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The Anderson Programme PhD Scholarship: "Exploring Leadership Development through the Anderson Programme in the English NHS"

University of Birmingham - School of Social Policy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,000 (see advert text)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th February 2020
Closes: 13th April 2020

Patient safety, patient experience, finances and quality challenges persist in healthcare (Dobrzykowski et al., 2016; Bohmer, 2016).  In response to public concern, and scandals such as that related to the Francis enquiry of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (2013) there has been increased focus on accountability, culture, improvement and leadership development (Kachalia et al, 2016).

Leadership development can be used in a progressive way to improve health and care services, patient experience and equality, diversity and inclusion of staff and patients.  However, leadership development could also, intentionally or otherwise cause a tendency to groupthink by viewing leadership through a widely shared paradigm or be perceived as a ‘fad’ (Hewison and Griffiths, 2004).  There is a lack of empirical and theoretical research that explores how and why leaders in healthcare, and the people and services they lead, are influenced by leadership development programmes (Crowe et al, 2017).  Although there is a wide array of feedback data and evidence describing many different leadership traits and styles, some is conflicting (Geerts et al. 2019).  Research that theorises why and how leadership development programmes develop leaders and the impact on organisational culture, supported by empirical evidence is lacking (Lega et al., 2017).  This is particularly surprising, given the increased use and costs of leadership development, particularly in health and care.

One leadership development response to the Francis enquiry (2013) was the establishment of the NHS Leadership Academy ‘Anderson’ Programme; an MSc in Healthcare Leadership targeted at middle to senior level leaders within English NHS organisations. Over 1,651 NHS managers and leaders have now graduated from the programme (AMBS, 2019).  The aim of this project is to explore one or more of the three strategic themes (the ‘golden threads’) of the Anderson programme: the patient experience; equality, diversity and inclusion; and sustaining improvement. The study will in particular focus on the underlying mechanisms that influence participant development, resultant leadership behaviours and leadership practices.

Entry Requirements

Applications are sought from exceptional UK students with an outstanding academic background.  Experience of working and practicing in leadership development in healthcare would be an advantage.

Applicants must have a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and hold or expect to obtain a Masters level qualification with Distinction. English Language requirements (where required) are IELTS 7.0, TOEFL 623 (100 ibt), PTE 66.

How to apply

Candidates should submit a PhD application for the PhD Health Services Management and indicate that they wish to be considered for this project.

Your application must contain a 3000-word research proposal related to the topic of healthcare leadership development and aligned with the Anderson programme through one or more of the three stated golden threads of the programme.

Candidates are strongly advised to submit their application as early as possible. Candidates who do not submit the required supporting documents by the specific deadline will not be considered.


For further details about the project, please contact Dr Kerry Allen at or Dr Iestyn Williams at

For questions related to making your application, please contact Abbie Price in the Doctoral Programme’s Office:

Three years’ funding, including tuition fees and a stipend of approximately £15,000 per year for candidates commencing their studies in September 2020.  The successful candidate will also receive a generous research support and conference allowance.

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