Psychology PhD studentship

Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship – Maintaining fulfilling and thriving romantic relationships (2024)

The School of Psychology at the University of Sussex is one of the largest and most diverse research-intensive psychology schools in the UK with 70+ academic faculty and 90+ PhD students. We were ranked in the top 10 Psychology Schools in the UK in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) and 91% of our research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

What you get

  • A stipend for 3 years to cover living costs. The amount is tied to the UKRI studentship rates; for 2023/24 it is £18,622 per year.
  • UK or International fees are covered for 3 years.
  • Research/training costs of £750 per year are also covered for 3 years, and enhanced costs are provided for some neuroscience projects.
  • School-funded Postgraduate Researchers have the opportunity to take up Doctoral Tutoring during your PhD with a range of modules to choose from. This work is paid at Grade 6 which is currently £17.38 per hour, and covers contact time, preparation and marking.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

 Important: Due to maternity leave, the closing date is Friday 10 May 2024. Interviews will take place sometime June 2024 and the PhD student’s anticipated start date is between September and December 2024.

This project is supervised by Dr Mariko Visserman.

My research focuses on how romantic relationships can be fulfilling and how relationship partners can thrive. Maintaining a satisfying relationship can be challenging and one of the major challenges I focus on is partners having different goals, needs, or preferences. To resolve such conflicts, people make sacrifices, small and large. In this context, my research broadly focuses on positive and protective processes, such as partners’ gratitude and responsiveness toward each other, balancing sacrificing with pursuing one’s own goals and needs, and capitalizing on these costly relationship investments by reaping opportunities for personal growth. See my Sussex profile and personal website for further elaboration on my research interests.

Applications are welcomed from those whose research interests broadly align with the above topics. The prospective PhD student will play a vital role in conducting an experience sampling study to assess romantic couples’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in their daily lives. Additionally, the student will be able to use existing data of romantic couples and will be encouraged to conduct experimental research.

Applicants should get in touch well before the deadline to discuss their research ideas and to gain further information on existing data sets that could be used in this PhD project.

Doctoral Tutor role: 

If you choose to undertake a  Doctoral Tutor role you will receive training and begin teaching in the first term of your studies. You will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate of the Higher Education Academy), enrolling on a ‘Starting to Teach’ module in the first term.  


  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience or a related discipline.
  • The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background.
  • This award will pay fees at the Home or International rate. International students must move to Sussex for the duration of the PhD and will not be permitted to register as Distance Learners. The studentship does not include additional funding towards the costs of visas or travel to the UK for International students.

Number of scholarships available

One scholarship


10 May 2024 23:59

How to apply

  • In the Supervisor suggested by applicant section of your application, put Mariko Visserman
  • In the Proposed source of funding section of your application, please put Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship – Mariko Visserman – ringfenced

Candidates should provide: 

  • A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, and an outline of potential methods. The scope of the proposed work should be appropriate for a 3-year PhD research programme. The research proposal should be approximately 1,000 to 1,500 words in length and not exceed 3 pages, including references. It should be set at a minimum of 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • Current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses. 
  • Two academic references.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A document summarising any teaching experience you have and illustrating your suitability for a Doctoral Tutor role. 

Overseas applicants please read our International Requirements to assist with preparing your application.

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