Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be particularly keen to supervise PhD candidates who wish to pursue clinical or medical education projects with a strong quantitative element. This could be extended to involve mixed methods projects (involving both qualitative and quantitative elements), where appropriate. Initial expressions of interest should be sent to me by email (

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Personal profile


For many years, I have served as the statistician at the University of Edinburgh responsible for providing advice on research design and statistical analysis to Year 5 undergraduate medical students enrolled on the MBChB programme.  I am also a statistics lecturer for the MBChB Year 2 module Research and Evidence-Based Medicine and play a leading role in teaching and assessment for the Year 3 intercalated honours programme BMedSci Health Sciences. I am also highly experienced, and have been proactive, in the development, and use of existing, technologies to enhance student learning in statistics, and in proposing successful funding bids to lead innovative educational projects which have attracted interest on a national and international scale through conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications.

I have conceived and managed eleven funded research and resource development projects in medical education, and statistics education and supervised and managed research staff and students through various spin-off projects. Relatedly, I continue to hold a very long-standing commitment to identifying and addressing evidence-based needs for statistical learning throughout the Edinburgh MBChB and beyond. My research background also includes supervising and collaborating in clinical research projects across a wide range of clinical fields in addition to leading projects in statistics and informatics.

I have served as an invited speaker and chair at a range of local national and international events relating to learning and teaching in higher education and I organised the Annual Meeting for Teachers of Statistics in Medicine and Allied Health Sciences in 2008 and 2018. I use my research to promote curriculum innovation and the enhancement of student learning, especially in statistics, and have published widely in the fields of education, medicine, philosophy, and statistical methodology for the quality evaluation of educational assessments.

I proposed and organized the 2012 Royal Statistical Society (RSS) interdisciplinary debate Randomized controlled trials in medical research - gold standard or unhealthy fixation? I am also the editor of a book in progress for instructing medical educators on the teaching of randomised controlled trials and an editor of the Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice special issue Innovations and challenges in the teaching of statistics to non-specialists

Currently, I am Vice Chair of the Teaching Statistics Section of the Royal Statistical Society, which has a focus on promoting teaching excellence in statistics education, including in higher education and professional training.



Within the MBChB1 curriculum:


  • Lecturer for MBChB Year 2 Research and Evidence-Based Medicine Module (2021 - )
  • Statistics lead and Course Organiser for MBChB Year 3 BMedSci programme (2018 - )
  • Member of the Board of Examiners for the MBChB Year 3 BMedSci programme (2018 - )
  • Author of statistics open access WordPress site StatsforMedics (2016 - )
  • Member of the Year 4 SSC (Student-Selected Components) Exam Sub-Board (2005 - 2015)
  • Contributor to the Year 4 OSCA (Online System for Clinical Assessment): 2005 – 2015
  • Director of Studies/Personal Tutor for undergraduate medical students from Years 1 – 5 (September 2006 - August 2015); Early Year Guide for Year 1 undergraduate medical students (September 2022 - June 2023)
  • Marker for undergraduate MBChB course Epidemiology and Statistics (2004-2012)
  • Occasional marker for Student Selected Component projects
  • Author of one-to-one statistics appointments system and supporting online resources for students engaged in dissertation research (2004 - )


  • External Examiner for the BMedSci programme, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (October 2012 - August 2016)

Undergraduate research project supervision

  • Year 2 Student-Selected Component Project Cardiovascular health measures at our
    fingertips: Improving the efficiency of clinical decision making through a futuristic wiki [continuation of previous project] (Holly A Steiger, Eleanor O Kerr, Natasha K Longhurst, Kathryn Hill, Salim Hanafi and Thomas Zhang (Oct 2021 - May 2022)
  • Peer-Assisted Learning SSC5b project in enhancing student learning experiences through review of the WordPress site StatsforMedics. (Kyle Bennett, Oct 2016 - April 2017)
  • A questionnaire-based survey of undergraduate medical assessments in the UK (Lim Ming Han, October 2013 - January 2014)
  • Cardiovascular health measurement scales at our finger-tips: improving the efficiency of clinical decision making through a futuristic Wiki (Liu Zhaobo, summer 2012, funded by Wellcome trust)
  • What should medical educators tell undergraduate medical students about the role of alternative medicine in cancer therapy? - A critical review of published research (Mark Hannen, summer 2013, funded by University of Edinburgh CMVM2)
  • A questionnaire-based survey of undergraduate medical assessments in the UK (Lim Ming Han, October 2013 - January 2014)
  1. At the University of Edinburgh, successful completion of the undergraduate medical degree programme leads to conferment of the professional award of MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery/Chirurgery).
  2. 'CMVM denotes 'College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine'.


  • Course Organizer for the  Usher Institute Master of Public Health course Introduction to Systematic Reviews (2018 - 2020)
  • Personal tutor for students enrolled on Usher Institute Master of Public Health programme (October 2016 - )
  • Tutor on the international MSc/Dip/Cert Course in Clinical Management of Pain (2006, 2007)
  • Dissertation marker for Masters students on MSc in Public Health programme (2005, 2006, 2018)


  • Module Organizer and Lecturer for the Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology module of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Scottish Oncology Course for SpRs (2005, 2006). One of the venues for this course was the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Postgraduate research project supervision

  • Cardiovascular health measurement scales at our fingertips: improving the efficiency of clinical decision making through a futuristic Wiki (Mingxian Yang, MSc Artificial Intelligence, Merit, 2020)
  • The Relationships between Periodontal Disease and Oral Health-Related Quality of Life in the Urban Older Population in Indonesia (Marisza Hijryana, PhD, 2020)
  • What should be taught to undergraduate medical students about the efficacy of alternative medicine in cancer therapy? A systematic review update. (Katie Hall, MSc Public Health, 2018)
  • The frequency of use of various types of reliability coefficients within medical education journals: A systematic review (Sijia Liu, MSc Statistics and Operational Research, summer 2015)
  • Comparison of the benefits of Ropinirole or Pramipexole versus those of Entacapone in the management of patients on Levodopa therapy with later intermediate stage Parkinson's disease: A systematic review (Dr Derek Kayanja, MSc Internal Medicine (ODL programme), Distinction, 2014)
  • Modern methods for detecting examiner bias in naturalistic assessment data (Jieke Chen, MSc Statistics and Operational Research, Distinction, summer 2013)


Research Interests

My principal areas of research are Medical Education and Applied Statistics. I also collaborate in and supervise research projects over a range of clinical specialties. My personal research interests fall into the categories Teaching Statistics to Medical Students and Students in the Health Sciences, Statistical Methods for Assessing the Quality of Assessment Practices, Modern Methods for Standard Setting in Medicine and the Health Sciences, Medical Statistics, Research-Teaching Linkages, Mathematical Logic and the Philosophies of Mathematics and Statistics.

Current PhD students
Iona Crofts (2023 - ), Child Life and Health, University of Edinburgh

Sandhya Marrana (2023 - ),
Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning,
University of Southern Australia

Education/Academic qualification

Mathematics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Mathematics

Mathematics, Bachelor of Science (Honours), Mathematics

External positions

Vice Chair of the Teaching Statistics Group of the Royal Statistical Society

Jun 2022 → …


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