Through the research, the PhD candidates will help identify appropriate interventions from the UWTSD Group to innovate in University, college and work-based learning opportunities recognising the strengths of the dual-sector regional model and the Wales Institute of Work-Based Learning. Further the candidates will advise the UWTSD on designing and providing appropriate professional practice modules, continuing professional development for primary care and partnership working between health, social care and third sector providers and training routes for generic workers within a systems approach to strengthening the delivery of healthcare services and well-being for people in rural Wales.


The studentships cover maintenance (£14,057 p.a.) and tuition fees for 42 months – 12 months at MPhil level, followed by 30 months funding subject to progress to PhD.

Academic entry requirements: 

Relevant honours degree at undergraduate level (minimum 2:1). The studentships are open to UK/EU applicants with a background in Health Sciences, Economics or related subjects. Applicants need to be available to begin these studentships in October 2017. 

Selection Criteria:


  • Hold 2:1/1st honours degree (or equivalent) in Health Sciences, Economics or related subjects
  • Have relevant experience in studying healthcare provision or a related area of social policy, economics or rural development
  • Willing to engage with all stakeholders in the health care sector
  • Demonstrates excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrates initiative, self-motivation, ability to effectively manage own time, and potential to undertake independent research activity
  • Demonstrates excellent inter-personal skills
  • Demonstrates ability and commitment to work effectively as part of a collaborative team


  • Hold a Masters qualification in a relevant field i.e. Health Sciences, Economics or related subjects
  • Have experience of working as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Have experience of working with the NHS and or policy makers

How to apply:

Complete the project application form available here:

Email application form to Dr Matt Briggs m.briggs@uwtsd.ac.uk by 25th June 2017 (midnight).  

Applications received after this date & time will not be considered. 

Health Systems MPhil/PhD Application Form


Shortlisted candidates will be informed w/c 26th June

Interviews schedule for w/c 17th July (date tbc)

Further Information

For further information on these studentships, please contact Prof Mike Phillips (mike.phillips@uwtsd.ac.uk).

For further information about the application process, please contact Dr Matt Briggs (m.briggs@uwtsd.ac.uk)