Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



Department of Psychology

Start dates

October 2023

Application deadline

23 January 2023

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD studentship to commence in October 2023.

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

It covers University of Portsmouth tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £17,668 (2022/23 rate). The SCDTP is able to accept applications from UK and Overseas applicants to all of our accredited disciplines/pathways, however due to UKRI funding conditions, awards to non-UK residents are capped to a maximum of 30% of the total number of studentships awarded.  

The supervisors are Professor Lorraine Hope and Dr Tanja Veldhuizen, Vrije Universiteit (VU), Amsterdam.

The work on this project will look at: 

  • What is the experience of interviewees and interviewers in the asylum interview context, with a focus on cultural and communication factors.

  • What are the most effective questioning approaches to elicit detailed and consistent narrative accounts about autobiographical experiences.

The pursuit of justice, fairness, and equality increasingly relies on productive interactions between interviewees and interviewers from diverse cultural backgrounds. This is particularly important in the asylum context where decisions concerning immigration status often rely heavily on the outcomes of interviews between officials and those seeking to credibly describe challenging experiences. However, cultural factors likely impact on both memory reports and communication style in interviewing contexts.

Taking a multi-methods inclusionary approach that embeds an understanding of cultural diversity and expression, this research programme will develop enhanced interviewing practice that facilitates the reporting of detailed and accurate accounts in asylum contexts.


Entry requirements

You must have qualifications equivalent to a good honours degree (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.  Studentships are open to UK, EU and international students.

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

Given the focus of the proposed programme of PhD work, strong and well-informed applications are expected from under-represented groups, including those who may have been through the refugee/asylum process themselves or are cognizant of it via the experience of friends, family, or community members. Additionally, applicants from an under-represented background may well have cultural insights pertaining to communication, historical and contemporary context, perceived power distance/hierarchy, and sensitivity to topics associated with reluctance. Such insights are directly relevant both for reaching marginal and vulnerable groups and developing effective and sensitive interview approaches and associated guidance.

You should have demonstrable interest or experience in matters pertaining to cultural difference and diversity, particularly in the asylum/refugee context as well as interest in memory and interviewing topics. Strong communication skills and sound background in research methodology are desirable. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will complete a placement/internship within a relevant agency (advocacy or governmental, depending on their preference) during the PhD programme.

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 first supervisor, Professor Lorraine Hope ( before you submit an application. 

Please note: you’ll need to submit two applications, an online application to the University of Portsmouth and an application for funding to the SCDTP. For more details, visit the SCDTP website.

When applying to the University, please quote project code:SDTP7790123