PhD Studentship: Green Exercise Interventions to Improve Mental Health: Identifying Mechanisms of Change and Theoretical Underpinnings

University of Essex - School of Health and Social Care

The Faculty of Science and Health at the University of Essex invites applications for a fully funded three-year PhD studentship in an interdisciplinary field of research. The candidate will receive £14,764 per year stipend, plus fees at the Home/EU rate for three years. Our Proficio scheme offers a generous budget of £2500 for research training and conference attendance. This exciting opportunity combines research into health and cognitive psychology with sports and exercise science and is open to all applicants with relevant backgrounds. The studenship will commence October 2018.

Title: Green Exercise interventions to improve mental health: Identifying mechanisms of change and theoretical underpinnings.

Poor mental health is the single largest cause of disability, costing the UK economy £100 billion per annum. A wide range of green exercise activities (e.g. fishing, forest walking) epitomise effective interventions to improve mental health in a variety of conditions (e.g. PTSD, anxiety) and populations (e.g. military veterans, cancer patients, youth at risk). However, to date, there is limited evidence addressing mechanisms of change to inform our understanding of why green exercise initiatives are effective for health promotion. The successful applicant will undertake research to address this gap in the literature.

You will work with a team of experienced supervisors from across the Faculty of Science and Health; Dr Leanne Andrews, Dr Jo Barton, Dr Nick Cooper and Professor Sheina Orbell. The successful applicant will be based within the School of Health and Social Care but will have access to research support, training and facilities in the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, the Centre for Brain Science and the Department of Psychology.

The applicant will be able to demonstrate their ability to write and communicate their ideas for an academic audience, evidenced by holding or expecting to obtain a Masters or a minimum upper second class (2.1) honours degree in a relevant subject. Advanced training in statistics is desirable. Applicants should be able to evidence their reasons for being interested in this research topic, preferably linking with previous experience of working in this or related areas. They should also demonstrate the ability to work under pressure and manage their own time effectively. They need to have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to form strong relationships with different research stakeholders to facilitate recruitment and data collection.

Applying for a PhD studentship

Please apply via our online application form ( and submit your CV, a covering letter which clearly states how you meet the requirements stated above, and a 1,000 word outline of a potential study, including: rationale for selecting this topic area, a summary of some key literature, study aims and possible research methods. Please include the title, as stated above, on your application form and in your covering letter and include ‘Dr Leanne Andrews’ under ‘supervisor’. You will also be required to submit degree transcripts and certificates along with two signed references on letter headed paper, one of these should be from an academic with recent experience of your work. The closing date to complete and submit your application is 18th May 2018 at 1pm. Interviews are likely to be held on 3rd July 2018 at the University of Essex (Colchester Campus).

If you would like further information please contact Dr Leanne Andrews ( or Jade D’Mello (Graduate Administrator:

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South East England