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Psychology Doctoral Research Scholarship - Exploring the role of socio-cognitive understanding in peer interactions during early childhood

School of Psychology

Dr Elian Fink Sunday, March 21, 2021 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Brighton United Kingdom Child Psychology Community Psychology Developmental Psychology Educational Psychology

About the Project

Outside of the family, children’s most important social influence are their peers, and poor peer relationships in childhood have been shown to have a long-term negative impact on later social, emotional and academic performance. Children’s socio-cognitive understanding (e.g., their theory of mind, empathy and emotion understanding) has received considerable attention as a correlate of successful peer relationships. However, less research has focused on the processes by which children employ their socio-cognitive understanding during unfolding social play interactions with peers, which will likely have implications for how to support those children struggling to make and maintain peer relationships. This PhD project will explore how children use their socio-cognitive understanding during interactions with peers, and how this may be influenced by their play partner’s own social cognition. 

To discuss the details of your research interests further, please contact Dr Elian Fink.


This award will only pay fees at the Home rate. 

Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Merit (an average of 60% overall) in a Master's degree, in Psychology or a related discipline. It would also be desirable for candidates to have experience working with clinical populations and/or with young people.

International students may apply but must provide funding for the difference between Home fees and Overseas fees (approximately £18,500 in 20/21) themselves.

The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background.

How to apply

Please read our Psychology PhD FAQS before you start your application.

Please submit your application online for 'PhD in Psychology' for entry September 2021 following these instructions on How to Apply.

Funding Notes

- Stipend of £15,285 p.a. for 3 years (rising in line with UKRI studentship rates). Home PhD fees and research and training costs are also covered.

- Doctoral Research Scholars will be separately employed as Doctoral Tutors, to teach a minimum of 165 hours per year (Grade 5.1 - currently £25,482 p.a.), covering contact time, preparation, and marking. You will begin in the first term of your studies and will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy), including enrolling on a ‘starting to teach’ module during the first term.


Research lies at the heart of the School of Psychology. Our cutting-edge research aims to enhance understanding and provide innovative approaches to key psychological challenges and issues. We are engaged in research across the broad range of the discipline.
The School of Psychology is one of the largest centres for the study of psychology in the UK. We have over 80 academic faculty, approximately 90 research students and more than 100 postgraduate students taking Master's degrees. Our undergraduate intake is over 500 a year, which gives us an academic community of well over 1500 people working in a rich and supportive learning environment.
Psychology at Sussex was rated 10th in the UK for research in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 91% of our research at Sussex is ranked as world-leading or internationally significant.

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