PhD Studentship - Trajectories of cognitive and socio-emotional development and academic performance

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD Studentship available for September 2017

Project title: Trajectories of cognitive and socio-emotional development and academic performance

Supervisors: Prof Andy Field and Dr Darya Gaysina (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

This project will test the hypothesis that early trajectories of socio-emotional development (i.e., depression/anxiety) and cognitive development (i.e., verbal and non-verbal abilities) predict children’s academic performance. The starting assumption is that children who have recurrent socio-emotional problems and/or stable cognitive problems will show poorer academic performance, but the project also explores theoretically driven moderators of academic performance over time.

The project will use existing UK birth cohort resources (e.g., Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, ALSPAC; Millennium Cohort Study, MCS) and should not require data collection. These databases have multiple repeated measures of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, as well as neuropsychological tests of verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities and data on academic performance. Both cohorts have prospective measures on a wide range of early life experiences (e.g., parental education and SES, inter-parental and parent-child relationships) that can affect the developmental trajectories of cognitive and socio-emotional development and their association with academic performance.

The successful candidate will need to demonstrate existing excellence in statistical methods and the potential and enthusiasm to develop skills in longitudinal data analysis (Bayesian and frequentist).

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 supervisors, Prof Andy Field and Dr Darya Gaysina, 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 of the research area, existing statistical experience, and a data-analysis strategy for the project. 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 Prof Andy Field:

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