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Postgraduate research

PhD Opportunities

We are always keen to hear from students who are interested in studying for a PhD with us. We routinely submit projects to the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience’s central PhD studentship call and are happy to talk to prospective applicants about these. We also often have funded studentships relating to specific projects. 

In addition to funded studentships, we are also happy to hear from prospective students who would like to work with us to develop a new funding application or who may have access to funds of their own (for example via self-funding, funding from your employer or funding from some other source). At the moment, there are several projects we are interested in working up into full PhDs, which we have listed below. If any of these catch your interest, please do get in touch and we will be happy to discuss the next steps. You can either email the supervisor direct or contact our admissions tutor (Jayati Das-Munshi) for an informal chat.

Please do not feel constrained by this list, though. Staff in the department have a broad range of interests and all of our research groups are interested in hearing from potential PhD students who might like to develop a project. If you have your own idea for a project, or if you are interested in a particular topic that touches on what we do, please do get in touch with our admissions tutor (Jayati Das-Munshi).

If you are interested in pursuing a self-funded PhD with us, you should look at our information on how to apply. Please also make sure you are happy with the likely costs involved, both in terms of your tuition fees and also the costs of living in London.



Developing an evidence-based patient information source to prevent ‘electrosensitivity’

‘Electrosensitivity’ is a controversial condition in which people report symptoms following exposure to the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones, computers and electrical devices. Yet repeated double-blind experiments have produced no convincing evidence that electromagnetic fields can trigger these symptoms. Instead, psychological mechanisms including anxiety, expectations and stress may underlie the condition. In severe cases, electrosensitivity leads to a poor quality of life. In this project, we will develop an educational intervention which can be provided to people in the early stages of the condition. 

Supervisor: Dr James Rubin


Can we prevent the ‘nocebo’ effect?

Symptoms which are misattributed to a hazardous exposure or medicine given out during an emergency often complicate emergency response efforts and affect the quality of life of those affected. Of particular concern to public health officials are the symptoms that are reported when mass prophylaxis is given to patients. In this project we will test a) whether small changes to the information given out to patients can reduce their likelihood of experiencing symptoms when given a medicine and b) whether these changes affect their ability to give proper informed consent for the treatment.

Supervisor: Dr James Rubin


Cortisol and trauma in parents of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome and healthy controls

Our research has found that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents is associated with low cortisol (Rimes et al in prep). Four cross-sectional studies (Van de Putte et al., 2006; Rangel et al., 2000; Chalder et al., 2003; Rangel et al., 2005), a prospective study (Rimes et al., 2007) and a retrospective study (Fisher & Chalder, 2003) have found an association between maternal distress and fatigue in their children. The aim of this study is to explore whether mothers of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome are more likely to have experienced childhood maltreatment and are more likely to have low cortisol than healthy controls.   We also want to explore whether these mothers have more distress and or fatigue than healthy controls and whether it correlates with cortisol levels.

Supervisor: Professor Trudie Chalder


Trajectories of health behaviours and common mental disorder across the life course

Common mental disorders (CMD) are strongly associated with physical morbidity and mortality. One possible mechanism is via health-related behaviours. The objectives of this study are to derive a composite measure of health behaviours; including diet, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking and to examine trajectories of health behaviour and whether the effect of CMD on mortality is reduced when we adjust for these trajectories of health behaviour. This study will take a life-course approach, using the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, a nationally representative cohort study of all births that occurred in England, Wales and Scotland during 1-week in 1946.

Supervisor: Professor Matthew Hotopf


Depression, temporal ability and decision-making.

Depression is common and on a continuum of severity. The impact it can have on a person's abilities to decide for themselves in medical and social care remains poorly characterised. In settings such as end-of-life decision-making policy is controversial and better evidence on the impact of depression is needed. This project aims to develop a self-report measure of temporal abilities suitable for use in epidemiological research. It builds on previous work in the department of psychological medicine that models depression, temporal ability and decision-making autonomy.

Supervisor: Dr Gareth Owen


Diabetes and mental health

We have a large, dynamic and growing programme of research on the epidemiology, mechanism and consequences of depression in diabetes and developing psychological interventions to improve diabetes outcomes. We are interested in basic sciences, biological and social psychiatry. Some of the current themes that would make excellent PhD projects include:

1. The association between depression and cortisol in type 2 diabetes

2. Role of gut hormones in regulating mood

3. Risk factors for cognitive impairment in type 2 diabetes

4. Barriers to uptake of structured education in diabetes

5. E-health psychological interventions to improving glycaemic control in diabetes

6. Psychological barriers to insulin therapy and developing interventions to improve uptake.

Supervisor: Professor Khalida Ismail


Modelling depression in a dish: microglia as a potential target for the development of novel antidepressants

Supervisor: Professor Carmine Pariante


What is the effect of gentrification in a neighbourhood on mental health outcomes?

Supervisor: Dr Laura Goodwin

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