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Applications are now invited for 12 new fully-funded PhD studentships within the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation.

These studentships provide exciting and unparalleled opportunities to work in the heart of a large, dynamic and inter-disciplinary centre on real-world research that seeks to make a real difference in the lives of children, families and communities. The deadline for applications: Friday 17th February 2017.


The studentships will begin in October 2017 and will run on a full-time basis for three years. The studentships cover the costs of all fees (£4,121) and a maintenance grant of £14,296 per year (as of 2015/16) and also up to £1,000 to cover research expenses and associated activities.


There are three options in relation to identifying topic areas:

  1. A list of topic areas for which we would particularly like to encourage applications is provided below. If you are interested in any of the topics listed, you are strongly advised to contact the relevant person listed to discuss your ideas and to seek advice on submitting a proposal.
  2. We would also welcome high quality applications in other areas that fall within one of our six programmes of research listed below. If you have a particular idea and/or would like to discuss your broader interests and what options might exist then you are strongly advised to contact the relevant programme lead listed.
  3. You are also encouraged to review our list of Fellows and their particular areas of expertise. If you have a specific proposal that you feel would align well with the research interests and expertise of a particular Fellow within our Centre then you are strongly encouraged to contact them directly to discuss your ideas and to seek advice on submitting a proposal.

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You must discuss your ideas and seek advice on your application and research proposal before submitting it via one of the options listed above. This is a highly competitive process. You should therefore leave yourself sufficient time for this.

Please also check the eligibility requirements for these studentships as listed below.

Applications should be made online through Queen’s University Belfast’s website at:

When online, regardless of who your intended supervisor is and/or which School within the University they are based, please follow these directions carefully:

  1. Either login (if you have an existing account) or register
  2. Select Postgraduate research
  3. School - Choose School of Social Sciences Education and Social Work
  4. Subject Area – Choose Education
  5. Degree  - Choose Education (Doctor of Philosophy)

The deadline for submission of applications is: 4.00pm Friday 17th February 2017.

You will need to complete a standard application form and also prepare and submit a research proposal.

Application form - please make clear in your application that you are applying for one of the "CESI Studentships". Alongside providing key information on education, qualifications and work experience, there is an opportunity to provide "Additional Information". You are strongly encouraged to use this to draw out and emphasis the range of knowledge, skills and experience that you have that are of relevance to your proposed project.

Research proposal - candidates need to also submit a proposal of not more than 4 pages (A4 size). Please upload it with the application through portal as outlined above. It should include the following details:

  • Clearly state the proposed title of your project and the name of the academic you have been liaising with;
  • An outline of your experience (research and/or professional) relevant to the proposed study;
  • A review of relevant research literature to the project, drawing out key themes and issues of relevance to the project; and
  • An initial outline of a potential research design for the project.

Applicants will be expected to have:

  • Gained, prior to commencing the studentship, a good honours degree (upper second class honours or above) or else an honours degree of any classification and masters degree in a subject area relevant to the project chosen
  • Normally, a masters degree in a social science area, and preferably in a subject relevant to the project chosen
  • Good background knowledge of relevant research and debates in relation to the proposed project
  • Good grasp of social research methods in general as well as specific expertise in particular methods as indicated in the project descriptions below
  • Excellent presentational, interpersonal and team-working skills

Applications received will initially be screened against the criteria above and will be assessed on the following criteria:

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For further information on any of the projects listed below, please contact the relevant person listed.

Parental and Child Health and Wellbeing

  • Examining the effectiveness of telehealth as a model of training and delivery of behaviour analytic interventions - Dr Katerina Dounavi
  • The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties: an evidence synthesis - Dr Fiona Lynn
  • Attention control in infancy and its links with executive functions in toddlerhood: an experimental study - Dr Oliver Perra
  • Sleep in children with cerebral palsy - Dr Oliver Perra
  • The development of resistance to change and how to prevent it from causing disability in children with neurodevelopmental disorders - Dr Kate Woodcock

Children in Care and Child Protection

  • Birth parents' experiences of contact with children adopted from care: identifying the barriers and enablers to maintaining positive connections - Dr Mandi Macdonald
  • Exploring the role of play in promoting children's wellbeing - Dr Karen Winter

Educational Attainment

  • A design and pilot evaluation study of The Attach Programme (TAP) for Looked-After Children in Primary Schools - Dr Liam O'Hare
  • Interventions to promote literacy in early childhood (preschool and key stage one) - Prof. Paul Connolly

