Manchester: Doctoral Studentship 2020

Funding is available for a studentship starting in January 2021 and includes: a stipend of £15,500 per year; EU/home PhD registration fees and up to £10,000 across the three years for appropriate research costs.

Overseas students will need to cover the difference between overseas fees and the funded amount for themselves.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 26 November 2020.

To apply for this studentship please contact Professor Catherine Robinson ( for application details.

The Studentship

We are offering a full-time PhD scholarship based in Social Care and Society, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester. The studentship is funded in a collaboration between the NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR) and the NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Unit (NIHR PSRTU).

The programme of PhD study will focus on one of the following potential PhD projects. Applicants should specify their preferred topic of study.

The transition of older people within care settings: optimising the system

The project will examine whether and how the transition of older people between different care settings (e.g. private households, supported housing, care homes and hospital) in the locality could be improved. Potential areas of interest include:

  • How different stakeholders (e.g. professionals, older people, carers) experience these transitions;
  • Whether the needs of certain older people could be more appropriately and efficiently met by other services and, if so, which older people require what alternative services at what cost;
  • The factors that lead to potentially avoidable transfers to care homes from hospital; and
  • The extent to which different client, carer, decision-maker and system characteristics influence judgements about appropriate care home placement.

The findings have the potential to inform the improvement of service utilisation at a system, operational and individual level, providing benefits to local social care providers and NHS partners in cost and efficiency.

The research questions and design will be co-produced by the researchers, PhD student and participating organisations utilising a mixed methods approach to include a significant qualitative component and analytical predictive modelling.

Improving the recording, collection and analysis of routinely-collected data in social care

This project focuses on routinely collected local authority social care data. These are large scale longitudinal data sets consisting of assessment, monitoring, cost and resource data. It has long been recognised that these data have potential to address questions beyond routine monitoring and reporting including for example, creative ways to evaluate the introduction of new services, or to monitor the effects of major policy or practice reforms. However there are also acknowledged barriers to the wider use of these data including challenges in data linkage between health and social care such as issues of ethics, governance, security and probity.

Potential areas of interest for a PhD include:

  • How more sophisticated, longitudinal and/or multivariate, analyses can be used with social care data;
  • Qualitative or mixed methods evaluation of the challenges inherent in recording and collecting these types of data;
  • Examining the governance and ethical issues inherent in collecting and analysing local authority data for research purposes; and
  • Analysis of changes in research culture necessary in social care to provide a stronger evidence base to address problems and guide policy.

Care home staff well-being at the time of COVID-19: enhancing practice and process

The project will be attached to the newly-funded SECURE study that will be conducted through the NIHR School for Social Care Research (Manchester) and their partner organisations. The project will follow a longitudinal, mixed methods design to mirror the SECURE study and will focus on exploring and examining care home staff well-being at the time of COVID-19. The project will be conducted in Greater Manchester. Potential areas of interest include:

  • Working collaboratively with a select number of care homes in Greater Manchester to create innovative ways to map and record care staff well-being and practice;
  • Identifying the factors that lead to staff-being at the time of COVID-19;
  • Using diaries and other self-empowering approaches to document care home staff experiences and well-being stories; and
  • Co-constructing self-help practice guidance for care home staff.

The findings of this project will be used to inform and influence the care home sector and social care agencies.

Host Centre

Social Care and Society (SCS) at the University of Manchester is home to a critical mass of researchers and professionals undertaking interdisciplinary research on social care, mental health and long-term care. SCS has absorbed the Personal Social Services Research Unit research group and will continue to be one of the leading social care research groups in the UK. Our new name reflects a broader set of themes and collaborations in the University of Manchester, nationally and globally and is a founder member of the prestigious NIHR School for Social Care Research. Its work is focused upon research in long term care, social care and community based services with a particular interest in the needs of older people and dementia care.


The NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR) is funded by the National Institute for Health Research to develop the evidence base to inform and improve adult social care practice in England through research. NIHR SSCR PhD funding is through an NIHR Capacity Development Fund. Other studentships are based at LSE, King’s College London and the Universities of Kent, Birmingham, Bristol, and York, and are supported by the NIHR Academy. Further information about the NIHR SSCR is available at