Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  Creating sanctuary: resilience & arts-based initiatives in asylum seeker settings

   School of Geography and Environmental Science

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Sami Everett  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Leverhulme PhD programme is administered by the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences. This particular project will sit under the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Blending anthropology, arts-based practice, cultural studies and psychology, this participatory research engages in, reflexively appraises, and critically evaluates creative and arts-based methods carried out in sanctuary initiatives for refugees or asylum seekers which enable creative expressions of the experience of adversity and positive adaptation, reflective of resilience. 

Drawing on expertise in anthropology, creative arts, cultural studies and psychology, this project explores the nexus between sanctuary seeking, mental health and the arts. To date there is little comparative research on the work of arts organisations and creative projects in generating benefits for displaced people. This project will explore what is still a novel and experimental field.  

It sets out to identify and describe the landscape of refugee arts initiatives to map its range, ambition and impact and the ways mental health and wellbeing are addressed within it. Through focused ethnographic case studies, the project will comparatively examine the cultural meanings and expressive perceptions of psychological health and resilience in relation to sanctuary. The project will endeavour to gauge the potential of creative and arts-based practices in improving mental health and wellbeing of refugee populations. For stakeholder impact the project will curate a small exhibition and workshop emerging from the research.   

The student will develop their research skills and theoretical understanding informed by practice across disciplines. Interdisciplinary training will be given in ethical ethnographic practice, critical and creative curation, and psychological evaluation and inference-making by a multilingual specialist team led by Everett (Winchester School of Art), Armbruster (Anthropology/Language) co-convener of the Debating Ethnography research group, board member of the Centre for Transnational Studies and founding member of the University of Sanctuary group and Kreppner (Psychology) member of the Centre for Innovations in Mental Health. The supervisory team will encourage the student to make connections between the concepts/ideas/perspectives. 


You will need to have a 2:1 honours undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If your grade was lower than 2:1 you can still apply, but your application and narrative CV should demonstrate progression since your degree.

If you have completed a master’s degree, you should have achieved a merit or above including 60% for the dissertation. If you have not completed a master’s, you’ll need to show you can produce high quality writing and analysis.


If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. Your awarded certificate needs to be dated within the last 2 years, and you’ll need all of the following scores as a minimum:

Overall 6.5

Writing 6.0

Reading 6.0

Speaking 6.0

Listening 6.0


  • Programme for Interdisciplinary Resilience Studies application document
  • Narrative résumé
  • Standardised CV
  • Academic transcripts/certificates
  • If a student-led application: research proposal document
  • Any other relevant documents (e.g., language certificate, etc)

Anthropology (2) Creative Arts & Design (9) Geography (17) History & Archaeology (19) Languages, Literature & Culture (21) Politics & Government (30) Psychology (31) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

Up to six students will comprise each cohort. We will offer:
4 x studentship to UK (or UK-domiciled) students - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI base rates for maintenance and tuition
1 x studentship to an international student - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI maintenance and University international tuition rates

1 x “Master’s + PhD” studentship to an eligible UK (or UK-domiciled) student - fully funded for 60 months at UKRI maintenance and University tuition rates for: 12 months research master’s degree and 48 months PhD

Plus £10k (£2.5k per year) RTSG for the PhD programme.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography and Environmental Studies?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities