Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships (SURES)

Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.

The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.

Project title: Interoceptive Experience in those who Engage in Self-injury

Start date: October 2018

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to understand the relationship between emotion and interoceptive experience in those who engage in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). It is estimated that as many as 17.2% of the general population have engaged in self-injurious behaviour, therefore understanding precipitating factors is a priority. To date emotional dysregulation has been found to be one of the best predictors of NSSI. However, there are numerous emotion regulation strategies that do not involve self-injury - it is unclear why some individuals turn to NSSI whilst others do not or why NSSI is used to regulate emotion on some occasions and not others. 

This PhD builds upon recent theoretical advances about the interaction between emotion and the perception of autonomic physiological changes within the body, which may be particularly relevant in the context of NSSI. Study 1 would adopt an internet survey design, and statistical modelling, to test hypothesised associations between theorised predictors, including aspects of emotional dysregulation and trait internal and external body perception. Study 2 will use a combination of psychophysiological methods and Ecological Momentary Sampling, administered via a smart phone, to assess emotional valance and activation, interoceptive processing and body awareness, in those admitted to A&E for NSSI. This element of the research will be subject to NHS governance and ethics procedures. Informed by these results, and the expertise of consultants with experience of NSSI, study 3 will involve the development of an intervention targeting aspects of body awareness in those with NSSI. An initial proof-of-concept test of this intervention will also be conducted. With further development, and once properly evaluated, the intervention could be valuable to those who use NSSI and clinicians who treat them.     

The supervisory team will support training in research methodologies such as systematic reviewing, advanced statistical modelling, ecological momentary assessment, and psychophysiological methods (GSR, ECG). The project also offers opportunities to develop skills and gain experience in clinical research and interventions within a vibrant collaborative environment. Opportunities for development of dissemination skills will be available through presentation at local research and interest groups, and attendance at conferences. This should provide the successful candidate with substantial experience and essential skills to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research position, particularly in the field of clinical psychology or autonomic psychophysiology.  

Supervisors / Academic Contacts: Professor Jason Davies / Dr Hayley Young

The successful applicant will have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.

Eligibility

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or distinction at master's degree level in a relevant subject area (e.g psychology, medicine, physiology, or other life sciences).

Candidates with experience in mental health research or clinical practice (e.g. voluntary work), or with an interest in mental health, especially self-harm, are encouraged to apply. Those with experience of psychophysiological methods would be particularly desirable, however full training will be provided. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553 for 3 years. 

There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.

How to Apply

To apply please complete and return the following documents to Dr Vivienne Jenkins (pgrsures@swansea.ac.uk) quoting reference CHHSCi3:

Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome and should be directed to Dr Hayley Young(h.a.young@swansea.ac.uk / +44 (0)1792 295 908).