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Studying for a PhD

Studying for a PhD

The Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, invites applications for PhD studentships in the academic year 2022-2023.

Our Research Strengths

The Department has an active postgraduate research community, is well-equipped for research, and is situated on a beautiful campus close to London. We were ranked 6th out of 82 UK Psychology Departments in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), with 93% of our research classified as world-leading or internationally excellent. 

Research in the department spans a breadth of topics across psychological sciences and neuroscience. We are supported by excellent facilities including an onsite, research-dedicated functional MRI facility, EEG, TMS, tDCS and eye-tracking; as well as labs dedicated to sleep, vestibular-multisensory integration, psychophysiology, psycholinguistics and infant cognition. Further information on our research environment can be found in brief on our research profile page. For more detail on the research in our department, our collaborations, impact, research groups, etc., please visit our Department research pages. The research interests of individual staff members can be found within our directory.

Departmental Studentships

Each year our department offers a number of funded studentships in specific areas that will enhance our research capabilities. Our department is also part of the prestigious ESRC SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership and the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral (LIDo) Programme.

Studentships are available from several sources, which may vary, from time to time, in terms of eligibility and application procedures. We are currently advertising the following opportunities:


Psychology Department Studentships 5th January 2022 at 5 pm
ESRC SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership Studentships 5th January 2022 at 5 pm
BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral (LIDo) Programme
21st January 2022 at 5 pm
Sarah Parker Remond Studentship 5th January 2022 at 5 pm
Matched funding Studentship  
Psychology Graduate Teaching Associate- PhD studentship Closed for 2021/22 entry
StoryFutures studentship (internal candidates only) Closed for 2021/22 entry

Please see below for information on how to apply

Develop your skills

We're committed to providing excellent training and career development opportunities for our PhD students. Successful applicants engage in departmental training to develop both their research-related and transferable skills. You can tailor your own experience, choosing from a wide variety of courses covering career development, communication skills, and specialised research methods.

You're strongly encouraged to attend and contribute to research group seminars, departmental colloquia and our annual Postgraduate Convention. In addition to departmental training, research students can take advantage of the College-led Researcher Development Programme. 

How do I apply?

All PhD positions (whether self-funded or not) may be applied for only after consultation with a proposed supervisor. That is, before you make an application you will need to find a supervisor by contacting a member of academic staff (with research interests similar to yours), to discuss your PhD ideas. For some funding types, as advertised, you can find potential projects and research interests on our website. You can find the research interests of individual staff members within our directory.  Once you identify a member of the academic staff who you would be interested in working with, please contact the staff member directly. When approaching staff it is generally helpful to attach a copy of your CV and transcript to date, as well as some information on what has motivated you to do a PhD and what interests you about the proposed research area (link to staff expertise where appropriate).

To apply, you must have an agreement with a supervisor that they will be willing to supervise you. All of our PhD projects are supervised by two staff members to support students to support knowledge and skills development throughout the PhD. Your agreed supervisor will help to identify an appropriate second supervisor (in some cases this may already be set within potential projects that are posted) and will be able to answer any questions that you have and help you with your application.

Applicants may also have alternative sources of funding; for instance, international students may receive direct support from overseas organisations.


Applicants should have the equivalent of a 2.1-honours in Psychology, or a related discipline, and meet College requirements for English (for international students). The chance of obtaining a studentship is increased for applicants holding a first-class Bachelor’s degree and/or a relevant MSc. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply but would be required to cover the difference between the UK and overseas tuition fee rates.

Step 1

Take a look at the research profiles of the associated staff members, then contact your intended supervisor and find out whether they would be prepared to supervise you. You can then start to carve out your specific ‘research plan’ with advice from your potential supervisor. We expect a one-to-one match between student and project, so each student can only prepare an application with one supervisor.

