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Psychology: Fully Funded UKRI PhD Scholarship: TRUE: Trust in User-generated Evidence: Analysing the Impact of Deepfakes on Accountability Processes for Human Rights Violation

   School of Psychology

  Prof Yvonne McDermott Rees  Friday, April 14, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Funding providers: UKRI Frontier Research grant

Subject areas: Psychology

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project supervisors: 

  • Professor Yvonne McDermott Rees (Law)
  • Dr Ruth Horry (Psychology)
  • Dr Alice Liefgreen (Law)

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Psychology

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description: 

TRUE is a five-year research project originally selected for funding by the European Research Council, which is funded by a UKRI Frontier Research grant [no. EP/X016021/1]. Through an innovative interdisciplinary methodology combining legal analysis of trials, large online experiments, and mock jury trials, TRUE will develop the first systematic account of trust in user-generated evidence (such as photos and videos recorded by witnesses on their mobile phones), in the specific context of its use in human rights accountability processes.

We are seeking to appoint a PhD student to collaborate on one of the key strands of this project, which will focus on investigating how laypeople make judgments about the trustworthiness of user-generated evidence, and what properties of the evidence (e.g. credibility, relevance) and of the evidence evaluator (e.g. social, motivational, and personality factors) influence these judgments. TRUE’s post-doctoral researcher (Dr Alice Liefgreen) will play a lead role in this strand of the project, though there will also be considerable scope for the successful candidate to shape their own research agenda within the parameters of the broader project and its research objectives.

Throughout the TRUE project, we seek to answer a range of pressing research questions, including but not limited to: (i) do people mistrust user-generated evidence, and why/why not?; (ii) what features of the evidence and/or the individual assessing it influence these judgments?; (iii) how does the evidentiary weight placed on this type of evidence compare to other forms of evidence (e.g. a witness account; DNA evidence)?; (iv) how well-equipped are people to spot deepfakes, and how does this knowledge mediate their perceptions of user-generated evidence?; (v) how likely are people to believe that a real piece of content is a deepfake, and what factors feed into that assessment?; (vi) what are people’s pre-existing knowledge and concern levels about deepfakes, and does that impact on their assessment of user-generated evidence?, and (vii) what are people’s pre-existing levels of trust in media generally, and does that impact on their assessment of user-generated evidence?

We invite interested individuals with a 2.1 level undergraduate degree and master's degree in Psychology or a closely aligned discipline (e.g., Social and Behavioural Sciences) to apply for this fully-funded PhD position. Candidates should have strong quantitative research skills, to include designing, conducting, and analysing data from experiments.

Candidates should include a 500-word research proposal, setting out a sample research question (within the scope of the TRUE project) and the methods they would use to answer this research question; this should also include a brief description of the analytic approach that would be used to analyse the data.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level and a master’s degree. Alternatively, applicants with a UK first class honours degree (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) not holding a master’s degree, will be considered on an individual basis.

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with no individual component below 6.5) or Swansea recognised equivalent.

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £16,062 (UKRI rate).
Additional research expenses will also be available.

Open days

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