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Data Science, Health and Wellbeing: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Collaborative Studentship: Exploring the long term educational and health outcomes of babies born late preterm/early term in Wales

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About the Project

Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2020. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Data Science, Health & Wellbeing pathway of the Wales DTP:

‘Exploring the long term educational and health outcomes of babies born late preterm/early term in Wales’ (working title) in collaboration with Swansea Bay University Health Board

Context and rationale:

Research (1,2) indicates that babies born late preterm (33-36 weeks) have worse outcomes than their full term counterparts (37-42) in terms of educational, health, cognitive, developmental and behavioural outcomes in their early years. They represent 6.3% of the total live births. Anecdotally most babies born late preterm appear well at birth and often do not warrant further exploration.


To determine if late preterm babies experience worse educational, health and behavioural outcomes throughout their childhood.


1. To undertake a systematic literature review to collate knowledge regarding the educational, health and behavioural outcomes of late preterm babies
2. To undertake qualitative work to understand how these babies are managed at birth and any ongoing issues.
3. To utilise anonymised data to determine whether the educational, health, behavioural and social outcomes of late preterm babies differ from their full term counterparts
4. To disseminate findings through publication, conferences and public engagement with childcare groups

Research questions:

- Does being born late preterm result in poorer health, educational, behavioural and social care outcomes?
- Can we determine which babies may be most at risk?

Methods and design:

We will use mixed methods (systematic literature review, qualitative interviews and anonymised linked data) to identify if late preterm babies are more at risk than their full term counterparts. Our systematic literature review and meta-analysis will provide a narrative synthesis of poor outcomes and the risk (if any) to late preterm babies. We will talk to NHS and social care staff to determine how they ‘view’ these babies, how they are managed and if they fare worse than their full term counterparts. We will use SAIL to examine educational, health, behavioural and social outcomes of late preterm babies throughout their childhood. These outcomes will include, for example: formal educational assessments, school absenteeism, Special Educational Needs (SEN), inpatient admissions, avoidable hospital admissions, GP visits, and mental health problems.


Identifying if late preterm babies are more at risk of poor outcomes may make it possible to target care and inform the design of appropriate care packages to help support them.

1. Quigley MA, et al. Early term and late preterm birth are associated with poorer school performance at age 5 years: a cohort study. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2012;97(3):F167-73.
2. Boyle EM, et al. Effects of gestational age at birth on health outcomes at 3 and 5 years of age: population based cohort study. BMJ 2012;344:e896.

Residential eligibility:

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. You must:

- be ordinarily resident in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long you can stay, and
- have been ’ordinarily resident’ in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences), and
- not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education).

Due to funding restrictions, these scholarships are not open to international candidates.

Academic eligibility:

ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master’s degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award.


Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent part-time job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.

Funding Notes

The studentship provides the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 per annum for 2019/20 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, oversea institutional visits and other small grants.

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