Identifying psychological mechanisms which promote resilience post-trauma.
This PhD project will explore the mechanisms between the trauma and resilience relationship. We are interested in the process of flexible self-regulation, which is a multi-component concept consisting of proficiency in context sensitivity, emotional regulation and having a flexible mindset (see Bonanno et al., 2004; Bonanno & Burton, 2013; Cheng, Lau, & Chan, 2014; Kashdan & Rottenberg, 2010). The population of interest is those who have experienced traumatic events and remained resilient, for example those who have worked as critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic or those who have experienced occupational related traumas such as emergency responders, police, fire, and/or military. Prospective students can specify their choice of population in their proposal in addition to outlining a plan for access to the population. This will be a mixed methods study requiring a systematic review of the literature, and qualitative and quantitative studies.
Posttraumatic stress disorder was incorporated into the DSM-3 in 1982. An extensive body of literature has since focused on trauma experiences and their corresponding human responses. Of note, the predominant focus has been on negative psychological outcomes post-trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but also a range of other, often comorbid, psychopathological disorders such as depression and anxiety. The key question being: why is it that when people experience negative life events, they become psychologically unwell? This is an interesting focus given that population estimates of trauma exposure are exceptionally high in comparison to those who go on to develop a posttraumatic stress outcome. Conversely, epidemiological surveys have reported that even when we consider countries with the highest rate of PTSD within the population, this rate equates to approximately 8.8% (this is the rate of PTSD in NI as recorded by the Northern Ireland Study for Health and Stress which was part of the World Mental Health Consortium). So in reality more people who experience trauma remain psychologically well than those who become psychologically unwell. This is referred to as resilience. This concept has arguably received less attention in the academic literature compared to PTSD. In fact, as recent as the early nighties the concept was ignored, denied or at best regarded as a rare form of ‘exceptional emotional strength’ (Casella & Motta, 1990; Shedler, Mayman, & Manis, 1993). However, as the research on posttraumatic responding broadened alongside the development and application of advanced statistical modelling techniques, the trauma field started to uncover genuine resilience in the form of a proportion of people reporting stable, healthy levels of psychological functioning in the aftermath of traumatic events (Bonanno, 2004, 2005). In a review of 67 unique trajectory studies of psychological responding posttrauma, Galatzer-Levy, Huang, and Bonanno, (2018) confirmed that the majority outcome, with two-thirds of participants falling into this category, is indeed one of resilience. This, therefore, changes the question from: ‘Why is it that when people experience negative life events, they become psychologically unwell?’ to ‘Why is it that most people who experience traumatic life events cope so well?’
Professor Cherie Armour
Full-time: 3 years
The School of Psychology has a thriving, well-resourced and engaged PhD community that is central to its research environment. Students are strategically appointed to research projects with the express purpose of enhancing research capacity and development in prioritised areas for which the School aims to enhance world-leading research.
MODE OF STUDY / DURATION
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).
The School of Psychology has a postgraduate research community of around 50 PhD students who are very well resourced and supported in their research.
The School has made extensive material investments in infrastructure, including two computer labs and access to several suites of dedicated research labs, to support their research.
Students are a central part of the research environment of the School and participate in School-level seminars and research meetings.
Students are expected and encouraged to publish during their PhD research and are supported in doing so through their research training.
Subject-specific postgraduate modules in research design and methods are delivered as part of the PhD training portfolio to complement the generic University training and further topic-specific research training is also available.
Other opportunities exist to attract funding from non-governmental sources. Current and previous PhD sponsors include professional services firms, international Governments, charities, and technology companies. We also welcome self-funding students on a full-time or part-time basis.
The School of Psychology at Queen's ranked in the top 10 psychology departments in the UK for research intensity in REF 2014 and provides an excellent environment in which to carry out PhD research.
One distinctive aspect of the PhD experience in the School of Psychology is the high level of spontaneous peer-support, initiative, and engagement among this community of Doctoral researchers. This is valued and fostered by the School through its support of the postgraduate conference and postgraduate week activities as well as wide-ranging involvement of research students across many aspects of School life.
Our PhD community also organizes numerous social events each year that are very popular amongst both staff and students. There is a range of sources of funding available for PhD students. Every year the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DEL) funds a number of PhD students to undertake research on pre-specified topics within the School of Psychology. These topics and the names of the associated supervisors are typically advertised online in December with a closing date in February. Last year's topics spanned research topics across Development, Social, Cognitive and Biological Psychology. Selected applicants are invited to interview and the successful candidate is offered a fully funded place with fees paid and an annual maintenance stipend for the three years of the PhD. Eligibility criteria can be found at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/delterms
Students who wish to self-fund or explore external funding sources are advised to peruse our staff webpages (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/psy/Staff/) and to contact potential supervisors to discuss potential topics. Most students continue within academia to take up postdoctoral research positions, fellowships or lectureships in psychology. Some continue into clinical or educational psychology training while others take up research positions in the private and public sectors.
For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.
People teaching you
Dr Donncha Hanna
Director of Postgraduate Research
School of Psychology
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,596|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,596|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£4,596|
|EU Other 3||£23,850|
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
More information on postgraduate tuition fees.
Depending on the area of research chosen there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes
We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.3.PhD loans
The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.4.International Scholarships
Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.
Funding and Scholarships
The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.
How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.