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GW4 BioMed MRC DTP PhD studentship: Meeting the mental health needs of adolescents in out-of-home care and care-leavers

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.

The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.


Lead supervisor: Dr Rachel Hiller, Department of Psychology, University of Bath
Co-supervisors: Prof John Macleod (Bristol), Prof Sarah Halligan (Bath) and Dr David Wilkins (Cardiff)


Young people in care are one of the most vulnerable group of UK youth. Many have experienced significant and prolonged maltreatment, while the experience of being in care can involve further challenges. While young people in care can be incredibly resilient, it is also the case that lifetime poor outcomes have been well-documented. For example, care leavers are substantially overrepresented in the homeless and prison populations. Such outcomes have major personal, societal and economic consequences. The unaddressed mental health needs of this group have been identified as a key driver of these wide-ranging poor outcomes.

The potential vulnerability of young people in care is particularly pronounced in adolescence, as they move closer to the most vulnerable transition for this group - ’aging-out’ of care at 18 years old. Exploring ways to address the mental health needs of teens in care is vital, given (a) it is a time when most mental health difficulties first emerge and (b) they are the fastest growing age group entering care.

Via a series of mixed-methods projects the overarching goals of this project are to understand the mental health needs of adolescents in care and care-leavers and how services are responding, as well as to explore meaningful and feasible ways to address these needs. This will include (a) a series of qualitative studies interviewing service-providers, as well as teens in care and care-leavers; (b) a large quantitative data linkage study linking social-care and health service data to provide evidence for the emotional needs of these teens, and access to both child and adolescent mental health services, and later adult mental health services; and (c) a multiple baseline single case experimental study that will explore the feasibility of directly addressing the mental health needs of teens in care at a social-care level, particularly in relation to their trauma-related mental health (e.g., PTSD).

The project also comes with a number of rich training opportunities, including the potential for a short-term placement at CASCADE, University of Cardiff, which represents an exciting opportunity to further learning on how research can inform social care policy.


Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Psychology, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. An MSc or research experience in a relevant area is also desirable, particularly in relation to quantitative analytic skills and working with potentially vulnerable groups.

IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form:

You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.

More information on the application process may be found here:


Funding Notes

A full studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a Research and Training Support Grant of £2-5k per annum and a stipend (£15,009 per annum for 2019/20, updated each year) for 3.5 years.

UK and EU applicants who have been residing in the UK since September 2017 will be eligible for a full award; a limited number of studentships may be available to EU applicants not meeting the residency requirement. Applicants who are classed as Overseas for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

More information on eligibility may be found here: View Website

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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