Postgraduate Research Education within the School of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences is organised and delivered through the Institute of Nursing and Health Research. The Institute is well known nationally and internationally for providing high quality research training, which is relevant to nursing and health practice.

Nursing at Ulster University is in the premier league of universities in the UK and in terms of 4* research (i.e. research that is world- leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) we are ranked among the top 3 universities. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results show that 96% of nursing and health sciences research at Ulster University is of international excellence or ‘world leading’ and 100% of our research impact and 100% of our research environment are also recognised and world leading or internationally excellent.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching Health and Rehabilitation Technologies, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Chronic Illnesses, Maternal, Fetal and Infant Research, and Person-centred Practice Research.


Research facilities and groups

There is excellent infrastructure of supervision and support for PhD researchers both off and on campus. The Faculty supports and monitors postgraduate research education and is responsible for ensuring high quality supervision. The Doctoral College and Faculty organise PhD researcher conferences, to encourage and develop student’s skills, throughout their doctoral programme. Regular PhD researcher progress seminars are organised by the Institute of Nursing and Health Research at which PhD researchers present their research at an initial assessment, at around 10-15months (confirmation assessment) and prior to submission of the thesis (final assessment). These seminars offer PhD researchers and supervisors an opportunity to discuss methodological and other issues. The emphasis is on promoting a culture which values research.

The Institute of Nursing and Health Research provides a unique experience for doctoral researchers who wish to develop their research skills and knowledge in order to make a significant contribution to knowledge in their chosen fields. Supervision is available to support improvements in Nursing and Healthcare across the life course, from before birth to bereavement support. Postgraduate study contributes to research centres in:

  • Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Technologies

Head of Centre: Dr Brenda O'Neill

  • Caring for People with Complex Needs

Head of Centre: Dr Laurence Taggart

  • Centre for Maternal, Foetal and Infant Research

Head of Centre: Professor Marlene Sinclair

In addition, the Institute of Nursing and Health Research is supporting the development of programmes of research in mental health nursing (as part of a University-wide development in mental health research), nursing and health sciences education and health promotion. The purpose of the centres and evolving programmes is for members to focus on their selected areas of expertise and to support each other, share ideas and resources in order to promote research in their fields, locally, nationally and internationally. MPhil and PhD supervisors are drawn mainly from these groups. We invite applicants to make contact with the relevant Centre leader and/or postgraduate tutor (Dr Donna Brown) if they want to discuss a project for their study.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.


Profile picture of Professor Stenver Lin

Ulster University has very enhanced independent  learning.  I strongly recommend my students to go abroad to broaden their vision to get  new motivation.  I tell them that when studying at Ulster University, they will receive an abundance of knowledge, new experiences and strong technology to enhance their life.

Professor Stenver Lin - PhD Radiology

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Profile picture of Professor Chein Huei Kao

I am currently the Director for the Department of Nursing-midwifery and Women's Heath at NTUNHS.  I studied at Ulster University for 3 years and it was a very happy time.  Ulster is very good for study, not only in academic work but it also shows you how to be a good teacher.

Professor Chein Huei Kao - PhD Health Science of Nursing

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Profile picture of Anne Fee

My career has spanned working within the community for both voluntary and statutory organisations. After completing my degree (Psychology) and Masters many years ago I was drawn once again to the academic life and the challenge of a PhD. I was tremendously privileged a secure a fellowship from HSC R&D office to fund my PhD. After having most recently worked within a health Trust supporting family carers, I wanted to investigate the impact of support services for family carers. I knew that male carers were 'hidden' and as such were particularly in need of support, so my PhD was within this area.I'm definitely most proud of MYSELF! My proudest moment was when I initially secured the funding for the PhD. My favorite memories involved data collection with the wonderful interview participants; and also the camaraderie of my PhD peers, who were always on hand to share the laughter... and the tears. I'll never forget.... my viva!

