From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

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Why study at the Unit?
(Gillian Fergie and Jemma Lennox)

Gillian Fergie - joined the unit in 2010, for a 1+3 studenship, received an MSc in Social Science Research in 2011 and then began her PhD on the ways people engage with health information on the internet.

Jemma Lennox - joined the unit in 2011, for a PhD studentship on gendered identities and alcohol use in young adults.

The Unit provides a very supportive environment for students undertaking their PhD training. Although the PhD topics are varied in terms of subject matter and methodology, the resources available to all students are multi-disciplinary and comprehensive. Furthermore, the relationships that are developed and the support available from staff and other students within the Unit enhance the PhD experience hugely.


In general students have the opportunity to undertake funded training both internally and externally in a range of methodological and practical areas (e.g. software packages, qualitative data analysis, statistical techniques etc.). In the past students have also been asked to identify their specific training needs and a residential training event has been organised for them, incorporating these requirements. Students are also encouraged to attend and present at conferences, both at a national and international level. Additionally, students are provided with a research budget to cover the costs of fieldwork, helping with the development of innovative approaches to primary data collection. The great location of the Unit also gives students access to the University resources and facilities on campus.

As well as the expertise and support of supervisors, students at the Unit engage regularly with postgraduate conveners, the unit librarian, in-house IT support and methodological experts, who all provide generous advice and assistance whenever requested. Furthermore, students can draw on the dedicated support staff in the survey team to plan and develop fieldwork.

Additionally, students are welcome to attend the lunchtime seminar series hosted in the Unit, where both internal and external speakers present on interesting and relevant research areas as well as research skills. These seminars support students in developing a broader understanding and awareness of current issues and debates within social and public health science.

Relationships and Community

The student community within the Unit is both inclusive and supportive. It is widely reported that peer-support is an important part of the PhD experience and this is particularly strong within the Unit. Current students are always happy to share knowledge and offer advice and support to other students at each stage of PhD study. The student body also frequently organise social events such as hill walking and cinema trips and student lunches and are always keen to help new students feel welcomed into the Unit.

Each student is also included as part of at least one programme of research within the Unit and encouraged to attend team meetings and events. This provides an opportunity to get to know the other members of the team and their current research. Such meetings also provide a supportive environment to discuss ideas and the progress of your study with a wider research community.

The wider community of academic and support staff within the Unit also welcomes students and students are included in all notable Unit events, meetings and activities.

Building relationships outwith the Unit is also encouraged. Many students set up and consult with an advisory group of independent and external academics, policy-makers and practitioners, as appropriate to their individual projects.

Furthermore, the Unit has links to a wider student community within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow. Through this network students within the Unit have made links to a range of students in different health-related disciplines and collaborated with them to organise a student-led conference and series of social events.