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We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in Medical Education.

We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in Medical Education 

Research at Worcester has grown significantly in recent years. We aim to produce research that is distinctive, socially and culturally relevant, and that influences national agendas. We continually strive to develop new areas of research excellence while, in certain areas, our work has already been acknowledged as world-leading.



Three Counties Medical School

The Three Counties Medical School has a multidisciplinary staff team of academics with clinical and research expertise in medical education.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Entry qualifications

For MPhil

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or an approved equivalent award


  • Research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement

For PhD

  • Postgraduate Masters Degree in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed programme of study


  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in an appropriate discipline


  • Research or professional experience at postgraduate level which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of achievement

International applicants

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English.

For MPhil/PhD this is an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in every component.

Programme structure

Programme structure

PhD year by year

After receiving your application, we try to establish if we have the necessary expertise to supervise your project and we begin to form a supervisory team for you. This will normally consist of a Director of Studies (DoS), who will be your lead supervisor, and at least one other supervisor, who will offer you additional support and guidance throughout your studies. If, following a successful interview, you are offered a place as a full-time student, your programme of study will look something like this:

First year

You will have submitted a draft research outline with your application. In your first year, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal. You will be aided in your research by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will also be supported through your first year by engaging with a series of three modules as part of our Researcher Development Programme:

  • RSDP4001: Developing as a Researcher
  • RSDP4005: Approaches to Research
  • RSDP4004: Planning Your Research Project

At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will reflect on and formally review your progress with your supervisory team and MPhil/PhD Course Leader. We call this annual meeting an Annual Progress Review (APR).

Second year

In your second year, you will be collecting data and working on your research project under the supervision of your supervisors through regular meetings. You may at this point have research papers ready to publish and you may wish to attend conferences to present your research to other experts in your field. You will be able to apply to our Research Student Support Scheme for some funding for this purpose. Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. This will be part of your Annual Progress Review for this year.

Third or fourth year

In your third and fourth year, you will be writing up your thesis and preparing for your viva voce examination. This is an oral exam with two examiners and a chair. You can also request that your supervisor be present at the exam. The exam will take place after you have submitted your final thesis. After the exam, it is not unusual for the examiners to ask that some amendments be made to your thesis before the final award is confirmed and you will have additional time to do this. It is possible to complete the course in three years, but we have found that the majority of students do take four years to complete the course. At the end of each year of your registration, you will go through an Annual Progress Review.


With study space and IT provision in the Research Office, and access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and state-of-the-art library facilities, the Medical Education team at Worcester have an excellent range of resources to support your learning and research project.

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document for the MPhil or PhD.

Part time students follow the same structure as full-time students but normally complete the PhD over a period of five to six years. Part-time students take two modules in each of their first two years, and will normally Transfer to PhD in their fourth year.

Research areas

Research areas

Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.


You will need to submit a research outline as part of the application process. At this stage we are looking for the potential of your project and your ability to successfully complete the degree, as well as our capacity to supervise your research. The guidance for writing your research outline is here. We recommend discussing your research outline with a potential supervisor before submitting a formal application.

Informal inquiries are welcomed by any of our supervisors or the course leader, Professor Lisa Jones. Our supervisors are listed below - please do click on the links to their webpages so that you can find out more about their specific research expertise. Please only contact one potential supervisor. If another supervisor is better suited to your project, we will redirect your query.

Professor Rachel Ashworth
Rachel has research expertise in medical education. She has experience of using qualitative and sociological research methods, including interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Rachel is interested in the effectiveness of integrative approaches to teaching biological science in the clinical context.

Dr Leo Donnelly 
Leo is an anatomist with research interests in medical education, especially the optimisation of anatomical knowledge acquisition and the uses of computer-aided learning and haptic modelling, as well as the use of imaging modalities such as ultrasound.

Professor Lisa Jones
Lisa has research expertise in medical student wellbeing and achievement. She has expertise in quantitative research methods. Lisa is also interested in the effectiveness of learning and teaching behavioural science in the clinical context, and learning and teaching about mental health and mental illness.

Professor Kay Mohanna
Kay is an educationalist whose research has tended to be about aspects of teaching and learning. She has expertise in conversation analysis of video recorded data and also some qualitative methods that share a thematic analytical approach. Kay is interested in identity formation, diversity and inclusion, leadership and the use of humanities in teaching and learning.

Professor Sandra Nicholson
Sandra strongly believes in the value of medical educational research and scholarship that enhances the experience of both students and tutors, and ultimately seeks to improve the care and satisfaction of patients. She enjoys collaborating and taking an interdisciplinary approach to research and has frequently engaged with policy holders. She has expertise in both quantitative and qualitative educational methodologies with her main research interests highlighting the field of medical selection and widening participation.

Dr Russell Peek
Russell has experience in quantitative and qualitative research in medical education, working across traditional disciplinary and professional boundaries. He has research interests in complexity and uncertainty, and the psychophysiology of stress, performance and thriving in clinical learners.

Dr Richard Singleton
Richard has been involved in medical education for many years and has strong interests in the integration of technology into the learning experience. In particular he has been interested in the field of ‘gamification’ and how the inherent competitiveness of students can be harnessed in such a way as to make learning more enjoyable.

Professor Rebecca Stack
Rebecca conducts research into medical education, particularly approaches to reducing biases in assessment, increasing consistency between assessors, promoting equality and diversity in assessment, and reaching inclusive forms of assessment. She has expertise in a range of methods including qualitative research and analysis, meta synthesis, survey-based research and statistical analysis of quantitative data.

Rebecca would be particularly interested in supervising research into student perceptions of inclusive assessments and differential attainment on healthcare programmes.

Dr Erica Thomas
Erica has research interests in self-compassion, resilience, and wellbeing amongst students in the medical professions.

Dr Elizabeth Walden is a biochemist by training and has additional experience in education. She is interested in the role that teaching and understanding the basic cellular and genetic underpinnings of disease has in modern day medical education and the role of scientists in medical education.

Dr Rachel Ashworth

Professor Rachel Ashworth

Professor Ashworth has a BSc (Biological Sciences) and a doctorate (PhD Physiology and Biochemistry) and trained initially as a research scientist. She worked as postdoctoral researcher in the United States before returning to the UK and setting up a laboratory at University College London.

In 2006, Professor Ashworth was appointed as a lecturer in Physiology at Queen Mary University of London. Professor Ashworth’s early career in scientific research laid the foundations for her subsequent development as a physiology educator and champion for learning through active practical experience and scientific discovery. She has taught physiology on the dental, biomedical sciences, and medical programmes.

Professor Ashworth has published her research in many scientific journals and supervised postgraduate and undergraduate research projects.

Leo Donnelly stood outside main reception at St John's campus, University of Worcester

Dr Leo Donnelly

Leo has enjoyed teaching and demonstrating Anatomy, principally to medical students, for over thirty years at a number of UK and Irish medical schools, often alongside research investigating aspects of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Nowadays Leo focuses on the pedagogy of Anatomy learning.





BSc (Hons)


Professor Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones is Professor of Psychological Medicine. She has been researching the causes of major mental illnesses and teaching in higher education for over 30 years.

Kay Mohanna sat at desk, smiling at camera

Professor Kay Mohanna

I am a partner in general practice in the UK and a trainer, with expertise in supporting trainees in difficulty. I am also the International Development Advisor for the Royal College of General Practice for South Asia.

I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015 for my work in faculty development, particularly overseas.

I came to Worcester as Professor of Values Based Education in 2015 and initiated visiting Fellowships for post-MD GPs from Sri Lanka. All of our visitors are now consultants in their own country including one who is now President of the College of GPs.

I also have an interest in assessment, in a quality assurance role for MRCGP[International] in South Asia and as a GMC examiner for the Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board (PLAB).

