Gambling with the health of Londoners: how are local authorities tackling the health consequences of gambling?

Department Name:
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Supervisors names and email addresses:
1) Professor Martin McKee
2) Professor Mark Petticrew (

Funding Status:

Directly Funded Project (UK and EU Students Only)

Stipend: £17,803

Application Deadline: 21 February 2020

Interview date: 12 March 2020

3 years, full time

Project Description

Research project: Gambling and Local Authorities
The 2005 Gambling Act placed an obligation on English local authorities not only to license gambling venues but also to assess and respond to the health consequences of gambling. Long ignored by the public health community, these consequences are rising high on the policy agenda as evidence accumulates of the association between gambling and mental illness and substance abuse, where each acts on the other taking people into a downward spiral.

So far, however, those working on the public health front line have had little preparation for their responsibilities in tackling the health consequences of gambling, something that is particularly concerning as the gambling industry grows and changes. If the public health community is to mount an effective response to this pressing public health issue, it and others working within local authority need more evidence and guidance on the health consequences and approach to gambling harms in the UK. Specifically, there is a need for greater understanding of what lessons can be learned from how different local authorities approach gambling regulation, and how this is influenced by, and handled within the context of, budget cuts.

This thesis will explore the influences that shape responses to gambling regulation within local authorities in London, considering how this issue reaches the policy agenda, how local decisions are made, and how the decision-making process might be strengthened.

Methods: Qualitative interviews and document analyses

: Identify potential factors that influence approaches to gambling in London local authorities, including factors that support or impede the adoption and implementation of evidence-based practice.

: Public health, licensing and planning officers, as well as elected members from a sample of London Borough councils, will be invited to participate in semi-structured interviews. The interviews will add further depth to preliminary work undertaken by PHE (London) and London Councils on a gambling and public health guide. Approaches to gambling regulation and its prioritisation at the local level will be explored, as well as factors that support or hinder cross-sectoral working between licensing, public health, planning, and other stakeholders e.g. NHS, police and schools. Recruitment will be via email with follow-up phone calls. Findings from stakeholder interviews will be triangulated with evidence gathered from other sources, including document analyses of local policy papers, minutes of meetings, and freedom of information request, for example.

Project-specific skills and experience required:

All candidates should hold a Master’s qualification (or complete their Master’s by September 2020) in an appropriate discipline and have a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. Applicants should preferably have knowledge of the UK health and care system. All applicants are required to have excellent written and verbal communication skills. They should also be willing to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-professional teams.

Enquiries email name and address:

Professor Martin McKee (

Training opportunities
PhD students will be entitled to the full range of PhD training opportunities at their host institution. In addition, all PhD students will benefit from the training provided by the NIHR ARC North Thames Academy (The Academy). The Academy brings together PhD students from across ARC North Thames, to create a community of students training in applied health research. The Academy works alongside each host institution’s graduate training programme to equip students with the skills needed to work at the interface of academia and health services.

Our doctoral programme focuses on practical aspects of applied health research, such as the skills required to undertake research in health care and public health settings, to engage patients and the public in research, and to navigate relevant ethical and research governance approval systems. In addition, we aim to provide students with an understanding of how their work fits into current NHS structures and applied public health research environments. PhD students will be expected to attend and present at scientific meetings aimed at disseminating the findings of ARC research.

Publication and wider dissemination:
It is expected that results of the PhD research will be publishable in good quality, peer-reviewed academic journals and communicated at conferences. The research would also be expected to generate outputs tailored to applied health research, public health practitioner, and policy-making audiences.

Candidates should hold a Master’s qualification in a relevant discipline (or complete their Master’s by September 2020) and have a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. Applicants should preferably have knowledge of the UK health and care system. All applicants require excellent written and verbal communication skills and should be willing to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-professional teams.
Due to funding restrictions, applicants must be UK/EU nationals. Please refer to UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) for the criteria.

How to apply
If you have queries about potential projects or would like to discuss these in more detail, please contact the appropriate supervisors by email. In case of any difficulties in making contact, please email 

Your application should consist of:

  • A CV (to include qualifications, work experience, publications, presentations and prizes) plus contact details of two academic referees (references will be taken up for all shortlisted candidates).
  • A personal statement (300 words) describing your suitability for the proposed project including how your research experience, skills and interests relate to the topic.
  • A 1-page proposal of how you would develop the PhD project that you are applying for.

Please send your application to

Deadline: 5 January 2020
Interviews: 30 January 2020
3 years, full time
Stipend: £17,803