MRes Interdisciplinary Excellence Award: 'Exploring the Relationship of the Digital Self to the Real Self: A Qualitative Investigation of Young People's Interactions with Social Media and their Impact on Body Image'

University of Strathclyde

The award consists of a full fee waiver of £4,260 and can be offered full time (12 months) or part time (24 months). The award is available for UK and EU citizens only. Prospective students must have a first-class honours degree and be intending to pursue a PhD. Applicants may come from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, such as media, communication or journalism; marketing, consumer behaviour or related business disciplines; health sciences such as health psychology, nutrition, dietetics, mental health. Some experience with qualitative research is a plus. The successful candidate should have undertaken an individual dissertation research project as part of a previous degree (undergraduate or previous masters).  

Project Summary

The project will be a qualitative investigation of young people’s interactions with social media and their impact on body image. 

This research project seeks to understand the drivers of the negative relationship between social media and body image by exploring how young adults navigate social media across various platforms. It responds to a gap identified in recent studies that while there are established correlations between social media use and negative body image, there is little understanding of the underlying reasons and processes, which underpin these relationships, caused by an overall scarcity of qualitative data.

Research Questions

1) What social media platforms do young people use regularly and what are their motivations for using each platform?

2) How do platforms differ in terms of motivations and behaviours?

3) What behaviours do young people engage in on each platform, which may affect their body image (e.g. image manipulation, commenting on photos, etc.)?

4) What are the meanings and associations behind the behaviours on different platforms and how do these lead to understandings of body image?

5) What is the role of one’s own social network in perpetuating or challenging behaviours, which may affect body image?

6) How do men and women differ on the above dimensions?


Dr Petya Eckler (Humanities) is the main supervisor. Eckler is deeply engaged in the topic of body image and social media via academic research and publications, numerous knowledge exchange activities, strategic partnerships with the third sector, NHS and individuals, and an ongoing impact case study for REF2020.

The second supervisor is Dr Andrea Tonner (Business School – Marketing), who has published on the labour of social media and food culture. Her expertise in qualitative research and digital ethnography will be invaluable for this project.

Contact details

Dr Petya Eckler (

Dr Andrea Tonner (

To apply

  • Candidates who wish to be considered for one of the awards should write a personal statement of 500 words outlining their interest in, and suitability for, the relevant project; and a CV outlining their academic achievements. Submit the statement and CV as an email attachment to and by the closing date, and write ‘MRes Interdisciplinary Excellence Awards’ in the subject line.
  • You must also arrange for two academic references to be sent, by the closing date, to and
  • Applicants may not hold another award in combination with this bursary.

Closing date: Friday 06 July 2018 (midnight)

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