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TAnDem: Nottingham - Worcester Doctoral Training Centre

Two funded PhD studentships commencing in September 2016

The Arts and Dementia (TAnDem) Doctoral Training Centre are pleased to be advertising for two funded PhD studentships commencing in September 2016.

Four studentships have already commenced in 2015 and so the two successful candidates for the studentships advertised here will join a supportive and vibrant student body. One will be based at the University of Worcester and one at the University of Nottingham. The PhD students will all receive supervision from academics at both universities. However, the candidates will be registered at the university where the lead supervisor is employed. The PhD studentships offered in this advert are full time and will commence in September 2016.

For more information, please read the full advertisement or download a copy. To apply please complete the application form and the equal opportunities monitoring form and send together with a covering letter or email (under 500 words) explaining which studentship you are interested in and why you are applying for this.  In the email subject line please reference either TANDEM SINGING or TANDEM PLAYLIST.

Applications and queries should be directed to:

Studentship 1: The contribution of music therapy to choral singing in dementia care (based at the University of Nottingham)

This PhD studentship is intended to investigate the benefits of collaborative music making for people with dementia and their carers with a particular focus on singing. The student will also investigate how joint music making may help maintaining the wellbeing of both people with dementia and their carers.

The studentship is linked to the Chorus Research in Dementia (CHORD) study led by Dr Orii McDermott – see appendix for details. The student will design and conduct a scientifically rigorous study to evaluate the CHORD intervention. In addition to the TAnDem supervisors, Professor Justine Schneider (Nottingham) and Dr. Clare Garabedian (Worcester), Dr Orii McDermott will advise on the project. The candidate does not have to be a music therapist but must have practical experience of working with people with dementia using music.

Closing date: MAY 9th 12.00 GMT. Interviews will be held in Nottingham on JUNE 7/8th 2016.Informal enquiries should be addressed to

Studentship 2: Assessing the potential for personalised playlists in dementia care to assist in quality of life and communication (based at the University of Worcester)

Personalised playlists are a popular and seemingly straightforward means of bringing people living with dementia a way of accessing personally meaningful music. Many people with dementia maintain the ability to sing along to and remember music and anecdotally this is well recognised to evoke enjoyment and happiness even in advanced dementia. Additionally, listening together to music can evoke shared memories between family members, friends, or care staff, thus enhancing shared communication and engagement. The mechanisms by which this happens, and understanding the benefits and pitfalls of this approach, have received little research attention.

Utilising a qualitative approach, this PhD will investigate how personalised playlists impact on people living with dementia at different stages, in different environmental contexts, including within different family and support relationships. Some questions which could be tackled include: What are the perceived benefits and challenges of utilising personalised play-lists from the perspective of people living with dementia, their families and the services that support them? Does this change according to when playlists are introduced across the course of dementia? How can their benefits be maximised in different service settings e.g. in domiciliary care and care homes? The Director of Studies will be Prof Eleanor Bradley (Worcester), Co-supervisor to be confirmed (Nottingham), PhD advisor Dr Claire Garabedian (Worcester). 

 Closing date: MAY 9th 12.00 GMT. Interviews will be held in Nottingham on JUNE 7/8th 2016.Informal enquiries should be directed to Claire Garabedian or

About the Doctoral Training Centre

In early 2015 the Alzheimer’s Society funded eight Doctoral Training Centres in various aspects of dementia to help to increase research knowledge and capacity in this vital area. A partnership between the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester and the Centre for Dementia, University of Nottingham is one of the successful Centres. TAnDem is the name of the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) that has been funded to focus on studying The Arts and Dementia.

Why Arts and Dementia?

Without greater knowledge and evidence about the arts and dementia, people living with dementia and their families cannot make informed choices. It is difficult for service providers and artists to help people with dementia and their carers to live well with dementia, as commissioners cannot justify expenditure on arts-as-interventions. The TAnDem PhD studentships are designed to remedy this gap in scientific knowledge and understanding. All of the proposed studentships will have a common focus on advancing knowledge about the impact of engagement with creative activities on people with all stages of dementia and on their family and professional carers. Please see below for details of topics and supervisors. One unique aspect of TAnDem is that it offers the complementary resources of two universities to all the PhD candidates.

About the PhD projects

The four PhDs starting this year are:

  • Evaluating Arts Interventions in Residential Homes (Imagine)
  • An International Taxonomy of Arts Interventions for People Living with Dementia
  • Evaluating the Impact of Arts-based Interventions and Activities in Dementia: methodological challenges and solutions
  • Tailoring Arts Interventions to Individual Needs in Dementia: delivery of arts activities and individual difference (what works for whom)

Two additional studentships will be advertised in 2016.


TAnDem will be organising a number of events in the future. Please bookmark this page so that you can easily revisit and check for new events.

The Academic Environment

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a global reputation that has yielded major social science breakthroughs in areas such as international human rights law; geospatial technology; ethical business practices; globalisation and economic policy; and citizenship and transnational migration. Ranked 8th on research power among UK universities in REF2014, it currently hosts 19 doctoral training centres with more than 400 places in total. These range from subject-specific DTCs with a handful of PhD candidates to larger centres accredited by the research councils, including the new Midlands3Cities Arts and Humanities Research Council partnership which involves six universities and offers a total of 82 places.

The Centre for Dementia Research is based at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), University of Nottingham, which is a partnership between Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham. Led by Professor Martin Orrell, the IMH is the UK’s prime location for inter-disciplinary research in the mental health field (psychiatry, psychology, sociology, business, law, nursing, economics and statistics). The Centre for Dementia Research is the Institute’s newest research unit, headed by Professor Tom Dening. The Centre brings together dementia-related research and service development activities that involve about 30 Nottingham academics, and include several arts-related projects. 

The University of Worcester has a growing commitment to research. It was one of the most improved Universities for research in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014). It has invested significantly in developing its research environment and infrastructure over the last 5 years and this has facilitated a five-fold increase in its research income over that period, a continued growth in its research student numbers and the development of a number of areas of research excellence of which Dementia Studies is perhaps the most prominent example. 

The Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) was established as a Research Centre at the University of Worcester in 2009 under the leadership of Professor Dawn Brooker. It has established an international reputation as a centre of innovation and excellence in dementia research and education and policy advice. From its inception, ADS has focused on working proactively at the interface between the experience of those living with dementia, those developing care practice and those undertaking research to ensure that there is real knowledge transfer and translation between these different world-views. ADS brings multi-professional expertise in clinical, social and health psychology, nursing, social work, gerontology, occupational therapy, policy analysis, medicine, primary care and psychiatry numbering about 30 staff to this task.