Funded PhD Opportunity Evaluating the efficacy of a web-based intervention to treat the symptoms of depression in young adults.

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Conducted as part of the WHO International College Student Project, our recent research reports alarmingly high rates of mental health issues among students in Northern Ireland with over half of all students reporting that they had experienced a mental health disorder at some point in their life1. However, a low percentage of students who reported mental health problems were willing to seek help using the on-campus counselling service or other available options1.

Recently, internet-based programmes that deliver support online based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have shown promise in treating conditions such as depression and anxiety in other settings2.

The primary goal of this study is to determine whether a web-based intervention is effective in alleviating the symptoms of depression. To test this, we will measure the symptoms of depression in students in a randomised control trial comparing routine campus-based counselling with treatment with the web-based intervention.

The PhD researcher will work alongside an established interdisciplinary research team with partners in NI and the Republic of Ireland and international collaborators in The Netherlands, world leading experts in psychological interventions (funded by Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN)) to test the efficacy of a web-based intervention in improving the symptoms of depression.

The project will provide training in a range of methodologies, including participant recruitment, sample collection, trial design, qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods, a highly competitive skill set for employment in academic and clinical settings.


1.McLafferty et al. 2017 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188785)

2.Bolinkski et al. 2018 (doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-2477-y)

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 18 February 2019
Interview Date
w/c 11, 18 and 25th March 2019


Magee campus

Magee campus
A key player in the economy of the north west

Contact Supervisor

Dr Elaine Murray

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #343389 when applying for this PhD opportunity