Using routine council data to evaluate public health interventions


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time or part-time PhD in the College of Heath, Science and Society, UWE Bristol. The studentship will be funded by Somerset County Council.

Ref: 2324-OCT-HSS14

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 October 2023.

The closing date for applications is 27 August 2023.

Studentship details

This studentship is an exciting new collaboration between Somerset Council and the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing at UWE, Bristol.

The project will explore the potential of routine data sets held by the council to enable long-term evaluations of interventions at the population level in light of the system recovery post COVID. There is some scope to tailor the focus of the PhD to an area of the candidate’s interest. Examples might include NHS Health Checks, public health visiting outcomes, or the national child measurement programme. Over the course of the 3-year studentship (or 6 years if part-time), the student will carry out an initial evaluation of the data opportunities, and set up the data systems for longer term follow up of a wide range of relevant outcomes using data held by the Council and other partners.

Expected steps to achieving this aim include:

  • reviewing the standard methods of service evaluation
  • identifying relevant outcomes (short, medium and long term)
  • scoping relevant data sets (internal and external to the council) to measure these outcomes
  • identifying barriers to using these data sets (e.g. consent, data sharing, data quality, data matching)
  • overcoming these barriers, where possible within the PhD timescales, and making recommendations regarding outstanding barriers to help Somerset Council become a ‘research-ready’ council
  • using available data for a short-term evaluation with a particular focus on inequalities with respect to both Covid and rural deprivation.

The student will work across UWE (Frenchay Campus) and Somerset Council (based in Taunton), with a degree of flexibility for remote working. The student will be part of the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing at UWE Bristol, and the Director of Studies will be Dr Issy Bray.

For an informal discussion about the studentship please email Dr Issy Bray at or 0117 3288923.


The studentship is available from 1 October 2023 for a period of three years full time or six years part time, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £18,622 per annum (FT), £9,331(PT).

In addition, full-time or part time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


Applicants must have:

  • an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (e.g. Public Health, Data Science)
  • experience of handling large data sets and data governance.

And ideally will have:

  • MSc/MRes in a relevant subject
  • experience of working in a local authority
  • quantitative evaluation skills

Please note: The studentship is eligible for UK applicants only.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 27 August 2023.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place early in September 2023. If you have not heard from us by the end of September, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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