University College London Featured PhD Programmes
Sheffield Hallam University Featured PhD Programmes
Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
Newcastle University Featured PhD Programmes
Loughborough University Featured PhD Programmes

Evolution Education Trust PhD project: Does verbal priming influence understanding of biological evolution among school pupils?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, February 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018. Visit our website:

Supervisory Team:

Professor Momna Hejmadi, Milner Centre for Evolution (lead supervisor)
Professor Laurence Hurst, Director, Milner Centre for Evolution
Professor Mary Hayden, Director, Centre for the Study of Education in an International Context (CEIC) Department of Education
Dr. Nathalia Gjersoe, Department of Psychology, University of Bath

Project Overview:

A common perception is that many adults deny/reject the scientific consensus on biological evolution due to prior beliefs and psychological conflicts. What about the school classroom? Our recent research conducted with over 2000 UK 14-16 year olds, clearly show that understanding evolution is significantly improved when genetics is taught prior to evolution teaching (1,2).

Our study was conducted using an explicit memory model, where it was made clear to pupils that they were being taught either genetics or evolution. But would understanding change if an implicit memory model were to be used? If students were taught topics without explicit labels of genetics or evolution, would their understanding and acceptance of biological evolution change? What factors influence the understanding and acceptance of evolution in global classrooms with diverse cultural and educational contexts?

This PhD project aims to address these questions by deploying verbal priming as a paradigm to investigate whether implicit memory influences the understanding and acceptance of scientific evolutionary concepts. The study will be conducted in national and international classrooms.


Applicants should have an excellent academic record and hold, or expect to obtain, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Enquiries and Applications:

All enquiries should be addressed to Professor Momna Hejmadi, .

** Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss projects directly with the lead supervisor before submitting an application.**

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biology:

On the application form, please ensure that you quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to be considered for more than one project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

It is essential that your application is complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. You should ensure that you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees who are available and willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). In addition, you should ensure that you have uploaded the following documents:
• a scanned copy of the certificate/s for any degree/s you have been awarded;
• a scanned copy of your degree transcript/s or your interim transcript if you are still studying;
• an up-to-date CV;
• a personal statement explaining your motivation for wishing to study a PhD and your interest in the specific project for which you are applying;
• English language test certificate (if available) for EU candidates.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Interviews will take place in Bath on Friday 3 April 2020.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Unfortunately, we are NOT able to consider international applicants for this project.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3.5-year Evolution Education Trust Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research, training and outreach expenses.

Note: Only UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding.


1. Mead R, Hejmadi M, Hurst LD. (2018) Scientific aptitude better explains poor responses to teaching of evolution than psychological conflicts. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, 388–394 (2018)
2. Mead R, Hejmadi M, Hurst LD. (2017) Teaching genetics prior to teaching evolution improves evolution understanding but not acceptance. PLoS Biol. 2017 May 23;15(5).

How good is research at University of Bath in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.