PhD Studentships

We are proud of our track record of supporting and encouraging researchers beginning their careers. See below for PhD studentships currently open for applications.

The Dynamic Relationship Between Health and Wealth Inequalities (UKRI-funded PhD Research Studentship, 3.5 years)

The Dynamic Relationship Between Health and Wealth Inequalities

Lead Supervisor: Professor Petra Meier

UKRI funded PhD Research Studentship (3.5 years)

We are looking for an excellent, enthusiastic PhD student to work within a larger research consortium on the economic determinants of health. This PhD project will explore the dynamic processes that link inequalities in health and wealth. With a particular focus on individuals and areas, this project will contribute to a better understanding of the role that economic inequalities play in the stagnation of population health improvements currently observed in the UK.

Wealth is more than just income and typically defined as a person’s collective assets including possessions, properties, savings and earnings. Debt can be thought of as negative wealth. Dynamic feedback mechanism exist where wealth creates opportunities for the further accumulation of wealth through access to monetary and non-monetary resources and influence to create more favourable conditions, which in turn lead to more wealth accumulation (“wealth begets wealth”). The link between health and wealth may be partially explained by wealth providing of access to social and educational opportunities which generate social capital, and in turn affect the rate at which wealth and power can be converted into knowledge, skills, abilities, helpful connections and other characteristics that are tightly linked differences in health outcomes.

The student will identify particular aspects of this dynamic system they wish to focus on, in consultation with the supervisory panel (led by Prof Petra Meier, with other supervisors selected to match topic/methods focus). Such aspects of the system could include, for example, gender differences, intergenerational transmission of inequalities in wealth and health; dynamics underpinning negative wealth (e.g. poverty/debt spirals) and their health implications, the nexus of wealth – consumption – health, social network effects, whether health inequalities lead to wealth inequalities, or whether policies such as community wealth building or universal basic income may disrupt these dynamics and lead to positive health inequality outcomes.

Methodologically, the project will take either a qualitative or a quantitative systems science approach. The project will suit a wide range of applicants with prior training in public health, sociology, social policy, population geography, economics, operational research, or other relevant subject areas. Aligned to the candidate’s interest and skillset, this project can have either a quantitative focus on simulation models (e.g., system dynamics, agent-based modelling, or microsimulation model), or a qualitative focus (e.g. systems thinking, group model building, process tracing, contribution analysis, future analysis methods). The successful applicant will join the multi-institution "Policy Modelling for Health" (HealthMod) project, maximising opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange, team science and methods development.

Funding is available for a student at the standard UKRI PhD studentship rate of £19,237 per annum (from 1 October 2024) for 3.5 years. Please note that this opportunity is only available to students eligible to pay the “home student” rate.

Full eligibility criteria is subject to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Terms and Conditions. These are available on the UK Research and Innovation website. To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

The supervisory team anticipates a start between October 2024 and January 2025.

Please direct questions to the lead supervisor, Prof Petra Meier (

How to apply

Apply through Postgraduate Admissions to MVLS - MRC/CSO PhD Studentship.

Prepare a single page research proposal, including an outline of your initial (and non-binding) ideas around topic and methods focus.

Provide all other documentation/information required during the application process.

Once you have submitted your application, please email to confirm.

Closing Date: 31 July 2024

Interviews: 20 August 2024 (provisional date)

Hear from our current PhD students

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit logo 800 wide

PhD studentships