PhD studentship in research in midwifery practice

Full time funded PhD studentship available

An exciting opportunity has arisen to study for a Scottish Government funded PhD while examining a critically important issue for the quality of midwifery and maternity care.  Working with internationally-respected supervisors, the successful candidate will conduct a three-part study of the new supervision model for midwives in Scotland.

Project Title

Evaluating a new employer-led model of supervision for midwives

Project summary

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the UK Government response to the Morecambe Bay Inquiry (Kirkup 2015), has been to propose the separation of midwifery supervision from regulation. In Scotland a proposed employer-led model has been co-produced with key stakeholders which will be supported by nationally consistent education preparation and be implemented from January 2018. The change to an employer-led model of midwifery supervision in Scotland provides an exciting opportunity for a PhD studentship to evaluate the impact and outcomes of the new model in terms of meeting the support and development needs of midwives, and ensuring women and babies receive high quality midwifery care.

The research questions for the evaluation are:

  1. How is the employer-led model of supervision for midwives being implemented across Scotland?
  2. What are the effects of the new model on the quality of midwifery practice, clinical decision-making, adherence to national practice standards and experiences of childbearing women?
  3. What are the implications of the new model for employers?
  4. What changes need to be made to optimise the impact and outcomes of the new model?

We propose a mixed methods study:

 In year one, the student will build on established relationships with NHS Boards, gain ethics approval, and conduct an integrative literature review on the characteristics, theoretical basis and outcomes of clinical supervision and quality assurance of professional standards in health and social care;

In year two, the student will gather data, via a survey and telephone interviews, from all Health Boards to describe approaches to implementation of the supervision model; and  conduct case studies in two Health Boards (remote and rural, and diverse urban populations) to examine the implementation, impact and outcomes of the new supervision model;

In year three, the student will integrate data from the study components to report the impact and outcomes of the supervision model.

Throughout the PhD the student will be guided by the supervisory team, a project advisory group, and will work closely with NHS Education Scotland, and the Royal College of Midwives Scotland. There will be opportunities to link with evaluations of the new model of supervision for midwives in the rest of the UK.

Research Environment

The studentship is hosted by the Mother and Infant Research Unit (MIRU), and the Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Dundee. MIRU and SISCC provide a multi-disciplinary environment with strong clinical, theoretical and methodological expertise.  MIRU has an international reputation for delivering world-class midwifery research and high quality postgraduate education. SISCC provides a unique platform for work with NHS and social care partners, and education providers, combined with a national network of academic support, knowledge and expertise in the evaluation of improvement initiatives.  


The successful applicant will have access to a range of courses offered by the University of Dundee Organisational Professional Development Department (OPD); both PhD student-specific e.g. thesis writing and viva preparation, and courses for researchers. PhD students access research methods seminars, masterclasses and specialist courses offered by University staff and visiting experts. Students have access to training including using SPSS and NVivo, and to the rich research resources across three clinical schools. SISCC provides access to a range of expertise and training in improvement and implementation methodology.

Supervisory team

Primary supervisor: Dr Alison McFadden (MIRU)

Additional Supervisors: Professor Mary Renfrew (MIRU)

                                                Dr Nicola Gray (SISCC)

                                                Dr Joan Cameron (MIRU)

Eligibility criteria

Essential: all candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2:1) and/or an appropriate Master’s degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language;

Desirable: knowledge of midwifery or clinical supervision in healthcare settings.


This is a Scottish Government funded PhD. The post would be offered for full time registration for a 3-year PhD. The funding will include the tax-free stipend of £15,926.00, tuition fees, and £1500 funding for additional training and conference attendance. For the successful candidate, if registered as a midwife with the NMC, there may be an opportunity to work up to one day per week at NHS Tayside.

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be directed to: Dr Alison McFadden (

Please complete the online application form for PhD Nursing & Health Sciences 3 year quoting reference: MIRU 

Deadline for applications: 1st September 2017.

Further information on the application process can be found at Interviews will be held on Tuesday 12th September 2017.


Kirkup B 2015. The Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation.