SPHeRE PhD Programme

Posted 2024.04.03

SPHeRE is Ireland’s national research training programme for population health, policy and health services research (PHPHSR) and is funded by the Health Research Board in Ireland. SPHeRE means ‘Structured Population health, Policy and Health-services Research Education’.


The full-time 4 year structured PhD Programme features:

  • 6 taught modules completed in the first year of the Programme

  • A workshop programme which runs over the four years 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 year

  • Professional skills training allowance

  • Travel funds to national training days and international conferences

  • Annual stipend of €25,000, plus laptop computer, plus PhD fees

This Programme provides excellent training for Scholars in core health services, policy and population health research skills. Please note that Scholars must be based in Ireland for the duration of the programme.


Applications are now being accepted for SPHeRE Scholarships, from self-funded applicants and from alternatively funded applicants (meaning you already have a source of funding from a workplace, institution etc.). Further details on the programme and the application process can be found on the SPHeRE website below:




How to apply

Applicants who wish to apply for a SPHeRE funded Scholarship must submit an application form and select their preferred project (or a maximum of 3 projects) from the 10 projects below. Six scholarships are available for the 2024 academic year. Out of the 10 advertised projects, six projects will receive a SPHeRE funded Scholar.


Further details on the projects can be found through the links below.


The chosen projects come under the following project areas:

  • Health policy and systems research
  • Health service and technology evaluation
  • Population health research

Projects are linked to an institution, and so Scholars will be based at the institution to which the project is linked. It will not be possible for Scholars to move a project to their preferred institution.


PhD Projects


Evidence-Based Policy Making for Diabetes in Ireland through Open Source Patient-Level Health Economic Modelling (RCSI)


Solidarities of Healthcare Work: Leveraging collective representation and collective experience to improve working conditions and inform workforce retention (RCSI)


Advancing digital health in Ireland: exploring onboarding, adoption and implementation of digital health in the Irish healthcare system (RCSI)


Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in Health and Social Care Research: Understanding and responding to PPI contributors’ experiences and perspectives (UCC)


Time-Restricted Eating for Improving Maternal-Foetal Outcomes in Gestational Diabetes: Quantitative and Qualitative Investigations of Efficacy and Acceptability (DCU) 


The CANDID 2 study: An exploration of CANcer and cancer care in older adults with intellectual disabilities in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin)


Priorities for the Secondary Prevention of Stroke in Ireland (University of Limerick)


Using behavioural science to improve recruitment and retention of health policymakers in trials of knowledge translation (KT) interventions (University of Galway)


The Impact of Community Water Fluoridation on Dental and Systemic Health and Cognitive Function in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin)


Co-creating food-based interventions to meet policy guidelines with older adults in disadvantaged communities (CREATE) (UCC)


Those applying for a SPHeRE Scholarship or as a self-funded applicant are asked to complete an 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, policy and health services research (PHPHSR) and provide evidence of leadership (in an academic and/or non-academic capacity). Additionally, you may consider indicating how your prior experience is relevant and potentially addresses the SPHeRE Research Priorities


The deadline for SPHeRE Scholarships and for Self-funded applicants is 12 noon on Monday 22nd April. Interviews will take place on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th May via Zoom. We will not be able to facilitate requests for alternative interview dates.


Alternatively funded applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. If you wish to apply as an Alternatively Funded Scholar please contact SPHeRE Programme Manager Katherine Walsh at [email protected]


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.