University College London PhD Studentship: An exploration of the meaning of choice in the context of end of life care

UCL is offering an opportunity in the UCL Mental Health Sciences Unit and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit. We are seeking applications from highly motivated candidates for a 3 year PhD Studentship commencing in October 2013.

The position is funded for university fees and an annual stipend of approximately £18,000 per annum.

Studentship Description

Choice has become the basis for many policy initiatives within end of life care. In current practice, however, the idea of choice is a far from an unproblematic issue involving complex understandings of the capacity of the chooser to make meaningful choices as well as assessments of the  contexts and organisations facilitating such choices. A major concern in this area is how to identify whether or not choices are appropriate and beneficial rather than being institutionalised or instrumental. In addition it is also necessary to examine the potential existence of a 'choice fallacy' where individuals are informed of the possibility of  making choices but local services are unable to meet them because of the configuration of services This proposed PhD is intended to address these issues by taking a social science perspective on the evolution and development of current policy discourses surrounding choice in end of life care in England through the techniques of document analysis, semi-structured interviews with key informants and the conducting of focus groups with different staff groups involved in facilitating choice in end of life care settings.

The goal of the research, therefore, is to better understand how important decisions regarding choice in end of life care are contextualised, operationalized and understood by policy makers and people working in the field as well as examining the tensions that may emerge from the choice agenda.

The PhD will be supervised by Paul Higgs who is professor of the sociology of ageing at UCL. The project will benefit from the close links between the UCL Mental Health Sciences Unit and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit and agreement for supervision has been reached with Dr Liz Sampson and Dr Louise Jones.

Person Specification

This PhD would be suitable for individuals with a sociological or anthropological background and an interest in end of life care.

Applicants should hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant social sciences subject. A  MSc in a relevant subject is also desirable.


Applicants must be UK/EU nationals and must have been resident in the UK for the three years immediately prior to starting a PhD to be eligible.

Please submit applications in the following format:

* A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
* Contact details including email addresses for two academic or professional referees.
* A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the project, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date.

Please email your applications to Cleisson Monteiro,, including "PhD Studentship", in the heading of your email.

Any enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Prof. Paul Higgs

Electronic applications should be sent to:

Contact name    Cleisson Monteiro
Contact details

Closing Date      14 June 2013

Latest time for the submission of applications  12 Noon

Studentship Start Date  October 2013
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