The University of Westminster is pleased to offer a Studentship in Psychology/ Neuroscience for prospective PhD students starting in September 2020.

Located in the heart of London and based within the School of Social Sciences, Psychology has an active research culture to which our well-established and vibrant doctoral research programme makes a vital contribution.

Applications are invited for the following award, which is tenable for up to three years for full-time study*:

One fee waiver** (Home/EU rate) PLUS annual stipend (currently £17,285 per year) for three years (linked to UKRI rates, London weighting included)

Please note that while overseas fee paying students may apply, the fee waived would be at the home/EU rate and successful applicants will need to pay the difference in the tuition fee if assessed as overseas.

We are looking for a high-quality prospective doctoral student who will contribute to one of the core areas of research within the School by developing one of the projects below. We recommend you discuss your proposal with the named Director of Studies in the list of projects below before submitting.

Why do individuals spread disinformation on social media? (Prof Tom Buchanan: [email protected])

Disinformation is false information created and spread with the explicit intention of causing harm, or for some kind of political or personal gain. It is rife in social media, and is seen as a significant problem. Much of its spread can be attributed not to the actions of those who initially create it, but to the actions of individual social media users who encounter it, then choose to spread it further. They do this by sharing or otherwise interacting with it. This PhD project will focus on understanding the characteristics and motivations of such individuals, who extend the ‘organic reach’ of disinformation, as well as evaluating the impact that social media disinformation has on intergroup relations.

Giving voice to chatbots in personalised healthcare (Dr Tom Nadarzynski: [email protected])

Patients can now access reliable health advice from home via automated virtual assistants or chatbots. Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are increasingly used to aid diagnosis, ease access to health services and to supplement the work of health care professionals. While research interest in therapeutic AI assistants for advice on a range of health conditions is increasing, it is not clear what chatbot characteristics, eg voice or digital personality, patients would prefer. This PhD project will investigate users’ reactions to voiced chatbots for medical applications with the aim of understanding how best to maximise usability and efficacy.

Understanding Bystander Interventions for Suicides at Railway Locations Using CCTV Footage (Dr Jay-Marie MacKenzie: [email protected])

The project will utilise CCTV footage to understand bystander interventions into suicide at railway locations. In particular, the focus will be on understanding what leads to a successful bystander intervention and how this can be used to inform suicide prevention. This project aims to generate new insights into how rail suicides can be prevented by third party interventions (involving a range of staff groups and members of the public) at rail locations.

How do we decide: The psychology of the swing voter (Dr Christina Moutsiana: [email protected])

The proposed work will apply insights from cognitive psychology and neuroeconomics to understand real world political decision making. In particular, it will focus on identifying the candidate cognitive processes underpinning the ‘swing voter’. The swing voter presents an interesting psychological phenomenon whereby instead of having a strong political allegiance an individual, in a bipartisan system, votes across party lines. Work in this area highlights this to be a psychological predisposition rather than a characteristic belonging to a defined demographic or social group (Mayer, 2008). This project aims to characterize the cognitive profile of swing voters, explore the influence of factors such as emotion and motivation on our choices and expectations, and the effects of preference change paradigms.

A mixed methods approach to understanding the utility of social prescribing green health programmes (Dr Nina Smyth: [email protected])

The programme of work will use mixed methods to understand the utility of social prescribing Green Exercise (GE) programmes in improving health and wellbeing. Specifically, it will (i) examine the effectiveness of improving wellbeing and health and the underpinning physiological pathways; and (ii) capture in-depth accounts of the impact of GE programmes on individual’s daily lives. The project will also seek to better understand the social prescribing referral pathways to promote the efficacy of social prescribing GE initiatives in improving health and wellbeing.

For general enquiries about being a PhD student in psychology, please contact [email protected].

Entry requirements and how to apply

Candidates should normally have a minimum classification of 2.1 in their Bachelor Degree or equivalent, which must be in Psychology or a closely-related discipline, and preferably a Masters degree. Applicants whose secondary level education has not been conducted in the medium of English should also demonstrate evidence of appropriate English language proficiency normally defined as IELTS: 6.5 (overall score with not less than 6.0 in any of the individual elements).

Read more about our entry requirements for research degrees and information on how to apply.

Please follow the below link to apply for the programme.

Apply nowApply for MPhil/PhD Psychology

Please note that the UCAS site will always state MPhil (as the upgrade to PhD comes during the second year of the programme upon successful progression).

The closing date for applications is 5pm on 17 April 2020. Interviews will be held on 2 June 2020. The Studentship title is 'Psychology Research Studentship'.

* Minimum full-time enrolment before submission is 33 months.

** Fee waivers are in place for the three-year studentship. Following that there is a six month no fee period for writing up. Should a researcher not have submitted by the end of the no fee period then a £1,500 fee is applicable.