PhD Studentships: Interdisciplinary Research on Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan African Countries

King's College London

To start: 1st June 2018


Two NIHR Global Health Research Unit (ASSET)/ King’s Global Health Institute interdisciplinary doctoral training fellowships fully funded by the Health Schools and Social Science and Public Policy at KCL. 


The NIHR Unit will work in Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone to improve the delivery of guideline-based care across three ‘care platforms’; for surgical conditions, pregnancy, and integrated care for comorbid physical and mental conditions. Health system strengthening interventions to be developed and tested include the introduction of care pathways, process and outcome monitoring, peer-driven quality improvement cycles, workforce strengthening and person-centred care. We will test, at scale the impact of these interventions on the equity, processes and outcomes of guideline-based care.

All projects are linked to the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan African Countries at King’s College London (ASSET), and have been pre-submitted by ASSET investigators, who will act as supervisors. Candidates may apply when they have been named by the potential supervisors as the designated student in the event of a successful application. One additional project is open to all eligible applicants. All applications will be assessed at par, and without reference to the project for which the student is applying.

The project that is open to all applicants is entitled: “What is the meaning, feasibility and acceptability of person-centredness in the global policy drive to improve care quality? A cross-national comparative study.”

The aim is to appraise and adapt the theory of person-centredness in healthcare across conditions in 3 sub-Saharan African countries, and to generate evidence-based recommendations for feasible and acceptable practice of person-centredness.

The design is a multi-centred international cross-sectional qualitative in-depth study. The study will recruit from among adult patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, women accessing maternity care, people with mental health problems and people with advanced illness in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, sampled purposively according to gender, ethnicity, age, income and family size.

This novel thesis will provide some of the first evidence from these settings for patient groups, clinicians, policy makers and clinical trainers on how to achieve quality, person-centred care through relevant and appropriate health care delivery.

In common with all KGHI interdisciplinary studentships this studentship will be affiliated both to a Department in a Health School (in this case The Cicely Saunders Institute) and the School of Social Science and Public Policy.

All students will have access to all the KCL training and education resources for core and transferable skills, tailored to the student through their KCL “Skills Forge” personal training needs programme. They will benefit from a rich interdisciplinary learning environment, both in the Schools to which they are affiliated, and through King’s Global Health Institute’s academic programme and doctoral training activities. Opportunities for focused methodological training will be provided, to enhance students’ background knowledge and skills, as appropriate.  


Professor Richard Harding and Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram (for the project open to all applicants)  

Entry requirements:

Applicants should usually have a 2:1 or 1st class honours degree in a subject relevant to the proposed project. 

If applicants already possess a research-based MSc degree, a merit or distinction level is usually required. "

Award types and eligibility:

The award covers three years full time PhD studentship fees and a student stipend for living expenses. Funding is provided by the Health Schools and Social Science and Public Policy at KCL Please note the studentship is for Home/EU students only.

How to apply:

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT), Thursday 29th March 2018. 

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select ‘Research degrees’ and enter the keyword Health Service & Population Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time).

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require two supporting references. If the applicant is relying on his/her referees to submit references directly to the College after he/she has submitted his/her admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referees are made aware of the funding deadline.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: MP-RH-KGHI-ASSET-18

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project/s have already been set, but please provide the title of the project that you are applying for. All applications will be considered at par. You are welcome to email Prof Richard Harding ( for more information regarding the project that is open to all applicants.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Research Administration Assistant.

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing Date: 29th March 2018, 23:59 GMT

Interviews: TBC

Further information:

About Cicely Saunders Institute Of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation (link to

Studying at the Cicely Saunders Institute Of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation (link to

About the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy ( link to

About the ASSET NIHR Global Health Research Unit

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:


Subject Area(s):