PhD Studentship: Cancer Diagnostic Research: Health Economics and Primary Care Cancer Research (Funded)

University of Exeter - Exteter Medical School

The University of Exeter’s Medical School, in partnership with the Cancer Research UK-funded CanTest Collaborative is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in April 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of £19,000 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the DISCOVERY Unit in the Medical School at the St Luke’s Campus in Exeter.


Medicine, St Luke’s Campus, Exeter
Academic Supervisors:
Professor Anne Spencer,
Dr Antonieta Medina-Lara,
Professor Willie Hamilton,

Project Description:
Applications are invited for this Cancer Research UK-funded CanTest 4 year PhD studentship from individuals with a strong academic record who wish to develop a career in health economics and primary care cancer research.
The goal of the DISCOVERY Unit is to improve early detection of illness in community settings, particularly the diagnosis of cancer. We aim to achieve this by delivering research and education at the highest international standards of excellence. CanTest is an international collaborative, aiming to develop strategies that explore and accelerate improvement in cancer outcomes nationally and internationally through the transformative implementation in primary care of triaging and testing approaches to support early detection of cancer (

Prof Anne Spencer and Dr Antonieta Medina-Lara (Health Economics group) with Prof Willie Hamilton (DISCOVERY group) will co-supervise the thesis, which will explore patient preferences  and health-economics of diagnostic testing strategies for cancer in primary care and their impact on patient safety. The study will draw on research exploring determinants of behaviour and decision-making related to the risk and uncertainty of undertaking selected diagnostic strategies in primary care. The research will develop a set of choice based experiments used in Health Economics to explore patient and practitioner preferences towards different diagnostic test strategies and the risk-benefit trade-offs. For example we could explore the trade-offs between earlier less accurate tests versus tests that are more definitive but are more intrusive and conducted at a later date. CT imaging is one potential application, but other diagnostic tests will be considered to increase the generalisability of the findings.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus £19,000 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 
The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in April 2018.  

Entry requirements:
Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in economics or a related discipline (e.g. mathematics, statistics or epidemiology). A Masters in health economics or a relevant subject or experience working in health economics or a health-related discipline would be preferred.  If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 7.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

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South West England