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  Biodiverse nature prescriptions and mental health


   School of Psychology

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  Dr Melissa Marselle, Dr Sarah Payne, Prof Thomas Astell-Burt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Contact with nature (e.g. parks) improves mental health. But how and why biodiversity within nature (e.g. abundance of birdlife) may be a key factor is under-researched. With many countries investing in nature prescriptions for mental health and well-documented risk of worldwide biodiversity collapse, stronger evidence linking these critical issues could have local and global resonance.

The aim of this study is to understand the mental health benefits of contact with biodiversity in order to create a ‘biodiverse nature prescription’. This project has 3 objectives:

1.      Identify the 'key ingredients’ of effective biodiverse nature prescriptions through a scoping review of previous research studies (study 1)

2.      Test the relative importance of biodiversity in contrast with other green space qualities for supporting mental health (study 2)

3.      Evaluate the effectiveness of a nature prescription intervention in a high-biodiverse environment, compared to a nature prescription in a low-biodiverse environment (study 3).

Supervisors: Dr Melissa Marselle, Sarah Payne, Professor Thomas Astell-Burt

Entry requirements

Open to UK and international students starting in October 2023.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme.

Applicants are expected to hold a minimum of an upper second-class honours degree (65 per cent or above) in psychology (or a related discipline) and a masters degree in a relevant subject with a pass of 65 per cent or above.

IELTS Academic minimum of 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Psychology PhD programme page. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. In place of a research proposal, you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for, the name of the relevant supervisor and a personal statement. The statement should explain how your previous experience has prepared you for doctoral research and this project in particular. Explain how this PhD will support your career aspirations (maximum 500 words).

Additional Notes

Please note that this studentship award is part of a wider studentship competition. Those successful in being shortlisted will be put forward to a central panel consisting of University of Surrey and University of Wollongong staff who will then assess the applications and select four of the nominated candidates for funding.


Biological Sciences (4) Nursing & Health (27)

Funding Notes

Full tuition fee cover, stipend of c £17,000 p.a. and a £3,000 Research Training Support Grant. Funding is for 42 months. Funded by University of Surrey.