Postgraduate research 

Mental Health PhD/iPhD

Start dates for incoming postgraduate research students

1 October 2020 is the preferred date to start your PhD [or the date on your offer letter].

We will run a full on-line induction and training programme that may be taken remotely for the first month. Most of our doctoral researcher training programme will also be available online and we will offer many remote opportunities to help you become part of the Graduate School and wider University community.  

Research that involves laboratory work may start following the completion of induction (all labs are currently up and running).

Some types of research (such as non-laboratory work) and supervision can be carried out entirely remotely and this may be the most appropriate way for you to work at the moment.  Contact your supervisor, if you believe this applies to your research to discuss requirements for home/remote working. You may also require the agreement of the subject, school or institute convener if you wish to carry out your PhD remotely for a fixed period. You may not continue remotely unless an adequate plan is agreed to ensure sufficient work can be undertaken prior to starting the experimental work. It is important that starting remotely does not affect the overall PhD timescale.

Delayed start dates

We understand there may be good reasons to delay:

  • If it is necessary to travel to Glasgow to begin your research, but there are restrictions preventing travel at this time, then a delay to 5 January 2021 is encouraged [when we will run full on-line induction and training programme]. You may also delay to another start time with the agreement of your supervisor and Graduate School.
  • For subjects where laboratory work is required to commence immediately following on-line induction and training and you are unable to come to Glasgow, you should consider delaying your start-date. Contact your supervisor or the Graduate School in this instance.
  • If your research involves objects, artefacts, archives or fieldwork, you should discuss this with your supervisor. Some kinds of work may be able to be started remotely; in other cases, it may be advisable to delay the start-date.
  • External government sponsors may prefer a delay and the University is happy to support this.

From our point of view, there is no disadvantage in deferring your PhD to a later agreed start date. Scholarship holders should check that this can still be provided with a delayed start.

Office and study space

At present, current staff and research students are not using office spaces on campus. We do not have a confirmed date for the return to office use, but all work that can be undertaken off-campus (ie is not lab-based) should be done at home or remotely at present.

Some study spaces are becoming available on campus with a booking system in place, such as the postgraduate study space in the University Library.

International/EU students remotely starting a funded PhD

You should check with your funder that you can be paid a stipend if you are not in the UK. If you are in receipt of a scholarship, you should contact the Graduate School for advice on opening a bank account to allow stipend payments.

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.

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


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 allows you to combine Masters level teaching with your chosen research direction in a 1+3+1 format. 

International students with MSc and PhD scholarships/funding do not have to apply for 2 Visas or exit and re-enter the country between programmes. International and UK/EU students may apply.

Year 1

Taught masters level modules are taken alongside students on our masters programmes. Our research-led teaching supports you to fine tune your research ideas and discuss these with potential PhD supervisors. You will gain a valuable introduction to academic topics, research methods, laboratory skills and the critical evaluation of research data. Your grades must meet our requirements in order to gain entry on to a PhD research programme. If not, you will receive the Masters degree only.

Years 2, 3 and 4

PhD programme with research/lab work, completing an examinable piece of independent research in year 4.

Year 5

Thesis write up.

All applicants must have full funding before starting their iPhD programme.


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



  • UK fee to be confirmed by (2020/21 fee was £4,407)
  • International & EU: £23,000

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 10% 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.


2020/21 fees

  • £4,407 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

We offer a 20% discount to our alumni commencing study in Academic session 2020/21, on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed a Study Abroad programme or the Erasmus Programme at the University of Glasgow. This discount can be awarded alongside other University scholarships. 

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.




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 and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. 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.

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: