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Rehabilitation Science

PhD MPhil MSc by research

School - School of Health Sciences

Subject area - Health Professions

Start Date(s): September, January, May


MSc by Research (One year full-time or two years part-time) 

Master of Philosophy (MPhil; one year full-time or two years part-time)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD; three years full-time or five years part-time)

In Brief:

  • Part-time study option
  • Distance Learning
  • International students can apply

Subject Overview

Rehabilitation Research

Led by Prof Alison Hammond, this research focuses on rehabilitation for chronic conditions, particularly musculoskeletal conditions (which affect 12% of the UK population). Our aim is to improve outcomes and quality of life for people with physically disabling conditions by utilising strategic lines of enquiry, mixed methods and working across the research spectrum.  You can research into: development and evaluation of clinical measurement tools; understanding patients’ and their carers’ problems (e.g. surveys and qualitative research); understanding therapy and service contexts;  testing existing and novel rehabilitation and patient education interventions, with a particular focus on clinical trials;  dissemination and knowledge transfer of effective rehabilitation into practice.

More information about Rehabilitation Research at the University of Salford

In the national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 more than 80% of the School’s research was ranked as of ‘international quality’. Within the UK and Europe we are in the top 5% of research groups based in academic departments related to podiatry, physiotherapy, prosthetics, orthotics and occupational therapy.

You will also be able to do this PhD by distance learning with an October or April start date. 

Entry Requirements

1st class or upper second class undergraduate degree

Masters degree is preferred but not essential. However, applicants without a Masters degree should provide evidence of previous research methods training.

APEL – We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English requirement for non-UK/ EU students

Overall IELTS score of at least 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any one element.

We offer four entry points – October, January, April and July. Applications can be submitted at any point within the year.

Applicant Profile

You should have a first degree that provides a foundation in the principles of rehabilitation sciences (in occupational therapy or physiotherapy) and scientific practice. This could include BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy degrees.  Evidence of ability to study and critically appraise literature independently is essential and candidates with a Masters qualification are preferred. Experience of research involving patients with physical conditions is also preferable but is not essential.

As a student embarking on a postgraduate research degree you will be assigned a supervisory team, to help guide and mentor you throughout your time at the University. However, you are ultimately expected to take responsibility for managing your learning and will be expected to initiate discussions, ask for the help that you need and be proactive in your approach to study.

All students will be required to attend for an interview.

International Students - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

International Students are required by the Home Office and/or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate before they begin studying their course. You may need to obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK in order for you to comply with Home Office regulations. Please refer to your offer conditions.

You can find out if your programme requires an ATAS by checking the FCO website at with your JACS code which will be on your offer letter should you choose to make an application. If you cannot find it please contact International Conversion team at If you have any queries relating directly to ATAS please contact the ATAS team on

You can apply for your ATAS Certificate via this link:

Current Student Research

Research Topics

Denise Harris – 3rd year PhD student

Project: An exploration of living with motor neurone disease; receiving health care and the impact on self and identity

There are four recognised types of motor neurone disease (MND).  Prognosis and the nature of illness trajectory are different for each person depending on type of MND diagnosed.  Types of MND include progressive bulbar palsy (PBP); amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); primary lateral sclerosis (PLS); progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) (MNDA, 2012).  There is a definite variance in the care pathways required for a patient with PBP MND and ALS MND.  Yet it is not clear through the current evidence whether the findings relate to people with PBP MND or ALS MND. To emphasise this point, people with PBP MND may have already lost their speech, their prognosis may be months and not years, and they have to make end of life care decisions within weeks.   They may be forced to cope with existential concerns of loss: relationships; autonomy; and temporality (Murata and Morita, 2006).  In contrast, people diagnosed with ALS type MND may have years to live and therefore professionals may not discuss end-of-life care decisions early in their illness trajectory. Continuity of self and loss of temporality has relevance to the way participants talk about living their trajectory of MND. The focus needs to shift from the person and their illness in the present.  Equally important is the impact of MND on a person’s biographical self (past), as well as the impact of MND on their future.  Understanding the impact of MND on a person’s biographical self will help health care professionals interpret what it means to be a person in and of the world.  Understanding their existential concerns for life and death will help health care professionals interpret their end of life choices and plans for when they are no longer a being in the world.

Training and Skills

All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.
The Rehabilitation Research Group has an annual programme of seminars including student and staff presentations.

In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies, and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.

Assessment Links

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.

Learning Agreement:  this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.

Annual Progress Report:  this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.

Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.

Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.

Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least 4 chapters of your thesis.

Research Profile

Research Excellence

The School currently has more than 80 postgraduate research students from a range of multicultural backgrounds. As well as the UK, we have students from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Denmark, South Africa, China, Malaysia and France.  We also have visiting students with us throughout the year (often for short study placements of 2-6 months).
Each of the School research areas is lead by an experienced researcher, often a Professor, whose expertise has international recognition. All our research leaders publish their research in peer reviewed internationally recognised journals and are they regularly invited to speak at international conferences. They lead on a wide range of established collaborations with UK, international academic and industry partners.

