Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship - What prevents people from being kind? (2022)

The studentship covers Home level PhD tuition fees (currently £4500), a stipend (currently £15,609 pa) plus some research and training costs.

What you get

  • A stipend for 3 years (tied to the UKRI studentship rates, currently £15,609 p.a.) to cover living costs
  • UK Home fees and research/training costs are also covered.
  • International students may apply for this Home/UK studentship but must fund the difference between UK Home fees and International fees (approximately £18,500 per year). One option is self-funding.
  • The School has one Scholarship available for an International student which covers a 3 year stipend AND Overseas fees. It will be very competitive and you will be considered alongside applicants from across Psychology. If you wish to be considered for funding for overseas fees then please indicate this in your application.  
  • You will also be expected to take up Doctoral Tutoring during your 6 semesters (3 years) of funding. This work is paid at Grade 5.1 (currently £13.88 per hour), and covers contact time, preparation and marking. You will be expected to work approximately 165 hours per year, dependent on modules selected and availability.


Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

Kindness (prosociality) is universally acknowledged as a positive trait and behaviour, and yet people often forego opportunities to help, say hello to a stranger, or pass along a compliment, and kindness is, in many ways, devalued. This project will explore the personal and situational factors that prevent/discourage people from performing an act of kindness when the opportunity arises. These factors are likely to be related to, but may also differ from the factors that enable/encourage people to be kind, which we will also explore. Both kinds of information will inform the ultimate goal: understanding how to promote more kindness. There is plenty of scope for you to shape this project to match your personal interests.

This PhD will be supervised by Dr Gillian Sandstrom, who is helping to establish a formal research centre for the study of kindness. The student is expected to be actively involved with the activities of the growing research centre.



Doctoral Tutor role: 

Doctoral Tutors will begin teaching in the second term of their studies. You will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate of the Higher Education Academy), including enrolling on a ‘starting to teach’ module in the first term before you begin teaching. Candidates who demonstrate suitability for, and express interest in, the additional Doctoral Tutor role will be preferred. 



  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/UK rate. International students may apply but must fund the difference between the Home fees and International Fees (this fee difference is currently £18,500 per year). International students are also welcome to apply for the Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship (International) naming Gillian Sandstrom as the potential supervisor. 
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience or a related discipline.
  • The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background. 

Number of scholarships available



18 January 2022 23:59

How to apply

  • In the 'Supervisor suggested by applicant' section of your application, put 'Gillian Sandstrom'.
  • In the 'Proposed source of funding' section of your application, please put 'Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship. If you are an International student liable for overseas fees, please also indicate whether you wish to be considered for the Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship (International)

Candidates should provide: 

  • A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, and an outline of potential methods. The research proposal should be approximately 1,000 to 1,500 words in length and not exceed 3 pages, including references. It should be set at a minimum of 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • Current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses. 
  • Two academic references.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A document summarising any teaching experience you have and illustrating your suitability for a Doctoral Tutor role. 
  • International students who are liable to pay overseas fees should also upload a document explaining how you will cover the difference between home and overseas fees if you are not awarded the Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship (International)

Contact us

For queries with respect to the application process:  

To discuss the details of your research interests further, please contact Gillian Sandstrom. Gillian is currently at the University of Essex but is moving to the University of Sussex in January 2022.



Deadline: Tuesday 18 January 2022 (23:59)

Interviews (in person or on Zoom): early February 2022

Decisions: before end of February 2022


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
18 January 2022 23:59 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: