MPhil and PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health

The department accepts graduate research students to study for the degrees of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology and Public Health including Dental Public Health. A list of possible projects and prospective supervisors has been compiled and viewed on the Supervisors tab. Alternatively, you may have a research proposal in mind. The department will provide, or recommend, a suitable supervisor(s).

Registration, in accordance with University of London regulations, is in all cases initially for the MPhil degree, which is normally completed in two years. Where progress is satisfactory registration will be upgraded to PhD, and continue for at least one further year. In all cases the degree is assessed by thesis and oral examination.

View the YouTube video below to obtain a further insight into studying a research degree within the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health...  

All research students are assigned two supervisors: a primary supervisor, who will be responsible for directing their research training, and a subsidiary supervisor, who is normally there to help assess progress, deal with any problems and provide for continuity of supervision in the event of the absence or departure of the principal supervisor. Where the area of research is cross-disciplinary, say in epidemiology and statistics, it may be appropriate to allocate two co-supervisors.

Research students are normally required to attend elements from appropriate MSc programmes during their first year. If existing training is considered insufficient at the point of application, students will be requested to undertake an MSc prior to admission to the MPhil/PhD programme. 

In addition, the Graduate School provides a Skills Development Programme for all new research students. 

Research Topics Available

The following listing provides an indication of the range of projects currently available. It is not intended to be prescriptive, nor absolute; only to give a flavour of the opportunities available. The particular path of the research may be dictated as much by student's interests and ideas as by the guidance of the supervisors.


  • Social determinants of health
  • Inequalities in health
  • Health and income
  • Health in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Health behaviours (diet, physical activity, alcohol and smoking)
  • Work, stress and health
  • Psychosocial cause of ill health
  • Ageing (including mental capacity)
  • Statistical methodology
  • Cardiovascular epidemiology
  • Population health across the life course
  • Neighbourhood effects
  • Subjective wellbeing
  • Socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in infant and child health
  • Labour market status and health
  • Dental public health
  • Inequalities in nutrition
  • Gender, Family and Health


Professor Amanda Sacker

  • Statistical modelling of complex longitudinal processes
  • The developmental origins of poor physical and mental health in adult life

See also the
International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society & Health's studentships

Dr Anne McMunn

  • Parental employment, domestic labour and child behaviour
  • Family structure and child health and behaviour
  • Gender, work, family and health across the life course.
  • Social participation, ageing and wellbeing

Professor Nora Groce

  • Global health and international development
  • Cross-cultural systems of health care
  • Human rights
  • Global disability issues

Professor Yvonne Kelly

  • Health and development during childhood and adolescence
  • Social and ethnic inequalities

Professor Martin Bobak

  • Socio-economic and psychosocial factors and health
  • Health in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Rapid social change and health
  • Alcohol consumption, drinking patterns and health
  • Social and physical environmental predictors of pregnancy outcomes and
  • infant mortality

Dr Eric Brunner

  • Social inequalities in diet, nutrition and coronary disease.
  • Biological stress mechanisms.
  • Genetic effects on coronary risk in socio-economic context.
  • Diabetes and coronary disease.

Dr Steven Bell

  • Alcohol consumption and health
  • Chronic disease
  • Longitudinal modelling
  • Life course epidemiology
  • Causal inference

Dr Annie Britton

  • Social inequalities in coronary heart disease.
  • Alcohol consumption and health consequences

Dr Jennifer Mindell

  • Smoking, tobacco use, and cotinine levels in minority ethnic groups
  • Predictors of mortality, cancer, and/or hospital admission in Scottish and English Health Survey participants (obesity, or hypertension, or tobacco use or exposure and cotinine levels, inequalities focus possible.)
  • Compression of morbidity
  • Health impact assessment

Dr Jane Biddulph

  • Health inequalities within ageing populations
  • Investigation of predictors for chronic diseases/conditions
  • Natural history of and mortality from chronic diseases/conditions Cancer, cognitive, and mental health epidemiology
  • Longitudinal survey data and analyses

Dr Hynek Pikhart

  • International comparisons of social determinants of health
  • Social inequalities in health across the life course
  • Ageing studies in Central and Eastern Europe, China and Korea

Dr Marcus Richards

  • MRC Unit for Lifelong health and Ageing, and MRC National Survey of Health
  • and Development
  • A life course approach to cognitive ageing
  • Cognition and adult physical health and morbidity
  • Normal and abnormal cognitive development and adult life chances

Dr Noriko Cable

  • Resiliency and adult psychological health
  • Adolescent alcohol use, adult alcohol misuse and psychological health
  • Social gradient in adult health related behaviour and psychological health
  • Social integration and psychological health: gender and cultural differences
  • Parent-child relationship and adult social integration and psychological health

Professor Andrew Steptoe

  • Psycho-biological factors in health and disease.
  • Psycho-physiological factors in cardiovascular disease.
  • Psycho-neuro-immunology
  • Positive affect and health

Dr Rebecca Hardy

  • MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing
  • Childhood growth trajectories and health
  • Statistical methods for life course epidemiology.
  • Gender differences in coronary heart disease

Professor Richard Watt

  • Social determinants of oral health
  • Oral health inequalities
  • Life course perspective on oral health
  • Evaluation of oral health improvement interventions

Dr David Batty

  • Psychological predictors of cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Early life origins of dementia
  • Meta-analysis and systematic review
  • Mendelian Randomisation

Dr Livia Carvalho

  • Biological effects associated with social inequalities in pregnant women and its effect on offspring development.
  • Biological markers of stress and resilience in older age. I will be happy to discuss these projects further with you or the student.

Professor Diana Kuh

  • MRC National Survey of Health and Development

Dr Nicola Shelton

  • Health Geography
  • Infant mortality

Jenny Head

  • Comparison of methods for dealing with non-ignorable missing data mechanisms
  • Trajectories of bio-markers as predictors of incident disease
  • Psychosocial factors, work stress and health
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Determinants and consequences of sickness absence

Dr Mai Stafford

  • Neighbourhoods and health
  • Social capital and health
  • Social participation and health in the over 50s.
  • Grand-parenting and health
  • Residential mobility and well-being in later life
  • Family formation, fertility and the health and well-being of older people

Professor Robert West

  • Nicotine dependence
  • Smoking cessation
  • Smoking patterns
  • Theories of addiction

Dr Jo Waller

  • Psychosocial aspects of cervical cancer screening
  • Psychosocial aspects of HPV testing and vaccination

Dr Stephen Jivraj

  • Neighbourhood effects
  • Spatial and social inequalities
  • Later life wellbeing
  • Longitudinal data analysis

Professor Jane Wardle

  • Psychological influences on food choice
  • Obesity and weight control.
  • Cancer screening.
  • Public understanding of cancer

Dr Maria Kett

  • The socio-economic effects of disability in developing countries;
  • Socio-economic effects of disasters
  • and conflict (with particular focus on disability);
  • Conflict, Migration and human rights
  • Humanitarian interventions and organisations

Professor Mika Kivimaki

  • Work and health
  • Psychosocial factors and disease prognosis
  • Psychosocial risk factors and ageing
  • Sickness absence and early retirement
  • Life-course socio-economic position and adult risk factors

Dr George Tsakos

  • Oral health related quality of life
  • Oral health inequalities and social determinants
  • Oral health needs assessment
  • Effect of oral health on diet and nutrition

Dr Andy McEwen

  • Nicotine dependence
  • Smoking cessation
  • Smoking patterns
  • Behavioural support & counselling

The department engenders an atmosphere in which all research students are supported and encouraged. Every student is provided with a desk and storage space within the department, together with access to full computing facilities. A local area network, with a computer manager in support, ensures access to relevant programmes that may be required. The Graduate Tutors, who are in charge of general arrangements and queries regarding graduates, are also available to lend a sympathetic ear if problems arise.

Students are encouraged to attend and participate in all seminars hosted by the department. Students are also encouraged to contribute to the Departmental and Staff-Student Consultative Committees, on both of which they are represented.

Outside the department, UCL provides a full network of support services, including the Health Centre, Counselling Service, Careers Service, International Office, Advisors to Women Students and the Dean of Students. Details of these are given in the UCL Graduate School Prospectus

Funding for UK/EU Students

The main sources of funding for UK/EU applicants are studentships from the:

  • British Health Foundation (BHF)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK)
  • Diabetes UK

To find out about current studentships on offer within the Department, please visit our vacancies page here. You can also visit, where we regularly advertise our opportunities. 

Further funding information can also be found here.

Guidance and eligibility criteria can be found within each advertised opportunity.

Funding Overseas Students

Overseas students are eligible to apply to a number of sources of funding, including The British Council, Commonwealth Scholarships and WHO Scholarships. In the majority of instances you must apply direct to the funding organisation and it is vital to make early enquiries (up to a year in advance).

Also, UCL directly offer the UCL Overseas Research Scholarships (UCL-ORS) and  UCL-CSC (China Scholarships Council) Scholarships, which is offered once a year and the deadline is usually around mid January. 

Further funding information can also be found here.

See UCL Fees and Costs section for further information on fees 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The Graduate Tutors will need to assess whether there is the appropriate expertise within the Department to supervise a PhD in your area of interest, as well as the suitability of your academic background and writing skills.

If you'd like to apply, please send through the below details to Andreas Opitz.

  • Your current CV and short proposal (no more than two pages), which includes the following:

a. Background to your research area of interest.

b. Potential hypotheses or research questions to be addressed by the research.

c. Methods you wish to apply and study population.

d. How will this be funded?

e. Statistical methods and packages with which you are familiar.

Below are two video interviews of current research degree students within the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health:

Carolina Perez Ferrer

Carolina’s PhD project looks at trends in socioeconomic inequalities in obesity from 1988 to 2006 in adult Mexican women. She uses three waves of nationally representative survey data. 

Sadie Boniface

Sadie holds an MRC PhD studentship (2010-13) in the Health and Social Surveys Research Group. Her PhD research (Finding the ‘missing units’: identifying under-reporting of alcohol consumption in England) involves secondary analysis of national health surveys, as well as a quantitative study of drink pouring practices, and a qualitative study of routine drinking habits.