Research in the Department of Psychological Medicine
There are eight major research groups in the Department. They all have an extensive research portfolios and an established record for obtaining funding and publishing research in high impact journals. The department has a well-developed framework for helping research students to:
find the most suitable supervisors
to integrate into research groups
to develop their projects
to monitor their progress
to obtain specialist help e.g. with data analysis
to obtain pastoral care e.g. to present their data at meetings
to provide guidance with thesis and viva preparation.
All of the research groups work closely with service users, their families, and healthy volunteers i.e in relation to clinical projects. The research groups are:
Diabetes and Psychiatry
General Hospital Psychiatry
King's Centre for Military Health Research
Mental Health, Ethics and Law
Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology Laboratory & Section of Perinatal Psychiatry
Research students may conduct their postgraduate studies within one of these groups or their project may go across two groups. In some cases, it could involve research with a group elsewhere in King's, for instance, in the Centre for Neuroimaging Studies. In fact, if regulatory conditions are met, the project could involve a collaboration with a group in another university or country.
Clinical Academic Groups (CAG)
To facilitate and to fund clinical academic research, Kings Health Partners has a number of clinical academic groups. Psychological Medicine as a Department is part of the Clinical Academic Group (CAG) with the same name. This CAG within King’s Health Partners seeks to cross the divide between psychiatry and medicine.
The principal research methodologies used within the department are clinical, psychological, biological (including genetics and neuroimaging) and epidemiological. These approaches include cross sectional studies, cohort studies and randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Teaching in the Department of Psychological Medicine
In addition to research and clinical work, the department is very involved in teaching. This occurs across a wide range of programmes and specialist subject areas and in many cases is done via formal lectures.
Teaching in the department also includes structured events such as research student “showcases” (presentation of work to peers and to staff) and also debates: this means that research students develop presentation skills and become able to assess and discuss data and conclusions. These transferable skills are very important for student development both in terms of becoming “part of the dialogue of their subject area” but also as a preparation for life after their PhD.
In addition to the research associated issues described above, the teaching environment in the Department means that research students can have the opportunity to become informed on a very wide area of specialist theoretical and practical topics. For example, the Department is involved in the teaching of full time and part time Master's programmes such as the MSc in Mental Health Studies or the MSc in War & Psychiatry.
The department also hosts The Maudsley Forum, an international annual four day conference, for psychiatrists, psychologists and others interested in mental health: this gives participants the opportunity to learn about the most current advances in clinical and academic psychiatry. In addition, the department runs a series of e-interactive, popular debates on mental health issues: these attract well known speakers and are attended by service users, carers, professionals, journalists and members of the public.
Research students have access to an extensive programme of teaching related to issues such as ethics, statistics, research project design etc., and in fact, are required to attend a number of these as part of their training.
Graduate research students work closely with their supervisors and enjoy regular meetings to discuss their progress. They also liaise with other members of staff with relevant research interests and are encouraged to attend and participate in departmental research presentations and other Institute seminars. There is a full induction for new graduate students on commencing their studies. Each full-time graduate research student is allocated their own workspace and computer; facilities for part-time students can be arranged according to their needs.
What our students say
In a recent survey our PhD students reported that they have a very positive experience. On a range of measures, the scores were very gratifying:
- Professional Development - 90%
- Progress and Assessment - 90%
- Research Skills - 90%
Many factors could be contributing to the good “theme scores” seen in the student survey:
- having two (or even three) student supervisors
- robust programme approval procedures for each student
- regular and formalised monitoring of student progress
- a formal MPhil/PhD upgrade
The success of the PhD programme in the Department of Psychological Medicine is reflected in the following ways:
- several recent students were awarded King's prizes for the “best thesis”
- others have won prizes at local “showcase “ events
- some have won travel awards to attend prestigious scientific meetings
- some have won presentation awards at meetings
- some have contributed to TV documentaries
- many of the students have published several papers in high impact journals. In the last three years, the Department has published several hundred papers and in the majority of these, PhD students are either first authors or co-authors.
- several members of the Dept have been awarded College awards that recognise excellent supervision.