With Anglia Ruskin you can pursue your passion, and join a community of researchers committed to making a profound difference to the world around us. Explore your options here.
Our Vice Chancellor’s PhD Studentships are fully-funded studentships (fees and a stipend), offering the chance to undertake doctoral research in a selected range of disciplinary areas.
Applications for September 2018 have now closed.
A panel will now review applications and draw up a shortlist. If you’re shortlisted, we’ll invite you to an interview (please note that you’ll be required to attend a face-to-face interview).
This year we offered an exciting range of research opportunities, closely aligned to Anglia Ruskin’s long-term strategy of delivering transformative research with regional and international impact.
This project considers how traditions of religious instruction have been negotiated in illustrated and text-based works for children from the early Victorian period to the present.
The successful student will have the opportunity to trace the Genesis narrative in works ranging from simple ABCs to longer-form fiction. The project might examine later parts of Genesis, such as Noah’s Ark (which became the subject of numerous Victorian alphabet books and has inspired Pullman’s Book of Dust), but Adam and Eve will be a mandatory consideration. As such, Biblical negotiations of gender, sex, violence, the nature of evil, and how they have been explained and illustrated will be of central concern. In spelling out the origins of sin and being itself, how does a generative yet wrathful narrative become negotiated in ‘child-appropriate’ terms? What is the role of faith and increasing agnosticism in this changing history? And how do particular publishing contexts, like the Religious Tract Society or contemporary mainstream publishers, affect representation?
The proposal to accompany any application should make clear exactly what aspects of this broad topic are of interest, and how the PhD would seek to build upon previous scholarship. This PhD might deploy techniques of distant reading or focus on a particular range of texts. Methodologies might include those from literary studies, the history of the book, the history of art and illustration, theology, education, or librarianship.
Prevention of childhood obesity is a public health priority, and interventions that establish healthy growth trajectories early in life promise lifelong benefits to health and wellbeing.
Behaviour change theory suggests that increasing parents’ understanding of obesity risk is key to stimulating parental behaviours that protect infants from becoming overweight children. However, little is known about personalised risk communication where parents are the agents of change for their infant.
This PhD project will use health behaviour change theory to conduct an analysis of the communication of infant overweight and obesity risk. Barriers and facilitators to overweight risk communication between parents and health professionals will be explored via qualitative data collected in interviews, focus groups, or online questionnaires. Working with key stakeholders including parents, health professionals and digital communication professionals from the private sector, the PhD will then explore ways of leveraging facilitators and addressing barriers to child overweight risk communication.
You will be supported by supervisors who are experts in the field of child overweight prevention research, and benefit from established links with health professionals, parent groups and digital communication professionals in the private sector.
Research shows that the obesity rate in the UK has risen by 49.3% between 1994 and 2008, coupled with forecasts for 8/10 men and 7/10 women being classed as clinically obese by 2020.
Physical activity has been highlighted as key mediator of these burgeoning trends, yet recent data shows that 1/4 women and 1/5 men undertake less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
Work from our group has demonstrated that key attributes of physical fitness have genetic markers and variability (~60%) and that these determine rates of change in physical well-being. Exercise programs and classes are generic in nature, with all undertaking a prescribed activity over a fixed period of time.
This PhD will develop a strategy for developing personalised exercise and well-being portfolios which are based on the genotype of the individual, and establish a package of genetic markers which could be commercially used to prescribe exercise and lifestyle interventions for the general public. Furthermore, with exercise adherence rates of < 30% in the UK, this study will seek to establish if individually ascertained genetic markers can be used as a motivational tool for exercise sustainability.
The proposed work package for this PhD is:
This project will be based in the Faculty of Science and Technology, and will be supervised by Dr Dan Gordon.
Effective management of infectious diseases depends on rapid, reliable, sensitive and specific identification of the pathogen.
Most of today's diagnostic tests are either protein-based immunoassays that detect antibody-antigen reactions or nucleic acid based molecular tests that detect either DNA or RNA. These have proven useful in clinically important assays as they are rapid and robust as well as cost effective and easy to automate. However, immunoassays lack the ultimate sensitivity required for early detection of disease and PCR cannot discriminate between the mere presence of a nucleic acid and an infectious agent.
Consequently, we have started developing tests that combine the specificity of ELISAs with the exponential amplification power and sensitivity of PCR, thus leading to an increase in sensitivity compared with an analogous ELISA. Initially, we have used a proximity ligation assay (PLA), a PCR-coupled protein quantification technique that allows the monitoring of protein-protein interactions directly in a homogenous solution, to develop tests targeting Clostridium difficile and Aspergillus species. We are now aiming to replace antibodies with DNA aptamer-based proximity probes, which offer the advantages of small size, easy and speedy synthesis as well as great stability.
This PhD project will focus on the generation of aptamers targeting Candida species through systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) using a commercial random oligonucleotide library with Candida-derived antigens. Once these aptamers have been generated, they will be characterised and used to develop quantitative real time and digital PCR-based detection techniques, which will ultimately be incorporated into a commercial diagnostic kit. The project will investigate a range of different methods for generating PCR amplicons, with the aim of developing novel approaches to the direct polymerisation of adjacent oligonucleotides.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Medical Science and will be supervised by Prof Stephen Bustin.
Congenital colour vision deficiencies (CVDs) affect approximately 8% of males. Colour is used for categorisation and to enhance attention throughout schooling, but little is known about how CVDs affect educational attainment. In the current age of technology and interactive computing, use of colour is more prominent during learning.
The successful applicant will perform quantitative analyses of colours used in educational materials, assess the effects that CVDs have on academic attainment, and test whether new colour enhancement tools, such as colour-enhancing filters and computer software manipulations can help pupils with CVD in school environments and in real world tasks. The results could help to inform pupils, parents and teachers leading to improved educational performance. They could also lead to the development of improved learning materials (eg print publications and computer software), especially for those with a CVD.
You will work within Anglia Vision Research – a stimulating, coherent research group in the Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences, Faculty of Science & Technology. We consist of academic staff with a wealth of international experience in research, research training and teaching in optometry and vision sciences.
The project will involve testing of colour vision in children, as well as quantitative analyses of data. Applicants should have a strong interest in vision science, excellent quantitative skills and knowledge of, or a keen willingness to learn programming in MatLab. Past experience in the testing of vision will also be desirable.
This project will be based in Faculty of Science and Technology and will be supervised by Dr Monika Formankiewicz.
In any given year, police in England and Wales receive more than 900,000 calls about domestic abuse (DA). DA-related crime constitutes around 10 percent of all recorded crimes (CoP, 2015). Such levels of demand places immense pressures on those agencies who have to respond with limited resources. A further challenge for agencies (including the police) lies in the inherent complexity in providing a differentiated response to the wide range of incidents that fall under the definition of DA. In particular, recent national research (Home Office & Standing Together, 2016) into the context of domestic homicide reviews highlights the need for agencies to be responding better to cases of family-related violence (FRV).
Practice-based research in Cambridgeshire (Kerss, 2015 & 2016) indicates that between a quarter and a third of all police reported incidents of DA occur between family members (other than intimate partners), that the prevalence of this type of domestic abuse is increasing, and that established referral pathways are often not able to the needs of those impacted by FRV. Despite this, there is currently little in the way of research or policy to inform an evidence-based response to this particular type of DA.
This PhD will develop an evidence-based approach to understanding FRV in order for police and partner agencies to provide more nuanced and effective responses to victims and perpetrators. This represents an exciting opportunity to conduct applied research with great potential for policy impact at a national level. A mixed methods approach is proposed to explore this including the quantitative analysis of police recorded incidents, qualitative examination of case files and interviews with key stakeholders. There will be some flexibility for you to shape the specific research questions, research design and analysis you will focus on.
The successful candidate will be co-supervised by academics from the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region and those with expertise in criminology.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Samantha Lundrigan.
This PhD project will involve a systematic review (SR), and subsequent secondary analysis of longitudinal datasets in the UK, to address the question of whether hormonally based contraceptive methods are associated with changes in mood.
A large Danish cohort study found an increased risk for first diagnosis of depression among users of different types of hormonal contraception, with the highest rates among adolescents (Skovlund et al, 2016). However this finding has contradicted previous studies (O’Connell et al, 2007; Ott et al, 2008; Lundin et al, 2017). A robust, comprehensive systematic review of all available research is needed to try to answer the question of whether hormonal contraception is detrimental to mental health.
Standard systematic review techniques will be used to find, critically appraise and synthesize the results of relevant research. This is an excellent opportunity to develop skills in systematic review techniques including database searching, critical appraisal, reporting results and meta-analysis.
Subsequent secondary analysis of relevant data in existing longitudinal data sets will be undertaken. We anticipate that you will make an official request to access an appropriate UK database, supported by your supervisors, and will then analyse the data using statistical techniques.
There will be opportunity to publish during this PhD. The potential impact of this research is high because there is a recognised knowledge gap for clinicians wishing to explain the risks of depression to potential users of hormonal contraception (FSRH, 2016).
The successful candidate should have previous knowledge of secondary data analysis at Masters level, and/or a good understanding of statistics. A health background is desirable.
Medical professionals are well-positioned to identify and act upon entrepreneurial opportunities to improve others’ health due to their in-depth knowledge of health problems. Yet, the path between idea and reality is far from straightforward. Whilst the UK National Health Service (NHS) has made great strides in recent years to facilitate a culture of innovation, medical professionals still face a challenging environment for accessing funding and promoting the adoption of healthcare inventions.
The overall aim of this PhD project is to promote a deeper understanding of the processes by which ‘health entrepreneurs’ working in the NHS secure access to resources and navigate the path from invention to adoption. The successful applicant will apply mixed methods to study the Clinical Entrepreneur Programme (CEP) – a workforce development scheme from NHS England and Health Education England aimed at developing the entrepreneurial aspirations and skills of medical professionals.
The project will build on Anglia Ruskin’s institutional focus on the medical technology (MedTech) sector. It is expected that the project will bear practical implications for the development of the MedTech sector from within the NHS, and of innovations that allow the NHS to be cost efficient while having a positive impact on the lives of patients. Furthermore, it is also expected that the project will shed light on the obstacles to exploitation of radical healthcare innovations that diverge from the institutional status quo in the NHS.
This project will be based in the Lord Ashcroft International Business School and will be supervised by Dr Elisa Alt.
The purpose of this PhD project is to provide evaluations of employment and well-being initiatives, practices, strategies, policies and interventions aiming at a higher degree of knowledge and inclusion for gender identity (masculinity, femininity), trans and sexual orientation expressions. In particular, the project seeks to address some of the gaps in the literature by examining and assessing:
Despite the enactment, in English-speaking countries and the EU, of labour legislation against discrimination in the labour market based on sexual orientation, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people continue to experience occupational access constraints, lower job satisfaction, wage discrimination/differential (especially gay men), and more bullying and harassment than their heterosexual counterparts (Drydakis, 2014). It is of great interest to see whether employment discrimination against sexual orientation minorities exists in other regions, including the UK. Also, it is essential to examine whether factors other than workplace harassment and incivility cause gay and lesbian employees’ dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, although acceptance of one’s gender identity and congruence between one’s gender identity and outward appearance are associated with less adverse mental health symptoms, and greater life satisfaction (Drydakis, 2017), trans people are subject to human rights violations, hate crimes, social, legal, and political stigma and experience higher poverty than the general population (Drydakis, 2017). The combined effects of sex equality, feminism and the gay movement have challenged the conception of gender related issues (Drydakis, 2017). Unfortunately, quantitative research on employment and well-being outcomes is scarce for trans people.
