Postgraduate Research

Join our vibrant and supportive PhD community.

An academic conducting an eye-tracking experiment on a baby

Studying for a PhD is a highly rewarding and challenging process.

As part of a research community and with individual supervision you will become a leading expert in your area.

All of our academic staff are active researchers, who are at the cutting edge of their research field. We have an outstanding reputation for research in our specialist areas.

You are encouraged to explore our research communities and contact the academic whose interests match your own.

Research Communities

Our research is divided into four themes. Each research community is led by staff who are at the forefront of their fields.

  • Developmental Psychology

    How do babies develop an understanding of the world around them?

  • Cognitive Psychology

    Our expertise focuses on language at multiple levels from phonemes to literacy, and cognition from behavioural regulation to embodied cognition, and beyond.

  • Neuroscience and Neurocognition

    We investigate human interactions with the world via sensory and motor processes.

  • Social Processes

    We use a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to study the social and cognitive processes that shape human actions and evaluations of others.

PhD Supervisors

How to Apply

Funded PhD Studentships

Each year the Psychology Department offers several fully-funded PhD studentships (commencing the following October), as well as opportunities to apply for other studentships via the ESRC's North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP).

In all cases, we are looking for academically excellent students, who are passionate about doing research and have an exciting project they want to pursue.

For more information on funding, see the Funding Opportunities section.

For more information on the application process, please visit our Current Opportunities page.

Self-funded applications

To begin the process, you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

We will require a research proposal on the area/s you are interested in joining us to study. This proposal will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor for your research.

This step is the starting point to find a suitable supervisor who will then, if interested, contact you for a phone interview. In this interview, you will discuss the proposal and intended research, meaning your plan is not your permanent topic for your PhD studies and open to negotiation. Past guidelines have suggested the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up state-of-the-art in this area
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the state of the art which you would like to address in your PhD
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections

We recommend that you submit your research interests and the PhD Admissions Tutor can pass your application onto the most relevant and available supervisor.

To apply, create an account on the Applying for postgraduate study website.

Here you can submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student or have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide. You will need to offer only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your details, ready for you to check.

If you use the Postgraduate Applications website, then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying. We will require a certified English translation for transcripts in languages other than English
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Psychology appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. We will consider the July start date in some circumstances. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you would like us to recognise you for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

Funding Opportunities

Each year, the Department offers several PhD studentships, as well as opportunities to support applications for studentships via the ESRC’s North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP).

Studentships typically provide funding for 3 or 3.5 years and cover fees, a maintenance stipend and access to a Research Training and Support Grant. Additionally, all new PhD students receive a laptop with a monitor and workstation.

Some studentships cover fees for applicants with a ‘Home’ fee status only, while other studentships cover fees for applicants with a ‘Home’ or an ‘International’ fee status.

More information on how the University determines an applicants’ fee status can be found on our Fee Status pages.