The Psychology Research Institute offers supervision of research leading to a PhD degree on either a full-time (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis. PhD research is based on independent, original, novel research carried out under the expert supervision and guidance of supervisors. All PhD Researchers are aligned to a recognised research group that addresses important theoretical and translational research questions to support and develop their learning.
There are opportunities to engage with fellow PhD Researchers, staff, and researchers in formal research seminars and informal discussions. We also support our PhD Researchers to develop their research skills and academic networks by collaborating with researchers in other UK and international universities, research centres, and relevant agencies. PhD Researchers on our programme are supported by a range of general and specific training programmes through the Researcher Development Programme to help develop research skills in theoretical rigour, in cutting edge methodologies, and to develop their employment prospects. PhD researchers can contribute to the teaching provision of the school, and can work towards a qualification which leads to Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. We have a Psychology PhD Researcher committee led by PhD Researchers for PhD Researchers to ensure a world class experience. We are committed to helping our PhD Researchers thrive in an inspiring, inclusive, diverse scientific environment. There are currently over 60 PhD Researchers being supervised by staff in the Psychology Research Institute.
Postgraduate research is located within the Psychology Research Institute. The Institute is a world-leading centre for applied psychological research drawing upon our cutting edge expertise in qualitative and quantitative methodologies and our theoretical rigour. Researchers are committed to multi-disciplinary approaches to help address complex psychological research questions and have developed extensive collaborative partnerships International centres of excellence to produce findings which translate to real societal benefit.
The School of Psychology and the Psychology Research Institute are well resourced to support PhD Researchers using a range of experimental and non-experimental research methods. The Institute also hosts the Research and Statistics Summer School, which runs annually and provides training in a range of contemporary research methods and statistics. The School of Psychology has an extensive research programme encompassing advanced statistical analysis of big data, experimental, and applied research including the Administrative Data Research Centre – NI, the Bamford Centre of Mental Health and Wellbeing, and staff working as part of the multidisciplinary team at the Institute for Mental Health Sciences.
Through considerable investment, the School houses state-of-the-art Psychological Sciences Laboratories (PsychLAB), consisting of a number of specific research environments. The Behavioural Insights Laboratory includes two eye-tracking suites (SMI and TOBII) with integrated biometric equipment. This technology can be used on or off Campus with recent research being conducted in schools and hospital environments. The Exercise and Human Performance Laboratory includes treadmill equipment, on-line metabolic and cardiovascular analysis capabilities, and biological measurement facilities. Our Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory houses transcranial magnetic and direct current stimulation equipment, muscle recording equipment (Tringo Wireless) direct stimulation equipment, and movement recording capabilities. The Child Development Laboratory is designed for young children and their parents to advance understanding in this area. In addition, the School has a number of social skills suites with audio and video recording equipment that can be used for observational social psychology research.
Researchers associated with this theme research issues that impact on children and young people with a focus on intervention for improving outcomes. The majority of researchers in this theme investigate the impact of environmental, social and societal factors that impact on child development. Specific areas of interest include early predictors of developmental outcomes, atypical development (specifically Autism), health interventions in schools, children’s learning and educational achievement. This theme includes researchers that use a wide range of methods such as applied behaviour analysis, experimental measures (e.g. eye tracking) and qualitative techniques.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.
Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.
Fees and funding
Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.
To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.
Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
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 SciencesWatch Video
I got my BSc in Psychology at Ulster and brought my interest in behavioural epigenetics to my PhD, testing the effect of prenatal maternal levels of socialisation on the mental health of children.My proudest moment was sending the email to submit my thesis in mid-September 2020, looking back on the 6 months I spent in lockdown, working for 10 hours a day sometimes, 7 days a week. I knew that in that instant, as I clicked 'Send', I'd made so many people proud of me but especially my wife, my clinician parents, my supervisors, and my friends in the doctoral cohort.