Drydakis, N., 2014. The Effect of Sexual Orientation on Labor Market Outcomes. IZA World of Labor, 111.
Drydakis, N., 2017. Trans Employees, Transitioning, and Job Satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78:1-16.
This project explores the critical conditions for enabling local low-carbon energy transitions, particularly through networks of city local authorities (LAs) across Europe. It is in partnership with ‘Energy Cities’ (the European Association of LAs in Energy Transition), which is a network organisation with a membership of 1,000+ LAs over 30+ countries.
Despite growing recognition in policy circles that cities represent a fruitful means of addressing energy challenges, research is often dominated by studies on national/international policy or, at least, specific cities in isolation. This PhD thus focuses on questions surrounding the roles, capacities, activities and networks of LA energy policymakers, including (but not limited to):
Energy Cities will provide access to its LA network and allow the PhD researcher to undertake ethnography on one or more of its projects. Additional funding has also been allocated to cover expenses for an extended stay at Energy Cities’ offices. It is through this that participant observation and interview data will be collected, with subsequent insights/recommendations being disseminated to European LAs. Findings will also feed into ARU’s work on the EU platform for energy-related social sciences and humanities (SHAPE ENERGY).
The successful candidate will likely have experience of qualitative research methods and hold a relevant social science Masters.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Science and Technology, and will be supervised by Dr Chris Foulds.
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the lives of millions of people. Very slowly and progressively, glaucoma deteriorates the optic nerve and induces irreversible vision losses, typically starting from the peripheral areas of vision, to finally progress to central vision and generalized blindness.
There are various markers that detects the disease at earlier stages. One relevant marker is intra-ocular pressure (IOP). Although used routinely, IOP can be quite misleading as many patients with elevated IOP never develop glaucoma. The opposite can also happen and many people can develop glaucoma under normal levels of IOP. The main objective of this project is to design and test new methods for the detection and follow up of glaucoma.
We will test different groups of glaucoma patients at different levels of progression and compare the results to a group of normal subjects. If successful, this project will show that simple non-invasive methods can be used for the precise diagnosis of glaucoma and will allow an early clinical management of the disease.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Medical Science and will be supervised by Dr Juan Tabernero.
This research project invites students to develop proposals for innovative new investigations that address, in explanatory and/or policy terms, the contemporary crises facing the European Union (EU). The challenges facing the EU encompass a range of issues from the Brexit vote to migration and border control, as well as the problems of the Eurozone.
While there is increasingly wide recognition of these problems, until recently academic approaches have been out of step with Europe’s travails, failing to anticipate its likely contours and lacking the conceptual tools to understand it. Just as the economics profession did not anticipate the financial crisis, with some exceptions political scientists did not predict the rise of ‘existential’ challenges to the EU; they have tended to view, for example, euroscepticism as overwhelmingly ‘soft’ (a brake on integration) rather than radical (pro-exit) in its critique.
Key to overcoming these issues of analysis will be the development of innovative inter-disciplinary perspectives. Consequently, this research project invites proposals from potential doctoral research students that address, in both theoretical and empirical terms, the explanatory rethinking of European integration, and offer new horizons for policy development and renewal.
Possible areas of research within this broad remit include: the growth of euroscepticism; cities and social change in Europe; urban-rural divides in European politics; technological change and the EU; problems of monetary union; migration and cultural change in Europe; trade and financial justice and the EU; nation-states, the EU and populism; rethinking ‘ever closer union’; neoliberalism and the EU; and ecological challenges and the EU.
Applicants should submit a two-page research proposal (font size eleven, single spacing, including references), specifying an area of empirical research, their proposed theoretical framework, and a preliminary title for the research project.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Luke Cooper.
