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PhD Opportunities

Social Participation and Quality of life in disabled young adults.

School of Nursing and Midwifery | PHD

Applications are now CLOSED
Reference Number
Application Deadline
30 June 2021
Start Date
None specified


The School of Nursing and Midwifery, in collaboration with the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen's University Belfast is delighted to announce an opportunity to apply for a fully funded PhD Studentship. Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. When prompted, applicants should supply a cover letter (max 2 pages long) outlining their suitability for the project, rather than a proposal document. [The cover letter should be uploaded with your application, instead of a proposal] Within this document, please provide evidence to support the following additional criteria for this opportunity; - Experience of working with people with disabilities - Experience of quantitative survey methods - Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Supervison Team: Dr Mark Linden, QUB (Primary Supervisor), Dr Claire Kerr, QUB (Supervisor), Ms Emma Livingston (Adult CP Hub, CEO)
This project links to a broader research programme across nine European regions called SPARCLE (Study of Participation of Children with Cerebral Palsy Living in Europe), which has examined the QoL and social participation of the same individuals as children and adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) over time (Colver et al. 2015; Dang et al. 2015). Combining the new quantitative data this project will generate, with those from the previous SPARCLE UK research, enables a life-course approach to examine influences on social participation and QoL for these individuals as young adults.

Aim: To understand the interrelationship between an individual’s life with impairments and their broader social context and how this shapes their social participation and quality of life (QoL) in adulthood.

Research questions:
1. What are the specific ways that disability leads to differences in disabled young adults’ social participation across key domains of employment, education, leisure, housing and romantic relationships, in comparison to non-disabled young people?
2. Which environmental and social factors have positive or negative impacts on the social participation and QoL of disabled young adults?
3. How do impairments and environments interact to shape modes of social participation and QoL?
4. How do social participation and QoL change from childhood, through the transitions of adolescence and into early adulthood in the UK?
This project will gather new cross-sectional data which will contribute to existing and longitudinal data from a prospective cohort of disabled young adults. As in previous SPARCLE studies, we will use quantitative surveys to measure individuals’ personal characteristics, family and community environments, social participation and QoL. The same surveys are being used across our European network. The data will enable the development of statistical models showing the influence of individual (e.g. impairment level, family support), and community (work/education environment) level factors on social participation and QoL.
We believe it is important that our research practice is informed by dialogue with disabled young people through an advisory group. They have already fed into design of the study and will continue to advise on project management, analysis of results and dissemination of findings to ensure our interpretations are meaningful, recommendations are acceptable, and findings are publicised appropriately.

Our aim is to recruit approximately 95 young adults with CP from NI who participated in SPARCLE studies in childhood and adolescence. For each participant with CP, we will recruit one participant without a neurodisability matched on area of residence (GP practice), sex and age.

For further information please contact Dr Mark Linden

Funding Information

The full-time studentship is funded by the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE) and is supported through collaboration with Adult Cerebral Palsy (CP) Hub. Adult CP Hub is a charitable organisation which provides information and support on the impact of CP on adults across the UK. The aims of Adult CP Hub are to raise awareness, develop best practice, support the development of bespoke medical services, educate the medical profession, facilitate community support and act as an advocacy group for people with CP to policy makers.
Funded studentships may cover maintenance and fees for a maximum of three years, depending on residency status. For further details about eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the DfE Research Eligibility Guidance Notes:
The University is committed a policy of equal opportunity. Prospective students with a disability or long term condition are encouraged to disclose as early as possible in the application and selection process by contacting Upon disclosure the University will ensure appropriate reasonable adjustments and additional supports can be put in place for applicants. Reasonable adjustments and additional supports will be determined on an individual basis, in line with the course entry requirements to ensure selection standards are maintained.

Project Summary

Dr Mark Linden, Dr Claire Kerr

Research Profile

Mode of Study

Full-time: Full time 3 years

Funding Body
Apply now Register your interest

Nursing & Midwifery overview

Within the School of Nursing and Midwifery our area of strength is health innovation through co-design and rigorous evaluation of health promoting and healthcare interventions with policymakers, practice partners, patients and carers. We have two core (Maternal and Child Health; Chronic Illness and Palliative Care) and one emerging (Education and Practice) innovative research themes, which encapsulate lifespan health research from conception to end-of-life.

