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Multiple and Multi-dimensional Transitions of Doctoral students and significant others: Impact on wellbeing

   School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

About the Project

Transitions can be defined as an ongoing process of psychological, social and educational adaptations due to changes in context, interpersonal relationships and/or identity, which can be simultaneously exciting and worrying for an individual and others in their lives, and which can require ongoing additional support (Jindal-Snape, 2016, 2018). Transitions of doctoral students, in the main, are an indicator of a fulfilment of their aspirations to study for the highest degree with academic experts of their choice, and when they gain admission in a competitive environment, an indicator of being held in high academic esteem, leading to high levels of motivation (Jindal-Snape & Ingram, 2013; Jindal-Snape & Rienties, 2016). However, there can also be substantial personal, social and emotional costs, resulting for instance from isolation, fear of failure and impact of their choices on their personal and academic life. These can have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. Further, in line with Multiple and Multi-dimensional Transitions (MMT) theory (Jindal-Snape, 2016), when undertaking doctoral studies, they are not the only ones who are impacted; their transitions can trigger transitions for their significant others too.

Therefore, the aim of this study is to understand the multiple transition experiences of doctoral students and their impact on their wellbeing, as well as on those of their significant others (E.g., family, peers, professionals). Further, the study will seek to understand the support networks that facilitate successful transitions and wellbeing.

Research Objectives

  1. To explore the multiple transition experiences of doctoral students in multiple domains (e.g., psychological, social) and contexts (e.g., university, home)
  2. To understand the impact of doctoral students’ transitions on their wellbeing
  3. To understand the impact of doctoral students’ transitions on their significant others’ transitions and vice versa
  4. To understand the impact of doctoral students’ and significant others’ transitions on significant others’ wellbeing
  5. To understand the support systems and strategies that can facilitate successful transitions


In line with our conceptualisation of transitions, the study will use a longitudinal research design and data will be collected at four time points in two waves with both full time and part time PGRs, including those with protected characteristics, with appropriate adjustments for postgraduate researchers who are on a part-time programme.

  1. New doctoral students: prior to starting doctoral studies, 4 months after starting doctoral studies. at the end of the first year of doctoral studies and 4 months after starting the second year.
  2. Doctoral students in their second year of doctoral studies: end of second year of doctoral studies, 4 months after starting the third year of doctoral studies, end of third year of doctoral studies and post-Viva.

It will be a mixed methods study, with large scale data collected from doctoral students across the UK using a questionnaire. This will be followed by case studies of students and their nominated significant others which will use multiple data collection methods, such as interviews, comic strips, photographs and longitudinal audio diaries.

The successful candidate will join the Research Centre for Transformative Change: Educational & Life Transitions (

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Sandra Oza ()

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent for non-UK qualifications), and/or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. For international qualifications, please see equivalent entry requirements here:

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) overall score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.5 in reading, listening, speaking or writing). The University of Dundee accepts a variety of equivalent qualifications and alternative ways to demonstrate language proficiency; please see full details of the University’s English language requirements here:


Step 1: Email Dr Sandra Oza () to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After preliminary discussion with Dr Oza and the supervisory team, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Candidates must apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Education (3 Year) using our direct application system: apply for Education.

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

-       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.


[1] Jindal-Snape, D. (2016). A-Z of transitions. Palgrave Macmillan. Schools, 11, 5-18.
[2] Jindal-Snape, D. (2018). Transitions from Early Years to Primary and Primary to Secondary Schools in Scotland. In T. Bryce, W. Humes, D. Gillies, and A. Kennedy (Eds.), Scottish Education (5 ed.). Edinburgh University Press.
[3] Jindal-Snape, D., & Ingram, R. (2013). Understanding and Supporting Triple Transitions of International Doctoral Students: ELT And SuReCom Models. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 1(1), 17-24.
[4] Jindal-Snape, D., & Rienties, B. (2016). Understanding multiple and multi-dimensional transitions of international higher education students: setting the scene. In D. Jindal-Snape, and B. Rienties (Eds.), Multi-dimensional transitions of international students to Higher Education (pp. 1-17).

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