Anne Fee - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Beverley Turtle

As an undergraduate I studied Psychology at Queen's University Belfast which inspired me to work with individuals with brain injuries as a support worker. I later became an occupational therapist and began my PhD at Jordanstown. My research project looked at the psychometric properties of outcome measures implemented in a stroke clinical trial and the acceptability of mirror therapy as an upper limb treatment with stroke survivors.My favourite memory was attending the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Celebration of Excellence Awards 2018, held at The Shard in London. There I was awarded early career researcher for my presentation at the Annual Conference and I got to share and enjoy this experience, and the drinks reception, with my mum!! Truly an enjoyable day out. The support and encouragement I have received throughout from my supervisors, my peers, friends and husband have been immeasurable. I am proud of the person I've become.

Beverley Turtle - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Hafi Saad

I am a medical doctor by training, graduating from the University of Khartoum. I have a clinical MD in Community Medicine from Sudan Medical Specialization Board and a Masters in Molecular Medicine in from Institute of Endemic Diseses/University of Khartoum. I was the head of the Community Medicine Department at Shendi University in Sudan from 2010 – 2013 before moving to Northern Ireland to complete a Master of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast. I moved to Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2012/13. I was awarded the Ulster University Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (VCRS) to undertake a PhD in the prevalence and risk factors of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland which contributes to the primary prevention of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland by determining the extent to which specific maternal risk factors are associated with the risk of having a baby with

Hafi Saad - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Deirdre Harkin

As a nurse working within a trauma orthopaedic unit, I got to see first hand the challenges people living with dementia faced in acute care. It has always been the focus of my career to strive to make improvements for this group of patients. Therefore when the opportunity arose for me to undertake research in this area; I was eager to embark on a programme of work that would make a meaningful difference to both patients and staff. This study demonstrates that through a structured, enabling research process nurses can collectively lead innovations in patient care, resulting in opportunities to improve the patient experience. My PhD journey has been a wonderful adventure, I have met some fantastic people along the way, many of which are now great friends. A special tribute goes to my supervisors, Professor Vivien Coates and Dr Donna Brown. They have guided and supported me throughout, showing me kindness always. My advice for anyone starting a PhD is – this is your project, plan

Deirdre Harkin - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Gareth Thompson

I initiated my PhD following the completion of my undergraduate degree in Health Physiology at Ulster University in 2017. The focus of my PhD research was exploring the molecular mechanisms that may mediate the cardioprotective effects of exercise in coronary artery disease patients. During my PhD, I had the pleasure of receiving supervision from Professor Ciara Hughes, Mrs Jacqui Crawford, and Professor Gareth Davison. The guidance that I received from my experienced PhD supervisors indisputably shaped my personal and professional development; I will be forever grateful for this support. The highlights of my PhD study involve obtaining ethical approval for a clinical research project; interacting with patients and healthcare professionals; presenting at conferences; publishing papers; and a favourable viva experience. My advice to future PhD students is to acknowledge and value the small steps that are taken towards completion with each task that is completed, irrespective of

Gareth Thompson - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Ulrike Speers

In 2013 I graduated from Ulster University with a 1st class honours degree in Professional Development in Counselling. At the very start of my PhD journey, someone compared pursuing a PhD to running a marathon. I can wholeheartedly agree with this image as it needs determination and perseverance to finish. It was certainly invaluable to have supportive supervisors and I am grateful to Anne and Maggie for their unfaltering support. A PhD, especially in qualitative research, depends on participant contributions and I value the willingness of my participants to share their views on my research topic.During my time as a PhD researcher, there were opportunities to take part in various conferences and these were good learning experiences and provided insight into research outside UU. I also felt that the doctoral college provided a good structure to the PhD training events and was a good place to meet researchers from other faculties. Taking part in the 3MT was a good opportunity to

Ulrike Speers - PhD in Nursing and Health

Profile picture of Julie-Ann Walkden

I started my career as a podiatrist and progressed into management within health and social care and am currently Deputy Director of Assurance at the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority. It has been a privilege to be academically supervised by two inspirational deep thinkers, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh. I also have a role as a single mother and have five brilliant kids who give to me joy and purpose and I am blessed to have loving and supportive parents.This has been a very long time in the making, first considered at the end of my MBA in 2000; twenty years later, in the middle of a pandemic, my book was finally printed. The past seven years of part-time study have probably been the most challenging period of my life, with life events beyond belief to confound the faint hearted; only with the patience, encouragement and support of my supervisors, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh, have I made it to the winner’s

Julie-Ann Walkden - PhD in Nursing and Health