Research course


The University of Manchester · School of Medical Sciences

Entry requirements

We require applicants to hold, or be about to obtain, an Upper Second class Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in a related subject area for entry to a PhD programme. A Lower Second class Honours degree may be considered if applicants also hold a Master's degree with a Merit classification.

Months of entry

January, April, September

Course content

Our PhD/MPhil Musculoskeletal programme enables you to undertake a research project that will improve understanding of Musculoskeletal.

Research in the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research (CfMR) is undertaken by established groups and independent researchers investigating genetic and epidemiological aspects of musculoskeletal conditions.

These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Myositis and scleroderma (Sc).

We have a strong track record of training students, and all of our senior staff have a hands-on approach to supervision.

We have a comprehensive programme of training and mentorship directed at all levels of career development. For postgraduate research students, we provide in-house training in generic lab skills, biostatistics and epidemiology.

Postgraduate research students are encouraged to take part in patient/public engagement and involvement activities (PPE/I) to discuss their research with members of the general public and patients.

Examples of research in genetics and genomics include the following.

  • Identification and characterisation of genetic variants that influence susceptibility to rheumatological conditions including RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Identification and characterisation of genetic and epigenetic variants that influence treatment response to methotrexate and/or biological therapy in rheumatological conditions including RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Identification and characterisation of genetic/genomic variants that influence severity of rheumatological conditions. Investigating the function of genetic variants to refine the associated regions, and highlight likely causal variants, in loci with large, genetically intractable associations.
  • Identifying key pathways involved in inflammation to identify novel targets to develop new drugs.
  • Using stratified medicine and systems biology approaches to develop predictive and pharmacodynamics markers of treatment response.
  • Characterising regulatory elements and causal mechanisms by which genetic variation contributes to phenotype.
  • Applying gene expression profiling to predict treatment response in patients with RA.

Examples of research programmes in epidemiology include the following.

  • Undertaking longitudinal observational studies, case control studies and intervention studies.
  • Investigating the co-morbidities associated with inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders and their impact on quality of life and mortality.
  • Investigating environmental and genetic risk factor for developing RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Hosting national databases and monitoring drug safety (i.e. pharmacoepidemiology) in RA, JIA and SLE.
  • Using of big data (eg CPRD) to address relevant epidemiological questions.
  • Intervention studies of devices and the development of new models of outcome in osteoarthritis.
  • Investigating and predicting long-term outcomes in patients with JIA and RA including pain, quality of life, and worker-productivity loss.
  • Investigating the pathophysiology, epidemiology, measurement and treatment of systemic sclerosis and primary Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Using e-health data to investigate changes in disease activity over time.
  • Investigating adherence to treatment in patients with RA.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    72-96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MPhil
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
+44 (0)161 275 5608