Living with disability and long-term conditions

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

The School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care’s work in this area covers research on a wide spectrum of people’s experiences and care across the life course, including physical and learning disability, living with a long-term condition and receiving and giving care.

Key strands include the social history of learning disability; theory; policy and practice in disability; advocacy for people with learning disabilities; disability, sexuality and reproductive health; disability and end-of-life issues; disability and diabetes; neurodiversity and autism; determinants of help-seeking for mental health-related issues and subsequent engagement with mental health services; the benefits and challenges of providing social support and for mental health issues; carer wellbeing.

Research in the field of long-term conditions includes the experience of co-morbidity (physical and mental health); motherhood, and issues around screening; caring policy; carers’ perspectives; diversity and gender; and the discursive construction of autism and ADHD. Projects in this area have also focused on the development of inclusive research methodologies, scoping reviews and life story work.

Collaboration with colleagues in other universities, with service-user and provider organisations, and with disabled people – in the UK and internationally – is a central component of research in this area.

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

  • The social history of learning disability, including life story work
  • Theory, policy and practice in disability
  • Learning disability, belonging and inclusion
  • Learning disability and families
  • Advocacy and self-advocacy for people with learning disabilities
  • Learning disability and ageing
  • Disability/long-term conditions and end-of-life issues
  • Disability, learning disability, and sexual and reproductive health
  • Disability and parenthood
  • Disability, learning disability and diabetes
  • The experiences of disabled children in the UK and internationally
  • The relationship between physical and mental ill-health
  • The health of people from minority ethnic groups
  • The differing experiences of people with long-term conditions
  • Coping with co-morbid psychological and physical conditions
  • Neurodiversity and autism
  • Identity issues and autism or ADHD
  • Critical approaches to autism
  • Rehabilitation
  • Care of those living with disability and long-term conditions
  • Caring for a relative with disability and long-term conditions
  • The role of new technologies in managing disability/long-term conditions
  • Provision of support for carers
  • Mental health
  • The experience of diabetes in people with learning disabilities and their carers
  • The experiences of the carers of people with diabetes
  • The social construction of quality diabetes care appointments in primary care by adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities, their supporters and healthcare professionals.

Current/recent research projects

  • The construction of ADHD - a discursive psychological approach to the talk of mothers of children with ADHD
  • The implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 on black and minority ethnic people with learning difficulties
  • The impact of rural and urban environments on the lived experience of people with learning difficulties
  • Neurological rehabilitation...what next?
  • The role of assistance dogs in the lives of people with MS
  • An exploration of mental wellbeing, bisexual identity and monogamy
  • The social construction of quality diabetes appointments for people with learning disabilities.

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.


Women teaching man with special needs

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.