Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Collaborative Studentship +3/1+3 Studentship available – University of Dundee

This studentship, funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences, is a collaboration between University of Dundee and a local contemporary arts centre.

1. Abstract

This project will embed a PhD student within Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) in order to study the impact that the art participation has upon the social well-being of young children and how shared art experiences may help to build strong attachment relationships. This will be looked at from two perspectives; studying the impact upon families with children who attend participatory arts activities as part of the centre’s activity programme, and measuring the efficacy of a specific arts psychotherapy intervention which targets families with young children where the attachment relationships are considered vulnerable. The project aims to look for details of the behavioural changes following these participatory and therapeutic arts experiences in order to pick apart what is happening when young children make art together with their carers.

Strong empirical evidence links the quality of parent-infant attachment to a variety of mental health outcomes, in infancy and beyond. Although parent-infant art therapy has a strong theoretical basis in attachment theory, the existing evidence base for this work relies on isolated case studies. To address this research gap, we propose a relatively large controlled trial including the provision of eight parent-infant attachment groups (N = 64). Outcome measures will be derived from a tool based on close observation of the parent-infant dyads and through standardised measurement of attachment to allow thorough statistical assessment of the extent to which art therapy is an effective early mental health intervention, for whom, and why. In consultation with the arts centre, these evaluative and observation tools will also be refined to be workable within a community participatory arts setting. This will address questions of what impact the DCA’s learning programme is having and how this can be measured.

The primary supervisor of the project will be Dr. Josephine Ross, and you can find out more about her research here

2. Information on the University/Department and Collaborative Partner:

University of Dundee, School of Social Sciences:

We seek to inform, illuminate and enhance lives through our distinctive mix of disciplines and commitment to impactful teaching and research. By these means, and with our focus on the professions, our aim is to provide tomorrow’s leaders for Scotland and the world.

Social Sciences was created in August 2015 unifying five former Schools (Business, Natural Resources, Law, Environment and Psychology) along with the discipline of Politics & International Relations. With an annual turnover of £22 million this powerful multidisciplinary grouping is home to over 160 academic and support staff and more than 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The School has a global outlook and hosts 56% of all international students in the University. Many of our degree programmes (e.g., Accountancy, Architecture, Law, Planning and Psychology) are accredited by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs), so we instinctively play a leading role in nurturing graduate employment. Our research is strongly aligned to the University’s Transformation vision, with particular contributions around Improving Well-being and Promoting Sustainability

The School comprises the disciplines and interdisciplinary academic units of Law, Psychology, Geography & Environmental Science, Business & Management Studies, Centre for Energy, Petroleum & Mineral Law & Policy, Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science, Architecture & Urban Planning and Politics.

The University:

The University of Dundee aims to transform lives locally and globally through the creation, sharing and application of knowledge. We reflect this aim by:

  • excelling in teaching and research;
  • contributing to social, economic and cultural development;
  • shaping the future by solving important, real-world problems.

The University of Dundee aims to become Scotland's leading University in all it chooses to do and be recognised internationally for the quality of our graduates and the impact of our research. The University of Dundee is structured as nine academic schools and champions work that takes place across school and subject boundaries, bringing different expertise and viewpoints to approach issues in new, challenging and productive ways.

Collaborative Partner: Dundee Contemporary Arts

Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) is an internationally renowned centre for contemporary art that enables audiences, artists and participants to see, experience and create. With two beautiful large-scale gallery spaces, two thriving cinema screens, a busy print studio, an award-winning learning programme, and a packed programme of events, workshops, classes and activities aimed at all ages and abilities, DCA is one of the most successful arts organisations in the UK.


DCA's vision is to enrich people's lives through art, culture and creativity.


DCA is an internationally renowned centre for contemporary arts that enables audiences, artists and participants to see, experience and create through our four programme areas: exhibitions, cinema, print and learning.

3. Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science or arts component

• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of participatory arts, attachment and evidence based practise

• Have a good grounding in research skills or impact evaluation, and experience working with children and families.


Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

4. The Award

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in September 2018. It includes

  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

5. How to Apply

 All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send to  by 7th May 2018.

a) Academic Transcript(s)

Full academic transcript(s) from previous studies (undergraduate and postgraduate).

b) 2 x references

On official headed notepaper and signed by referees.

References given to candidates in sealed envelopes should be opened, scanned and attached to the email.

References can also be emailed direct to referees via their official University email address; clearly labelling the reference e.g. “John Smith XX Scholarship Reference”

c) Copy of CV

d) Applicant statement detailing your interest in the project, and how your prior experience prepares you to take it on.

e) Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership Equal Opportunities Form

Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.

6. Selection Process

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 14th May. Interviews will take place on 28th May 2018.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within University of Dundee. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.