Health and Wellbeing in Schools

  • Exploring young people's social networks and their impact on behaviour - Dr Laura Dunne
  • Identifying the student wellbeing concerns and training needs of teachers in Northern Ireland post-primary schools - Dr Laura Dunne
  • The impact of transition from primary to post-primary school in children's wellbeing in Northern Ireland - Dr Katrina Lloyd
  • The development and measurement of prosocial behaviour in early and middle childhood - Dr Sarah Miller
  • An evaluation of outdoor learning - Dr Sarah Miller
  • Preventing psychosis in young people: a secondary level school-based screening study - Dr Ciaran Mulholland
  • Piloting and testing the feasibility of a physical activity intervention to promote mental well-being and resilience among young people - Dr Paul Best
  • Interventions to promote social and emotional development among pre-school children - Prof. Paul Connolly
  • Young children's attitudes to ethnic diversity - Prof. Paul Connolly
  • A pilot trial and feasibility study of a music education programme inspired by El Sistema - Dr Liam O'Hare

Chronic Illness and Palliative Care

  • The role of Anticipatory Care Planning in supporting patients with lung cancer and their family carers in the transition to palliative care - Prof. Kevin Brazil
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of children with chronic illness through their inclusion in health-related decision making - Prof. Karola Dillenburger
  • Ageing with autism: exploring the 'health and social work' of adults with autism (40+) and their aging family caregivers - Dr Dirk Schubotz
  • Developing an arts intervention with patients who have end-stage kidney disease and are receiving haemodialysis - Dr Helen Noble
  • Developing a decision-aid and staff training for older people with end-stage kidney disease choosing between dialysis and palliative care - Dr Helen Noble
  • The development and realist evaluation of a peer-mentoring intervention to support end-of-life decision-making for older adults with end-stage kidney disease - Dr Peter O'Halloran
  • Pregnancy associated breast cancer - Dr Joanne Reid

Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • The effectiveness of joint teaching of social work and medical undergraduates focusing on child development and children's mental health issues - Dr Anne Campbell
  • An evaluation of an integrated model for Dual Diagnosed service users in a Trust Area in Northern Ireland - Dr Anne Campbell
  • New drugs in specialist populations - transitioning from care to supported housing - Dr Anne Campbell
  • Suicide prevention in statutory mental health care - Dr Gavin Davidson
  • A cognitive approach to Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD) - Dr Michael Duffy
  • The experiences and needs of children who live with parents with mental illness - Dr Gavin Davidson
  • Schools, families, drug use and self-harm - longitudinal predictors and consequences of self-harm - Dr Kathryn Higgins
  • Employing text messaging to deliver healthcare education to patients discharged from A&E - Dr Mark Linden
  • Encouraging physically active communities through a novel loyalty card scheme - Dr Sarah Miller
  • Supporting and safeguarding vulnerable populations against risky or harmful mental health advice online - Dr Paul Best
  • Attitudes towards sexual health in youth and old age - Dr Dirk Schubotz
  • The effects of engagement with early intervention programmes on parent and child outcomes - Dr Andrew Percy

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Click here for a full list of Fellows of the Centre. All of these PhDs require a primary supervisor who is a Fellow of the Centre. You are encouraged to browse the list of Fellows and to view their research interests and areas of expertise via the links provided.

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Residence Requirements

To qualify for the full studentships (i.e. payment of fees and maintenance) applicants must have been resident in the United Kingdom or Islands (includes Isle of Man and Channel islands), or elsewhere in the European Union (for fees only studentships), throughout the period of 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship (or would have been so resident had you, your spouse or either parent not been employed temporarily outside the UK).

  • For Non-EU nationals – the main purpose of your residence in the UK must NOT have been to receive full time education during any part of that 3 year period.
  • For EU nationals – where the main purpose for your residence in the UK was to receive full time education you must have been ordinarily resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) and / or Switzerland immediately before that 3 year period.
  • EU nationals may qualify for a “Fees only” studentship if you are in the UK as a self- sufficient person or as a student, or you are the family member of such a person. You must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA and / or Switzerland for 3 years before the first day of the first academic year of the course. The main purpose for your residence in the EEA and / or Switzerland must not have been to receive full time education during any part of that 3 year period.
  • Non-EU residents are not eligible for these particular studentships.

Citizenship Requirements

For these particular studentships you must be a British Citizen, EU national or relevant family member of an EU national. You may be eligible for support if you are the child of either a Swiss national or Turkish worker. For Non-EU nationals – You must be “settled” in the UK by the closing date for the award. “Settled” means being both ordinarily resident in the UK and without any immigration restriction on the length of your stay in the UK. To be “settled” you must either have the Right of Abode or Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain in the UK, or be a national of the Republic of Ireland, or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC Law.

NB if you acquire “settled” status after the closing date for the award. Please contact the relevant University Authority. Your application may be considered as a late application.

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