Project code



School of Health and Care Professions

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part-time PhD project, to commence in October or February.

Using the toilet independently is something that's often taken for granted. But for those who need assistance, it can be a daily struggle – and one that's only made more difficult by unfamiliar environments, such as healthcare settings. In those circumstances, toilet use is an issue of dignity, emotional wellbeing, self-identity and confidence.

This self-funded PhD research explores how to improve this environment, and the elimination needs of older adults in health and social care settings, including best-practice staffing behaviours, and the design and functionality of the environment.

Your research will contribute to a body of environmental design and falls research, based in the School of Health and Care Professions, complemented by expertise in research methodologies and collaborative working. It is supervised by Dr Amy Drahota, Ageing Network Facilitator for the Faculty of Science and Health.

The work will include:

  • Exploring environmental characteristics surrounding the elimination needs of older adults
  • Investigating the positioning of commodes in relation to patients
  • Researching the trade-offs between dignity, fall-prevention, ease of transfer, manual handling and staff resourcing when it comes to commode positioning
  • Examining the type and positioning of toilet roll dispensers, which is particularly important for individuals with unilateral weakness as a result of stroke
  • Systematic review, with a potential for randomised trial of commode position and observational and qualitative research methods

Together with staffing behaviours, the design of the environment surrounding elimination needs has the potential to promote independence and wellbeing, as well as reduce the risks associated with falls and injury.

This novel area of study lends itself to a mixed methods PhD, incorporating a systematic review, a potential for randomised trial of commode positioning, and observational (e.g. comparing falls data across different environments/conditions) and qualitative research, exploring the environmental design for individuals with different needs.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

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).

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

  • An appropriate first or upper second class honours degree of any United Kingdom university or a recognised equivalent non-UK degree of the same standard honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master's degree in an appropriate subject.
  • In exceptional circumstances, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered.
  • Full CV including personal details, qualifications, educational history and, where applicable, any employment or other experience relevant to the application
  • Contact details for two referees able to comment on your academic performance
  • Proof of English language proficiency (for EU students)

Make an enquiry

For administrative and admissions enquiries, please contact

How to apply

To make an enquiry about this project, get in touch with the PhD Supervisor for this programme, Dr Amy Drahota (, quoting the project code HSSW1561015 and title.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Health and Social Care subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. 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.