Postgraduate study

Medical Informatics

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

Programme website: Medical Informatics

Advances in data capture platforms in both medicine and life sciences supported by modern computing and informatics have greatly energised the overlapping fields of Medical Informatics and Data Intensive Biomedicine.

The Centre For Medical Informatics at the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics was inaugurated at Edinburgh on 1 April 2015 (Harvard Medical School also establishing a department of Biomedical Informatics in 2015).

The combination of informatics and biomedicine is fundamental for advances towards 4P medicine (personalised, predictive, preventive, and participatory).

Current research opportunities in this area include:

  • Developing new perspectives on medicine and fundamental biology through application of quantitative approaches and data-intensive analyses to biomedical and other health related data
  • Real-time generation, analysis and interpretation of health data to foster the creation of learning health systems, which aim to enhance the quality, safety and efficiency of care
  • The development of new challenges for informatics systems (software, hardware and socio-technical) in healthcare and medicine
  • Developing and evaluating new technologies to promote health and wellbeing
  • To study and inform policy deliberations on strategies and approaches to digitising health systems and services
  • Safe and secure management and storage of digitised data in ways that enables secondary uses of these data
  • Social, ethical and legal issues of data intensive research and digitised health care

Supervisors

The following group leaders within Centre For Medical Informatics offer projects as first PhD supervisors: Andrew Morris, Dave Roberston, Aziz Sheikh, Colin Simpson, Ian Overton, Miguel Bernabeu, Saturnino Luz, Caroline Jackson, Sarah Chan, and Claudia Pagliari.

In addition, group leaders from the other two Centres in the Usher Institute (the Centre for Population Health Sciences and the Centre for Global Health Research) act as either co-supervisors, or, depending on the specific topic and primary methodology of the PhD, as first supervisors.

Second (or third) supervisors from University research centres outwith Usher and other associated institutes e.g. the Farr Institute, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research may also be available.

Before Applying

Before submitting an online application, prospective students should contact an academic members of staff who may act as first supervisor in order to align their research proposal with one of the Institute's main areas of research. A list of contacts for PhD supervisors can be found at:

Students will be integrated within the existing student-led approach at the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, where structures are already in place to ensure a high-quality student experience.

The Usher Institute has a thriving PhD community with well-developed management and administrative structures.

University Quality Assurance monitoring and reporting processes will be adhered to. All supervisors will satisfy University requirements in terms of training and mentoring.

Expectations of students, including assessment guidelines, will be clearly communicated by multiple channels (e.g. at interview, during induction, in the Postgraduate Reseacher handbook, by supervisors, at annual review meetings and on relevant web pages). All students will have at least two supervisors who will also give pastoral care and career advice in addition to student services provision.

Students will attend appropriate training, including transferrable skills, at appropriate courses (e.g. from the Institute of Academic Development) identified in consultation with the supervisors. Students will also be able to draw on the Farr Institute's UK PhD training infrastructure.

The Centre for Medical Informatics is well placed to be a lead in Medical Informatics and Data Intensive Research, and is co-located with the Farr Institute in Bioquarter Building 9.

Scotland is in a leading position to exploit health data and is uniquely placed in having high quality linkable datasets optimised for research purposes. These data are also key to the development of commercially exploitable know how and intellectual property.

A UK 2:1 honours degree and a UK masters degree, or their international equivalents. We will also consider a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, and significant work experience in an area relevant to your research project.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

For a list of currently available funded projects, and information regarding potential funding sources for postgraduate research students, please visit the Usher Institute webpage:

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Administrator, Sebastien Georges
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5446
  • Email: s.georges@ed.ac.uk
  • Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences & Informatics
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Before making your application, it is advisable to make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss your research proposal.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Administrator, Sebastien Georges
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5446
  • Email: s.georges@ed.ac.uk
  • Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences & Informatics
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG