Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Developing and evaluating Early Years policies and programs for supporting prematurely born children’s school readiness, health and wellbeing

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  • Full or part time
    Dr L Hill
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Every year 60,000 children are born prematurely (less than 37 weeks gestation), with many going on to have developmental?problems?as a direct result of this. However, for most births between 30-36 weeks, and thus the majority of premature births, no additional clinical follow-up and support is offered following their initial discharge from hospital. These Moderate-to-Late pre-term births (MtL pre-terms) still face substantially elevated risks of problems in later life though. This raises the question of how Early Years support (between 3-5 years) for children born pre-term might be improved to mitigate these risks.

This PhD studentship will enable you to undertake an exciting program of empirical research, which aims to improve our understanding of: 

1.    the effects that being born prematurely can have on a child’s early psychological development, physical, and mental health;
2.    what can be done, particularly during early childhood, to help mitigate the risks of certain adverse outcomes later in life, which are more common in children born pre-term (e.g. lower educational attainment, poorer mental health and wellbeing).

Your research will focus on using statistical and/or econometric methods to study data available from several large UK birth cohorts that your supervision team have extensive experience of working with (e.g. Born in Bradford [BiB], The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children [ALSPAC] and the Millennium Cohort Study [MCS]). This project will also link into work involving the NHSA’s Connected Yorkshire program, which is developing a regional research database containing health and education records on approximately 220,000 Bradfordians, spanning the last ten years. 

While the above description defines the general area of research for this studentship; you will be able to contribute to the development of a more detailed research proposal by addressing more specific research questions.

As part of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds your development will be monitored and nurtured through well-established programs of training and assessment. In addition to normal supervision arrangements you will also be mentored by an existing network of experienced post-doctoral researchers and fellow graduate students within the lead supervisor’s Health And Education INteraction lab Group (HEADING), who meets on regular basis and include experts in Developmental and Cognitive Psychology, Data Analytics, and observational and applied Health and Education research. This group is part of the newly opened Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research, and your research will be supported by a wider network of collaborators involved in the Wolfson.

You will be supervised by Dr Liam Hill (Uni. of Leeds, School of Psychology & Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research), Professors Cheti Nicoletti (Uni. of York, Department of Economics), Nick Malleson, and Alison Heppenstall (Uni. of Leeds, School of Geography and Leeds Institute of Data Analytics). As part of a larger network of Postgraduate Researchers you will also work in close partnership with the Early Years and Prevention theme of the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YH-ARC). 

The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Yorkshire and Humber (YH_ARC) is an important programme of applied research, hosted within Bradford Institute for Health Research, and delivered through a regional partnership including universities, the NHS, Local Authorities, voluntary and community organisations, and industry within Yorkshire and Humber.

YH_ARC supports people-powered research that aims to tackle inequalities and improve health and well-being for our communities. It has 4 core, and 3 cross-cutting themes, selected following consultation with partners and the public.  Our 4 core themes are: Healthy Childhood; Mental Health; Older People; and Urgent Care.  Our cross-cutting themes are: Improvement Science; Health Economics; and Implementation. 

Strategically YH_ARC aims to:

Catalyse world-leading applied health and social care research, to advance knowledge and support change relevant to local needs
Encourage high quality regional research collaborations and between ARCs nationally 
Engage with policy makers, professionals, health and social care commissioners to develop the research agenda and translate research findings to improve services and health outcomes, and reduce health inequalities
Co-produce the development and translation of research with practitioners and public 
Develop innovative methods for applied health research for evaluation, addressing equity impact of innovation and value for money
Build researcher capacity in service delivery and university sectors.

You can learn more about YH_ARC at:

For more information about this project and how to apply please go to

Funding Notes

This project is a White Rose Research Studentship. It will provide an annual maintenance grant in line with the RCUK rate (£15,285 in session 2020/21) for up to 3 years, subject to satisfactory academic progression. The award will also provide academic fees at the UK/EU rate.


Pettinger KJ, Kelly B, Sheldon TA, Mon-Williams M ,Wright J & Hill LJB. Starting school: educational development as a function of age of entry and prematurity. Archives of Disease in Childhood Published Online First: 13 August 2019. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2019-317124

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.