The research areas for Rehabilitation Sciences are:

  • Outcome Measures
  • Identifying and understanding clients’ and carers’ needs
  • Understanding therapy service delivery
  • Evaluating rehabilitation and patient education interventions

Staff Profiles

Professor Alison Hammond

Alison is an Occupational Therapist (OT) and has led a number of clinical trials evaluating occupational therapy, work rehabilitation and patient education interventions in musculoskeletal conditions, as well as collaborating with colleagues nationally in other trials (eg OT in hand osteoarthritis, work rehabilitation in stroke). These include qualitative components exploring participants’ needs and treatment perceptions. She is also currently developing and psychometrically testing OT Rheumatology outcome measures. She also works closely with clinical colleagues in surveys and evaluations of aspects of OT Rheumatology practice.

She has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles, 10 book chapters, co-edited the book “Rheumatology: Evidence based practice for physiotherapists and occupational therapists” and has delivered numerous invited lectures internationally.  Alison has contributed to the UK NICE Rheumatoid Arthritis Guidelines, NICE Osteoarthritis Guidelines  and EULAR Guidelines for health professional rheumatology practice. Alison collaborates with therapy researchers in Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria. Previously she also helped develop and was course leader for the world’s first: MSc in Hand Therapy; and Certificate in Rheumatology Practice for Rheumatology nurses and therapists. Alison is Associate Editor of “Musculoskeletal Care.”

Professor Alison Hammond's research profile

Dr Yeliz Prio

Yeliz joined the rehabilitation research group at Salford University in October 2011 and has a PhD in Epidemiology (Keele University, 2012), BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy (University of Salford, 2008) and a diploma in Counselling (City College Manchester, 2005).

Yeliz is the study co-ordinator for an Arthritis Research UK funded project “Testing the Valued Life Activities Scale (VLAS) and Measure of Activity Performance HAND (MAPHAND) in rheumatoid arthritis, and works with Professor Alison Hammond in other research projects with musculoskeletal focus, such as the UKOTRF funded study “Evaluation of Daily Activity Questionnaire in musculoskeletal conditions (UK-EDAQ)” and the Arthritis Research UK funded Pilot trial; Work in Inflammatory Arthritis project. She also helps for teaching research methods to the Occupational Therapy students within Contributing to Evidence Based Practice in Occupational Therapy (CEBOT) module. She is passionate about promoting active research in Occupational Therapy, and currently holds the North West regional representative post for the College of Occupational Therapist (COT) specialist section for work, as well as being an active member of the COT specialist section for Rheumatology. Yeliz also is the chair of the Occupational Therapy Study Group for the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).

Dr. Kristen Hollands

Kris Hollands is a Research Fellow in the School of Health Sciences. Her undergraduate training was in Kinesiology and Neurobehavioural assessment, which she followed up with an MSc in biomechanics of gait and finally her PhD in neuro-rehab. Kris’ research interests are in translating basic scientific theory in motor control and biomechanics to the design of mechanistically targeted rehabilitation interventions. Her research has focused on measuring and treating impairments in adaptive locomotor behaviours, such as turning and obstacle avoidance, in older adults and stroke survivors. Kris’ research methodologies span systematic reviews, basic scientific studies and clinical trials and incorporate the use of gait assessment, EMG, standardised clinical tests as well as MRI measurements.


Career Prospects

Students leaving the School with a postgraduate research degree are well placed to lead and manage research and development activities in a number of areas. This includes health and social care organisations (e.g. NHS, charities), medical device or therapy industries (e.g. assistive devices). Globally, a postgraduate research qualification is usually a prerequisite for an academic career and several of our School alumni are now senior academics.

Previous students have taken their research expertise and knowledge into health care practice, innovating in clinical services and helping to advance knowledge and practice in their professional discipline. Others have gone forward to academic positions. We encourage the maintenance of links between graduating research students and their host research group and supervisor. This means the University can become part of the developing professional network that students take forward into their future careers.  

Links with Industry

The research group has extensive connections and collaborations with NHS Rheumatology Therapy services, particularly in Occupational Therapy. Alison works closely with a number of other Rheumatology researchers nationally in OT, Physiotherapy and nursing, enabling wider links. The Rheumatology Research health professional community nationally and internationally is very supportive of postgraduate degree researchers.  These links are available to enhance the research activities of postgraduate students, to improve the quality and application of research, and to form lasting partnerships between other postgraduate students, academics and the external partners.  The need for NHS collaboration and selection of suitable partners can be discussed directly with the research programme leader.  Some students may wish to suggest potential new partners based on their existing professional collaborations and networks. In all cases supervisors will advise and manage the relationship with NHS partners. International postgraduate students planning to conduct clinically-based research with patients must be able to meet the NHS requirements to conduct research in NHS premises. Please discuss with the research lead.