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

  Design for early detection of symptoms of anxiety and depression in university students


   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Anxiety, depression, and psychological distress can have a severe impact on university student quality of life and academic performance, and recent studies have highlighted the role that the COVID-19 pandemic has played in exacerbating symptoms. It has been recognised that universities are best positioned to lead on the development of systems of integrated support, recommendations including the provision of efficient links with external care providers and an increase of student awareness of on-campus services. However, comparatively little research has focussed on developing structured and scalable approaches towards the detection of early signs of psychological distress in university students.

The project will fill this gap by adopting state-of-the-art user-centred design processes to investigate opportunities and barriers towards implementing scalable methods of detecting early signs of psychological distress based on multimodal student data, including bio-signals. A proof-of-concept prototype for data collection and processing will be developed based on an existing health data logging platform.

The successful candidate will take responsibility of designing, running, and evaluating a range of activities with end users (e.g. university students and staff, as appropriate). He/she will also be in charge of developing a working prototype for data collection, visualisation, and processing.

The ideal candidate’s profile combines proficiency in user-centred design processes with technical competency in relation to a broad range of computer science techniques, including data integration across resources. Familiarity with data collection using wearable devices and with probabilistic inference methods, e.g. relying on machine learning models, will be advantageous. A Masters’ degree is desired but not essential.

The successful candidate will work in the Brunel Design School and will be supervised by Dr Federico Colecchia, who specialises in emerging technologies and innovation at the intersection between technical development and user-centred design. The researcher will work in a stimulating interdisciplinary academic setting and will collaborate closely with the Brunel Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences and with the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Strathclyde.

For informal enquiries about the research, please email 

Research journey

Doctoral research programmes (PhDs) take a proud place in the world-class research environment and community at Brunel. PhD students are recognised and valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their departments and a key component of the university's overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.

A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, with intakes starting in January, April or October.

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1) or an international equivalent. A Masters degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Brunel

Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students. 

Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.

Find out more: Brunel Library

Careers support

You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.

Computer Science (8) Creative Arts & Design (9) Nursing & Health (27) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: View Website. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Register your interest for this project

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.