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Understanding the mechanisms driving the reduction of repetitive negative thought

   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof E Watkins  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Department of Psychology (Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research), Streatham Campus, Exeter

The University of Exeter’s Department of Psychology is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by Wellcome Trust and the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences to commence on 25 September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £19,919 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.

Project Description

This PhD is located within a wider project examining the mechanisms driving the reduction of repetitive negative thought via cognitive-behaviour therapy. This large-scale flagship research project seeks to understand the active ingredients of cognitive-behavioural therapies that reduce worry and rumination, to optimise transdiagnostic interventions to prevent and treat common mental health disorders. The project will integrate experimental psychopathology approaches, close engagement with experts-by-experience/lived experience and a definitive international factorial treatment trial. The project involves collaboration between the University of Exeter, University of California Los Angeles, and LMU Munich. The project provides an excellent opportunity for a graduate seeking to develop a research career in clinical and applied research. The focus of the project will be on investigating the active mechanisms underpinning cognitive-behavioural therapy through an integration of experimental studies and lived experience engagement. Key mechanisms that could be examined in more detail include: reducing the habitual nature of repetitive negative thought; shifting from abstract to concrete, specific thinking; shifting from self-criticism to self-compassion; improving attentional focus to the present moment; developing insight and understanding of difficulties.

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £19,919 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in a relevant subject (e.g., Psychology or similar), or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, and typically also obtained an MSc degree in a relevant subject (or will be required to audit relevant MSc modules in first year of study.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level as per our guidance at

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents

• CV

• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).

• Research proposal (outlining a proposed research question and method to investigate)

• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)

• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference number.

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Friday 18th August 2023. Interviews will be held virtually / on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus in the week commencing 4th September 2023

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers) Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor - Professor Ed Watkins

For more information or to apply - click here - Award details | Funding and scholarships for students | University of Exeter

Psychology (31)
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