ESRC SeNSS Collaborative studentship

ESRC 1+3 and +3 Studentships via SeNSS - What is mindfulness? Development of a cross-cultural consensual definition and a cross-cultural measure of mindfulness (2023)


What you get

Scholarships are for 3 to 4 years and cover PhD tuition fees (or MSc fees if required in year one), a stipend (currently £17,668 pa) plus some research and training costs.

Type of award

Postgraduate research

PhD project

Primary supervisor: Prof Clara Strauss

Second supervisor: Prof Kate Cavanagh

Collaborative partner: Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Collaborative partner supervisor: Prof. Ruth Baer (expert consultant), Dr Jenny Gu (mentor)

Project background

Mindfulness has become extremely popular in recent years and there are a vast number of mindfulness training courses available. This is partly because research has demonstrated that learning mindfulness is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing and mindfulness training is even recommended in NHS treatment guidelines for depression. However, despite this, different people define mindfulness in different ways and there are cross-cultural differences in how people think about mindfulness. This also means that it is difficult to measure mindfulness accurately because we first need to agree on what mindfulness is before we can measure it. Measuring mindfulness accurately is important because it will allow us to know how well existing mindfulness training programmes improve mindfulness and it will also allow us to refine mindfulness training programmes so that they can improve all aspects of mindfulness more fully and potentially lead to better outcomes. Both supervisors are clinical psychologists and, during the studentship, there will be the opportunity to gain clinical experience working in the NHS within the Sussex Mindfulness Centre.

Project aims and objectives

This studentship has two aims:

1. To develop a valid and reliable self-report measure of mindfulness in line with a cross-cultural understanding of mindfulness;

2. To develop and refine non-self-report measures of mindfulness, including measures using behavioural and psychophysiological methods

Training Opportunities

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed in consultation with the supervisors as required. Elements of training will be provided by the supervisors, University of Sussex, and by other providers. Training can include, dependent on the needs of the student, training in systematic review methods, measure development methods, relevant statistical analysis skills, behavioural methods (lab-based testing) and training in psychophysiological assessment including measuring heart rate variability and interoceptive awareness.


Essential and/or desirable attributes/skills

It is essential that applicants have an interest in mindfulness, have strong research methods and data analysis skills, and have an interest in developing advanced research methods and data analysis skills. It would also be an advantage but not essential for applicants to have personal experience of mindfulness practice. This studentship would be well-suited to applicants seeking a career in clinical psychology or as a psychology academic specialising in clinical psychology. Both supervisors are clinical psychologists and can provide supervision and guidance on career pathways beyond the PhD. 

Studentship details

This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year Masters degree followed by a three-year PhD), a +3 award (a three-year PhD). Ideally, if you are applying for the 1+3, you would take the MSc in Research Methods in Psychology (code m0145). However, if the student had a strong preference, they could take the MSc in Foundations of Clinical Psychology and Mental Health (code m0143). Please note which Masters degree you would like to do on your HEIapply form. The studentship may be taken full-time or part-time, and covers your university fees, and provides you with a stipend of £17,668 per year. You will also be able to apply for additional funding for training via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant.

Residential eligibility

Whether you are a home or international student, you are eligible for a fully-funded award (your fees will be paid, and you will receive a stipend/salary).

Number of scholarships available



10 February 2023 12:00

How to apply

To apply 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. The deadline for applying to the University of Sussex is 12.00pm GMT (midday) on Friday 10th February 2023. 

You will also need to make a separate second application to SeNSS for funding for this collaborative studentship. Please read the application guidance notes before completing our online application form via the HEIapply platform. The deadline for submitting your application on HEIapply is 12.00pm GMT (midday) on Monday 27 February 2023. No extensions to this deadline will be permitted.

The Guidance Notes are available on the following webpage: Applying for a SeNSS collaborative studentship

Contact us

For enquiries related to the studentship topic, please email Prof Clara Strauss 

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


  • 10 February 2023 - deadline for applying for a PhD place at the University of Sussex.(This deadline was originally set at 6 January but has now been moved to 10 February).
  • 27 February 2023 - deadline for completing the SeNSS application form.
  • Interviews will be held in March 2023.
  • Successful applicants will be informed by the end of April 2023.



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

Application deadline:
10 February 2023 12:00 (GMT)


The award is available to people from these specific countries: