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Prospective Research Students



  • Postgraduate research degrees available
  • Duration of study
  • Research topics & themes
  • Supervision
  • Research training
  • Research facilities
  • Funding
  • International applications



  • Who can apply?
  • How to apply?
  • Processing applications
  • Contact details




Postgraduate research degrees available

The School offers two types of postgraduate research degrees:

  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Both of these awards are based on submission of a research thesis which is examined by experts in the field and includes an oral exam or viva voce.




Duration of study

It is important that students complete their work and research degree in a timely way and the University has established the following timeframes for completion. Please note that completion refers to the time taken from first registration as an undifferentiated research student to successful completion of a viva voce (and not time to submission).


Research degree
Full-time study
Part-time study
MPhil 1 year 2 years 2 years 4 years
PhD 2 years 3 years 4 years* 6 years

* Special arrangements apply to part-time research students who are employed by the University as contract research assistants. With the support of their supervisor and the approval of the Postgraduate Research Committee, such students may submit after a minimum period of three years from the date of first registration as an undifferentiated research student.


We strongly encourage students to undertake research degrees on a full-time basis and ideally with some source of external funding (see below for more information). However we realize that many students wish to combine part-time study and working. While we accept part-time students we do not normally encourage students to undertake a PhD on a part-time basis in combination with full-time employment. In order to do this the applicant would normally have to demonstrate how they would manage their research time.




Research topics and themes

The Nursing Midwifery Research Unit (NMRU) was set up in 2005 as the focus of quality research activity within the School. All core staff in the Unit have successfully completed a PhD, have experience of supervising research students, are experienced in publishing and are developing expertise in applying and managing research grants. There are two main research groups within the School and these include:

  • Maternal and Child Health – investigating aspects of health and health care related to high risk pregnancy, childbirth and babies born requiring neonatal intensive care as well as children surviving with neurological impairments or cerebral palsy. This theme is led by Dr Fiona Alderdice.

  • Evaluation of Complex Healthcare Interventions – investigating the translation of complex healthcare interventions into practice and their sustainability using mixed research methods. This theme is led by Professor Sam Porter.

Applicants wishing to pursue a research degree in the School need to ensure their research topic is consistent with these themes. Therefore prospective students are strongly encouraged to make contact with the Nursing Midwifery Research Unit at least six months but ideally a year before applying to undertake a research degree. Contact Professor Sam Porter ( s.porter@qub.ac.uk ) , Chair of the Postgraduate Research Committee for more information in the first instance.





Each student is assigned at least two supervisors and possibly three in exceptional circumstances. At least one supervisor will have successfully supervised a PhD student to completion and the other supervisors can provide additional subject and methodological expertise, in accordance with University regulations. More information about staff and their research profiles is available at the School's Research Unit web pages



Research training

As part of the postgraduate research degree students can expect to gain additional research training. This is likely to include training in research methods covering data collection and data analysis, professional development and courses in other generic, transferable skills like writing reports, presentation skills and information technology.




Research facilities

The School can offer Postgraduate Research Students quality supervision by staff experienced in research and education with specialist knowledge in the areas of maternal and child health, the evaluation of complex health care interventions and knowledge of a range of research methodologies. We offer students access to interdisciplinary research and clinical networks including links with a number of local NHS providers.  Research students have accommodation in a research dedicated environment (the Nursing-Midwifery Research Unit) where students, academic and research staff work alongside one another and meet on a daily basis.  

More recently the Research Unit has sought to establish a Research Student Support Forum which is organised by two student representatives Mrs Jenny McGaughey and Mr Andrew Charles. We offer all postgraduate research students dedicated desk space and a computer, with email, access to full library facilities (including electronic services) and through the Support Forum access to other special incentives run by the University's Postgraduate Office. These include student initiative monies for additional training and student-designed workshops.  Research students are also encouraged to undertake research training opportunities available in the School (e.g. modules in research methods) as well as attend training set up by the University's Postgraduate Office. Finally, the School offers many opportunities for research students to develop their teaching skills by contributing to the education of undergraduate and postgraduate nursing and midwifery students in areas related to their research expertise. 