Erik Spikol - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
I completed my BSc in Health Studies many years ago and studied part-time through most of my career in child & adolescent mental health completing two MScs in the process. I was privileged to have received a Public Health Agency funded R&D fellowship which allowed me to complete my PhD full-time. I conducted a clinical study focused on autism trait prevalence in people attending specialist gender services in Northern Ireland under the supervision of Professor Gerard Leavey, Dr Michael Rosato and Professor Hugh McKenna.I am proud to have finished my PhD during one of the most challenging years ever. I couldn`t have got through this without the support of my supervisors and experts by experience who supported my research. I`ll never forget the generosity of participants who allowed me some insight into their lives.
Katrin Lehmann - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
I completed my degree in Forensic Psychobiology at Abertay University Dundee. I then completed a MSc in Health Psychology at Ulster University and published my research on the benefits of Yoga on the psychological well-being of first time mums, supervised by Dr Liz Simpson. I started my PhD at Ulster University following the completion of my MSc in Health Psychology.One of my proudest moments was having the opportunity to lead an international collaborative piece of research, spending time in Rome with Italian researchers, which led to a publication. I am very proud to have completed my PhD during a very challenging time through the Covid-19 pandemic and completing with 3 published papers. Doing a PhD is a transformational journey, and my supervisors played a crucial role in my success.
Deirdre Timlin - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
I completed my first degree in Product Design at LYIT, in my home county of Donegal. After which, I completed my degree in Psychology and master’s in Applied Psychology at Ulster University.While this PhD may have been challenging, it has been equally one of the most rewarding resilience building experiences of my professional and personal life. My proudest moments were i) getting accepted as a PhD candidate, ii) the following year publishing my first paper, and iii) then successfully defending my project in the viva. I am extremely proud to achieve this PhD and to have successfully completed my doctorate despite the unforeseen challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.I could not have got through this without the support and expertise of both my supervisors Professor Brendan Bunting and Doctor John Mallett. I would also like to thank my family and friends for all their morale support and agricultural input over the years. I would like to wish every one of my fellow
Kelly Trearty - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
I started my PhD at Ulster University after completing my BSc Psychology degree at Magee campus. Returning to education to complete a PhD was a goal of mine ever since I completed my BSc Pharmacy degree in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2006. My PhD research examined patterns of healthcare utilisation by older adults using service evaluation and longitudinal epidemiological data. Looking back at my PhD I have many fond memories including having the opportunity to spend a week in Utrecht University developing my longitudinal data analysis skills, presenting my research at the FIP World Congress in Glasgow, collaborating with the Medicines Optimisation in Older People team in Northern Ireland, and contributing to Project ECHO NI. I am incredibly grateful to the many friends and colleagues in the School of Psychology and Doctoral College who made my PhD experience at Ulster a thoroughly enjoyable one. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to my wonderful supervisory team Prof
Ann Doherty - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
My PhD journey as a part-time student was not straight forward and I am delighted to have completed my PhD under the phenomenal supervision of Prof. Siobhan O'Neill and Dr. Edel Ennis. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters in Addiction Studies in Dublin Business School, as well as gaining a PgDip in Applied Behaviour Analysis from NUI Galway. My PhD research looked at unemployment and mental health examining the process of being unemployed and seeking work. It also looked at suicidal ideation with people who experienced unemployment.A PhD part-time is hard, particularly as life will drag your attention off course from time to time! During the course of my PhD journey I got married, built a house and had a baby. There were definitely times when I didn't think I'd get here. My advice to anyone is 'keep going', it will be hard at times but it will be worth it. Surround yourself with people who understand the commitment needed and come up with some good one liners
Maeve Murphy - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
My name is Nargis Khan and I am originally from Pakistan. I first came to Ulster University to study psychology at the undergraduate level and later joined a doctoral course which I have now successfully completed. I had a fantastic time studying in Ulster at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout my PhD, I was well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences, the availability of various courses (e.g., statistics) and above all a supportive and stimulating environment which fostered my academic development. The seminars organised during the term time allowed me to present my work and hear about the research of others across a range of areas. I particularly appreciated the teaching opportunities available to me during my PhD. My supervisors were supportive and generous with their time. Other members of staff in the Psychology department also took a genuine interest in the
Nargis Khan - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience