Supervision for PhD Psychology within our Department of Psychology is available in the fields of cognitive psychology, sensory and cognitive neuroscience, and social psychology. You study in a stimulating and vibrant research environment, and we provide excellent research facilities. In general, our PhD students enjoy the same access to neuroscience and other research equipment as our academic staff, and access to our research participant pool, which is essential for your experimental research. You also benefit from the supportive supervision given by our staff, and the friendly and collegiate atmosphere provided by fellow students. This ensures that we have an exemplary record in supporting our PhD students to produce high quality theses within three years.
With the skills and knowledge you acquire from studying within our Department, you will find yourself in demand from a wide range of employers. Our students have been employed in clinical psychology, educational psychology, criminal and forensic psychology. We also have excellent links with the research community and our PhD students have taken up post-doctoral positions in other top UK universities and internationally (including in the US, Italy and Australia), as well as being appointed to lectureships.
We also offer an MPhil in this subject.
Please note, part-time research study is also available.
Why study PhD Psychology at Essex?
Our Department of Psychology has a strong reputation for research and teaching, with over half of our research defined as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008) and a ranking of thirteenth in the UK in the 2010 National Student Survey.
We provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology, with our Hearing Research Laboratory and our Visual Perception Unit. We also have our Centre for Brain Sciences (CBS), a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource for psychology and neuroscience, with specialised laboratories for investigating brain activity.
Within our Department of Psychology, we provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for your study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology.
We also have our Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource with specialised laboratories for investigating behaviour and brain activity including: two eye tracking labs for recording eye movements, four electroencephalography (EEG) labs for recording cortical oscillatory activity, event-related potentials (ERP) and functional connectivity; two near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) labs for measuring changes in blood oxygenation levels; four neuromodulation labs including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), repetitive TMS (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and neuronavigation facilities.
Your research degree gives you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. You develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. A PhD can open doors to many careers.
Within our Department of Psychology, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.
The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.
Twice a year, you will have a supervisory board meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.
How you will study
The award of a PhD signifies an original and substantial contribution to knowledge that means you can be considered an expert in your field. The majority of your learning comes from ‘hands on’ experience of designing, conducting and analysing your original research, as well as from the demanding process of writing and submitting a PhD. To help in this process, you attend several taught courses in your first year and all our research students are required to undertake postgraduate research training modules as part of their studies.
At the end of your first and second years you will prepare a 10,000 word document that contains a review of relevant literature and summarises findings from your empirical work conducted in that year. You will also take part in a Post Graduate Research conference in which you make an oral presentation of this work to the Department. The submission of the 10,000 word document in particular helps you prepare for the writing of your thesis.
Finalising your PhD
Students within our Department of Psychology submit a dissertation of up to 80,000 words. We take pride in our completion record with our PhD students. We achieve this, in part, by ensuring from the outset that you follow a clear path to ensure completion within three years – with specific appropriate milestones at the end of your first and second years.
Seminars and conferences
Within our Department of Psychology, to increase and foster intellectual discussion about research findings, we host a very active programme of research seminars, including a weekly research seminar, given by distinguished speakers from outside our Department.
In addition, we have our weekly staff seminar at which our own research staff, as well as Essex-based colleagues from other departments, present their latest research and ideas.
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For research study within our Department of Psychology, we normally require an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, in psychology or a relevant discipline. A well developed research proposal is also essential.
If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent.
For up-to-date information on funding opportunities at Essex, please visit:
StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.
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