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We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in Psychology.

Research at Worcester has grown significantly in the last 10 years as the University itself has expanded. As a research student you will join a vibrant student community in our Research School and become part of our dynamic research environment.

Overview

Overview

School of Psychology

The School of Psychology has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in occupational psychology (values-based recruitment, coaching, resilience), mental health (adult and adolescent mental health, trauma, mood disorders, anxiety), social and cognitive psychology (cognitive reasoning, emotional intelligence, evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour), counselling approaches (CBT, EMDR therapy, suicide prevention), and developmental (family diversity, individual differences) and forensic psychology (intimate partner violence, international perspectives on offending). Staff can offer a wide range of expertise in relation to research methods and the full range of research interests can be seen with the supervisor details.

Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry qualifications

For MPhil

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or an approved equivalent award

or

  • Research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement.

For PhD

  • Postgraduate Masters Degree in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed programme of study

or

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in an appropriate discipline

or

  • Research or professional experience at postgraduate level which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of achievement.

International applicants

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English.

For MPhil/PhD this is an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum score of 7.0 in Written English.

Course content

What will you study?

PhD year by year

After receiving your application, we try to establish if we have the necessary expertise to supervise your project and we begin to form a supervisory team for you. This will normally consist of a Director of Studies (DoS), who will be your lead supervisor, and at least one other second supervisor, who will offer you additional support and guidance throughout your studies. If, following a successful interview, you are offered a place as a full-time student, your programme of study will look something like this:

First year

You will have submitted a draft research outline with your application. In your first six months, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal, we call this an RDB1 Proposal. You will be aided in preparing for this by engaging with a 20-credit masters level module RTP401: Developing and Managing Your Research, and by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will meet with your supervisory team for 30 hours a year and this can be face-to-face or via Skype. Students who have not taken a recent research methods module in a relevant area will normally undertake a second module in their first year, in research methods. At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will work with your supervisors on completing a progress report, which we call an RDB7.

Second year

In your second year, you will be collecting data and working on your research project, under the supervision of your supervisors through regular meetings. In your second semester you will take a module titled RTP402: Dissemination, Impact and Engagement, which will help you begin to think about these three core themes. You may at this point have research papers ready to publish and you may wish to attend conferences to present your research to other experts in your field. You will be able to apply to our Research Student Support Scheme for some funding for this purpose (LINK). Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. At Transfer (RDB2), you will submit one to two chapters of your thesis and deliver a presentation to a question panel of experienced researchers.

Third and fourth years

In your third and fourth year, you will be writing up your thesis and preparing for your viva voce examination. This is an oral exam with two external examiners and a chair. You can also request that your supervisor be present at the exam. The exam will take place after you have submitted your final thesis. After the exam, it is not unusual for the examiners to ask that some minor amendments be made to your thesis before the final award is confirmed and you will have additional time to do this. It is possible to complete the course in three years, but we have found that the majority of students do take four years to complete the course.

Part time students follow the same structure as full time students but complete the PhD over a maximum period of six years.

Pathways

Students are allocated a pathway appropriate to their research experience and background.

Students without a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 1. This means you will need to engage with all of the modules outlined above and undertake associated assignments. These modules will lead to the additional award of PG Cert in Research Methods at no additional cost.

Students with a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 2 and this will mean they will not be required to engage with the taught elements of the course to the same extent as students on Pathway 1. We do still recommend that they attend all of the workshops, for example, but they would not need to submit the associated assignments. Students on Pathway 2 may request to switch to Pathway 1 at the start of their course, with approval of their supervisory team.

Regardless of Pathway, the Researcher Development team organize a range of workshops that all students will be invited to attend.

Supervision areas

How will you be supervised?

Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.

Supervision areas

The School of Psychology has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in occupational psychology (values-based recruitment, coaching, resilience), mental health (adult and adolescent mental health, trauma, mood disorders, anxiety), social and cognitive psychology (cognitive reasoning, emotional intelligence, evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour), counselling approaches (CBT, EMDR therapy, suicide prevention), and developmental (family diversity, individual differences) and forensic psychology (intimate partner violence, international perspectives on offending). Staff can offer a wide range of expertise in relation to research methods and the full range of research interests can be seen with the supervisor details.

Some of the current projects of Psychology students include emotional intelligence in adolescence, the embodiment of the Female sporting body, psychological factors in police officers’ decision-making and cultural constructions of sexuality.

Resources

Access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and its state-of-the-art library facilities. The Psychology team at Worcester have an excellent range of resources available to support your learning and your research project, including: Mobile eye-tracker & associated laptop, 2 x static computer-mounted eye-trackers (eye-tribe eye-trackers), Psychometric test library, 3 x video recorders, 2 x digital voice recorders, 11 x Fitbits, 1 x mobile EEG, 1 x E-prime software, 7 x iPads, and 20 x callipers.

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document for the MPhil or PhD.

Supervisors

Please click on the name of the supervisor to follow a link to their webpage and find out more about their research interests and potential areas of PhD supervision. We recommend contacting a potential supervisor with your research outline before submitting a formal application, please read our guidelines for writing your research outline first.  Please only contact one supervisor. If another supervisor is better suited to your project, we will redirect your query.

Some supervisors have put forward ideas for potential PhD projects that they would be interested to supervise. These are listed below the name of the relevant supervisor. We also welcome original research proposals.

Dr Kazia Anderson 
Research specialisms: career development and success; gender and occupational context; wellbeing at work; coaching and career interventions.

Self-funded project: Understanding the “blue-light” personality: An exploration of the socio-psychological characteristics and competencies of emergency services personnel in the UK

Professor Erica Bowen 
Research specialisms: violence in intimate relationships; violence prevention; offender rehabilitation.

Professor Eleanor Bradley 
Research specialisms: adult mental health; medicines conversations (information-exchange, concordance); family input and support (shared decision making, coproduction); non-medical prescribing; qualitative research. The application of health psychology theory to mental healthcare. Current projects include the input of families to shared decision making within adult mental healthcare, an exploration of the role of motivational interviewing as a resource for prescribing professionals to enhance communication within adult mental healthcare, and defining recovery within and between adult mental healthcare services. 
Research methodologies: predominantly qualitative, with a particular interest in constructivist grounded theory.

Professor Dawn Brooker 
Research specialisms: dementia studies; clinical psychology; ageing; the interface between the experience of those affected by dementia, practitioners and researchers to ensure real knowledge exchange. Practice development, complex care, psycho-social interventions in dementia care, observational methods, quality of life and quality of care 
Research methodologies: predominantly mixed methods approaches.

Dr Sarah Davis
Research specialisms: Individual differences; emotional intelligence; child and adolescent development; personality; mental health; stress and coping; resilience; social cognition; attentional bias 
Research methodologies: Longitudinal; experimental and cross-sectional research designs; psychometric validation; quantitative statistical methods including structural equation modelling and conditional process modelling (Mediation and moderation).

Self-funded project: Emotional intelligence in bipolar disorder

Dr Rosie Erol 
Research specialisms: policing, crime reduction, violent crime, domestic abuse, vulnerability, health-related evaluations 
Research methodologies: qualitative methods, mixed and multi-methods

Dr Derek Farrell 
Research specialisms: psychological trauma; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s); child sexual abuse; clergy sexual abuse; gender-based violence; trauma capacity building; psychological first aid; EMDR Therapy; cognitive behavioural psychotherapies, mental health & severe mental illness; performance enhancement in sport; psychological interventions within humanitarian assistance programmes; clinical supervision; positive psychology.
Research methodologies: interpretative phenomenological analysis; Q Methodology; Delphi Technique; mixed methodology; psychometric evaluation and validation including statistical analysis.

Dr Daniel Farrelly
Research specialisms: evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour, in particular social and cognitive psychology. 
Research methodologies: quantitative, experimental.

Professor Elizabeth Gilchrist
Research specialisms: domestic abuse/intimate partner violence and factors associated with IPV; risk assessment - particularly with intimate partner violence; innovative interventions for intimate partner violence - again particularly with perpetrators; victim/survivors perspectives on intimate partner violence; sports interventions and desistance; international perspectives on risk, interventions and offending.

Dr Kath Gordon-Smith
Research specialisms: comorbidities (physical and psychiatric) of major mood disorders 
Research methodologies: quantitative, longitudinal mood measures in bipolar disorder.

Self-funded project: Emotional intelligence in bipolar disorder
Self-funded project: Atopic diseases in bipolar disorder

Dr Amy Grubb
Research specialisms: police psychology; policing; hostage and crisis negotiation; conflict resolution; sexual violence; rape blame attribution; rape victimology; and medico-legal responses to rape victims. 
Research methodologies: quantitative research methods; qualitative research methods; and mixed methods.

Self-funded project: Understanding the “blue-light” personality: An exploration of the socio-psychological characteristics and competencies of emergency services personnel in the UK

Dr Di Haigney
Research specialism: research methods and analytical techniques for data 
Research methodologies: quantitative.

Dr Gillian Harrop
Research specialisms: violence and sexual violence; false allegations; domestic abuse; police investigation.

Self-funded project: Bystander Intervention

Matthew Jellis
Research specialisms: occupational/business psychology; personnel selection, assessment and training; organisational change and development. 
Research methodologies: quantitative studies in applied settings, including the analysis of archive data; qualitative; mixed and multi-methods

Self-funded project:Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health & Wellbeing

Professor Lisa Jones
Research specialisms: aetiology of major mood disorders (including bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis). 
Research methodologies: quantitative, longitudinal measures in major mood disorders.

