Postgraduate research 

Mental Health PhD/iPhD

Group of people as support group

Our research strength is identifying the causes of mental disorders and suicide to develop clinical trials of novel complex interventions.

  • PhD: 3-4 years full-time; 5 years part-time;

Research projects

Self-funded PhD opportunities


Identifying the mechanism of action of physical activity in treating depression

Supervisor: Dr Craig Melville

Project outline

Depression is a common and debilitating illness, affecting over 300 million people worldwide. There is a growing evidence base on the clinical effectiveness of physical activity for the management of depression. Researchers have proposed biological, social and psychological mechanisms of action by which physical activity helps manage depressive symptoms. In keeping with theories informing behavioural activation, preliminary experimental evidence suggests that the mechanism of action of physical activity may be due to direct effects on positive affect and physiological arousal. 

Summary aim

To examine the acute and prolonged impact of physical activity on affect, arousal and depressive symptoms.

Techniques to be used

  • experimental and field-based research skills
  • subjective and objective measurement of the response to physical activity
  • linear and non-linear statistical methods


  1. Harvey et al. (2010) Physical activity and common mental disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry; 197: 357-364.
  2. Kopp M, Steinlechner, Ruedl G et al. (2012). Acute effects of brisk walking on affect and psychological well-being in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice; 95:25-29. 
  3. Joseffson et al. (2014) Physical exercise intervention in depressive disorders: Meta-analysis and systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 24, 259-272.


Dr Craig Melville, University of Glasgow, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Gartnavel Royal Hospital Glasgow, G12 0X.  

Tel 0141 211 0690



Health in kinship families

Supervisor: Helen Minnis and Rory O’Connor

Project outline

When children are separated from their families, usually because of abuse or neglect, some will move to live with extended family members. This is described as Kinship Care.  Many of these arrangements are informal (e.g. “gran” or a sibling takes over the care without any statutory involvement), so that we do not have accurate information about kinship families and, in particular, we know little about their health needs. These families are disproportionately likely to live in poverty and the rates of long-term illness and disability among kinship carers is thought to be much higher than in the general population.  

A recent study of 80 kinship families found that 43% of children had a physical health problem, and over a third had symptoms of a mental health problem. In order to help with future service design for this vulnerable population, this PhD aims to identify the number of children who are living in kinship care in Scotland, and examine how their and their carer’s physical and mental health compares to the rest of the population. 

Summary aim

To identify kinship families and assess their health needs .

Techniques to be used

This mixed methods study will use the Scottish Health Survey, a dataset including 37,000 individuals including 8,000 children under the age of 16, detailed information is available about family/household composition that will allow identification of the numbers of kinship families. These data will then be linked with routinely collected NHS data on physical and mental health.  In depth qualitative interviews will be carried out with 20 kinship families to identify key challenges.


  1. Selwyn et al, 2013. The Poor Relations.
  2. Nandy et al, 2011. Spotlight on Kinship Care.
  3. Aldgate, J., & McIntosh, M. (2006). Looking after the family: a study of children looked after in kinship care in Scotland. Social Work Inspection Agency.


Email or



Mental disorders are the leading global cause of disability and the World Health Organisation estimates that over 0.8 million deaths are due to suicide associated with mental disorders. Therefore, research on mental disorders and suicide is vital to reducing the global burden of disease.

Our more fundamental research examines the contribution of psychological, biological and social factors to the causation of mental disorders and suicidal behaviours. Postgraduate research students working in this area can develop cutting edge, skills relevant to experimental, epidemiological, qualitative and neuroimaging research methods.

A translational approach makes use of the evidence from fundamental research to develop innovative therapeutic approaches for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders and suicidal behaviours. We have expertise in clinical trial methodologies to evaluate complex interventions and implementation science.
Interdisciplinary research groups provide postgraduate research opportunities in these themes:

  • suicidal behaviour research
  • psychological therapies
  • bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression
  • big data and mental disorder
  • neuropsychology of neurological disorders
  • autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities
  • attachment, childhood maltreatment and mental disorders


Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing. Our supervisors are from clinical and scientific backgrounds and use a variety of approaches including experimental psychology and psychophysiology, functional neuroimaging, multilevel modelling of complex datasets, health services research, qualitative, and clinical trial methodologies. We have excellent engagement with the NHS and with service user and carer organisations.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Experimental approaches to understanding suicidal behaviours and self-harm
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy for severe mental disorders
  • Interpersonal and attachment based models of affect regulation
  • Developing interventions for detecting, responding to and preventing relapse in psychosis
  • Mother-infant attachment in depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis
  • Psychological therapies for negative symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Neuroinflammatory models of mental disorders
  • Low intensity psychological therapies for mental disorders
  • Understanding the outcomes of traumatic brain injury
  • Autism spectrum disorders and comorbid mental disorders
  • Longitudinal studies of the health of people with intellectual disabilities
  • Multimorbidity and mental disorders
  • Physical activity and weight management programs for people with intellectual disabilities
  • Assistive technologies for adults with specific neuropsychological impairments
  • Identifying shared genetic risk factors for mental disorders and cardiovascular disease
  • Attachment, Childhood maltreatment and mental disorders
  • Socio-ecological models of stigma and discrimination in vulnerable populations

Study options


  • Duration: 3/4 years full-time; 5 years part-time

Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators.

