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PhD Opportunities

PhD opportunities in the School of Social Sciences

There are currently funded PhD opportunities in the following areas. For further information, contact the named staff below.

Funded PhD Opportunities

The School of Social Sciences is seeking to recruit a new cohort to undertake research in a number of key areas. The funding consists of a tax-free stipend paid monthly and has a current value £15,609 per annum. The bursary is renewable annually for up to 36 months in total, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD research.

Successful applicants for our funded PhD studentships will receive a tax-free research stipend that tracks UK Research Council rates (currently £15,609) and a fee waiver to the value of Home student PhD fees (currently £4,500).  All applicants will receive the same stipend irrespective of fee status, however only Home fees will be covered and non-Home fee status applicants will be required to meet the difference in fee costs from their own funds.

You must upload your Research Proposal to your application.  Please ensure you include the Project Number and Title on your Research Proposal and upload it in place of the Personal Statement. We are not able to consider incomplete Applications.  Details of how to apply and what is required in a Research Proposal can be found here. 

The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Monday 31 May 2021

If you have any queries on the application process please contact the BLSS Doctoral Research College -

Title: The roles of emotion differentiation and self-compassion in the association between autistic traits and anxious/depressive symptomatology

Ref Number: 1

School: Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences

Supervisory Team: Dr John Galvin, Dr Kyle Brown, Dr Atiya Kamal

This project will examine the phenomenon of emotion differentiation within the context of self-compassion and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Emotion differentiation refers to the ability to make fine-grained, nuanced distinctions between similar emotions. Emotions are experienced by some individuals in a granular manner and described using discrete emotional terms (e.g., ‘worried’, ‘afraid’ or ‘upset’), whereas for other people, emotions are more abstract and described in more general terms (e.g., ‘good’ and ‘bad’). Individuals in the former category would be considered to have high emotion differentiation, whereas individuals in the latter category are considered to have low emotion differentiation. Low emotion differentiation is known to be linked with poor mental health.

The successful candidate will employ quantitative research methods to explore the role of emotion differentiation and self-compassion in the association between autistic traits and anxious/depressive symptomatology in general population samples. The project will build and expand on recent research conducted by Dr John Galvin and collaborators.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - Ref 1 CIS SS The Roles of Emotion Differentiation and Self-compassion

Contact information:

Dr John Galvin


Title: An EEG and computational modelling investigation into cultural differences in visual perceptual learning

Ref Number: 4

School: Social Sciences

Supervisory Team: Professor Eirini Mavritsaki, Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas, Professor Maxine Lintern, Professor Zoe Kourtzi (University of Cambridge), Stephanie Chua

Visual perceptual learning (VPL) refers to the acquisition of visual skills through training which improves our ability to detect useful information in cluttered scenes. Individualism and independence in Western cultures have been associated with differential processing and attentional styles. This research will be based on understanding cross-cultural differences on VPL using EEG and computational modelling work. The ideal applicant should have a good first degree in Psychology/Computer Science. Previous experience in conducting neuropsychological experiments and/or computational modelling work will be highly desirable.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - Ref 4 CIS SS An EEG and computational modelling investigation into cultural differences

Contact information:

Prof. Eirini Mavritsaki

0121 3316361

Title: Intersectionality in Practice? Gender, Race and Sexual Orientation in higher education equality accreditation schemes

Ref Number: 14

School:  Social Sciences

Supervisory Team:

Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas, Dr Lesley Storey, Professor Geraldine Lee-Treweek

We are seeking a PhD candidate to explore synergies and conflicts between three flagship equalities accreditation systems for staff in the higher education sector: the Athena SWAN Charter; the Race Equality Charter and the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme. Using predominantly qualitative research methods, the PhD will investigate to what extent separate equalities agendas pursued within the same institutional space can meaningfully address intersecting inequalities and privileges of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation in a post-pandemic context.  Research findings will be used to facilitate and encourage dialogue between key stakeholders.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - Ref 14 CIS SS Intersectionality in Practice Gender, Race and Sexual Orientation

Applicant Requirements:

  • A minimum of 2.1 UK UG degree in a relevant subject (eg sociology, education, psychology, organisational studies) or the overseas equivalent
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Interest in higher education and equality, diversity and inclusion issues.

Contact information:

Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas

Title: Investigating the impact of clinical ethical decision making in healthcare students and professionals to inform interventions in education, training, and professional practice to improve health and wellbeing

Ref Number: 9

School: Social Science/Psychology

Supervisory Team: Dr Kathrina Connabeer, Dr Helen Egan, Dr Deborah Wallis, Karen McGowan

Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship exploring the impact of clinical ethical decision making on psychological health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals and students. The area for investigation focuses on factors surrounding ethical decision making in clinical settings such as moral or ethical dilemmas. This research will include investigation of coping mechanisms, compassion and self-compassion and health behaviours and how these may impact on the prevalence and risk of developing adverse psychological outcomes. The findings from this project will inform the design of interventions to reduce the risk of workplace stress due to experiencing ethical dilemmas in clinical settings.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - Ref 9 CIS SS Investigating the impact of clinical ethical decision making in healthcare students

Contact information:

Dr Kathrina Connabeer