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  Developing a social-belonging intervention to transform the experiences of under-represented science and engineering students

   School of Psychology and Sport Science

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  Prof V Swami  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

PhD Studentship (Fee waiver and Bursary)

School of Psychology and Sport Science

Cambridge Campus

Fixed term contract for 3 years, commencing September 2022

Bursary of £15,285 per annum and a full fee-waiver for UK tuition fees.

Closing date: Tuesday 31 May 2022

Interview date: June 2022 (date TBC)

About Anglia Ruskin University:

Anglia Ruskin is a vibrant workplace and our University is recognised both nationally and internationally. We have ambitious plans for the future and we are determined that our students and staff will realise their full potential. Our main campuses in the cities of Cambridge, Chelmsford, London and Peterborough have been transformed with major capital investment. With an annual turnover of over £200m, we are a major force for higher education and one of the largest universities in the East of England.

About the position:

Women and racial minority groups remain severely under-represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which restricts career opportunities for these groups and slows national economic growth. Many factors contribute to inequalities in STEM, but at the level of individual students, experiences of social belonging (i.e., being made to feel fully included, valued, and respected on STEM courses) may be crucial. Social-belonging interventions, in which individuals are encouraged to reframe how they perceive their environments and to proactively seek ways to fit into their environment, has been shown to be effective at improving attainment in racial minority students, but much of this work is limited to North America.

As part of this PhD students, you will have an opportunity to undertake a multi-method programme of research using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The project will initially involve qualitatively exploring aspects of social belonging that are of especial relevance to women and racial minority students enrolled on STEM higher education course. This will be followed by adapting existing belonging interventions for use in the United Kingdom, delivering the intervention as part of a randomised controlled trial among undergraduates, and assessing the interventions efficacy at improving attainment, experiences, and social integration among women and racial minority students.

The successful applicant will benefit from strong supervisory and peer support, and will be based at the School of Psychology and Sport Science. The supervisory team is led by Prof Viren Swami (School of Psychology and Sport Science), who offers expertise in qualitative research methods and intervention design and evaluation. Other members of the supervisory team include Dr Nadeeshani Wanigarathna (Engineering and the Built Environment) and Dr Barbara Vohmann (Engineering and the Built Environment).

About the Studentship:

A three-year studentship is offered, intended to start in September 2022, providing a tax-free stipend of £15,285 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only available as a full-time position and to UK candidates. 

Project location: Cambridge campus. Prospective candidates who would not be Cambridge-based are encouraged to contact the principal supervisor prior to application (contact details below).

Candidates for this PhD Studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD within 3 years. 


Applicants must be able to demonstrate interest and/or experience in the development and delivery of psychological interventions. Experience of using both qualitative and quantitative research methods is essential, and an understanding of “wise” psychological interventions is desirable. Applicants should have a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant discipline and a relevant level 7 (or equivalent) qualification (e.g., Masters degree). An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language. It is strongly desirable that candidates show a commitment to issues of race and gender equality.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, the University will look closely at the qualities, skills, and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful and timely completion.

How to apply:

To apply, please complete the application form available from the following website: Complete the variant of the form for full-time study with a start date of September 2022.

Please ensure the reference ‘PhD Studentship: Developing a social-belonging intervention to transform the experiences of under-represented science and engineering students’ is clearly stated on the application form, under the title ‘Outline of your proposed research’. Within this section of the application form, applicants should include a 500-word outline of the skills that they would bring to this research project, previous experience of qualitative and quantitative research methods, and evidence of their commitment to race/gender equality.

Interested applicants should direct initial queries about the Prof Viren Swami via email: [Email Address Removed]. For enquiries regarding the process and eligibility please contact [Email Address Removed].

Interviews are scheduled to take place in June 2022 (date TBC). 

We value diversity at Anglia Ruskin University and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Closing Date – Tuesday 31 May 2022

Education (11) Psychology (31) Sociology (32)

 About the Project