University of Exeter funding: Cluster randomised trials methodolo

Cluster randomised trials methodology, Medical Statistics – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3814

About the award


Dr Obioha Ukoumunne, NIHR ARC South West Peninsula & Health Statistics Group, University of Exeter

Dr Michael Nunns, HS&DR Evidence Synthesis Centre, University of Exeter

Dr ZhiMin Xiao, Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter

Professor Tamsin Ford, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge


PenARC / Health Statistics Group, South Cloisters, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration for the South West Peninsula (ARC), is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship. The student would be based in the Health Statistics Group in the College of Medicine and Health at the St Luke’s Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:
The PhD is on statistical aspects of the design, conduct and data analysis of cluster randomised controlled trials in health research. Cluster randomised trials are studies in which clusters of individuals are allocated to the trial arms and outcomes are measured on participants associated with those clusters. The clusters may be areas (e.g. villages), organisations (e.g. hospitals), institutions (e.g. workplaces) or professionals (e.g. general practitioners). Trials in which clusters rather than individual people are randomised have unique methodological considerations, for example the need to consider the correlation between the responses of participants from the same cluster. The successful candidate will systematically review the characteristics of recent cluster randomised controlled trials, identify current methodological challenges in the area and develop and compare statistical approaches for addressing these.

Research training, supervision and mentorship will be provided as well as support from the wider Health Statistics Group and advisors in the wider ARC team, including experts in evidence synthesis and complex interventions research methods.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3 years of full-time study to commence by March 2020. A part-time study arrangement may be an option.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants should have relevant statistics expertise (i.e., either an undergraduate or Master’s degree in Statistics, and experience of using statistical software such as Stata or R).

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least  7.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 17th January 2020.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter St Luke’s Campus in the week commencing 27th January 2020.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor, Obi Ukoumunne:


Application deadline:17th January 2020
Value:£15,009 per year for 3 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150