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  Prof Joanna Sofaer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Leverhulme PhD programme is administered by the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences. This particular project will sit under the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Poor wellbeing and compassion fatigue are serious risks to the social care workforce, and to service delivery. This project investigates the psychological mechanisms underpinning the relationship between heritage engagement, the development of historical empathy, and the translation of empathy into workplace compassion to support resilience and work engagement.   

This project investigates the psychological mechanisms underpinning the relationship between heritage engagement (visits to heritage sites) and the development of empathy and compassion in homelessness support staff. Homelessness support staff are at high risk of burnout and compassion fatigue, posing risks both to their wellbeing and to the future functioning of the care system. Building on findings from Places of Joy and the HerWellNHS Feasibility Study, as well as recent research on compassion fatigue, this PhD takes a mixed methods approach to 1) understanding how and why heritage engagement may induce historical empathy and 2) how historical empathy may induce compassion in social care workers. The student will identify a range of heritage sites to be used in the research, and collect and analyse pre- and post-visit data from study participants. They will join an established transdisciplinary team that brings together academics, social care, charity, local authority and heritage partners in Hampshire. Their findings will help develop and design novel heritage-based programmes for workforce resilience in the social care sector.  


You will need to have a 2:1 honours undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If your grade was lower than 2:1 you can still apply, but your application and narrative CV should demonstrate progression since your degree.

If you have completed a master’s degree, you should have achieved a merit or above including 60% for the dissertation. If you have not completed a master’s, you’ll need to show you can produce high quality writing and analysis.


If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. Your awarded certificate needs to be dated within the last 2 years, and you’ll need all of the following scores as a minimum:

Overall 6.5

Writing 6.0

Reading 6.0

Speaking 6.0

Listening 6.0


  • Programme for Interdisciplinary Resilience Studies application document
  • Narrative résumé
  • Standardised CV
  • Academic transcripts/certificates
  • If a student-led application: research proposal document
  • Any other relevant documents (e.g., language certificate, etc)

History & Archaeology (19) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

Up to six students will comprise each cohort. We will offer:
4 x studentship to UK (or UK-domiciled) students - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI base rates for maintenance and tuition
1 x studentship to an international student - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI maintenance and University international tuition rates
1 x “Master’s + PhD” studentship to an eligible UK (or UK-domiciled) student - fully funded for 60 months at UKRI maintenance and University tuition rates for: 12 months research master’s degree and 48 months PhD
Plus £10k (£2.5k per year) RTSG for the PhD programme.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography and Environmental Studies?

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

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