Integrated PhD programmes (5 years)

Our integrated PhD programme will be available soon.


Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.

English language requirements

Subject to confirmation for 2022 entry

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0. 
  • Tests must have been taken within 4 years 5 months of start date. Combined scores from two tests taken within 6 months of each other can be considered.

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission to this programme:

TOEFL (ib, my best or athome)

  • 90 with minimum R 20, L 19, S 19, W 23. 
  • Tests must have been taken within 4 years 5 months of start date. Combined scores from two tests taken within 6 months of each other can be considered.

PTE (Academic)

  • 60 with minimum 59 in all sub-tests.
  • Tests must have been taken within 4 years 5 months of start date. Combined scores from two tests taken within 6 months of each other can be considered.

Glasgow International College English Language (and other foundation providers)

  • 65%.
  • Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.

University of Glasgow Pre-sessional courses

  • Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.

Alternatives to English Language qualification

  • Undergraduate degree from English speaking country (including Canada if taught in English)
  • Undergraduate 2+2 degree from English speaking country
  • Undergraduate 2+2 TNE degree taught in English in non-English speaking country
  • Masters degree from English speaking country
  • Masters degree (equivalent on NARIC to UK masters degree) taught in English in non-English speaking country.

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:

Fees and funding



  • UK: fee not  yet available (2021/22 fee was £4,500)
  • International & EU: £23,950

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Additional fees for all students:

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

Alumni discount

We offer a 20% discount to our alumni on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School with us. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Funding for EU students

The Scottish Government has confirmed that fees for EU students commencing their studies 2020/21 will be at the same level as those for UK student. 

From 2021/22, new entrant EU students will pay the same fees as all other international students.


2021/22 fees

  • UK: £4,500
  • International & EU: £23,000

Additional fees for all students:

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790



The iPhD  is not supported by University of Glasgow Scholarship/Funding


The College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
Our over-arching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:

  • provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
  • training in essential research and generic skills
  • excellence in supervision and mentoring
  • interactive discussion groups and seminars
  • an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
  • synergy between research groups and areas
  • extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
  • extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK 
  • a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training

Research environment

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Research Group is based within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, under the Directorship of Professor Jill Pell. This Research Institute is a partnership between the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences and the College of Social Sciences.  This cross-disciplinary group includes: 

  • the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
  • our research groups in mental health
  • public health
  • health economics and health technology assessment
  • general practice and primary care
  • and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics & Clinical Trials Unit

We have over 300 staff and 130 doctoral students,  Our students receive regular seminar programmes and thematic workshops from a wide range of national and international speakers.

We deliver world-class research-informed postgraduate training in clinical psychology, global mental health and neuropsychology. We have excellent links with NHS Scotland, in particular the NHS Research Scotland Mental Health Network and Clinical Research Facilities based in Glasgow and elsewhere.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Research Group is at the forefront internationally of the development and evaluation of new psychosocial interventions, with trials of therapeutic and complex interventions in adult mental health, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, suicide risk and parent-infant mental health. These trials are underpinned by a programme of work aimed at understanding the psychological, social, interpersonal and biological mechanisms of change. Our focus on epidemiology is charting trajectories to determine when, where and how to intervene.

How to apply

Identify potential supervisors

All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor* who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.

You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.

*iPhD applicants do not need to contact a supervisor, as you will start your programme by choosing a masters from our Taught degree programmes A-Z [do not apply directly to a masters].

Gather your documents

Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

  1. Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  2. Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document
  3. Two references on headed paper and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional [except iPhD applicants, where only one academic or professional reference is required]. References may be uploaded as part of the application form or you may enter your referees contact details on the application form. We will then email your referee and notify you when we receive the reference.  We can also accept confidential references direct to, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area. iPhD applicants do not need to submit any of these as you will start your programme by choosing a masters.

Notes for iPhD applicants

  • add 'I wish to study the MSc in (chosen subject) as the masters taught component of the iPhD' in the research proposal box
  • write 'n/a' for the supervisor name

Apply now

I've applied. What next?

If you have any other trouble accessing Applicant Self-Service, please see Application Troubleshooting/FAQs. 

Contact us

Before you apply

PhD/MSc/MD: email

iPhD: email

After you have submitted your application

PhD/MSc/MD/iPhD: contact our Admissions team

Any references may be submitted by email to: