PhD Studentship: Evaluating the Impact of a Programme Aiming to Improve Aspirations and Attainment in Schools

University of Surrey

Studentship description

The Department of Widening Participation and Outreach (WP&O) at the University of Surrey provides a high quality, sustained and coherent programme of exciting and informative activities which aim to raise the aspirations and attainment of students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups who have the potential to progress into higher education (HE). It provides this alongside impartial HE related information, advice and guidance to ensure young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to make informed choices about their future educational pathways.

This fully-funded PhD opportunity is available to evaluate ongoing and future WP&O work with King’s College, Guildford with a particular focus on its effects on pupils’ future aspirations, attitudes, attainment and engagement with education. In February 2017 the University launched a partnership with King’s College, a key part of which is the placement of a WP Coordinator in the school who is responsible for embedding a programme of aspiration and attainment raising activity. Kings College is a vibrant and rapidly improving secondary school in Park Barn, Guildford, with a community focus. The school is part of the Guildford Education Partnership (GEP) and is passionate about lifelong learning opportunities that prepare students for the future.

The project will be a collaboration between the Department of Widening Participation and the School of Psychology. The PhD student will take a lead in designing the study and developing the evaluation protocol.  The student will be located and supervised by staff in the School of Psychology and the Widening Participation and Outreach Department.

The project will be supervised by Dr Terry Ng-Knight (School of Psychology), Dr Debbie Gooch (School of Psychology), Katherine Sela (Department of Widening Participation) and Dr Naomi Winstone (Department of Higher Education).

Entry Requirements


  • A BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology, Education, Sociology or related subject.
  • Interest in Educational and Developmental Psychology.
  • Good team working skills.
  • Good oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a secondary school setting, including meeting the criteria for DBS clearance.


  • Experience of working with young people in an educational or research setting.
  • A Master’s degree (or equivalent training) in Psychology or Research Methods.
  • Knowledge of Widening Participation.
  • Knowledge of the UK education system.


This studentship is fully funded and the fund covers the University of Surrey registration fee, doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,553p.a. for 2017/18). Funding will be available for attending conferences where relevant. Due to funding constraints only UK/EU application can be considered. This is a full time PhD project, which is planned for a period of three years from October 2018.  Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.

How to apply

Applications should be made via the School of Psychology programme page.

Please state the project title and supervisors clearly on all applications – preferably as part of the project title.

And also make sure to include a CV and statement explaining how your experience and ambition relate to this studentship.

For any application queries or an informal chat, please contact:Dr Terry Ng-Knight:, 01483 683971,

Dr Debbie Gooch:, 01483 688826,

Katherine Sela:, 01483 689878.

Closing date for applications: 30th April 2018.

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