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School of Psychology Doctoral Research Scholarships – Improving understanding of the factors that predict cognitive behavioural therapy treatment outcome in obsessive compulsive disorder

Project Description

PhD studentship ’Improving understanding of the factors that predict cognitive behavioural therapy treatment outcome in obsessive compulsive disorder’ - supervised by Dr Frances Meeten and Dr Clara Strauss

The Project:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by unwanted, unpleasant and intrusive thoughts that cause distress and repeated compulsive behaviours that are aimed at reducing this distress, or at preventing the thought-about event from occurring. The recommended treatment is behaviour therapy, with the possibility of the addition of cognitive therapy. While this therapy is efficacious, at least half of people with OCD continue to experience clinically significant symptoms after the therapy. Currently, we know little about the psychological factors that may characterise poor response to therapy. Possibilities include both non-specific therapeutic factors (e.g. motivation for change) and factors specific to the treatment of OCD (e.g. individual differences in inhibitory learning or OCD relevant appraisals). The first stage of this project will be to systematically examine published literature to derive predictors and mechanisms of behavioural and cognitive treatment outcomes for OCD. The following stage of the project will develop behavioural tasks to experimentally examine candidate predictors of treatment outcome in an analogue sample. This PhD will be jointly supervised by Dr Frances Meeten (Clinical Lecturer in Psychology) and Dr Clara Strauss (Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead of Sussex Partnership NHS Trust Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic).
For informal discussion and to request further details about the project, please email Dr Frances Meeten ()


• This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate.
• International students may apply but must fund the difference between the Home/EU fees and International Fees (approximately £16,000 per year).
• Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related discipline.
• Candidates who demonstrate suitability for, and express interest in, the additional Doctoral Tutor role will be preferred.
• 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.

Application Procedure:

• Please read our Psychology PhD FAQS before you start your application.
• Please submit your application online for ’PhD in Psychology’ for entry in September 2020.
• In the ’Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section of your application, please put ’Dr Frances Meeten’.
• In the ’Proposed source of funding’ section of your application, please put ’Psychology Doctoral Research Scholarship’.
• You should upload a document summarising any teaching experience you have and illustrating your suitability for a Doctoral Tutor role.
• International students who are liable to pay overseas fees should also explain their plan to cover the difference between home and overseas fees.

Funding Notes

You will be awarded a stipend for 3.25 years (tied to the UKRI studentship rates, currently £15,009 p.a.). UK/EU PhD fees and research/training costs are also covered.

You will also be offered a 3 year fixed term contract, as a Doctoral Tutor, to teach up to 165 hours per year (0.1FTE Grade 5.1 (currently £25,941 p.a. pro rata), covering contact time, preparation, and marking). You will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation and will enrol on a ‘starting to teach’ module in the first term before you begin teaching.


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 50 academic faculty, approximately 80 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 1000 people working in a rich and supportive learning environment.

How good is research at University of Sussex in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 41.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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