The Care Pathways and Outcomes study is a longitudinal prospective study that has been following a population (n=374) of children who were under the age of five and in care in Northern Ireland on the 3st March 2000 (McSherry et al., 2013; 2016; 2018).  Three phases of the study have been completed, and the fourth is ongoing.  In phases two and three, quantitative and qualitative data was gathered from a sub-sample of adoptive and foster parents/carers, with a particular focus on their experiences of parenting stress, amongst other issues.  Across these two phases, a number of interviews were conducted with the same parents/carers (n=40), enabling a developmental perspective on adoptive and foster parent/carer parenting stress to be examined.  However, the focus of analysis to date has been on longitudinal quantitative analysis, and qualitative analysis at individual phase level.  The longitudinal qualitative analysis remains outstanding.

Objectives of the Research:

Novel longitudinal analysis of qualitative data collected from the same adoptive and foster parents/carers during phases two and three of the study, focusing on the development of parenting stress over time.

Methods to be used: Longitudinal qualitative analysis.

Skills required of applicant:

The development of proficiency in longitudinal qualitative analysis; high-level write up of qualitative data and analysis; capacity to situate research findings within the contemporary literature.

McSherry, D. & Fargas Malet, M. (2018). The extent of stability and relational permanence achieved for young children in care in Northern Ireland. Children Australia, 43(2), 124-134.

McSherry, D., Fargas Malet, M. & Weatherall, K. (2016). Comparing long-term placements for young children in care: Does placement type matter? Children & Youth Services Review, 69, 56-66.

McSherry, D., Fargas Malet, M. & Weatherall, K. (2013).  Comparing long-term placements for young children in care: The Care Pathways and Outcomes Study – Northern Ireland.  London: British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.


This is a self-funded MRes opportunity.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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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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