Postgraduate study

Integrated Studies in Medical Sciences with Engagement PhD with Integrated Study

Awards: PhD with Integrated Study

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

This programme aims to train a generation of researchers who will deliver key scientific outputs, discover disease mechanisms, and develop and implement new therapies.

The programme is complemented with research-integrated engagement and impact skills as core components of your research from the earliest stage of your career.

To meet the changing skills needs of the future scientific workforce, medical sciences research PhD students must be trained to engage non-scientific research-relevant audiences in wider society as well as delivering excellence in scientific research.

This innovative, transformational, internationally-unique PhD programme will embed credited teaching in, and practical application of, research-integrated skills in:

  • public engagement
  • science communication
  • patient involvement
  • data design and informatics

The above are core, credited and assessed components of internationally-leading College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine PhD projects in Medical Sciences & Translational Research.

As a graduate of this PhD programme you will be primed to pursue internationally-excellent research in a highly collaborative, cross-disciplinary manner. You will become an innovative, creative thinker, and gain the confidence and ability to engage with audiences beyond the research world. Barriers will be removed enabling you to develop meaningful and longer-term relationships with stakeholders, and you will be ideally placed to contribute to the next generation of scientific research leaders and policy makers.

PhD project portfolio

As part of this programme, you will select an internationally-leading research PhD from a portfolio of projects including:

  • Inflammation Biology
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Clinical Brain Sciences
  • Infectious Disease Biology
  • Immunology, Cardiovascular Sciences
  • Genetic and Molecular Medicine

These projects will be advertised on the programme website. Applicants are invited to contact proposed supervisors or Programme Co-directors for more information.

You will be invited to express a project preference in your application, however, final project allocation will take place after you have been accepted into the programme. Projects will be assigned in a student-led manner, in consultation with proposed supervisors.

What does this programme offer?

Uniquely, this programme offers:

PhD with integrated study

A medical sciences PhD project with credited teaching in Engagement for Impact skills integrated throughout the PhD.

Flexibility in training provision

A bespoke selection of assessed and credited MSc level courses incorporating:

  • Science Communication
  • Public Engagement
  • Patient Involvement
  • Data Design and Informatics

Courses are defined by the individual needs of the student and the nature of the research project.

Genuine research-integrated engagement

On this programme you will learn to use engagement skills as a core component of your research. You will develop a unique, assessed Engagement for Impact portfolio with tangible research-integrated engagement outputs. This is developed around a focus on engaging the public, community, and patients or policymaker audiences that may be impacted by the possible long term outcomes of a specific research project.

The University of Edinburgh is an international leader in fundamental-to-translational medical sciences research. We have an outstanding record of interdisciplinarity and innovation, conducted by exceptional researchers offering the highest level of experience in research and PhD training.

The PhD research project starts from day 1 and will be conducted throughout the 4 years of the programme. There will be dedicated time for taught courses interspersed throughout, during which students will join existing MSc course groups. Minimal taught courses take place in the final year.

Taught courses consist of 180 credits of courses conducted throughout the PhD. These include a mixture of compulsory and elective courses incorporating:

  • Science Communication
  • Public Engagement
  • Patient Involvement
  • Data Design & Informatics

These courses are taught via existing MSc courses and/or mentored Engagement for Impact courses. The broad choice of elective courses will enable you to create a bespoke programme, most suited to the engagement needs of your individual research project.

You will take taught courses throughout the programme amounting to:

  • 40 credits in Year 1
  • 40 - 60 credits in Year 2
  • 40 - 60 credits in Year 3
  • 20 - 40 credits in Year 4

The 20 credit per year series of applied and reflective Impact for Engagement courses will enable you to apply your developing knowledge in dedicated time, with expert mentorship.

Courses are taught in a step-wise manner, to create an Engagement for Impact portfolio of tangible engagement outputs. These outputs will range from resources to events that genuinely integrate with the research topic. This will culminate in an Engagement for Impact portfolio showcase in the middle of your final year.

This new programme aims to be innovative, high impact and transformational. The goal of the programme is to develop a cohort of outstanding young scientists, primed to pursue internationally-excellent research in a highly collaborative, cross-disciplinary manner.

PhD research for this programme aims to deliver key scientific outputs, discover disease mechanisms, and develop and implement new therapies or approaches. PhD research will be supported by experienced, internationally-leading PhD supervisors and a PhD Thesis Committee. PhD projects will be selected to present opportunities around which to engage with non-scientific audiences.

The bespoke selection of taught courses will provide the knowledge framework for you to start developing your engagement skills. These courses will be taught in dedicated time throughout the 4 years of study, during which time students will join existing MSc course groups. These courses will be primarily be drawn from:

PhD training at the University of Edinburgh includes support for flexible development of your personal, professional and technical skills. You will be supported by expert mentors throughout the programme, on an individual basis.

In addition to the credited taught components, you will have the opportunity to undertake Institute for Academic Development professional skills training (tailored to the training year), such as:

  • project planning and management
  • writing and publishing
  • personal effectiveness
  • statistics
  • leadership training
  • thesis writing

A supportive student community and identity will be actively developed across the programme as student numbers grow, promoted via induction events, student-led peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and a varied programme of events; such as:

  • participation in 3-minute thesis
  • media training
  • FameLab
  • science festivals
  • school and community outreach
  • Parliamentary engagement events
  • patient-researcher exchanges
  • portfolio showcasing (including 360° feedback)

Multidisciplinary research centres

This programme will place you within a unique environment, supporting a significant number of complementary activities in your research and engagement training. The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) includes biomedical scientists, medics and vets, who together play a world-leading role in research to advance understanding of disease causes and to develop and deliver new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic approaches.

As the UK’s only unified College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM), the College consolidates research in multidisciplinary research centres, clustered within contemporary research institutes. We are located next to hospitals on three major translational research campuses.

On this programme, you will be located at the institute of your selected primary supervisor, with access to internationally excellent facilities, technical support, and supervision appropriate for your specific project.

The campus structure - physically locating research institutes alongside human and veterinary hospitals - creates synergies to enable cutting-edge translational research and excellent opportunities for engagement work.

CMVM is an established leader in Science Communication and Public Engagement training at MSc level, and also offers innovative MSc courses in Data Design and Informatics. This programme embeds a bespoke, student and research project-defined selection of these accredited courses.

We are committed to recruit and retain the most talented early career researchers, and to develop the culture of translation of research to maximise impact on health and wealth.

Engagement for Impact courses

This training, combined with our new and unique, credited Engagement for Impact courses, and alongside the successful 4 year PhD with integrated study model, creates a transformational PhD programme opportunity which few other Universities currently deliver.

PhD research projects are conducted within an exceptional environment, with fantastic resources also lending themselves to your overall learning experience.

In the Engagement for Impact courses you will will engage with a range of existing science communication, public engagement, patient involvement, and data design and informatics experiences. Initially you will participate as an observer, and eventually as a volunteer, taking increasing levels of responsibility for event design, delivery and evaluation, within existing frameworks.

These experiences will be drawn from available and existing opportunities, as well as leading engagement facilities. They will be tailored to the nature of both the research project and credited courses you are taking (and those planned for future years). For example:

  • Science Festivals (Edinburgh Science Festival, Midlothian Science Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe events)
  • Easter Bush Outreach Centre workshops
  • Our Health community-driven projects
  • Data Design workshops
  • patient engagement interactions
  • web-based communication
  • school visits
  • public lectures

Engagement for Impact portfolio

Thereafter, you will design, develop, use and evaluate novel engagement yourself. You will compile your wealth of engagement practice and reflective work to produce a portfolio of Engagement for Impact outputs. These outputs will be in the most appropriate form for the audience most relevant to the research project, and could include:

  • workshops
  • exhibits
  • patient information resources
  • lay targeted science resources
  • public debates/presentations
  • MP or policy-maker targeted information, events and lobbying
  • novel data design approaches
  • questionnaires
  • blogs
  • artwork
  • websites
  • animations
  • comics
  • videos
  • games
  • lesson plans
  • AR or VR visualisations

Your portfolio will comprise the resources themselves (or resources created for events/activities), reflection, evaluation and future plans. This will enable you to demonstrate your ability to apply your learning from taught courses to engage relevant publics with their research.

You will be mentored throughout the development, delivery and evaluation of your resources.

Graduates of this programme will be ideally placed to contribute to the next generation of scientific research leaders and policy makers.

In the rapidly changing landscape of impact-based University assessment and funder prioritisation of engagement in research, you will have a competitive advantage for jobs and funding. This will be further enhanced by your communication and data design skills, which can be applied to writing applications.

This programme is not intended for students who aim to pursue careers in Public Engagement and Communication.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant biomedical sciences, biological sciences, medical sciences, or psychology subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • PTE Academic: total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered).
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD with Integrated Study4 YearsFull-timeTuition fees

Self-funded candidates will not be considered at this time.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research,
  • Queen's Medical Research Institute,
  • Edinburgh BioQuarter,
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB

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.

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

Further information

  • University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research,
  • Queen's Medical Research Institute,
  • Edinburgh BioQuarter,
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB