SPHeRE Programme

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The SPHeRE Programme is now accepting project applications from Principal Investigators with unfunded projects for the academic year 2024-2025.

PIs are invited to submit a project for consideration in order to fund one PhD Scholar for four years full time.

The deadline to submit a project is Friday 26th January at 12 noon.

The projects are peer-reviewed by academics in each of SPHeRE’s partner HEIs. The highest scored projects are reviewed by members of the SPHeRE Leadership Team and the top scoring projects, which are aligned to the SPHeRE Research Priorities, are chosen. Information on the successful projects will be added to the SPHeRE website and potential Scholars may apply to a maximum of three projects of their choosing.

After an initial screening, chosen Scholars will be interviewed by a panel consisting of members of the SPHeRE Leadership Team and six successful Scholars will be allocated to six projects and awarded a HRB SPHeRE funded Scholarship.
We strongly recommend reading the SPHeRE Information Package which fully outlines the recruitment process, and the PhD Journey.

PIs submitting a project must be based at one of the following institutions:

  • RCSI, University of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin (TCD)
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • University of Galway
  • The National University of Ireland, Maynooth (MU)
  • Dublin City University (DCU)
  • University of Limerick (UL)
  • University College Dublin (UCD)
  • Technological University Dublin (TUD)

The PI and Primary Supervisor (in many cases this may be the same person) must have a contract of employment with one of the above institutions covering the duration of the four year PhD.

The full-time 4 year structured PhD Programme features:

  • 6 taught modules completed in the first year of the Programme*
  • Opportunities for multidisciplinary research
  • Supervision by internationally renowned Principal Investigators

In addition, SPHeRE HRB funded Scholars benefit from:

  • 8-week specialist rotation in Irish health related agencies in the first year
  • Placement with a prestigious overseas agency to further PhD project development in the second or third year
  • Professional skills training allowance
  • Travel funds to national training days and international conferences
  • Annual stipend, plus laptop computer, plus PhD fees

This Programme provides excellent training for Scholars in core health services and population health research skills.

*It is important that PIs/Employers/Other organisations enrolling a Scholar on the SPHeRE Programme recognise that the workload in Year 1 of the SPHeRE Programme is significant and includes compulsory weekly teaching, module assignments, compulsory workshops, and a thesis presentation day that takes place at the end of the year.
The actual PhD research does not begin until summer of the first year. The logic for this is that the Scholars are much better equipped to do their PhD upon completion of the six modules and thesis presentations, and are more likely to deliver their PhD on time and at a higher quality.


Projects submitted must fall under one of the following areas:

  • Health policy and systems research

Health policy and systems research (HPSR) is an emerging field that seeks to understand and improve how societies organize themselves in achieving collective health goals, and how different actors interact in the policy and implementation processes to contribute to policy outcomes. It focuses primarily upon the more upstream aspects of health, organizations and policies, rather than clinical or preventive services or basic scientific research (for example into cell or molecular structures). It covers a wide range of questions − from financing to governance − and issues surrounding implementation of services and delivery of care in both the public and private sectors.

  • Health service and technology evaluation

Health service evaluation seeks to assess how well a service is achieving its intended aims. It is undertaken to benefit the people using a particular healthcare service and is designed and conducted with the sole purpose of defining or judging the current service. Health technology assessment is the systematic evaluation of properties, effects, and/or impacts of health care technologies.

  • Population health research

Population health research describes the health outcomes of groups of people and analyses the determinants of those health outcomes.


Submit a Project Here


The deadline to submit a project for the 2024-2025 academic year is
Friday 26th January at 12 noon.

Please contact sphereprogramme@gmail.com if you have any questions.

PIs or Funding Bodies (such as charities, philanthropic organisations or employers) that already have funding for a Scholar and would like to enrol them on the SPHeRE programme can contact SPHeRE Programme Manager Katherine Walsh katherinewalsh@rcsi.com
No additional fees are payable to the SPHeRE Programme.


SPHeRE is Ireland’s national research training programme for population health and health services research (PHHSR) and is funded by the Health Research Board in Ireland. SPHeRE means ‘Structured Population and Health-services Research Education’.

The Online Postgraduate Level 9 Diploma in Population Health and Health Services Research comprehensively introduces you to the field of population health and health services research by building theoretical, contextual and practical knowledge and skills.


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