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PhD Studentship in Lifecourse Epidemiology & Public Mental Health

   Department of Health Sciences

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  Prof S Gilbody, Dr Ruth Wadman  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Department of Health Sciences, University of York, and the Bradford Institute for Health Research invite applications for a fully-funded full-time PhD studentship to start in September 2022. The project is on childhood mental health and early life experience funded by the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YHARC). 

The successful candidate will be part of the department’s Mental Health and Addiction Research Group (MHARG), directed by Professor Simon Gilbody and you will spend time in the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR), directed by Professor John Wright.    

  • Are you interested in the lifecourse determinants of mental health in young people and adolescents?  
  • Do you want to work at the leading-edge of mental health and population science?
  • Do you want to undertake a Doctoral training programme working on the world’s largest multi-ethnic birth cohort in the amazing city of Bradford?
  • Do you want to train in population and epidemiological science in one the UK’s leading centres for applied & population mental health research?

The Born in Bradford (BiB) study is the world’s largest multi-ethnic birth cohort. In coming years the BiB participants will pass through adolescence and transition into adulthood. Following £6.8M investment by Wellcome, an ambitious programme will map the social, environmental, genetic and economic determinants of health at this crucial period in the Born in Braford Age of Wonder (AoW) research programme (https://borninbradford.nhs.uk/what-we-do/schools/age-of-wonder/). In relation to mental health, this is a critical period of development and change, since adolescent problems are common and more than 60% of adult disorders show their first signal during this transition.  This provides opportunities to develop a deep understanding of the early origins and determinants of mental health across the lifecourse, and also to intervene early.  

This PhD studentship will be embedded within Yorkshire and Humberside Applied Research Collaboration (YHARC). You will be part of an exciting £18M programme of research based in the health-knowledge economy of Yorkshire and Humberside (population 6.2M) which runs between 2019-24. 

This PhD project will explore the role of adversity, social context and economic position on child and adolescent mental health. 

We are particularly interested in how maternal mental health and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact subsequent psychological, cognitive and educational outcomes. The current Born in Bradford cohort includes very rich data on 13,000 participants and in coming years the study will expand to include data on over 30,000 children. This provides a unique opportunity to study the longitudinal development of young people in Bradford, and to undertake world-leading epidemiological research. You will form part of an ambitious team who will describe, measure and analyse ACEs for the BiB (& AoW) participants. 

This PhD will suit candidates with quantitative skills and interest, and a background in disciplines in psychology, epidemiology, health sciences, environmental science or geography. You will hold a strong first degree in one of these or a related subject. Possession of a master’s degree in quantitative science (particularly epidemiology) would be an advantage but is not essential. You will be encouraged to undertake training in cohort analytic and causal inference methods. Your quantitative training will be interwoven with the first year of the Doctoral programme; giving you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills. 

As part of this Doctoral programme you will access the masters-level learning opportunities in the University of York Department of Health Sciences (https://www.york.ac.uk/healthsciences/mphil-phd/ judged the joint-leading UK centre for training in the 2015 REF for Applied Health Research). You will be able to undertake training in quantitative analysis, public health, epidemiology and statistics, health risk behaviour via access to courses offered on the Masters in Public Health (https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/mph-public-health/) and Masters in Health Research (https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/msc-health-research/).  


The scholarship is open to UK citizens on a full-time basis. The studentship provides a tax free stipend per annum for UK citizens in line with UKRI standard rates (currently £16,062 for 2022/23), plus annual tuition fees at the UK rate, and £3,000 total research costs. Prospective students from elsewhere may also apply, though would be expected to provide evidence of the ability to fund the difference in tuition fees applicable to EU and international (non-EU) students respectively. See https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/fees/ for further information. 

Essential and desirable requirements 

Applicants will need to hold at least an upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in a relevant subject with a demonstrable quantitative training. It will be desirable that the candidate will also have a masters degree with a significant population health and/or epidemiological component. 

Applicants are required to submit a short research proposal (max 500 words) outlining how they would approach developing a research proposal in the area outlined above.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact  Professor Simon Gilbody to discuss the project before applying (contact details under Informal Enquiries below). 

For students whose first language is not English, there is a minimum requirement of an IELTS score of at least 6.5 in each component of the test and an overall score of at least 7.

Process for Application 

Applications should be received no later than 14th June 202216:00h. Applications will not be considered for the studentships after this date.

Applications should be made using the Department of Health Sciences on-line application process which can be accessed using the following link. http://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/courses/apply?course=DRPHSCSHSC3 

When completing the electronic form, applicants will need to state that they are applying for the advertised studentship and include ref: MHARGBiB2022 under the ‘How studies will be funded’ section, in order to be considered for the scholarship. 

Shortlisting: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and shortlisted applicants will be notified promptly. 

Start date: September 2022 


Individuals with the strongest academic record, experience, and research proposal ideas will be shortlisted and invited to interview at the end of June/start of July 2022. Interviews will be conducted face-to-face or via Skype or similar communication tools, for non-UK based applicants. 

Informal enquiries 

For informal enquiries please contact Prof Simon Gilbody ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Ruth Wadman ([Email Address Removed])

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