Self-funded project: Emotional intelligence in bipolar disorder
Self-funded project: Atopic diseases in bipolar disorder

Dr Tim Jones
Research specialisms: decision making; reasoning; intimate partner violence; LGBT+ domestic violence; environmental psychology (crowding, personal space and cognitive models). 
Research methodologies: experimental, regression, mixed-methods.

Dr Béré Mahoney
Research specialisms: victimisation; the social and psychological costs of crime; sexuality and gender identity; eating behaviour; ageing and appearance concerns and beliefs about aging; individual differences. 
Research methodologies: quantitative, including the analysis of ‘Big Data’; qualitative; mixed and multi-methods

Self-funded project: ‘Positive Higher Education’: The Role of Universities in Developing Character Strengths and Wellbeing
Self-funded project: Supporting the psychological needs of parents of newborn infants diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease, using a storytelling based intervention.

Dr Gabriela Misca
Research specialisms: developmental psychology and family diversity across the life-span; military and veterans psychology; military and veteran families: parenting, couple relationships, military trauma, mental health and PTSD; child and adolescent development and mental health in the context of diverse families and child-care settings: adoption, foster care, intercountry adoption, global surrogacy, same-sex parenting. Adverse early experiences, parenting, attachment and the intergenerational transmission of risk. 
Research methodologies: quantitative (including longitudinal approaches to cohort data), qualitative (including narrative approaches) and mixed methods; participatory research methods with children and adults; systematic review approaches, and intervention evaluation.

Dr Blaire Morgan
Research specialisms: psycholinguistics, education, positive psychology, social psychology, moral education and virtue ethics. 
Research methodologies: quantitative, mixed methods.

Self-funded project: ‘Positive Higher Education’: The Role of Universities in Developing Character Strengths and Wellbeing

Dr Kate Muse
Research specialisms: cognitive-behavioural interventions; mindfulness-based interventions; anxiety disorders (especially panic disorder and health anxiety); emotional mental imagery; therapist competence; therapist supervision and skills training. 
Research methodologies: qualitative (interviews, IPA, thematic analysis, grounded theory), meta-synthesis, mixed-methods approaches, systematic reviews, scale development, case series, randomised controlled trials.

Dr Helen Nicholas
Research specialisms: counselling psychology, trauma, anxiety, older adults, neurodegenerative diseases (dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease), coaching psychology, ethical and professional issues in psychology. 
Research methodologies: qualitative.

Dr Laura Rees-Davies
Research specialisms: eating disorders (Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa); psychology of coaching and mentoring; play, ICT and emotional development. 
Research methodologies: qualitative methods, evidence-based practice.

Dr Helen Scott
Research specialisms: occupational psychology; empathy and emotional intelligence; resilience; training and development interventions to support employee psychological wellbeing.
Research methodologies: quantitative, mixed methods.

Self-funded project: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

Dr Holly Taylor-Dunn
Research specialisms: policing; domestic and sexual violence; stalking and harassment.
Research methodologies: realistic evaluation, thematic analysis.

Self-funded project: Bystander Intervention

Dr Elaine Walklet
Research specialisms: relationships between physical and mental health, the psychological impact of illness and long-term conditions, behaviour change and adherence, self-management interventions, and stress in healthcare staff. 
Research methodologies: qualitative, mixed methods.

 

Careers

Where could it take you?

All research students must engage with the Researcher Development Programme (RDP), a core curriculum of training and development which provides them with the general and subject-specific knowledge, skills and behaviours to support them in the completion of their research degree. At the beginning of an MPhil/PhD degree, you will be allocated to one of two pathways depending on your experience and knowledge as a researcher. This will determine which elements of the programme are core and which are optional. At the beginning of the programme you will be required to complete a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) in conjunction with your Director of Studies. This identifies the training that you will need to undertake, in addition to the mandatory elements of RDP, in order to complete the programme and to become an effective researcher. This TNA is revisited at the beginning of each subsequent academic year. All students are offered a wide range of optional training workshops throughout the programme focused around the following themes:

  • Developing and Managing Your Research
  • Dissemination, Impact, Engagement
  • Completing Your Research Degree
  • Research Methodology Master classes
  • Data Analysis
  • Research Funding
  • Wellbeing and Personal Effectiveness
  • Careers and Employability
  • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Costs

How much will it cost?

Fees

The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £105 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £169 per week (2020/21 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Additional information

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a research outline. We recommend preparing your research outline before beginning your online application. Some guidance on preparing your research outline is available here.

If your research involves working with vulnerable adults and/or children then you may be required to obtain a DBS check. There will be a small charge for this. For more information please contact research@worc.ac.uk.

We are committed to making reasonable adjustment. If you require an alternative format for making your application due to a disability, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk.

How to apply

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Research School on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk

Before you submit a full application, please contact Dr Berenice Mahoney (b.mahoney@worc.ac.uk) to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

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