PhD Studentship in Psychology: A Personality and Social Psychological Approach to Autism Spectrum Disorder

University of Bath - Department of Psychology

The University of Bath (Department of Psychology) is pleased to offer a PhD project starting in October 2018, supervised by Dr Punit Shah & Professor Mitchell Callan

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by social-communicative difficulties and restrictive behaviours. Most ASD research has focused on biological and cognitive approaches to explain autistic symptomatology. However, there is an ongoing need to account for important individual differences (e.g., in personality) – often disregarded as ‘statistical noise’ – to help understand and manage ASD. To address these issues, the student will complete an interdisciplinary PhD through publication of research articles (see under the supervision of experts in cognitive, social, and personality psychology.

This will begin with reviewing ASD ‘through the lens’ of personality and social psychology (Proposed Articles 1 & 2) leading to new experiments on typical/atypical social behaviour (Articles 3 to 5). This will, for example, involve examination of traditional ‘personality tests’ in ASD to establish their suitability for use in future research in this population. Together, this project aims to create a novel approach to conceptualising ASD, leading to new, person-centred, applications to assist adults with this condition (Article 6). The student will also be able to adapt the research in line with their interests.

The articles will be submitted to general psychology and specialised autism journals. The research will be conducted with, and include lab visits to, academic partners in Cambridge and the Institute of Psychiatry (King's College London). The project will also be conducted within nationwide frameworks for autism research (e.g., AUTISTICA's new 'Discover' framework) and with the National Autistic Society's Student Support Services.

The successful applicant will be supported in applying for studentship funding provided by the University of Bath and/or the ESRC. Full studentships cover UK tuition fees and provide approx. £14,553 p.a. in living costs for 3 years. Students also receive a personal allowance for additional training costs and conference attendance, and can apply for further funding to pursue fieldwork, academic exchange, and collaboration with partner organisations. Successful applicants will acquire a set of skills that will equip them for high-profile careers in academia or other organisations, and further study (e.g., the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology)

Applicants with relevant undergraduate level or Master’s qualifications are welcome to apply. Studentships are open to UK and EU citizens on a full-time or part-time basis.

What to do next

Please contact Dr Punit Shah ( with a CV to express your interest in applying for this studentship and find out more. Application is via A research proposal is not required at this preliminary stage.

Please submit your application by Friday 19th January. Note that this date is earlier than the 30th Jan 2018 deadline set by the University of Bath for studentship applications, and will enable the successful applicant to be supported in developing a research proposal.

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South West England