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ESRC Wales DTP Collaborative studentship in Business and Management - Development and testing of the PAtient SafeTy risk Assessment (PASTA) tool to maximise learning from patient safety incidents in healthcare organisations

Cardiff Business School

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Dr M Kumar No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Cardiff United Kingdom Business Management

About the Project

Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, or appropriate Master’s degree. Both the University and the ESRC Wales DTP value diversity and equality at all levels and we encourage applications from all sections of the community, irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. In line with our commitment to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, and to increase recruitment of currently underrepresented groups, applications from Black British, Asian British, minority ethnicity British and mixed race British candidates are particularly encouraged and welcomed. We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time Doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant.

Please visit here for further information about the PhD Programme at Cardiff Business School.

Applications welcomed by 3 February 2021 (1200 hours).

These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named member of staff for a discussion prior to applying.

·      The Lead supervisor on this project is, Professor Maneesh Kumar, [Email Address Removed]

·      The ESRC Business and Management pathway lead is, Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis, [Email Address Removed]

Details of the project:


This project is in collaboration with the School of Medicine and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. The joint supervisor for this project is Dr Andrew Carson-Stevens (School of Medicine ), Clinical Reader of Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, & Founder/Convenor of the Patient Safety Research Group.

Healthcare is dangerous with one in 20 patients exposed to preventable harm in medical care. This translates to one patient safety incident occurs every 26 seconds in the NHS. The WHO recognises this a major threat to public health.

Healthcare organisational learning is key to minimising risk and improving patient safety. Despite major investments in health systems worldwide to understand risk, the statistic show minimal reductions in harm, serious error or death commensurate with the effort and costs of the system.

The fundamental flaw is that existing approaches seek to identify ‘linear’ cause&effect relationships in otherwise complex, adapting, fast-moving systems. Recent work from Kumar et al.[1-3] emphasises the importance of systems thinking for better internal and external supply chain integration, and the importance of organisational learning that enables employees to identify weak signals before they transform into catastrophic failures [1-3]. Similarly, healthcare researchers[4-6] highlighted the importance of organisational learning to minimise healthcare errors.


The PhD will tackle the fundamental flaw identified by Kumar (1-3), and will explore and develop a solution to sensitively explore complex patterns of risk(s) with healthcare professionals involved in a patient safety incident to quickly learn why a medical error (or near-miss) occurred and enable timely decisions about intervention priorities and actions for improvement.

Probable aims

Explore how healthcare organisations can maximise learning from patient safety incidents through the development and testing of a Patient SafeTy risk Assessment tool (‘PASTA’ tool).

Likely research questions

How can contributory factors be effectively identified to promote future unsafe patient care that can be targeted by preventive/mitigating interventions?

Anticipated design and methods

We anticipate the student will benefit from the methodological expertise and perspectives of each supervisor, and with our support combine disciplinary perspectives, and gain a rich understanding of health services improvement research using qualitative and quantitative methods.

We expect the student to combine their clinical placement experience with relevant existing literature to inform the development of a PASTA tool (possibly a list of focussed questions about contributory factors) for exploring risk after a patient safety incident has occurred (Year 1).

From supervisory discussions, the student will appreciate the importance of tool validation and will plan experiments in conjunction with NHS partners to test the tool in a range of formats (e.g. face-to-face interview, telephone-supported completion, self-administration) to understand if and how it works, and how the NHS can effectively use such learning (Years 2-3).

Funding Notes

Cardiff University Business School, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study. This competition is open to UK, EU and International students. These particular studentships, known as ‘collaborative studentships’, involve liaison with a non-academic organisation, often at many key stages of the research programme. Studentships commence in October 2021.
Please read the project details for further information about eligibility and how to apply.
Applications close midday 3rd February 2021.
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ([Email Address Removed]).


Studentship Awards commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,285 p.a. for 2020/21 for full-time students, updated each year); and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), though an element of this latter fund may be ‘pooled’ and require separate applications from 2021 onwards. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.
ESRC studentships are highly competitive, candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Masters degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a +3 award. Wales DTP studentships are available to both home and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements. For further details see the UKRI web site Successful international student applicants will receive a fully-funded Wales DTP studentship and will not be charged the fees difference between the UK and international rate.
1+3 OR +3?
With exception of studentships in the Economics pathway, awards are available on either a 1+3 or +3 basis. A 1+3 studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Masters in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A +3 studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent). Please see the Cardiff Business School website for further detail on the programme structure and admission criteria:
The closing deadline for applications is 12.00 noon on Friday 3rd February 2021. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview, which are expected to take place in late February/early March 2021. After interview, a final short-list of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases successful applicants can expect to hear by early April 2021.
A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in Cardiff Business School: submitted by the deadline of 12 noon on 3 February 2021. Incomplete applications or applications received after this specified time will not be accepted.
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: Please address to Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis. The covering letter must name the collaborative studentship being applied for. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University and the Business and Management Pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please also specify whether you wish to apply on a +3 or 1+3 basis.
2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
5. Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
• Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
• An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
• Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
• A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
• Bibliographic references
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team (

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