The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2011 | Quantitative and qualitative investigations of mental health and wellbeing in veterinary, pharmacy and other undergraduate students
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Quantitative And Qualitative Investigations Of Mental Health And Wellbeing In Veterinary, Pharmacy And Other Undergraduate Students

Lead Supervisor: Dr Jackie Cardwell (RVC)

Co-Supervisor: Professor Jonathan Smith (Bbk)

Deadline for applications: 3 May 2011

The Royal Veterinary College, The School of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck College, and the School of Pharmacy are seeking a candidate for this collaborative PhD project examining mental health and wellbeing in different UK undergraduate populations.

Within the University of London (UoL), several student populations are destined for professions identified as ‘high-risk’ for mental ill-health and suicide, such as veterinary medicine, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.  On-going studies suggest that veterinary students have poorer wellbeing and higher levels of psychological distress than both the veterinary profession and the general population, with large proportions reporting perceived stigma associated with mental ill-health. However, to date there are no published comparative data from different UK student populations.

The aims of this PhD study are:

  • To estimate and compare the prevalences of mental health problems in comparative student populations within the Bloomsbury Consortium and collaborating institutions.
  • To identify characteristics of these populations that predispose members of the healthcare professions to poor mental health or increased risk of suicide.

The project will combine a questionnaire-based population study with in-depth Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methods, thus providing important and novel information on student mental health including:

  • Estimates of wellbeing, current and previous episodes of mental ill-health and attitudinal characteristics (e.g. suicidal ideation)
  • In-depth experiential analysis of factors contributing to and attitudes towards mental ill-health.

This mixed-method approach will provide the student with considerable transferable multidisciplinary skills and experience, benefiting from a combination of :

  • RVC  expertise in quantitative research methods, expertise in qualitative investigations of educational issues and interventions, and experience of the veterinary profession and veterinary training.
  • Birkbeck Psychological Science group expertise, including up-to-date interpretative phenomenological analysis methods
  • School of Pharmacy Centre for Behavioural Medicine expertise in psychological aspects of clinical problems, including help-seeking behaviour and variations in response to interventions
  • On-going research collaborations between groups at the RVC, Birkbeck, School of Pharmacy and other University of London groups.

The successful candidate will be expected to have sufficient quantitative skills to begin working on the project. Preference will given to candidates who also have experience with a relevant qualitative methodology ideally, but not necessarily, interpretative phenomenological analysis. Additional training in methodology will be provided as necessary.

Key References:

  1. Mellanby, R.J. (2005) Incidence of suicide in the veterinary profession in England and Wales. Vet Rec. 157(14), 415-7
  2. Kelly, S. & Bunting, J. (1998) Trends in suicide in England and Wales, 1982-96. Popul Trends 92, 29 - 41
  3. Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method, Research. London: Sage    

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Lead Supervisor: Dr Jackie Cardwell,,

Co-Supervisor: Professor Jonathan Smitth,,

Further information about PhDs at RVC and Birkbeck is available from:

Royal Veterinary College Graduate School:

Birkbeck Research:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

Application Form:

See also:

The PG admissions officer is James Revell (

The Graduate School
The Royal Veterinary College
Royal College Street
London NW1 0TU

+44 (0) 20 7468 5134     

With their application, candidates are required to submit:

  1. A curriculum vitae (CV)
  2. Two confidential references
  3. Copies of degree certificates
  4. Certified transcript of undergraduate degree
  5. Personal statement detailing their suitability for the project, motivations and intentions

Non-UK applicants should also provide:

  1. Certified translation of non-UK transcript
  2. English Language test result (this can be provided at a later date, see prospectus)

Completed forms should be sent to:

The Graduate School
The Royal Veterinary College
Royal College Street
London NW1 0TU

When applying, please indicate where you found out about this studentship (please state the publication title/ web address).

Closing date for applications: 3 May 2011