Adolescence and early adulthood are recognised as critical periods for the onset of mental health problems which will continue into and throughout adulthood if left untreated.
A wide range of diagnostic measures and tools have been validated for use to assess the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people (for example the Warwick and Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale, the PHQ-9A, and the Resilience Scale). These tools are used to evaluate new and existing clinical and social interventions. However, recent experience in the field indicates that some of the words and phrases used in these measures are not understood or are not meaningful to the target group.
This project aims to investigate the language in the most common wellbeing and resilience tools used to evaluate interventions with adolescents experiencing mental health issues. The mental health and wellbeing measures to be studied will be identified from recent literature to determine the most common measures that are in current use. Young people aged between 11-18 years will be invited to be collaborators in the Project, to co-produce a corpora of culturally relevant words and phrases that could be incorporated into existing wellbeing measures tools.
Changes to existing measures will be validated with a pilot group of the target population (adolescence experiencing mental ill health) to assess the validity and reliability of the measures with the revised wording.
This project will be based in the Faculty of Medical Science and will be supervised by Dr Hilary Bungay.
The purpose of this project is to:
Cognitive aids such as checklists and care bundles are often used to protect patients from decision-failure in high-stakes clinical situations. Their use is based on the assumption that doctors make rational decisions, and that cognitive aid content should be determined by how information is best presented.
This research is driven by the hypothesis that, contrary to prevailing belief, high-stakes, complex clinical decision-making is not rational and that systematic decisional errors will occur due to human factors. Borrowing from the field of behavioural economics, which looks at predictable yet irrational decision-making, this PhD will explore the effective use of cognitive aids in high-stakes clinical decision-making looking at the impact of human factors, potentially including:
The project will comprise two phases. The first aims to develop a working model of clinical decision-making from the cognitive perspective, and the second will test the working model of irrational yet predictable clinical decision-making through the manipulation of one or more of the influencing factors during high-fidelity simulation.
The research is situated in our brand new Anglia Ruskin School of Medicine, which aims to have a transformational influence on healthcare. It will make use of our modern simulated clinical environments, and our expertise in the use of high-fidelity simulation for education, to generate relevant data.
This project is supervised by Professor John Kinnear, Head of the Anglia Ruskin School of Medicine.
Evidence about the victim’s sexual history has been restricted in rape trials since the Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act [YJCEA] 1999. These restrictions aim to address the so-called ‘twin myths’: 1) women who have consented to sex previously are more likely to consent to sex in future, and 2) women who are considered ‘promiscuous’ cannot be credible witnesses (Farrell, 2017).
Research has demonstrated these myths to be untrue (Daigneault, Herbert & Duff, 2009); however Smith (2017) found that sexual history evidence remains prevalent in rape trials. This is contrary to the law under the YJCEA and has been described by victims as a second rape (McGlynn, 2017). The high-profile use of sexual history evidence in the retrial of footballer Ched Evans led to public outrage and has reignited debates about legal reform.
Many lawyers are resistant to tightening sexual history restrictions and debates currently rely on two outdated studies from Canada and the US to argue that such evidence influences jurors (Catton, 1975; Shuller 2002). There are no up-to-date studies that test the impact of sexual history, nor has the impact of different types of sexual history evidence ever been examined (this is hugely significant for legal reform and is the crux of the debates about the Ched Evans trial).
This PhD will use a mock trial methodology to examine the impact of sexual history evidence on juror deliberations, providing evidence from which to develop more effective policy. There will be some flexibility for you to identify which relevant points of analysis you will focus on: for example alongside a general test of impact, you could choose to analyse the effect of gender, ethnicity, type of sexual history, and so on.
As well as our Vice Chancellor’s PhD Studentships, we can supervise a range of research areas in our five faculties. You can apply with your own project ideas, or some faculties may also have self-funded research project opportunities available. Explore your options.
We also have a one-off Heritage languages studentship available through our Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences.