ESRC SeNSS Collaborative studentship

ESRC 1+3 and +3 Studentships via SeNSS - How do schools prevent emerging issues with body image? (2022)


What you get

The studentship award covers your university fees and provides you with a stipend of £15,609 per year. You will also be able to apply for small amounts of additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant.

Type of award

Postgraduate research

PhD project


Supervisors: Faith Orchard, Megan Hurst, Sam Cartwright-Hatton

Schools play an important role in the lives of young people. Most young people spend much of their time at school and attend the same setting over several years. Recent policy proposals have advocated increasing the role of schools in the provision of mental health services. This has resulted in a novel approach with the implementation of school-based mental health support teams (MHSTs). Negative self-perceptions and self-image are a pervasive and distressing part of many mental health difficulties. A particular aspect of self-image that has an established link with mental health is body dissatisfaction (Dallas et al 2017). Body dissatisfaction encroaches on young people’s mental health with elevated levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms (Sharpe et al 2018; Neves et al 2017). It is important to identify risk factors that that may influence body image, as well as establishing opportunities for intervention. Successful intervention of body image would allow for early improvement of a distressing experience, with the potential for prevention of future mental health problems.

This project will be a collaboration between the University of Sussex (UoS) and the Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (SPFT), specifically the West Sussex School Based Mental Health Support Team (MHST) Research Clinic.

Project aims and objectives:

This PhD project will explore the transition from primary to secondary school as a key life experience that may influence body image, as well as investigating opportunities for early intervention at this life stage.

Training Opportunities

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed in consultation with the supervisors. Elements of training will be provided by the supervisors, University of Sussex, and by other providers.

There are four training objectives for this studentship:

  1. To be trained in a range of new research skills, including quantitative and qualitative research methods
  2. To develop skills in designing and implementing research in partnership with lived experience groups;
  3. To develop a network of collaborators for progressing in a future research career; and
  4. To disseminate research via publications, social media and conference presentations.

Applicants: essential and/or desirable attributes/skills

This PhD studentship would suit someone who is passionate about youth mental health and the improvement of access to evidence based, early interventions and the development of mental health provision in schools. Candidates should have a degree in Psychology or related subject, with additional research experience. It would be desirable for candidates to have experience of working with young people or parents, or individuals with mental health difficulties.

Studentship Details:

  • This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year MSc followed by a three-year PhD), a +3 award (a three-year PhD)
  • It may be taken full-time or part-time.


Applicants must hold at least a UK upper second class honours degree or equivalent. 

Residential Eligibility

  • To be eligible for a full award you must be a Home or International student who satisfies the criteria below:

To be a home student, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If you do not meet any of the criteria above, you are classed as an international student.

Number of scholarships available



9 February 2022 23:59

How to apply

In order to be considered for this SeNSS studentship, you must first apply for a place to study at the University of Sussex, noting that you are applying for the collaborative studentship. Please go to for information on how to make your application.

You will then need to make a separate application to SeNSS for this collaborative studentship. Please read the SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application Guidance Notes before completing the SENSS online application form. The Guidance Notes are available on the following webpage: Applying for a SeNSS collaborative studentship

The deadline for applying for a place at the University of Sussex is 9 February 2022 (23:59)

The deadline for completing a SeNSS application form is 28 February 2022 (12:00 - midday)

Contact us

For enquiries related to the studentship topic, please email Dr Faith Orchard 

For enquires related to the studentship and the application process, please email


9 February 2022 (23:59) - deadline for applying for a PhD place at the University of Sussex

28 February 2022 (12:00 midday) - deadline for completing the SeNSS application form.

Mid March - interviews

Successful applicants will be informed in early April 2022





At level(s):
PG (taught), PG (research)

Application deadline:
9 February 2022 23:59 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: