The School of Psychology is home to over 50 research-active staff, who have recently received over £4m in research grants. We have expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and use both subjective measures as well as more objective or biological assessments of health. We’re recognised for our original contributions to psychological science, our rigorous use of methodology, and our research’s significance for government policy and everyday life.
Research within the School of Psychology addresses the main theme of ‘research across an individual’s life’, and covers a range of areas including cognition, neuroscience, child development, health, the impact of the environment, decision making, food and consumer behaviour and social psychology.
Our strong track record in research-based professional training is shown in the strength of our policy-related research in areas such as health, sustainability, forensics and the workplace.
We can supervise research leading to a PhD in many areas of psychology. You’ll be trained in the most advanced and innovative research methods, and prepared to compete in the job market. We’ll give you a solid grounding in research methods, and the skills to communicate your findings.
Our PhD in Health Psychology is offered through our Health Psychology Research Group, who are involved in a broad spectrum of research covering chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease; health behaviours including eating behaviour, smoking and exercise; help seeking with a focus on risk perception and symptom perception; the impact of surgery; and illness cognitions including illness identity, risk and treatment expectancies. Our Health Psychology PhD programme currently has about 10 students, within our broader Psychology PhD community of 50 students, and a University-leading completion rate.
The PhD in Health Psychology includes everything in our PhD Psychology programme. This fulfils the research competency of your health psychology training. In addition to this, you’ll also need to produce a portfolio of work illustrating the remaining core competencies for the Stage 2 training in health psychology which relate to consultancy, ethics, behaviour change, a systematic review, and teaching and training.
You’ll be assigned two PhD supervisors, who you’ll meet with at least once a month, and will also be supervised by our Stage 2 Health Psychology course convenor. Your supervisors will guide you through your PhD. They’ll help you discuss your research ideas, develop a research plan, consider your theory and methods and discuss how to analyse your work. Your supervisors will also be able to read and comment on drafts of your work.
In your first year, you’ll complete four compulsory training courses covering quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, professional academic skills, and teaching and training. The teaching and training course is specifically run for PhD students, and is a good opportunity to get to know your new PhD community. We also run a postgraduate research conference every year, where you’ll be able to present your work and learn about the work of your fellow students.
As a Health Psychology student, you’ll also attend taught seminars run by the course convenor on the different competencies and will have deadlines for written work to complete. You’ll also attend a work placement to develop your consultancy skills.
Your first year will be spent familiarising yourself with the relevant literature, develop a research plan, develop your methodological and analytic skills and complete your first study. You’ll then need to pass a confirmation review between 12 and 15 months into your programme to assess your progress.
Most of your studies will involve data collection, data analysis, completing a detailed literature review and then writing up your thesis for your PhD. Where your studies take place depends entirely on what your thesis is about: some of our students spend most of their time in hospitals or schools collecting data, others use laboratories on campus while others carry out research online.
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Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.
The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).