PhD Studentship - Arrival of a Sibling: Mother-Child Adjustment during Family Transition

University of Sussex - School of Pschology

Project title: Arrival of a Sibling: Mother-Child Adjustment during Family Transition

Supervisor:  Dr Alison Pike (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

Welcoming a second child into the family is an emotionally intense time, and often coincides with toddler tantrums from the first-born, sleep deprivation for parents, and a multiplying of the complexities of family relationships once children are equal in number to parents. This transition from a family of 3 to a family of 4 is almost universally stressful, at least in the short-term. Such transitions can reveal important patterns of risk and resilience within families. This project seeks to describe the diversity of family experiences across the transition to siblinghood, and in particular to answer three inter-related questions. 1) How are common toddler-stage difficulties in the areas of sleep, eating, and disruptive behaviours exacerbated or ameliorated in the transition to siblinghood? 2) How do mother-older sibling interactions change with the arrival of a newborn? 3) Under what circumstances do sibling interactions begin their life-long course on a positive trajectory?

By focusing on difficulties that are most salient to parents – sleep, eating, and disruptive behaviour – the research will take a public health perspective. Rather than concentrating on childhood disorders or moderate to severe family dysfunction, the research will highlight low-level difficulties. Focusing on these common problems can inform low-intensity interventions designed to prevent more serious difficulties from emerging.

Applications should be made by Tuesday 10th January 2017. The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £14,296 per annum.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate ( Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility, please check the ESRC guidelines.
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

  • Application procedures can be found here.
  • Please submit an online application for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme, for September 2017 entry through this link.
  • State in the ‘Funding information’ section of your online application that you are applying for this studentship, giving the title of the project as above and mention the supervisor, Dr Alison Pike, in the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section.
  • The proposed source of funding should be specified as 'ESRC or School of Psychology’.

Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines your current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Two academic references.

For queries with respect to the application process please send an email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:         

To discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr Alison Pike:

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South East England