Step 2

Your application must be submitted through the College online application system, for which you need to register at the outset of the process. The online application system provides a lot of detail, including a list of documents that are required for each PhD application. You will need to nominate two referees (neither of which should be your proposed supervisor) on this online form. They will be contacted by the College directly, but it is always a good idea for you to contact referees before you submit your application to make them aware of your plans, and so they can respond to the College request swiftly. Please provide:

  • an up-to-date CV
  • a degree transcript and copies of any other qualifications
  • copies of English language qualifications (if English is not your first language)
  • contact details for two references
  • your Research Proposal (see details provided below)
  • a personal statement (see detail provided below)
  • a detailed financial plan (drawn up with your potential supervisor; see details provided below)
  • a supporting statement from your potential supervisor (a letter, which you must attach to your online application; see details are provided below) 

Once you have carefully checked your application press the submit button. Your application is on its way!

What happens next?

After completeness and validity checks, your electronic submission will be sent to the Department of Psychology, together with the references obtained by the College. Once the Department is happy that all the required information is attached to your application, it is passed to the Postgraduate Research Committee, along with those of other applicants, for their consideration. The Committee may, at this stage, request further information from individual applicants.

If you are unsuccessful at this stage you will be notified via email. If you are shortlisted then, you may be invited to an interview, which under certain circumstances may be done by video link.

More guidance on some of the requested documents

Research Proposal (maximum 10,000 characters including spaces and references ): The research proposal should be completed by the applicant with input from the potential supervisor. It should include:

If you are applying for a specific studentship, please state the name of the studentship at the top of the proposal (this will not be included in the character count). If you are eligible and applying for consideration of more than one studentship, please list all that you are eligible and wish to be considered for.

A brief introduction of the research topic, including a review of the relevant literature, and a description of the main research questions to be addressed. 

A methods section stating how this question will be investigated (design, techniques, analysis). 

A succinct outline of the first studies, including contingency plans showing how potential problems will be addressed, such as recruitment of participants, obtaining external ethical approval, development of new equipment and methods etc.

A timeline showing how the planned research can be completed within a three-year timescale (six years if part-time study).

Note, it is important that the expertise of your potential supervisors and the facilities available at RHUL (e.g. specialist equipment) are highlighted in relation to your research proposal.

personal statement completed by you (maximum 500 words): This should include information on your reasons for applying for your PhD, for our programme, and to carry out this project. Outline why you should be awarded a place on our PhD programme (and for the funding if applying for a studentship), what your career goals are, what has prepared you to undertake the PhD and proposed work, and what skill set and knowledge you have that will allow to succeed and make an impact (please highlight relevant achievements supporting why you would be a strong candidate).

The financial plan (completed by the potential supervisor with the applicant): This should be detailed in nature and as accurate as is possible because awareness of project costs will play a crucial part in the Department’s decision-making process. The financial plan should include, as a minimum, the following:

How you intend to fund yourself during the three year period (six years, if part-time) of study (e.g., departmental studentship, SeNSS studentship, self-funded). 

A financial plan, agreed with your intended supervisor, showing how any specific costs associated with the research project (such as participant payments, travel costs, MRI scanning, or other equipment costs) are to be met during the study period. 

If your project requires the use of department resources (MRI scanning time, EEG equipment) you will need to provide a statement from the lab director of the relevant equipment to support that costs will be subsidised; this will be provided via your potential supervisor.

A supporting statement completed by your potential supervisor:Your potential primary supervisor will need to indicate, in writing, their willingness to supervise you. If there are any specific issues to be addressed (such as using techniques outside the supervisor's area of expertise) then some indication of how this will be achieved must be included. Their statement should include their academic record and the relevance of his/her research to the proposed project, and to the Departmental research strategy.


Enquiries for further general information should be directed to:

Prof Dawn Watling,, Psychology PGR Lead

Prof Narender Ramnani,, Psychology Deputy PGR Lead

Dr Shiri Lev-Ari,, Psychology Deputy PGR Lead


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