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GW4 BioMed MRC DTP PhD studentship - Understanding Mental Health in Neurodevelopmental Conditions: A Hidden Talents Approach

   Department of Psychology

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  Dr Punit Shah  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

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 17 studentships for entry in October 2021.

+++ Note: Full funding may not be available for all applicants. Please see the Funding Notes below for more information +++

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. More information may be found here:


Dr Punit Shah (lead), University of Bath, Department of Psychology
Dr Lucy Livingston, Cardiff University
Dr Esther Walton, University of Bath
Dr Kate Langley, Cardiff University
Dr Ginny Russell, University of Exeter


People with neurodevelopmental conditions (NDCs) – such as Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia – often score lower on neurocognitive measures, which is often related to poor mental health. However, they may also have enhanced neural processing and mental abilities (‘hidden talents’) due to their symptoms and related adversities.

Drawing on the lived experience of neurodivergent people with and population-based genetic, cognitive, and neuroimaging data, this interdisciplinary PhD project will investigate the role of hidden talents in understanding and enhancing mental health in NDCs.

Year 1 of your PhD will focus on conceptual research, including literature reviews, theoretical development, and qualitative methods, feeding into a series of advanced empirical studies for the rest of your PhD. There will be flexibility to incorporate your own interests into the research and the PhD will be completed through publication of several research articles, combined to form a thesis.

You will be fully funded to attend cutting-edge training in advanced quant/qualitative research methods, including courses in innovative longitudinal genetic analyses (Bristol), brain anatomy and neuroimaging (UCL), diagnosing neurodevelopmental conditions (London), and Bayesian statistics (Amsterdam).

To disseminate your findings, you will be funded to attend leading international conferences in the field, e.g., International Society for Autism Research (Boston), and work closely with our charity partners (e.g. National Autistic Society) to generate meaningful impact from your research.

As part of the GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network (, you will join a large, exciting, and diverse team of academics and research centres, e.g. Wales Autism Research Centre (, such that your PhD will be supervised by world-leading psychologists, geneticists, and cognitive neuroscientists across 4 of the most research intensive institutions in the UK, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter. Our network includes several PhD students and researchers who are passionate about understanding and improving mental health in neurodiverse people. As a group of academics already including neurodivergent people, we particularly welcome applications from neurodivergent students and from underrepresented groups in our field.


This will be an exciting and challenging project that would suit a student with strong technical skills and an aptitude for working across different disciplines. The successful applicant will have obtained, or be working towards, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (68%+), or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK, in Biomedical Science, Neuroscience, Psychology or a related discipline. If you have – or are working towards – an MA/MSc, please only apply if you have/expected to have a Distinction.

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

Studentships cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ level, research/training costs and a stipend (£15,285 p.a., 2020/21 rate) for 3.5 years.

The main categories of candidates normally eligible for 'Home' fees are:
UK nationals*
Irish nationals living in the UK/Ireland
Applicants with settled or pre-settled* status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme
Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK

* must have lived in the UK/EEA/Switzerland continuously since September 2018.

Those not meeting the nationality and residency requirements to be treated as a ‘Home’ student may apply for a limited number of full studentships for international students.

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