My doctorate started with an interest in fairness in assessment, particularly the international medical graduate experience of the clinical skills assessment in UK GP training and used conversation analysis to look at the work done by small talk in consultation.

Prof Sandra Nicholson

Professor Sandra Nicholson

I joined the University of Worcester as the Founding Dean of the Three Counties Medical School in November 2021 following 25 years as a medical academic at QMUL. I received my primary medical qualification from Leicester University in 1988, MRCGP in 1993, and have practised as a GP for over 25 years, most of which in areas of high social deprivation such as the East End of London.

I gained a Masters in Medical Education in 2001 and consolidated my academic trajectory with a research PhD in 2013 that explored the models of learning and professionalisation of medical students from non-traditional backgrounds.

My personal research interest is in selection to medicine but my passion is in widening participation and increasing diversity of the medical workforce. I have sought, often collaboratively, to promote these aims and led novel start-up companies such as the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (now UCAT) and participated in international research networks e.g. InReSH (International Research in Selection in Healthcare).

Russell Peek

Dr Russell Peek

Dr Peek is a consultant paediatrician with clinical interests in neonatal medicine and infant nutrition.  He is an advocate for innovation and improvement in medical education, with particular interest in the effects of complexity, uncertainty and stress on learner development and wellbeing.  

Dr Richard Singleton

As a graduate-entry medic myself I have had a keen interest in postgraduate entry medical education and have worked in this field at the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham. Over the last ten years I have developed an interest in the use of technology and, specifically, gaming within learning and hope to utilise this in my role as clinical skills lead. 

Rebecca Stack

Professor Rebecca Jayne Stack

I am the Head of Assessment for the MBChB programme at Three Counties Medical School and my primary responsible is the design, development and implementation of the MBChB assessment strategy. My title is Professor of Student Success and Medical Assessment and reflects my passion for developing inclusive approaches to teaching and inclusive approaches to assessment. I am passionate about widening participation and the development of strategies to support students succeed in higher education. I also have a number of external roles in the field of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and I am the Three Counties MBChB lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Three Counties Medical School and the University of Worcester have fantastic widening participation, and access and participation strategies, and I’m very proud to work for an organisation leading innovation in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education.



All students engage with our Researcher Development Programme (RDP). The RDP aims to develop and enhance the skills, both generic and specific, that you will need to complete your research degree but also to become an effective researcher. The RDP is organised around thematic clusters, consisting of modules, and workshops, delivered face-to-face by subject specialists from across the University and the dedicated Researcher Development Team, or online through our virtual learning environment.

As part of the RDP, you will complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods (PG Cert). All students must complete the PG Cert in order to progress on their MPhil/PhD Programme. The PG Cert is strongly focused on developing your programme of research, starting from establishing your development needs, and preparing you for the planning and subsequent delivery of your programme of research.

Full-time students will complete the PG Cert in 12 months and part-time students in 24 months.


Fees and funding


The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.


Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience. Our halls of residence are home to friendly student communities, making them great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our range of student halls. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Chestnut Halls' at £131 per week to 'Oak Halls' at £221 per week (2024/25 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How to apply

Additional information

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a research outline. We recommend preparing your research outline before beginning your online application. Some guidance on preparing your research outline is available here.

If your research involves working with vulnerable adults and/or children then you may be required to obtain an Enhanced DBS check. There will be a small charge for this. For more information please contact

We are committed to making reasonable adjustment. If you require an alternative format for making your application due to a disability, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01905 542182 or

Information about application and interview deadlines

How to apply

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Doctoral School on 01905 542182 or

Before you submit a full application, please contact the course leader, Professor Lisa Jones ( to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

Application links


MPhil - September - Full time MPhil - September - Part time MPhil - January - Full time MPhil - January - Part time


PhD - September - Full time PhD - September - Part time PhD - January - Full time PhD - January - Part time

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