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PhD Epidemiology, Evolution and Control of Infectious Diseases

PhD Epidemiology, Evolution and Control of Infectious Diseases

Programme details


Year 1


The 4-year programme begins with a 1 year specialist MRes course. During this first year, students will undertake core training one day each week, including sessions on infectious disease epidemiology, statistics, infectious disease modelling, bioinformatics, genetics and evolution, programming skills and technical workshops. In addition, the MRes course will include a component of generic skills training, including seminars and workshops on grant writing, peer review, information retrieval, ethics, academic writing and presentation.

Alongside the taught courses, students undertake two 5-month attachments in the research groups of potential PhD supervisors. Types of research project include extended systematic literature reviews, primary field data collection, secondary data analysis, laboratory-based analysis and mathematical modelling. During these placements, students will be full members of the research group, attending group meetings and participating in internal seminars in the same manner as PhD students and postdoctoral staff. Year 1 will be assessed on the basis of written reports and oral presentations of the two projects. In addition, students need to pass a separate grant writing exercise as part of the core development programme.


Years 2-4


At the end of the first year students who have achieved a Merit or better in the MRes will move onto the PhD programme. The School of Public Health provides a comprehensive research training programme for all PhD students. In addition, students receive general training in transferable skills through the highly-rated Graduate School.

The Department provides further technical training for PhD students via lunch-time courses on open to both students and postdoctoral staff (for example, computer programming, statistical inference, genetics and evolution), and via informal research discussion groups (again for both students and postdoctoral staff). Students are expected to attend the weekly Departmental research seminars,and are encouraged to be active members of academic community of the MRC Centre and Department.

Throughout the 4-year programme students will also be members of the Graduate School. The Graduate School provides an award-winning and internationally renowned programme of transferable skills training, including personal development & effectiveness, presentation skills, project management, networking and research ethics. There is also a three-day residential course in research and professional skills development which all students are strongly encouraged to attend at the beginning of Year 2.




Four 4-year Wellcome Trust studentships are available for this course. All studentships provide generous support including a tax-free stipend to cover living expenses. The value of this stipend is reviewed annually. For the 2019 cohort stipends will be not less than £22,278 in year 1, rising to £26,839 in year 4. Stipends are tax-free.

Up to two additional studentships funded by Northampton College are available. These studentships provide a stipend at the research council rates, currently £16,777 in the first year rising to £18,000 for the next 3 years. Stipends are tax-free.

Additionally a number of studentships funded by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (MRC GIDA) are available. These studentships provide a stipend at the research council rates, currently £16,777 in the first year rising to £18,000 for the next 3 years. Stipends are tax-free.

Tuition fees at the rate applicable to Home (EU) students are provided by the Wellcome Trust and Northampton College and MRC funding. Suitably qualified non-EU students are welcome to apply and we particularly welcome applications from low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Non-EU students will be liable for paying the difference between the home and overseas fee rates. A scholarship is available for up to 1 LMIC student to cover the difference between the home and overseas rates

Additional studentships may become available over the course of the admission process – all eligible candidates will be considered without needing to submit any further details.

Please note that this does not include MRC Doctoral Training Programme studentships for which a separate application process should be followed. Please note that this scheme has an earlier deadline date (19 November 2018 for 2019 entry). Successful students under this scheme are able to join this 4-year programme.

All applications will be considered equally irrespective of financial means, age and nationality.


Research areas


Both the MRes and PhD projects are embedded within the wider research in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. The research in the department focuses on the transmission, evolution and control of infectious diseases in both human and animal populations. A particular strength is in epidemiological and genetic analysis and mathematical modelling.  

The work in the department spans a wide range of disease areas, including emerging infectious diseases, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, influenza, mosquito-borne viral infections, sexually transmitted infections, neglected tropical diseases and bacterial and fungal infections. Since much of our research has direct relevant to policy, we work in close partnership with a wide range of public and global health organisations – including Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).