Project code



School of Health and Care Professions

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This project is now closed. The details below are for information purposes only. Please see the Health and Social Care Postgraduate Research Degree page for further opportunities. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science and Health, and will be supervised by Dr Isobel Ryder and Dr Jenny Roddis.

The work on this project will involve:

  • Reframing professional language to ensure that healthcare professionals keep the individual at the centre of care
  • Researching across organisational boundaries in partnership with our key practice learning partners
  • Exploring the impact of language use on individual and family autonomy and self-care

Frailty is a frequently used term in healthcare and health records, usually to describe older people who are currently in need of increased levels of care. This biomedical, deficit-led approach has the potential to have a detrimental effect on the individual labelled as 'frail', on the family around them and on those involved in their care.

Limited research has taken place with individuals living in the community setting in the UK, despite this being increasingly preferred by individuals and their families and being promoted by the National Health Service (NHS) as a choice and as a necessity if the NHS is to cope with the ageing and more complex population in the United Kingdom.

This project will explore the concept of 'frailty' from the perspective of community-dwelling individuals, their families and healthcare professionals working with them. We are particularly interested in exploring whether and how the label of 'frailty' has an impact on discussions with individuals and their families, such as those relating to advanced care planning and resuscitation. We would also like to investigate if the label 'frailty', once introduced, is ever removed and what it means to those involved.

We would anticipate that a qualitative approach will be adopted, using semi-structured interviews to explore these different elements and perspectives with participants. In addition, there is the potential to introduce a Delphi technique to understand the meaning of the term 'frailty' from a strategic and political perspective. It is possible that part of this project will involve an exploration of the use of tools such as the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and how this informs management of those labelled as frail.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2022/2023 fees (applicable for October 2022, February and April 2023 start) 

PhD and MPhil

UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students 

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

EU students
(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

International students

  • Full-time: £16,200 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £8,100 per year (may be subject to annual increase) 

All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2022/23 please visit this page.

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need an upper second class honours degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master's degree in Nursing or a related subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You should have an understanding of the UK National Health Service (NHS) and an interest in maintaining independence and self-care in an ageing population.

How to apply

We'd encourage you to contact Dr Isobel Ryder at or Dr Jenny Roddis at to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our 'How to Apply' page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SHCP4761020 when applying.

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now