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Homesickness: Causes, Consequences, Cures (CoulsonMU21PSY)

School of Psychology

About the Project

Homesickness is an important factor affecting the wellbeing of people who move from an identified home to a new place, because of work, study, political upheaval, war, or natural events. It is distinct from nostalgia, sojourner adjustment, culture shock, and separation anxiety (Stroebe et al., 2015), and may play a part in students’ decisions to withdraw from their studies. Estimates suggest that homesick students are up to three times more likely to drop out of university than those who are not homesick. Homesickness is therefore worthy of investigation.
Several questions present regarding homesickness, forming the basic outline of this programme of research. Each could form the basis of a major part of the thesis, and would be amenable to progressing in parallel.
1 There is disagreement about the underlying nature of homesickness, in particular the psychometric properties of scales designed to measure it. A high quality psychometric investigation of items and scales designed to assess homesickness is required.
2 Knowledge about correlates of homesickness is limited, and a more comprehensive investigation of risk and protective factors is warranted.
3 The development and evaluation of interventions designed to ameliorate homesickness may bring significant benefit. In particular, while homesickness involves missing both people and places, the advent of cheap and ubiquitous digital communications means that most displaced people can contact those ‘at home’ with little effort. In contrast, the physical sense of homesickness is not so easily addressed. The use of immersive technologies which can create a sense of presence in remote locations (for instance, allowing individuals to ‘roam’ around their home neighbourhoods in virtual reality, utilising technologies such as google earth) may bring significant benefits.
Note: Applicants should submit a research proposal consistent with the project above, in consultation with the supervisor. Applications without a research proposal will not be considered.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here

This is a PhD programme.

The start date is 1st October 2021.

The mode of study is full time or part time.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a School of Psychology competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,285.

Entry Requirements

Acceptable first degree in Psychology or cognate discipline. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1 BSc and Masters in Psychological Research methods or equivalent.


i) Stroebe, M., Schut, H., & Nauta, M. (2015). Homesickness: A systematic review of the scientific literature. Review of General Psychology, 19(2), 157–171.
ii) Matt, S. J. (2014). Homesickness: An American History (Reprint edition). Oxford University Press.
iii) Moon, B. (1995). Paradigms in migration research: Exploring ’moorings’ as a schema. Progress in Human Geography, 19(4), 504–524.
iv) Coulson, M., Oskis, A., Spencer, R., & Gould, R. L. (2020). Tourism, migration, and the exodus to virtual worlds: Place attachment in massively multiplayer online gamers. Psychology of Popular Media, 9(4), 525–532.

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