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PhD/MPhil Health Services Management

Start date
September. Other start dates can be negotiated.
PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MPhil – 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

For 2024-2025
PhD Full time £4,778
PhD Distance Learning £2,389
PhD Part time £2,389
PhD Full time £21,360
Distance Learning £10,680

We offer two types of research degree: an MPhil or a PhD - in health services management and related disciplines such as health policy, health sociology and leadership.

In the School of Social Policy we offer much more than a degree. PhD students have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events including Departmental Research Seminars, Research Centre Seminars, Postgraduate Research Student Seminars, as well as a vibrant and engaged PhD researcher community.

Our PhD programmes offer you a combination of taught courses in the first year and careful supervision throughout your study, with the aim of helping you to produce a thesis that makes a significant and original contribution to the discipline.

Prospective applicants for research degrees in any aspect of health service management and health care policy are invited to apply, outlining their special interests through the submission of a research proposal and other relevant documents such as personal statement, a CV, and a confirmation of supervision statement from the main supervisor. As part of their application, candidates will need to submit a research proposal of their research topic. We welcome applications to work in a wide variety of areas and encourage you to make prior contact with potential supervisors. Supervisors will typically be from the Department but joint supervision, both between staff within the Department, and with staff in other departments is possible.

All research students have regular meetings with their supervisors. PhD students also have annual panel meetings to support and review progress. We encourage you to give conference papers and to publish your work.

For home students, a research degree programme may be undertaken either by full-time or part-time study or via distance learning. International students can only undertake full-time studies, but distance learning programmes may be undertaken full-time or part-time. 

Research areas

Theories and concepts of the social sciences underpin the approaches of HSMC research staff. HSMC offers the opportunity to study for research degrees in a wide variety of topics relating to health services policy and management, including:

  • Health Policy and Reform
  • Decision making and strategic planning
  • Service and quality improvement
  • Public, patients and communities
  • Leadership and management
  • Workforce and professions

HSMC staff bring their wide knowledge of UK and international health systems (gained through research and consultancy activities, as well as their own professional experience) to their teaching and tutorial support for students. This emphasis on combining theory and practice is maintained throughout all of our programmes.

Find out more about the research interests of doctoral researchers in HSMC.


Fees 2024 - 2025


2349 - PhD Full time £4,778
002B - PhD Distance Learning £2,389
2350 - PhD Part time £2,389
3712 - MPhil £4,778


2349 - PhD Full time £21,360
002B - PhD Distance Learning £10,680

*UK fees will be confirmed in spring 2024.

Learn more about fees.

Scholarships and loans

Scholarships and bursaries may be available. Details of any departmental scholarships are indicated on our website whilst international students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More information about international scholarships

College and School opportunities are advertised on and some supervisors use 'Find a PhD' which provides information about opportunities to conduct doctoral research. We also nominate our strongest applicants for studentships supported by the ESRC-funded Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership, of which we are one of the principal institutional partners.

Eligible Doctoral students can now apply for a government loan of up to £28,673 (for 2023/2024 entry) to contribute to overall costs. 

Find out more about postgraduate research scholarships.

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Normally a first-class or upper second-class Honours degree in a relevant discipline, or the successful completion of an appropriate postgraduate programme is required.

Post-qualification experience, including professional qualifications and experience, will also be taken into account when considering applicants.

Potential for research generally also needs to be indicated through the submission of relevant application materials including a research proposal on your selected topic, a personal statement, and a CV.

Learn more about entry requirements.


International Requirements

Our academic staff have wide research interests and these are detailed below. Joint
supervision is generally standard, and we can provide this with other departments/Schools.

  • Social care; Older people; Preventative services; Health sociology; Experiences of illness; Long-term conditions
    Contact: Kerry Allen, Lecturer.
  • Health policy; Medical professionalism; Health inequality; Policy implementation
    Contact: Mark Exworthy, Professor of Health Policy and Management
  • Health sociology; Complementary and alternative medicine; Community-based health care workforce (e.g. pharmacy, outreach workers, health trainers, health visitors, community nursing, midwifery); Health risks and public health; Primary care workforce (GPs, nursing, receptionists, practice managers)
    Contact: Nicola Gale, Senior Lecturer
  • Inter-agency health and social care; Direct payments and individual budgets; Community Care
    Contact: Jon Glasby, Professor of Health and Social Care and Head of School of Social Policy
  • Organisational aspects of quality and safety, including cultures, incentives and policies
    Contact: Russell Mannion, Professor of Health Systems
  • Health system and service reform; Board governance; Social enterprise
    Contact: Ross Millar, Lecturer
  • Integration; Working across third and statutory sectors; Change management
    Contact: Robin Miller, Senior Fellow
  • Social care; Co-production; Personalisation; Public sector workforce; Interpretive policy analysis
    Contact: Catherine Needham, Reader in Public Policy and Public Management
  • Health and social care policy; Mental health transformation; Equalities; Patient and public involvement; Advocacy and service user involvement; Commissioning for mental health and wellbeing
    Contact: Karen Newbigging, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management
  • Welfare regimes; History of health policy; Geography of public service provision; Theoretical Developments in the Welfare State; Public Sector Partnerships; Equality in the Welfare State; Decentralisation of public provision; Consumerism and Citizenship; Health care workforce issues
    Contact: Martin Powell, Professor of Health and Social Policy
  • Health purchasing and commissioning; Primary care policy and management; Integrated care/older people's care; International comparisons in health policy and organisation; Evaluations of policy and practice interventions in health care
    Contact: Judith Smith, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of Health Services Management Centre
  • Resource allocation in health care; Priority setting; Decommissioning in health care; Population decision making in health care
    Contact: Iestyn Williams, Reader in Health Policy and Management

There are nine libraries supporting your learning through access to one of the biggest research library facilities in the UK. Open access computing facilities are widely available across campus.

Postgraduate programmes are taught at Park House which is a short walk from the centre of the University campus and provides a comfortable and well-appointed study environment. Facilities include:

  • An on-site administrative team
  • Well-equipped classrooms
  • There are a number of libraries supporting your learning through access to one of the biggest research library facilities in the UK.
  • Open access computing facilities are widely available across campus.

Assessment Methods

The MPhil requires a thesis of 60,000 words, while the PhD thesis is 80,000 words in length.

If I gain a postgraduate research degree in this area, what are my career prospects?

The skills you will gain from studying in the School are highly sought after in most jobs or professions, as you will develop analytical skills and the ability to gather, assess and interpret data, all of which require clear and logical thinking. Birmingham's School of Social Policy postgraduates enter a wide range of occupational sectors: the majority in the public sector in areas but others including events, sales administration and education. Many graduates also opt to continue in academia.

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in this department?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the School of Social Policy belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice, 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service also runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for International students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with International postgraduate researchers.