Investigating contextual effects in motor learning

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year MPhil/PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2021.

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Communication and Electronic Engineering, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within Health and Medical Technologies and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Take a look at the Doctoral College's general information on applying for a research degree.

Project description

This PhD position will involve investigating visually-guided human hand movements to better understand aspects of human sensori-motor control. In particular it will look at issues that affect movement performance and why there are some contexts that enable us to easily learn novel tasks and others that do not. 

The PhD work will be based in a human motor neuroscience laboratory in Plymouth, and the student will be expected to recruit participants and run experimental studies. To do so, training will be provided by the supervisory team. 

At the start of the project the student will run experiments which have already been set up by the research team, to facilitate learning of how to develop and conduct experimental studies. Later in the PhD it is expected that the student will come up with their own research questions and experimental paradigms, to investigate additional aspects of human motor control. These could involve manipulations of the movement task dynamics or its visual environment. 

The work will be carried out by running movement experiments on human participants using a vBot robotic manipulandum operating in a two-dimensional virtual environment. This enables movements to be tracked and recorded while the visual feedback and dynamics of a given task are manipulated. 

A link to a YouTube Video showing the vBot robotic manipulandum system that will be used in this PhD.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification. 

The studentship is supported for 3.5 years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at the University of Plymouth and to apply for this position please visit:

Please mark it FAO Doctoral College and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.

For more information on the admissions process email the Doctoral College,

The closing date for applications is 19 April 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview the week beginning 3 May 2021. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 31 May should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.