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ESRC Funded PhD studenship

ESRC Funded PhD studenship

9th October, 2019

Fully funded PhD studentship (ESRC funded)

School of Psychology, Bangor University

Closing date: 31st October 2019

Supporting the impact of dementia in rural Wales

 Dr Rebecca Sharp and Professor Gill Windle

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship within the School of Psychology, Bangor University. Funding is available for three years. The studentship will commence from January 2020. It includes a payment of UK/EU level tuition fees, a maintenance allowance (£15,009 p.a. for 2019/20) for full-time students, updated each year) as well as a generous research allowance of per annum.


 The studentship is part of an ESRC-NIHR programme of research examining the impact of multicomponent support groups for those living with rare dementias (‘The Rare Dementia Support Impact project’), which is a collaboration between Bangor University, University College London (the project lead) and Nipissing University, Canada.

The objective of this studentship is to respond to research gaps for those with a dementia, including rare dementias, living in rural Wales. Estimates suggest the increases in the number of people living with a dementia in Wales are higher for rural areas (44%) than the rest of Wales (31%; WG, 2011). Yet there is a notable absence of contemporary research and knowledge about the impact of dementia in rural Wales (Alzheimer’s Society, 2016). The recent Dementia Action Plan for Wales acknowledges that people living with dementia in rural communities may have difficulties accessing support services. Support services are becoming increasingly digitised, however the absence of research about the experience of dementia in rural areas raises difficulties in knowing what kind of care and support might be most useful and beneficial to the person living with dementia, and their families (Innes, Morgan and Kosteneuk, 2011).

 Phase 1: will conduct semi-structure interviews with: a) people living with dementia, including rarer forms, exploring their experiences living in a rural location; and b) family carers, exploring the challenges they face in their role, their strategies for coping, and to identify which support they feel is most needed.

Phase 2: will design a tool that will identify support needs for people with dementia and rare dementias and their families in rural North Wales. This is will use methods from clinical behavioural gerontology to address care needs across four domains; 1) increasing behaviours (e.g., teaching new leisure skills); 2) decreasing behaviours (e.g., providing a functional alternative behaviour to aggression); 3) maintaining behaviours (e.g., adding prompts to the environment to help someone maintain their independence in preparing meals).

Phase 3: will test the validity of the tool with family carers using mixed-methods.

Phase 4: will develop a behavioural skills training package for family carers. Those who took part in the earlier phases will be taught to implement three domains from the tool reflecting their personal goals. The findings will be shared with academic and stakeholder groups, and will be of practical use to caregivers and care providers.

 The successful candidate will be encouraged to design innovative studies to address these questions as well as identify novel questions in the same line.

 Supervision: Dr Rebecca Sharp is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. She is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (Doctoral level) with extensive clinical experience working with vulnerable people, and clinical and research experience in behavioural gerontology. Professor Gill Windle is a Gerontologist and a Chartered Psychologist, and leads the ageing and dementia research for the School of Healthcare Sciences. As a full-time academic researcher she supervises teams of research assistants, encouraging career development and timely project delivery. 


 ESRC studentships are highly competitive, so candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree for both undergraduate and masters work. Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.

Desirable qualities

  • A background in behaviour analysis
  • An interest in ageing and dementia research and practice
  • Experience of quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Good interpersonal skills, able to work co-operatively
  • Excellent verbal and written skills
  • Resourceful and able to act on own initiative
  • Excellent problem solving abilities
  • Demonstrate the ability to prioritise work load and work to deadline
  • Excellent computer skills, including MS Office, Powerpoint, Excel, SPSS
  • Good analytical skills

 The student will have to opportunity to access and contribute to the early career research network established by the RDS project team for all early career researchers working and studying on research funded through the 2018 ESRC-NIHR Dementia Research Initiative.

 How to apply:

All application must be received through our online application system:

Applications must contain the following documents:

  1. Covering letter: This letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Bangor University; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages.
  2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
  3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
  4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
  5. Research Proposal: The proposal should build directly on the outline description above. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:

   a)Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
   b)An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
   c)Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
   d)A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the  topic);
   e)Bibliographic references

Short-listed applicants will be invited to an interview, which will include a short writing task to demonstrate their academic skills.

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