Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  Understanding and addressing corporate political activity

   Department for Health

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

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Prof Anna Gilmore  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a three-year fully-funded studentship, to commence in September 2024, to work on a project under the supervision of members of the Tobacco Control Research Group, with the final team being agreed with the successful candidate. The project is fully funded by the University of Bath.


The studentship attached to this project is open to students who qualify for Home fee status only. Please consult this webpage to determine if you are eligible for the Home tuition fee rate

If you do not hold British or Irish citizenship, EU Settled/Pre-settled status, or another form of indefinite leave, you are unlikely to qualify for Home fee status.


Recent evidence shows that progress on policies to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has stalled, particularly when these policies touch on the interests of unhealthy commodity industries (UCIs) including tobacco, alcohol, gambling, ultra-processed food and fossil fuel industries (Allen et al., 2023). In the UK, as elsewhere, the lack of progress towards effective population-level action on these topics has been in part attributed to the influence of powerful commercial actors on policy (Gilmore et al, 2023, Lauber, et al, 2021). This PhD project will examine corporate influence in health policy making and identify potential solutions for how to address it.

There will be scope for the incoming student to shape the direction of the work based on their interests, including deciding on one of two key focus areas for the work – either examining corporate influence in the UK at both national and local levels, or exploring how polluter pays principles to address corporate influence might work at a local level.

Examining corporate influence in the UK at both national and local levels

Broadly defined as “any deliberate firm action intended to influence governmental policy or process” (Getz, 1997: 32–3), Corporate political activity (CPA) is one of the most common non-market strategies used by large firms today (Dahan, Hadani, 2023). Previous literature (Ulucanlar, et al. 2023) has identified similarities in the CPA of various Unhealthy Commodity Industries (UCIs) finding that UCIs have consistently sought to influence governments and global organisations to prevent their adopting effective public health policies. However, there remains limited research on the role of CPA in upstream policy measures, and the impact of such influence at national and local levels.

Research questions could include:

•           How has CPA shaped (non-)decisions in the context of public health and environment policy in the UK?

•           What influence strategies do corporations use, to what extent do they influence collectively and what role do third parties play in this?

•           How do political leaders understand CPA and the commercial determinants of health?

Exploring how polluter pays principles to address corporate influence might work at a local level

Polluter pays measures have been suggested as a potentially useful taxation approach to reduce the current imbalance in costs resulting from harmful commodities – where profits from these commodities are privatised while the cost associated with their harm is socialised and rests largely with the state and/or individuals (Khan, 2015).

Research shows that polluter pays approaches are favoured by stakeholders for tobacco (Smith et al., 2023) and have been implemented for transport (Jephcote et al., 2016). However, there is a need for more evidence on how polluter pays principles might work at a local level, including: (i) which data would be necessary to enable such approaches; (ii) where polluter pays or similar approaches have been successfully implemented, and; (iii) and in which ways industry might oppose such approaches.

Research questions could include:

1.          What is the harm of specific unhealthy commodity industries at a local government level?

2.          What are known options for polluter pays approaches and to what extent have these been implemented (at local, national and global level)?

3.          Can we critically assess the political and industry opposition to these measures, at any of the above levels?

Successful applicants will be based within the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) – an internationally recognised, award-winning research group. This provides opportunities for working in a multi-disciplinary team, with colleagues from a number of different academic and non-academic institutions.

The Successful Candidate should:

  1. Fulfil the entrance requirements for a Department for Health PhD
  2. Have a BSc and (preferably) MSc in a related topic, for example public health, social policy, economics or sociology.
  3. Have excellent written communication skills
  4. Display an ability to engage with non-technical audience

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be directed to Dr Allan Gallagher, [Email Address Removed]

Formal applications should be submitted via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Health prior to the closing date of this advert.


When completing the application form:

  • In the Funding your studies section, select ‘LURS' from the first drop-down list
  • In the Your PhD project section, quote the project title of this project and the name of the lead supervisor in the appropriate boxes. 
  • Ensure that you upload to your application (in addition to the required academic and English language documents): a personal statement (no more than 2 pages) explaining your motivation, skills, experiences related to the research area and your career plan.

Failure to complete these steps will cause delays in processing your application and may cause you to miss the deadline.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website


Interview dates TBC

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Economics (10) Medicine (26) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

Students applying for this project will be considered for a fully-funded 3-year University of Bath PhD studentship comprising payment of tuition fees at the 'Home' rate, a doctoral stipend at the UKRI rate (£19,237 per annum, 2024/25 rate) and a research/training support allowance of £1,000 per annum. This studentship is open to those that qualify for 'Home' fees. You will likely need to hold UK or Irish citizenship, EU (Pre-)Settled status in the UK, or another form of indefinite leave, to be eligible for Home fees.


Getz K. (1997). Research in corporate political activity: Integration and assessment. Business & Society, 36, 32–77.
Dahan, N.., Hadani, M., Critical perspectives on Corporate Political Activities (CPA): Emergence, importance, and future directions,, Journal of Business Research, Volume 165, 2023, 114040, ISSN 0148-2963,
S. Ulucanlar, K. Lauber, A. Fabbri, B. Hawkins, M. Mialon, L. Hancock, et al.
International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2023 Vol. 12 Issue Issue 1 Pages 1-22, DOI: 10.34172/ijhpm.2023.7292.
Allen, L.N., Wigley, S., Holmer, H. & Barlow, P. Non-communicable disease policy implementation from 2014 to 2021: a repeated cross-sectional analysis of global policy data for 194 countries. Lancet Global Health. 2023.
Lauber K, Hunt D, Gilmore AB, Rutter H (2021) Corporate political activity in the context of unhealthy food advertising restrictions across Transport for London: A qualitative case study. PLOS Medicine 18(9): e1003695.
de Lacy-Vawdon C, Livingstone C. Defining the commercial determinants of health: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2020;20:1022.
Khan, M.R. Polluter-Pays-Principle: The Cardinal Instrument for Addressing Climate Change. Laws 2015, 4, 638-653.
Smith, M.J., Patterson, C., Buckton, C. et al. Implementation of the polluter pay’s principle in tobacco control in the UK: a stakeholder analysis. BMC Public Health 23, 2271 (2023).
Jephcote, C., C., Haibo, K. Ropkins, Implementation of the Polluter-Pays Principle (PPP) in local transport policy, Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 55, 2016, Pages 58-71, ISSN 0966-6923,

How good is research at University of Bath in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Where will I study?

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.