Your research will be hosted in our School and the Graduate School, extending your potential in the UK and internationally.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery have a number of research projects open for application, however, if none of the projects listed align with your own research idea, you must check whether we can support your area of interest, and identify a supervisor. To find out more information on next steps, click here:

Nursing & Midwifery Highlights
Industry Links
Internationally Renowned Experts
Student Experience
Key Facts

  • Ranked 4 in the UK for Health and Biomedical Sciences in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework
  • Our research is funded from the European Commission under Interreg and Horizon 2020, as well as large charities such as Alzheimer’s Society, Dunhill Trust, Marie Curie, Movember Cancer Research United Kingdom, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke.
  • Other funders include the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Newton Fund, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and the Public Health Agency of NI.

Course content

Research Information

Research Themes
Nursing and Midwifery: Chronic Illness and Palliative Care (PhD/MPhil)

The aim of this research theme is to improve the health and wellbeing of those with chronic illness, especially in relation to chronic heart disease, and those requiring palliative care and their informal carers. Our team’s research fosters a sound evidence base in which multiple research approaches are promoted, using: epidemiology, ethics, health services research, behavioural sciences and randomized control trials. An innovative feature of the team is in pioneering the viability of the palliative care approach beyond the field of cancer care into areas such as dementia care and a range of chronic illnesses.
You’ll work with an internationally recognised and connected group of researchers conducting research with them to provide new solutions for supportive care in chronic illness and innovative palliative care.

Research Themes
Nursing and Midwifery: Maternal and Child Health (PhD/MPhil)

The aim of this research theme is to improve health and well-being in pregnancy, childbirth and early years care and amongst children with long term health conditions or disabilities, such as acquired brain injury and cerebral palsy. Our team’s research is renowned for developing and evaluating interventions, contributing to the evidence base worldwide in improving Maternal and Child Health outcomes, especially focussing where need is greatest. One of the many valuable innovations we make to the field of Maternal and Child Health is in relation to fathers and prospective fathers, unlocking men’s potential to improve health and social care outcomes for children, and in turn to men’s own health.

You’ll work with an outstanding group of researchers who are at the heart of improvements in parental and child health, recognising that improving health in pregnancy, infancy and childhood is important for adult health and wellbeing across generations.

Research Themes
Nursing and Midwifery: Education and Practice (PhD/MPhil)

The School is at the forefront of educational innovation and this theme showcases emergent research and scholarship in education and practice.
This programme promotes the integration of research in curriculum and practice development enabling us to develop the future leaders in nursing and midwifery.

Find a PhD Supervisor
Prospective PhD students should take a moment to look at our website to identify a researcher who could supervise and support them throughout the 3 years of the programme.

Applications must include a named supervisor.

Research Impact
The School's research is having a profound impact on the health of the population, from cradle to grave.

Career Prospects

Employment after the Course
Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

People teaching you

Dr Mark Linden
Director of Research
Nursing and Midwifery

Course structure

The Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.

The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.


Feedback can be written, verbal or online, and may come from your supervisor or mentor; the Postgraduate Tutor or indeed, on occasions, from other students.


The School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's has one of the most advanced Clinical Education suites in Europe, with a new state of the art Simulation Centre which opened in Autumn 2020. This will prepare students for the increasingly challenging and complex realities of modern clinical practice.

Entrance requirements

The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. As part of the application process candidates will be required to submit a research proposal and undertake an interview.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,596
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,596
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,596
EU Other 3 £18,900
International £18,900

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Nursing & Midwifery costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

Bench fees

Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.

How do I fund my study?

1.PhD Opportunities

Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.

3.PhD loans

The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.

4.International Scholarships

Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

Funding and Scholarships

The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Find a supervisor

If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.

To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.

You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.

Download Postgraduate Prospectus