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Doctoral Research Scholarship (4 years) – Synaesthesia as a model system to understand variability in perception, memory, and cognitive style.

   School of Psychology

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  Prof J Ward  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Synaesthesia, a perceptual condition in otherwise healthy individuals, is linked to extraordinary experiences. The proposed research rethinks conditions like synaesthesia as not just representing extraordinary experiences, but such that the changes in the brains of synaesthetes support a distinct cognitive profile. For instance, people with grapheme-colour synaesthesia (colours for letters and numbers) have a specific profile of enhanced memory which cannot be explained by means of conventional memory strategies. This pattern of enhanced memory might be part of a wider profile of individual differences in perception and mental imagery. 

This PhD project will design and conduct novel research to understand individual differences in cognitive ability at this memory-perception-imagery interface. In addition to contrasting different kinds of synaesthesia, we will also test other groups who can shed light on this issue. This will include people who lack the extraordinary experiences of synaesthesia but might have perceptual expertise (visual artists) or relevant neurocognitive differences (genetic relatives of synaesthetes). The project will be conducted as part of an international collaboration with the UniDistance Suisse

Doctoral Tutor role: 

If you choose to become a Doctoral Tutor, you will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate of the Higher Education Academy), including enrolling on a ‘starting to teach’ module in the first term before they begin teaching. 


  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/UK rate. International students may apply but must fund the difference between the Home fees and International Fees (this fee difference is currently £18,500 per year).
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Merit (an average of 60% overall) in a Master's degree, in Psychology or a related discipline. Candidates should be able to demonstrate knowledge and interest in cognition (specifically, memory and perception).
  • Only full-time students can be accepted 
  • The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background.  

How to apply

Applicants are encouraged to contact the supervisor Prof Jamie Ward ([Email Address Removed]) for more information about the project before writing their proposal.

Please read the full advert and our Prospectus and our Psychology PhD FAQS before you start your application.

Please submit your application online for 'PhD in Psychology' for entry in September 2022.

Funding Notes

- A stipend for 4 years (tied to the UKRI studentship rates, currently £15,609 p.a.) to cover living costs
- UK Home fees and research/training costs are also covered.
- International students may apply for this Home/UK studentship if you can pay the difference between UK Home fees and International fees (approximately £18,500 per year). You could self-fund this amount, or secure external funding.
- This scholarship is funded by a research grant awarded to the University of Sussex by the Swiss National Science Foundation in collaboration with Dr. Nicolas Rothen (UniDistance Suisse)

How good is research at University of Sussex in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

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

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