Bloomsbury and East London Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) - Demography pathway


Pathway Leader: Rebecca Sear. Email:

Team Member: Lynda Clarke. Email:

The Demography pathway

The School is one of the UK’s leading centres for research in demography and population studies and hosts a highly interdisciplinary and internationally renowned group of researchers working on a range of population issues in both low- and high-income contexts.

We have strong programmes of research in maternal, reproductive and sexual health, the demographic impact and mathematical modelling of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, family demography, evolutionary demography, health inequalities, global health and the burden of disease.  Our methods span quantitative techniques, including advanced demographic and statistical methods, and qualitative work; and we work on both basic and applied research.

ESRC-funded PhD scholarships are available in population studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to start in autumn 2023.  These scholarships are offered in both Demography and Reproductive and Sexual Health training routes.  Scholarships may be taken up either as a stand-alone PhD (a +3 award); or as a programme which includes first taking additional taught courses before starting the PhD (please see Preliminary Application Guidance on the UBEL website for further information on all the different routes available.)

We welcome any topic from candidates in the fields of demography or reproductive and sexual health.  We have listed below some titles of research projects undertaken by current and past ESRC-funded students, to illustrate the types of project that might be funded.  We recommend potential applicants first contact potential supervisors: the websites of the Population Studies Group and MARCH (Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive and Child Health) list staff members at the School with appropriate research interests who may be potential supervisors.

As part of their scholarship, students may spend a year at the European Doctoral School of Demography (EDSD) and following successful completion of this year, can progress to 3 years of PhD funding at the School.  We also welcome applications from students interested in using Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM).


The +3 award provides funding for 3 years of PhD study, and is available to any student who already holds a suitable MSc.

The 1+3 award provides core research methods and core subject specific training through established Masters programmes: the MSc Demography & Health or the MSc Reproductive & Sexual Health Research.  On successful completion of the relevant MSc, the student will then progress to 3 years of PhD funding.

2+3 or 1+3 awards, include one year at the European Doctoral School of Demography which is an eleven-month program that is offered every year, with the goal to provide students in the first year of their doctoral studies with an appropriate high-level education in demography.  Applicants with a suitable MSc can apply for a 1+3 award, where the first year is spent at EDSD; applicants without a suitable MSc can apply for a 2+3 award, where the first year is spent on MSc Demography & Health and the second at EDSD.

Previous ESRC-funded PhD topics:

  • Understanding the role of HIV testing and counselling services in HIV prevention in rural Tanzania
  • 'Sexual competence' at first intercourse: a critical assessment of a public health concept
  • Birth intervals and reproductive intentions in Eastern Africa: Insights from urban fertility transitions
  • Measuring the unmet need for Caesarean sections in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  • Maximising men's access to HIV testing
  • The contribution of HIV to mortality in pregnant and postpartum women
  • Are risk of mortality and morbidity determinants of abortion behaviour and attitudes in England & Wales?
  • How childhood household environments influence reproductive strategy: evidence from three populations
  • Towards improving the measurement of unsafe abortion: substantive estimates and methodological insights from Zambia
  • Understanding differences in conception and abortion rates among under 20's in Britain and France: examining the role of disadvantage
  • Using record linkage to measure patterns of HIV Service utilization
  • Understanding socioeconomic disparities in breastfeeding in the UK: exploring the role of environmental perception
  • Education, socioeconomic status and fertility in Tanzania
  • An investigation into the effectiveness and social implications of an mHealth intervention for post-abortion family planning in Bangladesh
  • Role of the public and private sectors in providing sexual, reproductive, maternal, and child health services in sub-Saharan Africa: an in-depth analysis of Demographic and Health Survey and Service Provision Assessment data
  • The double burden of disease and income inequality amongst India's elderly population
  • Is polygyny a harmful cultural practice? The impact of family structure on maternal and child health in Tanzania
  • Reconstructing historical trends in child mortality using parish registers in Tanzania
  • Evaluating the impact of Option B+ for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV in rural Tanzania
  • Investigating the effects of urbanisation and migration on chronic disease health outcomes in different socio-demographic groups
  • Understanding the reproductive and sexual health concerns and strategies of adolescent girls living with HIV in Zambia
  • Gender equality within partnerships and female fertility decisions in high income populations