Project code



Department of Psychology

Start dates

October 2021

Closing date


This project is now closed. The details below are for information purposes only. View our current projects here.

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD or four-year Masters and PhD studentship to commence in October 2021.

The studentship is funded by the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), a collaboration between the universities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Brighton.

The studentship is available to UK students only and covers tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £15,009 (2019/20 rate).

The supervisors are Dr Lucy Akehurst (Reader, UoP), Dr Hannah Cassidy (Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton) and Prof. Victoria Talwar (Developmental Psychologist, McGill University, Montreal, Canada).

This PhD presents a unique opportunity to the successful candidate to be part of the SCDTP cohort as well as the University’s Department of Psychology and the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology.

The work on this project will:

Promoting honesty in child witnesses is key to achieving justice. However, UK guidelines currently recommend strategies that are neither empirically supported, nor consistently implemented.

Poor performance on ‘tests’ that ascertain whether children know the difference between truths and lies can have serious legal consequences and yet they do not predict whether a child will be truthful. This research will (i) evaluate the truth-promoting approaches that interviewers currently use and (ii) compare these approaches with techniques which have a strong evidence base.

The over-arching objective of this research will be to recommend, to police officers and other stake-holders, in this country and abroad, evidence-based techniques that promote honesty in child witnesses.

Entry requirements

All candidates must be a UK resident and hold a good honours degree (2:1 and above) from a recognised higher education institution. Please note, students applying without a Master's qualification containing a substantial Social Sciences methods component may be required to complete such a Master's beforehand. The Master's will be fully funded by the SCDTP and will be run from the University of Southampton.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

An undergraduate degree in Psychology (2.1 or higher) including knowledge of, and experience in, quantitative and qualitative research methods. The student should have excellent writing skills and good interpersonal skills for engaging and recruiting participants (including children) and communicating with non-academic partners (e.g. police officers, Crown Prosecution Service personnel).

How to apply

The first thing you will need is a University supervisor to support your SCDTP application -- so you’ll need to contact the project supervisors before you submit an application. 

The project will require you to discuss possible methods and research design as well as detailing how your skills, background and research interests match the project.  It is therefore very important that you discuss the project with the supervisor.  

Full instructions are given on the SCDTP application form and there are different word limits depending on whether you are applying for a 1+3 (ie Masters in Social Research Methods plus PhD) or +3 (PhD only).  

Please note: you will need to submit an online application to the University of Portsmouth plus an application for funding to the SCDTP. For more details, visit the SCDTP website. 

When applying to the University, please quote project code: PSYC4960120