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Postgraduate research

Studying for a PhD at the Institute

The Institute is a world leading centre for palliative care research and an official collaborating centre of the World Health Organisation. By studying for your PhD at the Institute, you will have the opportunity to be at the heart of the latest developments in the field.

The Institute has a vibrant and enthusiastic group of doctoral students from around the globe, who are an integral part of our research and who gain from our internal programme of researcher development. Their development programme includes monthly journal clubs and researchers meetings, skills development workshops, evidence update sessions, an annual PhD symposium, and our Open Seminar series with national and international speakers. There is also a departmental PhD peer-support group to provide mutual support, exchange experiences, and foster rapid learning. Our postgraduate research students benefit from the extensive range of training and support provided throughout King’s College London Graduate School. Doctoral students who choose the Cicely Saunders Institute to undertake PhD research studies are given the opportunity to be at the heart of latest developments in the field.

In the 2019 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, independently run via the UK Higher Education Academy, our overall satisfaction score was 100% and every one of our students felt confident of completing their research degree programme within the expected timescale.

At any one time, there are around 10–15 professionals studying for their PhD with us from a wide range of professional backgrounds – currently medicine, nursing, social science, physiotherapy, psychology, and anthropology graduates are represented, and from different countries and cultures. The research evidence generated is highly sensitive to different cultures and health care systems, and also relevant to multicultural settings. Moreover, the collaboration between palliative care and rehabilitation teams offers a unique platform for shared knowledge and experience to improve care for patients and families dealing with chronic and life limiting diseases.

More information about the selection criteria, funding opportunities and academic support offered by the Institute can be found in our list of Frequently Asked Questions. To view previous theses completed at the Cicely Saunders Institute, please click here.  

Information about current PhD studentship opportunities within King's College London can be found via the quick link on the right of this webpage.


The Department does not provide grants or other funding for PhD study – any funding required will need to be obtained and agreed in advance by the applicant themselves from other sources. 

 How to apply

Prospective students interested in PhD study within the department should undertake the formal application process through King’s College London -

You will need to prepare and submit the following documents:

  • 1-2 page outline of proposed work (including specific study objectives and a planned timetable)
  • curriculum vitae with referees
  • suggested dates for period of study
  • covering letter

All proposals are reviewed at our monthly PhD Coordinators meeting, and decisions are made on the strength of the application. Applicants are advised as soon as possible of the outcome, and at the most within 2 months of receipt of the application. We are often able to offer advice regarding other appropriate study options if a PhD application is unsuccessful.

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