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The Anderson Programme PhD Scholarship: “Exploring leadership development through the Anderson Programme in the English NHS”

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 13, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Health Services Management Centre (HSMC), at the University of Birmingham is committed to recruiting the highest calibre PhD students from across the globe. With an excellent international reputation, we strive to produce graduates and researchers of distinction who attain the highest standards of academic excellence and contribute to improving health and care services.

The Anderson Programme PhD Scholarship is focused on supporting students of leadership, leadership development, organisational dynamics, culture and improvement in healthcare.

The Project
Patient safety, patient experience, finances and quality challenges persist in healthcare (Dobrzykowski et al., 2016; Bohmer, 2016). In response to public concern, and scandals such as that related to the Francis enquiry of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (2013) there has been increased focus on accountability, culture, improvement and leadership development (Kachalia et al, 2016).
Leadership development can be used in a progressive way to improve health and care services, patient experience and equality, diversity and inclusion of staff and patients. However, leadership development could also, intentionally or otherwise cause a tendency to groupthink by viewing leadership through a widely shared paradigm or be perceived as a ‘fad’ (Hewison and Griffiths, 2004). There is a lack of empirical and theoretical research that explores how and why leaders in healthcare, and the people and services they lead, are influenced by leadership development programmes (Crowe et al, 2017). Although there is a wide array of feedback data and evidence describing many different leadership traits and styles, some is conflicting (Geerts et al. 2019). Research that theorises why and how leadership development programmes develop leaders and the impact on organisational culture, supported by empirical evidence is lacking (Lega et al., 2017). This is particularly surprising, given the increased use and costs of leadership development, particularly in health and care.
One leadership development response to the Francis enquiry (2013) was the establishment of the NHS Leadership Academy ‘Anderson’ Programme; an MSc in Healthcare Leadership targeted at middle to senior level leaders within English NHS organisations. Over 1,651 NHS managers and leaders have now graduated from the programme (AMBS, 2019). The aim of this project is to explore one or more of the three strategic themes (the ‘golden threads’) of the Anderson programme: the patient experience; equality, diversity and inclusion; and sustaining improvement. The study will in particular focus on the underlying mechanisms that influence participant development, resultant leadership behaviours and leadership practices.
The Anderson programme is delivered by a consortium of institutions including the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham on behalf of the NHS Leadership Academy. Two PhD’s are being funded by the Anderson Programme, one at each University. Prospective PhD candidates are asked to consider their location preferences before applying for the PhD Scholarship and are asked to only apply to one Institution for the Anderson PhD Scholarship. Location and institution cannot be changed after application.

Entry Requirements

Applications for this project are sought from exceptional UK students with an outstanding academic background. Experience of working and practicing in leadership development in healthcare would be an advantage.

Applicants must have a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and hold or expect to obtain a Masters level qualification with Distinction. English Language requirements (where required) are IELTS 7.0, TOEFL 623 (100 ibt), PTE 66.

How to apply

Candidates should submit a PhD application for the PhD Health Services Management and indicate that they wish to be considered for this project.
Your application must contain a 3000-word research proposal related to the topic of healthcare leadership development and aligned with the Anderson programme through one or more of the three stated golden threads of the programme.
Candidates are strongly advised to submit their application as early as possible. Candidates who do not submit the required supporting documents by the specific deadline will not be considered.

For further details about the project, please contact Dr Kerry Allen at or Dr Iestyn Williams at

For questions related to making your application, please contact Abbie Price in the Doctoral Programme’s Office:

Funding Notes

Three years’ funding, including doctoral programme tuition fees and a stipend of approximately £15,000 per year for those commencing their studies in September 2020. You will also receive a generous research support and conference allowance. You will have access to a robust doctoral research training programme, dedicated research resources, training in transferable skills, visiting speaker seminar programme, and associate with existing research centres and groups. In addition, all students are encouraged to undertake training and development in teaching and deliver teaching and/or research assistantship duties on a paid basis to further enhance their experience in preparation for their future careers.


Alliance Manchester Business School, AMBS. (2019) Celebrating a further 85 graduates with an MSc in Healthcare Leadership. [accessed 24/01/2020]
Bohmer, R. (2016) The Hard Work of Health Care Transformation. The New England Journal of Medicine 375(8): 709–711
Crowe, D., et al. (2017). Leadership development practices and hospital financial outcomes. Health Services Management Research 30(3): 140-147
Dobrzykowski, D., McFadden, K. & Vonderembse, M. (2016) Examining pathways to safety and financial performance in hospitals: a study of lean in professional service operations Journal of Operations Management, 42-43(SI), 39-51
Francis, R., 2013. Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry: executive summary (Vol. 947). The Stationery Office.
Geerts, J. M., Goodall, A. & Agius, S. (2019). Evidence-based leadership development for physicians: A systematic literature review. Social Science and Medicine 246(112709).
Hewison, A. and M. Griffiths (2004). Leadership development in health care: a word of caution. Journal of health organisation and management 18(6): 464-473.
Kachalia, A., Mello, M, Nallamothu, B., & Studdert, D. (2016) Legal and policy interventions to improve patient safety” Circulation, 133(7), 661-671
Lega, F., Prenestini, A. & Rosso, M. (2017). Leadership research in healthcare: A realist review. Health Services Management Research 30(2): 94-104.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Social Work and Social Policy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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