Clinical PhD Programmes

What is a PhD?

student looking through library books

A PhD is a higher research degree. During a PhD you will research methodologies, acquire and verify new information and add to the sum of mankind's knowledge and abilities. A PhD typically takes 3 years and the award of a PhD degree reflects your ability to carry out a programme of original research and report this coherently in the form of a written thesis. To be awarded the degree you must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the subject and training in relevant research skills. As a clinician doing a PhD there are often opportunities to participate in clinics, on-call rotas and clinical meetings in order to continue to develop clinical skills.

How will I fund my PhD?

There are various options for funding a PhD. The ideal way is to win a PhD fellowship from an external funding body such as The Wellcome Trust or The Medical Research Council, who hold national competitions several times a year for medical graduates. These are highly competitive and fund the basic salary, as well as allowances for consumables, equipment and travel. Given the competitive nature of the fellowships, an individualĀ“s chance of success will be increased if they have already demonstrated an aptitude for research. There are now multiple opportunities in medical training to do this, both at an undergraduate level (student selected components, BMedSci) and postgraduate level (FR academic placements, Academic Clinical Fellowships). The Academic Clinical Fellowships have been designed with the intention of allowing an able individual to spend up to 9 months preparing to submit a proposal to an external funding body for a PhD fellowship. Alternative funding sources such as local initiatives and departmental research funds also exist.

When should I do a PhD?

The new clinical academic training pathway suggests a PhD would best follow on from an Academic Clinical Fellowship.  After the award of a PhD an individual would either apply for a Clinical Lectureship (if they wish to pursue clinical academic training) or a ST3 post if they wished to return to non-academic clinical training.