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

Research projects

Self-funded PhD opportunities

Paradoxical stress responses in adults with ASD

Supervisor: Dr Craig Melville

Project outline

Studies suggest that there is a relationship between chronic stress experienced by individuals with ASD and the increased rates of anxiety disorders, and other co-morbidities. Experimental stress reactivity studies have found that individuals with ASD have high baseline levels of stress, and experience a paradoxical reduction in objective & subjective measures of stress in response to stressors. For example, non-ASD controls experienced increased heart rate & cortisol in response to the stress tasks, whilst heart rate & cortisol decreased in the individuals with ASD. The mechanism for this paradoxical stress response is unknown but may explain why standard psychosocial approaches to managing anxiety have been found to be less effective for adults with ASD.

Summary aim

To examine whether the paradoxical response to stress in ASD is related to the core social impairments in ASD. to examine this a protocol would examine the response of adults with ASD to a stress reactivity protocol that includes both social and non-social stressors.

Techniques to be used

  • experimental research design skills
  • subjective and objective measurement of the stress response
  • linear and non-linear statistical modelling


  1. Hollocks et al. (2014) Differences in HPA-axis and heart rate responsiveness to psychosocial stress in children with autism spectrum disorders with and without co-morbid anxiety Psychoneuroimmunology 46, 32-45
  2. Toichi, M., & Kamio, Y. (2003). Paradoxical autonomic response to mental tasks in autism. J Autism Dev Disord 33, 417–426 
  3. Jansen et al (2006). Autonomic & neuroendocrine responses to a psychosocial stressor in adults with autism. J Autism Dev Disord 36, 891–899.


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

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


Study options


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

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

Entry requirements

Awarded or expected 1st class or high upper 2nd class BSc degree.

English Language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.

Fees and funding



  • £4,327 UK/EU
  • £21,920 outside EU

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 £525
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,315
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £340
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £765

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

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. 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 UK government has confirmed that EU nationals will remain eligible to apply for Research Council PhD studentships at UK institutions for 2019/20 to help cover costs for the duration of their study. The Scottish Government has confirmed that fees for EU students commencing their studies in 2019/20 and 2020/21 will be at the same level as those for UK students.

2019/20 fees

  • £4,327 UK/EU
  • £21,020 outside EU

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 £500
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,250
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £320
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £730

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.



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.

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 (academic and/or professional).
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.

Submitting References

To complete your application we will need two references (one must be academic the other can be academic or professional).

There are two options for you to submit references as part of your application.  You can upload a document as part of your application or you can enter in your referee’s contact details and we will contact them to request a reference.

Option 1 – Uploading as part of the application form

Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee. You can then upload these via theOnline Application form with the rest your documents to complete the application process.

Please be aware that documents must not exceed 5MB in size and therefore you may have to upload your documents separately. The online system allow you to upload supporting documents only in PDF format. For a free PDF writer go to

Option 2 - Entering contact details as part of the application form

If you enter your referees contact details including email on the application form we will email them requesting they submit a reference once you have submitted the application form.  When the referee responds and sends a reference you will be sent an email to confirm the university has received this.

After submitting your application form

Use our Applicant Self Service uploading documents function to submit a new reference. We can also accept confidential references direct to, from the referee’s university or business email account.  

Apply now

I've applied. What next?

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

If you are requested to upload further documents

Log into the Applicant Self Service and scroll down to the Admissions Section. The screenshot below indicates the section on the page, and the specific area you should go to, highlighted in red:

Applicant self service

Documents must be uploaded in .jpg, .jpeg or .pdf format and must not exceed 5MB in size.  There is a maximum 10MB upload size for all documents with the application.


Once a decision has been made regarding your application the Research Admissions Office will contact you by email.

If you are made an unconditional offer

You can accept your offer through the Applicant-Self-Service by clicking on the ‘Accept/Decline link’ for your chosen programme under the ‘Admissions Section’ at the bottom of the Applicant Self Service screen.  You can access the Applicant Self Service by using the link, username and password you used to apply and selecting the “Self Service” button below your application.

Please make sure you accept your unconditional offer within 4 weeks of receiving your offer. If you are an international student your CAS will not be issued until you have accepted an unconditional offer.

If you are made a conditional offer

If you accept a conditional offer then the offer status on Applicant-Self-Service will change to ‘incomplete’ to indicate that the application is incomplete until such time as all the conditions are met.

Your offer letter will list all the conditions that apply to your offer and you can upload the required document(s) through Applicant Self Service. If you have met the conditions satisfactorily, you will automatically be sent an unconditional offer.

If your application is unsuccessful

If your application is unsuccessful then we will send you an email to inform you of this which will outline the reason why we have been unable to offer you a place on this particular programme. Please note that your application status will be updated to 'Cancelled' on Applicant Self Service if the offer is rejected.

Deferring your offer

If you want to defer your start date, please contact us directly at We need authorisation from your supervisor before we confirm your request to defer. Once we have this we will contact you by email to confirm.

How to register

After you have accepted an unconditional offer you will receive an email nearer to the start of your studies to tell you how to register online using the University's MyCampus website, the University’s student information system. That email will provide you with your personal login details and the website address. Please ensure that your email address is kept up to date as all correspondence is sent via email. You can update your email address through the Applicant Self Service Portal under the Personal Information section.

Contact us

International Students