The HDR UK PhD Programme is structured to provide each student with the experience, training and supervision they need for an extraordinary career in health data science. They will not only undertake a valuable doctoral research project that they will design, but will have gain a good understanding of the sector and will have support in transitioning from their PhD into a new role.

The PhD programme lasts four-years and is divided into two parts: a Foundation Year (Year 1) and Research Project “Thesis” Period (Years 2-4). Each student is based at a “home university” throughout the four years but benefits from extensive additional training led by HDR UK enabling them to grow and learn within a national cohort of PhD students.

The Foundation Year combines the best in university-based training with HDR UK-led national activities to enable students to design their own three-year research project. We support our students to produce ambitious and game-changing research plans and projects are backed by substantial research funding support to ensure that adequate resources are available.

Foundation Year

  • Residential 3-5 day immersion events allow students to gain insight into the work of HDR UK, and our academic, clinical and industry partners. Students will undertake an intensive deep dive into an important area of health data science. Immersion topics include risk prediction, oncology, clinical trials, epidemiology and bioinformatics. Past immersion weeks have been hosted by the Universities of Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and University College London and the European Bioinformatics Institute.

    Immersion events are an opportunity for our cohorts to work together and stimulate new interactions.

    See our case studies of how our students have worked together to achieve success.

  • Students will have access to graduate-level courses and research project rotation within their university to introduce them to a variety of health data science areas and to enable them to develop their own bespoke PhD research project under the guidance of our expert university leads.

  • Regular workshops and short courses throughout the year will introduce students to the work of HDR UK experts across our Hubs, Themes and Priority Areas as well as external organisations. Past contributors have included NHSX, IQVIA and AstraZeneca.

    Our immersion and workshop events work together to broaden our students training experience so that they better understand the full breadth of the health and social care landscape and accelerate their potential to become leaders within the sector. These events also enable students to develop more ambitious PhD research projects by stimulating collaboration with external academics or industry-based organisations, or using national data infrastructure.

  • Training is provided by academic, industry and NHS experts to promote personal and professional development in leadership capability, cross-sector collaborative skills and inter-disciplinary working. In particular, HDR UK is committed to working with public and patients to build increased trust in health data research as well as designing solutions that are focused on improving patient outcomes and experience. Students will develop important communication and collaborative skills so that they may be at the forefront of this mission.

Years 2-4

  • At the end of Year 1, students will design a bespoke research project and a multi-disciplinary supervision team based on their training experiences to be conducted in years 2-4.

    Research proposals will be rigorously reviewed by expert academics and public-patient representatives to ensure that proposals are of the highest standards in terms of ambition, scientific methodology and impact on patient outcomes.

    The research will be carried out at their home university and could be linked to HDR UK research prioritiesresearch hubs or partnerships.

  • Alongside their research project, students will also participate in our flagship Leadership Programme which will develop their all-round capabilities as future health data science leaders.

If you’d like to know more, email us at or telephone (+44 (0)770 847 8846).

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