Awards available from QUB

Studentships (full-time PhD)

For the first time the School of Nursing and Midwifery advertised three studentships to undertake part-time PhDs. Two successful applicants were appointed and have commenced their studies.

The Sandra Ryan Internal Fellowships (full-time PhD)

The School of Nursing & Midwifery also advertised and appointed three fellowships for staff employed within the School. Three successful applicants have now been appointed and commenced their studies in January 2007. These Fellowships will run for three years.

External Fellowship (full-time PhD)

The School of Nursing and Midwifery did advertise an external fellowship open to employees of the Health and Personal Social Services. The closing date for applications has now passed.  

External sources of funding

Please click here for other useful websites. 



International applications

Applications are particularly welcome from International Students. However the School of Nursing and Midwifery is unable to provide funding so students must be able to finance themselves or find alternative sources of financial support from their home institution or elsewhere. Please note that the University has a dedicated International Office  to assist prospective international students.




Who can apply?

Applicants must hold or have qualified for a degree (as approved by the Academic Council) or a qualification which is approved by the Academic Council as being a suitable alternative to a primary degree. Relevant publications or achievements by the candidate may also be considered as additional evidence of suitability for admission. More specifically we normally require applicants to have:

  • the normal minimum requirement for admission is upper second class honours bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
  • suitable referees’ reports;
  • evidence of proficiency in English (from candidates who are not native English speakers) with a minimum score of 6.5 in the IELTS or equivalent. If the candidate is seeking to undertake research involving high levels of interpersonal communication, a higher score may be required.




How to apply?

All candidates wishing to apply for postgraduate research must complete the University’s postgraduate online application form . You will see as part of that process you are required to submit an abstract that is, a summary of your proposed research study. We can help you compile your abstract and ensure that it is consistent with the research themes of the School. Please contact Professor Sam Porter (s.porter@qub.ac.uk) in advance of submitting your application and abstract on how to get help.

In normal circumstances we encourage prospective students to apply as early as possible in the year they wish to commence their studies. Most induction courses are set up to run at the beginning of the academic year (September). However it is possible to apply at other times of the year. Please contact Professor Sam Porter ( s.porter@qub.ac.uk ) for more advice. 


Processing applications

Applications to the School of Nursing and Midwifery will be considered by the School’s Postgraduate Research Committee (PGRC) which meets four times a year. The PGRC is chaired by Professor Sam Porter and comprises a range of experienced staff including the Directors of Nursing and Midwifery Education, the Director of the Nursing-Midwifery Research Unit, the Professor of Nursing Research, the Head of School and the Director of International Affairs. Decisions about admission to postgraduate research degrees is taken in accordance with the criteria and procedures outlined in the University’s Guidelines on Selection and Admission. They will also include consideration of:

  • whether the proposed programme of research can be studied to the depth required to obtain the degree of MPhil or PhD;
  • whether the proposed research topic is consistent with the School’s themes and research strategy;
  • the likelihood that the proposed programme of research can be completed within the designated time taking into account the candidate’s employment commitments;
  • whether the School is able to provide appropriate supervision throughout the research period;
  • whether other resources (e.g. accommodation, library, computing facilities, running costs) are available;
  • the student’s funding arrangements.

Applicants will not be admitted if appropriate supervision, resources and facilities cannot be provided. The final decision is approved by the Head of School. The School’s PGRC then forwards confirmed decisions to the Admissions Office. The Admissions Office notifies applicants of the outcome. The Admissions Office will advise successful applicants that they are responsible for ensuring that they meet the financial requirements and have the necessary resources to cover fees and maintenance for the duration of the course.



Contact details




Postgraduate Research Admissions Tutor

Professor Sam Porter  s.porter@qub.ac.uk


Nursing and Midwifery Research and Postgraduate Office

Mrs Ruth Erwin r.erwin@qub.ac.uk


Director of Nursing and Midwifery Research Unit

Dr Fiona Alderdice f.a.alderdice@qub.ac.uk



Head of School

Professor Linda Johnston linda.johnston@qub.ac.uk