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: Professor Suzanne McDonough

  • Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Head of Centre: Dr Laurence Taggart

  • Managing Chronic Illness Research Centre

Head of Centre: Professor Vivien Coates

  • Centre for Maternal, Foetal and Infant Research

Head of Centre: Professor Marlene Sinclair

  • Person-centred Practice Research Centre

Head of Centre: Professor Assumpta Ryan

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.

Additional information for International applicants may be found here.

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.

Full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found here.

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.  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, is available here.

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 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 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 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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