PhD Studentship: Pre-morbid school functioning and trajectories of mental health and social disability in adolescence and young adulthood.

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2017

Project title: Pre-morbid school functioning and trajectories of mental health and social disability in adolescence and young adulthood. 

Supervisors: Prof. David Fowler and Prof. Robin Banerjee (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

The supervisors currently lead a program of research examining the antecedents and course of social disability in young people with or at risk of psychosis. We are currently running a major trial (PRODIGY), involving a large cohort of individuals with at-risk mental states (ARMS), that is focused on detecting and intervening in cases with severe withdrawal and mental health problems.

We have now been awarded a 4-year PhD studentship by Mental Health Research UK. The PhD research will involve tracing back all participants’ school functioning, as recorded in the National Pupil Database, and adding a new matched comparison group. 

The successful candidate will examine the antecedents of social disability and ARMS in terms of functioning at primary and secondary school, drawing upon centrally collated data on attendance, attainment, exclusions from school, and special educational need (both in terms of type and severity of need). Because we will also be collecting new longitudinal data on social disability and ARMS in our sample, the candidate will also analyse if and how patterns of early school functioning can help us explain and predict individuals’ trajectories (including response to treatment).

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 up to four 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 Prof. Fowler and Prof. Banerjee in the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section.
  • The source of funding should be specified as ‘Mental Health Research UK’.

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 Prof. Fowler:

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South East England