PhD research

DECIPHer provides a rare multidisciplinary research environment, with a strong emphasis on engagement with policy and practice in applied public health intervention research. DECIPHer is unique in the UK in providing this research training experience to such a large group of early career researchers. PhD students who want to work within DECIPHer can do so through one of three avenues:

  • DECIPHer studentship;
  • DECIPHer student adoption;
  • DECIPHer student affiliation.

Funded DECIPHer studentships will be advertised on the DECIPHer website and other media channels when available, including full information regarding how to apply.

To apply for a PhD project to be adopted or affiliated by DECIPHer, prospective students should complete an adoption form and return this to Elizabeth Doe, Knowledge Exchange and Research Coordinator:

A list of current projects being undertaken by students working with DECIPHer at each of our three institutions can be found on our People page. Information on the benefits and responsibilities of studying with DECIPHer can be found below.

DECIPHer studentship

A DECIPHer studentship is an opportunity for a student to attain a placement funded by DECIPHer, based within DECIPHer at the Universities of Cardiff, Bristol or Swansea. Ten students have been funded by DECIPHer studentships as of December 2012, carrying out research on topics including the influence of social networks on physical activity in children and adolescents; a peer-led intervention to promote chlamydia testing; and psychological and ecological determinants of pathways into harm in vulnerable youngsters.

Benefits for students who attain a DECIPHer studentship include:

  • Supervision from experienced and committed multidisciplinary supervisors and mentors;
  • Eligibility for free places on DECIPHer-hosted courses;
  • Eligibility to attend DECIPHer’s multidisciplinary public health intervention research forum and journal club;
  • Opportunities to attend or present at annual DECIPHer Research Symposium and UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence Conference;
  • Access to a bespoke programme of high level training courses;
  • Support with funding applications, project work and publications;
  • The opportunity to gain exposure through access to large scale public health intervention research and professional networks.

DECIPHer student adoption

A DECIPHer adopted student undertakes work that is supported but not funded by DECIPHer. Twelve students have been adopted by DECIPHer as of December 2012, researching topics including the uptake of free school meal entitlement in secondary schools; developing an ecological-systems approach to infant feeding policy; and hand hygiene in primary schools. DECIPHer adoption includes all benefits outlined above except DECIPHer funding; DECIPHer-adopted students must obtain external funding.

DECIPHer student affiliation

A DECIPHer-affiliated student works in association with DECIPHer. The work of an affiliated student may combine DECIPHer topics and those supported by other organisations. DECIPHer-affiliated projects currently in progress include research into agent based simulation for complex health systems interventions, and the prevention of fire-related deaths and injuries in the home. DECIPHer-affiliated students benefit from:

  • Eligibility to attend DECIPHer’s multidisciplinary public health intervention research forum / journal club;
  • The opportunity to gain exposure for their work through large scale public health intervention research and professional networks (as appropriate)


As a result of accepting a DECIPHer studentship or becoming a DECIPHer-adopted student, students are required to communicate their outputs to the DECIPHer administrator within their university, using the appropriate reporting systems. Outputs consist of activities such as: publishing papers, publishing articles, book submissions, abstract submissions, poster presentations, attending conferences, attending seminars. Students should contact the DECIPHer administrator within their university for a full list of outputs that should be reported.

By taking on this role, students also accept that they must acknowledge DECIPHer in any publications, presentations or reports that they produce, using the DECIPHer logo, slide template, and approved acknowledgement text (below), as appropriate. It would be a breach of contract between DECIPHer and our funders if acknowledgements are not made on work that is produced during the studentship/adoption. If a breach does occur, the DECIPHer Executive team will review the case and take appropriate action.

All publications arising from DECIPHer studentships and DECIPHer-adopted students must include the following acknowledgement:

“This work was undertaken with the support of The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council (RES-590-28-0005), Medical Research Council, the Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust (WT087640MA), under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.”

DECIPHer-affiliated students are under no obligation to report their outputs; however, major changes to their work and posts should be communicated to their supervisor and the DECIPHer administrator in their university.

For DECIPHer-affiliated students, there is some flexibility regarding which work is attributed to DECIPHer. The student should liaise closely with their supervisor to establish when acknowledgements would be most appropriate. Where further clarity is required an enquiry should be made to Elizabeth Doe at