Apply to SPHeRE

Applications Procedure for 2019/20 SPHeRE PhD Programme


The SPHeRE Programme is now accepting applications for the 2019/20 academic year from:

  1. Individual applicants
  2. Supervisors/Principal Investigators with an alternative funded Scholar who wish to apply for inclusion of their candidate on the Programme



The SPHeRE PhD Programme in Population Health and Health-services Research (PHHSR) aspires to cultivate world-class researchers through a four-year structured PhD Programme. The SPHeRE Programme can also be undertaken over a longer time period on a part-time, self-funded basis. The Programme is a joint initiative of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. We welcome applicants with an interest in carrying out research on population health and/or health services in the Irish context and from a wide range of academic and clinical disciplines, including public health, health psychology, health economics, health policy, general practice, biostatistics, health geography and social science among others.


The full-time 4 year structured PhD Programme features:

  • 6 taught modules completed in the first year of the Programme
  • Opportunities for multidisciplinary research
  • Supervision by internationally renowned Principal Investigators


In addition, SPHeRE HRB funded scholars benefit from:

  • 8-week specialist rotation in Irish health related agencies in the first year
  • Placement with a prestigious overseas agency to further PhD project development in the second or third years
  • Professional skills training allowance
  • Travel funds to national training days and international conferences
  • Annual stipend of €18,000 plus laptop computer plus PhD fees


This Programme provides excellent training for scholars in core health services and population health research skills.

Applicants or Supervisors who have already secured independent funding for a PhD or applicants who wish to pursue the Programme on a part-time/full-time basis are also welcome to apply.

The operation of the SPHeRE Programme is subject to funding by the HRB.


Applications Deadline

The deadline for individual applications is Friday, 5th April 2019 at 5pm. Applications from supervisors/scholars with their own funding will remain open. Incomplete applications or late applications will not be considered.

Interviews for candidates that have been successfully shortlisted will take place during the week of May 20th only and we will not be able to facilitate requests for alternative dates.


How to apply?

There are two modes of application for entry to the SPHeRE Programme 2019/2020:


  1. Individual Applicants (HRB Funding or Self-Funding)

Individual applicants are asked to complete this online application form and submit a one-page cover letter and a two-page Curriculum Vitae (including degree grades and contact details for two referees). In your cover letter, please discuss your education, training, and experience (research and/or practice) in population health and health services research (PHHSR) and provide evidence of leadership (in an academic and/or non-academic capacity). Additionally, you may consider indicating how your prior experience or possible PhD topic are policy relevant and potentially address SPHeRE’s twelve Research Priorities (further information available on our website).

When completing your application, be aware that only 3 full-time PhD positions are funded. HRB funding is not available for part-time PhDs on the SPHeRE Programme or for scholars registered outside of the three partner institutions (RCSI, TCD & UCC). However, individual self-funding applicants, either full-time or part-time, who either do not apply for a HRB Scholarship, or are not successful in receiving one, but are deemed suitable for entry to the SPHeRE Programme may register at any of RCSI, TCD, UCC, UCD, DCU, MU, NUIG or UL, where the relevant University registrations and fees are payable. Self-funded scholars are liable for fees at their host institution and all equipment, data collection & dissemination costs.

Successful non-EU applicants for funded positions will be liable for fees above that for European applicants. Fees vary, but further information on fees can be found on the websites of the individual institutions.


Apply as an Individual Applicant


  1. Supervisor/Principal Investigator Applicants (Alternative Funding)

Supervisors/PI’s that can fund a Scholar for 4 years, who wish to apply for a place on the Programme are required to complete an online application. No additional fees are payable to the SPHeRE Programme outside of your institutional and scholarship costs. We have created a SPHeRE Information Package for Principal Investigators, Employers and other organisations with funding for a PhD student. Please complete the link below and contact Elaine Healy ( for further information.


Apply as a Supervisor/Principal Investigator with funding