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Epidemiology and Population Health MPhil PhD

The broad research areas within the Faculty of Epidemiology & Population Health are identification of the determinants of ill health and evaluation of interventions to improve global health and reduce the burden of disease. Our aim is to conduct research which is methodologically innovative and which provides reliable information for evidence-based decision making in public health. There is a strong emphasis on the translation of findings into programme action and health policy. The Faculty is multidisciplinary and encompasses epidemiologists, medical statisticians, medical demographers, nutritionists, social scientists and public health practitioners.

There is considerable expertise in the analysis of routinely collected data, the conduct and analysis of observational studies, clinical trials, large-scale field studies, the design and evaluation of interventions and biostatistical and demographic methodology. Many programmes involve collaboration between units within the School, and with collaborating researchers throughout the world. Much of the research involves current PhD students, and within the large range of interests represented in the Faculty there is the potential to accommodate and to identify research expertise in most aspects of epidemiology and population health for DrPH and PhD studies.

The number of research students in 2011/12 from different regions of the world was:
UK40 
Rest of Europe23
Rest of the World58

The wide range of scientific interests and the geographic diversity of the research projects offer a unique opportunity for prospective research students to participate in the work of a dynamic and stimulating group of internationally renowned researchers. Research students become members of one of the five Research departments, participating in the full range of the department's academic and social activities. Students are allocated a supervisor, and hence a Research department, based on their research interests and disciplinary area. A comprehensive research skills training programme is provided. Meetings and social events are organised at intervals throughout the year to encourage students to get to know each other and to develop a supportive environment.

The work of the faculty and therefore the opportunities for training, is detailed under each department.

The School’s wide-ranging research programmes examine ways of improving and promoting health and health services and investigate the aetiology, diagnosis and prevention or control of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Basic laboratory research aims to improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions, and more applied work investigates diagnostic methods and therapeutic intervention. Research covers a wide range of topics and areas; these can be found by looking at the Department pages below.  

The work of the School is multidisciplinary and therefore much of its research crosses disciplines, departments and faculties. This is enhanced by interfaculty centres and groups that focus on specific issues.   Many research programmes are carried out in collaboration with institutions outside the UK. Such collaborative work enhances the quality of the training experience and is one of the unique aspects of training at the School.

Research training opportunities available throughout the Faculty can be found in the link below:

Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

The MPhil and PhD are aimed at students who anticipate a career in which research plays a major role and who want to focus on an independent piece of research.

The British MPhil and PhD research degrees involve the presentation of a thesis on a research topic in a field appropriate to the student's or sponsor's needs and the School's research expertise. All students initially register for an MPhil. Although some students choose to take an MPhil only (2 year programme), most go on to a PhD (3-4 year programme). An option for students without previous academic training in their discipline of interest is to undertake an appropriate MSc as a first step before registering for a PhD.

Each student is assigned to a supervisor, under whose guidance they develop the intellectual and technical skills required for a research career. Although the earlier stages of the degree may include some coursework or formal training in research methodology, such work is normally regarded as establishing the necessary grounding for research study, rather than as an integral part of an MPhil/PhD degree. In this respect the British system differs from that at most North American and other European universities, where coursework is regarded as part of the degree and is included in the formal examination process. In particular, in the UK the degree is awarded only on the basis of the work described in the thesis.

Students are normally expected to submit their thesis within 3 years of full-time study or 5 years part-time. The maximum period of registration permitted is 4 years full-time or 6 years part-time. Students are not required to spend the entire period of study in London, but must spend at least 9 months full-time in London. Students usually spend the first 9 to 12 months at the School to prepare for an upgrading process from MPhil to PhD towards the end of the first year. In the second year, students continue laboratory work or carry out data collection/fieldwork either at or away from the School. Students who leave the School to do fieldwork go on Research Study Leave. In the third and/or fourth year, students analyse and write up their research to prepare the thesis for submission.

It is strongly recommended that students commence their programme in the autumn term in order to take advantage of structured induction activities and be able to register for appropriate taught modules.

The Programme Specifications below are a comprehensive summary of the key elements of the degree, including educational aims and intended learning outcomes, plus details on programme structure, assessment requirements, student support and more.

PhD Programme Specifications

MPhil Programme Specifications

Part-time Study

The School requires students who apply for part-time study to be available to study for at least two days per week. A letter from your employer is required to confirm that at least two days per week will be permitted for work on your degree.

Part-time students who are employed at one of the School's specifically approved institutions may be able to carry out their research at their place of employment under the guidance of a supervisor at the School. Students interested in this method of study should contact the Registry for advice.

Those interested in applying for PhD study should identify a research department with interests that match their own and contact the Department Research Degrees Co-ordinator for more details. Please refer to the How to Apply section for information on how to apply for a place at the School.

Applicants for MPhil, PhD or DrPH study should have at least one of the following:

  • an upper second-class Honours degree of a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a subject appropriate to that of the course of study to be followed; or
  • a registrable qualification appropriate to the course of study to be followed, in medicine, dentistry or veterinary studies; or
  • a Masters degree in a subject appropriate to the course of study to be followed; or
  • a professional qualification obtained by written examination and approved by the University of London as an appropriate entrance qualification for the degree in question.

For DrPH candidates, a minimum of two years’ appropriate experience and, normally, a Masters degree are required.

Application for London-based Study

Please apply using our online application form.

Paper application forms are available upon request and will normally incur an administration fee of £50. You must send a copy of the personal details and photograph page of your passport with all paper applications. Your application will not be considered until you have provided the above documents. 

MPhil/PhD

Applications for admission to the School should be made to the Registry and not directly to academic faculties. All applicants should include with their application a short research proposal (maximum 1,500 words including footnotes and references). This should indicate the area in which the student wishes to specialise enabling the application to be directed to appropriate potential supervisors. The research proposal is also an important way of indicating the extent to which the student already understands the background to their proposed research, and the range of methods which may be employed. In addition, it will help the School to decide whether coursework may be required in the first year.

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