Ageing and later life

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD or Professional doctorate PhD:
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
October November to January
PhD or Professional doctorate
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
Start dates
Application period
November to January

Research in ageing and later life has a distinguished history within the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care’s Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS), which involves current and emeritus staff, doctoral students and associated academics from other institutions. CABS was established in 1995 as a centre for gerontology and biographical research. The founder members believed that the experience and aspirations of older people should be at the core of research and teaching on ageing. This includes involving older people in various ways as research partners, participants and advisors. Since 1995 our research has expanded to include quantitative, qualitative, action research and mixed methods.

Research in this area is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, with a strong emphasis on qualitative and participative research methods that address experiences of ageing. Our research also relies significantly on quantitative methods to study patterns of disease and health inequalities in later life and across the life course. Projects have been supported by a variety of funders including Research Councils, British Academy and Leverhulme, Academy of Medicine (Global Challenges Research Fund), the Department of Health, local authorities such as Milton Keynes Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Sir Halley Stewart Trust and many other charities and voluntary organisations.

Recent projects include: work on where and how older people live;  sexuality and ageing, design of kitchens to suit older people’s needs; the needs and aspirations of older people living with dementia and with vision impairments, multiple morbidities and health inequalities across the life course; diabetes and depression in later life; social isolation and loneliness; care and caring; and disability in later life. Some examples of current projects include: investigating how older people learn about and use technologies (ICTs, wearables, haptics, online learning), sexuality in later life, poverty and inequalities among older people in the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia, and comorbidities.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA or research methods training at MA level (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Older people’s understanding and use of technologies
  • Digital health wearables for older people and carers
  • Digital skills for older people
  • Learning in later life
  • Policies and practices in ageing societies
  • Critical, historical or cultural approaches to ageing and later life
  • Ageing well and active and successful ageing
  • Living environments, life course, and ageing
  • Mental and physical health in later life
  • Dementia and physical exercise 
  • Understanding the age-friendly community
  • Ethnic inequalities in later life
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Sexuality and later life
  • Global health inequalities in later life
  • Multiple morbidities in later life
  • Long term conditions and disability across the life course
  • Multidimensional poverty across the life course (e.g. income, food and fuel poverty)
  • Attitudes of medical professionals towards older patients
  • Patient safety concerns in the management of older patient healthcare
  • Dignity in later life: experiences of people from ethnic minorities
  • Care and caring in later life
  • Improving care transitions for older people
  • Integrated care for older people
  • Personalisation in Health and Social Care
  • Promoting care continuity for people living with dementia
  • End of life
  • Life with dementia (from the perspectives of people with dementia themselves and/or family members and carers)

Current/recent research projects

  • Creative Representations of Chronic Pain
  • Transitions in Kitchen Living
  • The lives of older lesbian women
  • The Stretched Generation – caring for children and older relatives in the same time frame
  • A case study of the statutory review system for older people in care homes in one local authority
  • Digital Health Platforms for Older People: Integrated care of older people: the case of geriatrics and palliative care
  • Diabetes and depression in Sub-Saharan Africa: End of life care and decision making (research funded by the Great Western Four Universities Initiative)

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

PhD fees

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Professional doctorate fees

UK fee International fee
Part time: £3,643 per year Part time: £9,250 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Retired couple jogging in park

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Jenny Douglas, PGR Convenor in Wellbeing and Health Care Practice
Phone: +44 (0)1908 659205

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.