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Postgraduate Admissions


Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship starting in October 2021 in the Primary Care Unit of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge. The student will join the Prevention Group and will be supervised by Dr Juliet Usher-Smith.

The student will undertake research within an NIHR funded research programme to develop a strategy for implementation of risk stratification into bowel cancer screening programmes. Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Europe with survival is strongly related to stage at diagnosis. There is good evidence that screening adults in the general population who are at average risk reduces bowel cancer incidence and mortality. Targeted or stratified screening, in which the age of first invitation, the choice of test and the screening interval are based on additional personal factors could potentially improve efficiency of screening and ensure that those at greatest risk are effectively screened. The overall aim of the research within this PhD is to identify risk stratification strategies and associated information, that could be introduced into the English bowel cancer screening programme, that are both acceptable and understandable to the public, and most likely to enhance optimise uptake, particularly among those at greatest risk. The programme includes opportunities for quantitative studies, including discrete choice experiments and online experiments, qualitative studies, including community juries and research interviews, evidence synthesis and consensus building. The PhD will therefore provide the student with opportunities to learn and apply a range of different applied health research methods. Additional research may also be developed within the broader programme in discussion with the supervisor.

The student will be well supported in their development, receiving regular academic supervision. They will be able to choose a bespoke set of courses at Cambridge to develop their skills and knowledge. They will work with research colleagues within the Prevention Group and the wider Department, a warm and collegiate environment for pursuing research.

Candidates will have a degree in a relevant discipline: a research Master's degree and work experience relevant to applied health research would be advantageous, but are not requirements. Candidates must meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements: see

The studentship has a stipend of £16,000 per year for three years. This studentship will only cover UK level University fees.

Applicants can have degrees from any relevant discipline: social science, psychology, medicine or other clinically-related subjects.

This role requires an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check: any offer we make will be conditional upon the satisfactory completion of this check; whether an outcome is satisfactory will be determined by the University. The nature of this role means that the successful candidate will also need to undergo a health assessment.

Location - Primary Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge.

We welcome informal conversations about this post: please contact Dr Juliet Usher-Smith at

To apply please complete the University GRADSAF application form - then click on Course Directory and choose Public Health & Primary Care - PhD

Applications close on 9 May 2021

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview on 14 May 2021

With your application please upload: (i) A letter outlining your suitability, why you are interested in a PhD in this area, your background and research interests. (ii) Your CV, stating your citizenship and years of residence in the UK. (iii) Your academic transcripts. (iv) Details of two academic referees.

Please quote reference RH26186 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

Key Information

Department of Public Health and Primary Care

Reference: RH26186

Dates and deadlines:

Monday, 29 March, 2021
Closing Date
Sunday, 9 May, 2021