Neuroscience of Emotional Experiences and Ongoing Thoughts

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship in the School of Psychology. The studentship will start on 1 April 2023.


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Psychology (and select the entry point of April 2023), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.
Online application
Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.
For more information on the admissions process please contact
Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship in the School of Psychology. The studentship will start on 1 April 2023.
Project description
In this project we will explore the complex relationship between emotional experiences, conceptual knowledge about emotions and ongoing thought patterns.  We will investigate these different facets of emotions in both typical individuals and those who are less able to identify and describe their emotions – a condition known as alexithymia.  The project will examine both the psychological and the neurocognitive mechanisms of emotions.  Hence, a wide range of methods will be applied throughout the programme of study. Psychological approaches will include experience sampling and experimental approaches in both laboratory and naturalistic settings. Neuroscience techniques will include functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (e.g. fMRI, DWI), human electrophysiology (e.g. EEG/ERPs) and/or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The goal is to examine how emotional experiences impact on our thinking in daily life and how to apply this knowledge to improve diagnosis and intervention of emotion-related psychological conditions.
This project is a collaboration between Dr Nerissa Ho and Professor Christopher Mitchell at the University of Plymouth and will involve opportunities to spend time working at Queen's University in Canada with Professor Jonathan Smallwood. Successful applicants will be part of a large, vibrant, highly collaborative community of PhD students and academic staff. PhD students will have access to extensive, modern and well-equipped laboratory facilities supported by a dedicated team of technical staff, as well as the newly constructed Brain Research & Imaging Centre (BRIC). If you wish to discuss this project further informally, you are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Nerissa Ho.
We are looking for an enthusiastic student who has a strong interest in cognitive and emotional neuroscience. 
Essential skills and experience: 
  • A good 2:1 BSc honours degree or MSc (or equivalent) in Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience or related areas.
  • Excellent communication skills in English.
  • Good writing skills, excellent organisation skills and sound team-work abilities.
  • Good knowledge of experimental design and statistical methods.
Other desirable skills and experience are:
  • Good programming knowledge, particularly in Python, R, or Matlab.
  • Experience with Linux, shell scripting and version control (git).
  • Previous experience in neuroimaging research, particularly with MRI. 
Excellent opportunities will be offered to the successful candidate to learn the relevant neuroimaging techniques.
The studentship is supported for 3-years and includes full Home and International tuition fees plus a stipend of £17,668 per annum (2022/23 rate).
Please clearly state the name of the studentship that you are applying for on your personal statement. 
Please see our 'how to apply for a research degree' page for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.
For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact
The closing date for applications is the 12 February (midnight, UK time). Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview shortly after the deadline. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by end of March should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.