Funded PhD opportunities

Promoting prosocial behaviours in pre-schoolers and young school children: developing new classroom techniques for promoting cooperation and helpfulness.

  • Application end date: 22nd January 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (UK students only)
  • Department: Department of Psychology
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Clare Wilson, Dr Iris Nomikou


ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) funded. Project code: PSYC4250118

Project in brief 

Promoting prosocial behaviour in schools is of rising importance, considering how diverse our society is becoming. Short cognitive trainings have been shown to promote not only well-being but also empathy and compassion, however, their effects on children’s behaviour remain to be examined. The PhD project will be devoted to: a) the assessment of spontaneous prosocial behaviours in pre-schoolers and school children to gather data about prosociality beyond toddlerhood; b) the exploration of the effect of mindfulness-based mental training protocols on actual prosocial behaviours with an experimental approach (randomized control design); c) elaborating practices and interventions for teachers to use in their classrooms for promoting cooperation and helpfulness. The methods applied for this research will involve qualitative and quantitative behaviour analyses using relevant software.

Specific research questions: 

Does short-term mental training based on mindfulness techniques facilitate prosocial behaviours in pre-schoolers and schoolchildren? 

Supervisor profiles

Dr Eszter Somogyi – Dr Eszter Somogyi Profile

Dr Clare Wilson – Dr Clare Wilson Profile

Dr Iris Nomikou – Dr Iris Nomikou

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.  

Specific candidate requirements 

Applicants for this PhD position should have at least a completed BA or BSc honours level degree in Psychology or a related discipline from an accredited course with a minimum 2.1 award is required. Basic knowledge of quantitative and qualitative behavioural analysis is also required. Experience with child research participants and/or cognitive mental trainings is desired.

For all funding, students must have qualifications of the standard of a good honours degree at first or upper second-class level, from a UK academic higher education institution. Degree qualifications gained from outside the UK, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience that is equivalent to a relevant UK degree, may be accepted.

Before you apply, please make sure you meet the candidate specification.

Candidates do not need to submit a project proposal, however are required to submit a 500 word personal statement to include:

  • Details of how your skills and interests match the project
  • Background and previous experience
  • Research interests

 If you need to discuss this project and your application further then please contact a member of the supervision team as listed below, in advance of the deadline dates:

Dr Eszter Somogyi –

Dr Clare Wilson –

Dr Iris Nomikou –

There are two stages to the application process 

(1) The first application form you need to complete is for your chosen programme of study at the University of Portsmouth. 

Apply to the University of Portsmouth through our standard online application form and follow the instructions given under the ’Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages before you submit your SCDTP application: 

When applying to the University of Portsmouth, you will need to enter project code - PSYC4270118

The closing date for University of Portsmouth applications is 22 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

(2) The second application form which requires completion is the South Coast DTP Funding Application Form. There are two versions of this form which can be downloaded. In accordance with the SCDTP guidance, please ensure you use the correct form (in this case the ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’). 

The ’South Coast DTP Project Specific Application Form’, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at: 

You will then need to submit your funding application to the SCDTP by 31 January 2018, 11.59 pm. 

For more detailed information about the project, please see the university webpage: 


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Eszter Somogyi at or 023 9284 6321, Dr Clare Wilson at or 023 9284 6305 or Dr Iris Nomikou at or 023 9284 6349.

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at  You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

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