Postgraduate study in the Health Professions Education Unit

We welcome enquiries to study with us. We provide a supportive and collaborative research environment, where we strive to create and disseminate innovative approaches to learning and teaching.

Please note we do not have specific funding available, as this is usually sought on a case-by-case basis.

MSc and elective opportunities

Dissertations or other research may be undertaken with us, if you have a relevant research interest. Please email to enquire.

PhD opportunities

We have a vibrant research community within Health Professions Education Unit including a number of students working towards their PhDs and MDs - please see their details at the end of this page.

Funded PhDs, when available, are listed on the Hull York Medical School's funded opportunities page.

We also work with suitable students to support applications for national or regional PhD funding. This is highly competitive, so potential students will need to have a track record of interest or involvement in palliative care research already. Please email to enquire further.

Other opportunities

Please email you would like to enquire about other opportunities to study with us. Further information is also available on our visit with us page, if you are interested in short-term visits or attachments.

Our current postgraduate researchers

Lauren Aylott

Title: Defining and measuring professionalism in Mental Health Staff: A mixed methods approach
Award: PhD
Timeframe: 2016-2019
Funder: Hull York Medical School scholarship
Supervisors: Professor Gabrielle Finn and Dr Paul Tiffin
Contact for further details: Lauren Aylott

Lauren’s PhD aims to develop a situational judgement test that will assess practitioners’ knowledge of professionalism within a mental health service context. This will support a values-based recruitment approach; recruiting staff with the right values, as well as knowledge and skills for the role.

Situational Judgement tests have been used for many years to support the recruitment of staff. A situational judgement test in this context, will present test-takers with job-related hypothetical scenarios, to which individuals will need to select the most appropriate behaviour out of a list of potential response options.


Aylott, L.M., Tiffin, P.A., Saad, M., Llewellyn, A.R. and Finn, G.M., 2018. Defining professionalism for mental health services: a rapid systematic review. Journal of Mental Health, pp.1-18.

Dr Megan Brown

Title: Navigating the ‘social jungle’: An exploration of medical professional identity
Award: PhD
Timeframe: 3 years
Funder: Hull York Medical School
Supervisor: Dr Paul Whybrow
Contact for further details: Dr Megan Brown

The purpose of this research is to investigate undergraduate medical student professional identity formation and influences upon this. There will be investigation into the impact of longitudinality upon identity formation, with a focus upon the impact of longitudinal integrated clerkships.

Possessing a medical professional identity enables an individual to think, feel and act like a doctor. There are many associated benefits to acquiring a strong sense of identity throughout medical school. Yet, it remains unclear the exact process through which this happens and what key influencing factors upon this process are. A relatively new type of medical student placement is being developed within Hull York Medical School - a longitudinal integrated clerkship. This work will investigate whether participation in these type of clerkships impacts upon medical student identity through both national and international collaborative research. 

Angelique Dueñas

Title: An assessment of Gateway Year programmes in the UK
Award: PhD
Start date: October 2018
Funder: Hull York Medical School
Supervisors: Professor Gabrielle Finn and Dr Paul Tiffin
Contact for further details: Angelique Dueñas


This study aims to provide an assessment of the current state of Gateway programmes across the nation to help understand best practices for success of Gateway Year programmes.


In the past few years there has been a rapid increase in the number of Gateway to Medicine programmes across the UK, rising from only 7 recognized programmes in 2017 to a total of 17 planned to launch in 2019. However, there is currently very limited research about academic progression of Gateway Year students through their medical education. This study aims to provide an assessment of the current state of Gateway Year programmes across the nation to help understand best practices for success of Gateway Year programmes.

Dr Bill Laughey

Title: Empathy
Award: Bill has already studied the MSc in Health Professions in Education and is now working towards a PhD by publication
Start date: January 2018
Supervisor: Professor Gabrielle Finn
Contact for further details: Dr Bill Laughey

Empathy is valued in clinical care but remains under-researched, especially in qualitative terms. This research aims at gaining a clearer understanding of what clinical empathy is and how it should (and should not) be taught.

Doctors for many years thought empathy should be cognitive – if it came from the head there was little chance it could cloud logical decision making. More recently, researchers have questioned whether empathy without feeling is any kind of empathy at all. We need to better understand what students and educators think that empathy is, and how it can best be expressed in clinical care. Our qualitative research at Hull York Medical School is exploring these very questions. 

Dr Alexandra Macnamara

Title: Non-integrated prescribing teaching hinders acquisition of prescribing knowledge and skills in medical students
Award: MD
Start date: October 2018
Supervisors: Professor Thozhukat Sathyapalan and Dr David Hepburn
Contact for further details: Dr Alexandra Macnamara

This project aims to evaluate the way in which prescribing teaching is taught in UK medical schools by looking at whether students feel ready to prescribe medications in practice and compare different ways of teaching different aspects of prescribing. 

The aims of this project are:

  • To evaluate student attitudes of how well prepared they feel for prescribing in practice and towards their current pharmacology curriculum.
  • To compare different teaching methodologies in the teaching of clinical pharmacology in terms of acquisition and retention of clinical pharmacology knowledge.