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School of Geography

Fran Darlington

Ethnic inequalities in health: understanding the nexus between migration, deprivation change and social mobility


  • ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Centre Network Studentship (2012-2015)
  • Researcher Mobility Award, University of Leeds (2015)

PhD awarded: January 2016

Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?

Unfair differences in health are a very real problem in our society, and something which I became interested in when studying for an MSc in Social and Spatial Inequalities at the University of Sheffield. After finishing my masters, I spent some time working for a public health intelligence team in London where I saw firsthand how practitioners use evidence to inform efforts to try and address health inequalities. I wanted to do more. This led me to do my PhD  at Leeds where I worked with an outstanding team of population geographers in an extremely supportive department. The staff at Leeds was one of the main reasons I chose this University as I was able to work amongst colleagues conducting meaningful research which has a real impact on society.

What was your experience of PhD study in the School and the skills you learnt?

Being a PhD student has its ups and downs and there are certainly a few times when I wondered if I should be doing something else. But as soon as I had those thoughts I asked myself what job in the world would let me devote three whole years to learning more about something I was passionate about? The School of Geography in Leeds is a great place to spend those three years. To get through the downs of a PhD and truly enjoy the ups, you need to be working amongst a supportive and friendly research community. At Leeds, not only do you get the support of your supervisor but you also get input and advice from a Research Support Group made up of colleagues in the School. You also get support from your research cluster, the network of academics in the school who share your research interests. I was  part of the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy, and they, like all research groups in the School, are very welcoming to new PhD students, inviting you to participate in meetings and offering support whenever you need it. This research environment was one of the best things about doing a PhD at Leeds.

What is your current employment situation and longer term career aspirations

I am currently a lecturer in Health Geography at Queen Mary, University of London . In addition to teaching across a number of modules, I am continuing my research into ethnic inequalities in health alongside a broader program of research looking at determinants of migration and housing trajectories in the UK.

More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?

I loved my time at Leeds, made great by a fantastic supervisor, a welcoming research group, and a very supportive department. Without this level of support and encouragement, completing a PhD would be a truly daunting task. If you are interested in studying a PhD in geography, I would wholeheartedly recommend doing it at Leeds.