School of Psychology Degree programmes

Research by PhD: funded positions

School of Psychology OPEN Studentships

The Opportunity

We are currently accepting applications to study for a PhD in one (or more) of the areas of research outlined below, conducting research with leading academics, their research teams and collaborators. We currently have 16 Open PhD studentships supported by a range of funding sources. Those wishing to apply do not need to have their own specific research proposal. Indeed many of our successful students arrive having only identified a general area of interest in which to conduct their research apprenticeships, which in many cases provides an opportunity for training in a wide range of techniques. By the time our students have competed their PhDs, the majority will have published scientific papers in leading peer-reviewed journals, and go on to secure positions in academic or academic-related domains (e.g., fellowships, post-doctoral research in the UK or abroad, postgraduate taught courses, lectureships, industrial research).

Our PhD studentships therefore provide opportunities to be trained in many techniques relevant to your topic area, and to gain experience from projects beyond your own, in order to strengthen your research expertise and future employment prospects.

Studentships will commence in October 2017, and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (occasionally students start at a different time of year; if necessary, you can make a case for this in your application). In 2016-17 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £14,296 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (approx. £2250 for the duration of the studentship).They also receive a computer and office space, additional funding for their research, and access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.

Most positions are a 3-year award for full time research. We also have funding for “1+3” awards – a one-year Masters course followed by a 3-year research PhD. The Masters year includes lecture courses, some modular course-work and an extensive research project (which normally is in a topic related to the following PhD). You apply in the same way for both, but you can indicate a preference for a 3-year award, or a 1+3 award.

Non-UK/non-EU students

The School has in the past been able to offer some successful overseas applicants a stipend and support for tuition fees up to an amount equivalent to UK/EU students, with the remainder coming from other sources, including self-funding.

Choosing a topic and a supervisor

You do not need to have a project worked out before you apply, you just need to know what area you are most interested in, and which staff in the School you would like to work with. The actual PhD projects that successful applicants end up doing will be worked out in discussion between the applicant and the supervisor(s) either before the place is offered, or in on-going discussion afterwards. It is critical to have in mind one or several potential supervisors in advance, and to indicate this on your application.

The School of Psychology undertakes outstanding interdisciplinary scientific research under three broad and contemporary research themes: Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Social, Health & Developmental Psychology. These themes are underpinned by ten smaller research groups: Behavioural Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Imaging Science, Learning and Development, Thinking and Reasoning, Perception and Action, Attention and Memory, Social Psychology, Wellbeing, Health and Mental Health, Developmental Science. Note that the research areas given there are generally flexible, and you are welcome to submit your own ideas in related areas.

Both within and across these groups, collaborative research is evident and encouraged, as it is with the broader University, other UK and international academics.

To identify a topic area and potential supervisor for your PhD, click here. Read the ‘Postgraduate Students’ information on the academic profile of the supervisor(s) you are interested in working with. Collaborative research proposals are encouraged. You can put more than one potential supervisor on your application form.

For illustrations of just some of the types of projects you might do, click here.

All PhD positions in the School are supervised by a supervisory research team. The team is put together by agreement between appropriate members of staff. Sometimes one member of staff takes the main lead in supervising, with support from other staff, and sometimes the supervisory load is spread more evenly.

For any PhD to be a success, the choice of supervisor(s) is generally more important than the specific project. You have to form a productive working relationship. Therefore we advise thorough discussions with your supervisor before you actually take up a position in Cardiff.


Cardiff University School of Psychology is one of the largest departments in the UK, with acknowledged excellence in research and teaching. We offer a wide range of PhD studentships each year so that in addition to being mentored by experienced and supportive supervisory teams, PhD students joint a vibrant community who share office space and socialise together. For examples of what our current PhD students do, click here. For further reasons to choose cardiff click here.


Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.

School studentship funding is highly competitive. In view of the limited number of awards and the very high standard of applications received, successful applicants should possess or expect to obtain, a first-class or upper second honours degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or a relevant subject.

A postgraduate Masters degree (or equivalent) would strengthen your application, but is certainly not a requirement. See also our entry requirements.

How to apply

To apply please complete the online application form here. Please ensure that you identify at least one potential supervisor and state which of the 10 research areas you wish to work in. Specify in the funding section that you wish to be considered for School funding.


For the main open competition, the deadline is 17th March 2017 with interviews being held in early April. A second round of applications may be accepted, the deadline being the 26th May 2017 with interviews being held at the start of June. Please check with the School that the second round is available before applying (

We also have some places with open topic areas for which applications can be received at any time of year on a rolling basis. An application to the Open scheme will automatically be considered also for these. If you a particular reason that the March deadline is unsuitable for you (e.g. you need to decide about an offer from elsewhere, or you cannot make interviews in March), please make your case in an email to Clair Southard.

Note also that there are also more specific projects funded by specific grants advertised in the “specific funded projects” section, each will have its own deadline.

The “project proposal” section

On the application form, you will be asked to describe a potential PhD project. This section is mainly for you to indicate your range of interests (general or specific). It is also an opportunity for you, if you choose, to show you can coherently describe an example of the type of study you might like to do. If you choose to do this, we do not expect a fully planned PhD! Do not be afraid that you are limiting your PhD project – the proposal simply forms part of the application procedure and if your application is successful, your PhD research will not be constrained by the proposal you wrote. Your actual research topic would be worked out in discussion with your potential supervisor (and may not resemble your proposal at all in the end). The space on the form is simply an opportunity for you to write an idea for a study or experiment, to help distinguish your application from others.

The “personal statement” section

Briefly outline your motivation for doing a PhD in the research area of your choice.

For other sources of funding for UK/EU/international students please use the university's funding and scholarship search facility.