Project code



Department of Psychology

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

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


Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project. The PhD will be based in the Department of Psychology and will be supervised by Dr Lawrence Patihis.

The work on this project will:

  •  Look at the relationship between Trauma & Dissociation    
  • Examine relationships between trauma subscales and dissociation subscales   
  • Investigate and compare different samples: some of which are educated in trauma and dissociation theory
  • Investigate potential third variables, utilizing mediation analyses (in the event of a correlation between trauma and dissociation) 

There are many trauma and dissociation treatment clinics in the world, yet there are competing hypotheses about the controversial relationship between trauma and dissociation. The trauma and dissociation model posits that trauma causes dissociation, and can lead to dissociative amnesia or dissociative identity disorder. The sociocognitive model questions this, and is doubtful of a large effect size and a causal relationship, and emphasizes third variables such as memory distortions, metacognitive errors, and social contagion.     

In this doctoral project, the student will conduct a series of studies that measure traumatic experiences and dissociation. We may utilize the Traumatic Experience Questionnaire, and the Dissociative Experiences Scale, although other measures will be considered. We will also ask participants whether they have previously been educated in trauma and dissociation theory. Whether participants genuinely believe in key aspects of the trauma-dissociation model will also be measured. We will hypothesize that within those educated, they will record higher trauma and dissociation scores, and that the correlation between trauma and dissociation will be higher in those.

In this first set of studies, a large N sample is sought using a short survey to avoid fatigue and to maximize participants’ answering accuracy. If a relationship between trauma and dissociation is found in this first stage, that will guide our follow up research that introduces measures of potential third variables, and thus a longer questionnaire.     

We will sample participants from student samples and public samples (e.g., using Gorilla or M-Turk), to sample people mostly uneducated in trauma/dissociation theory—as well as attempting to sample individuals in clinical or trauma-dissociation organizations settings who are likely to have learned and internalized the theory that trauma causes dissociative symptoms.   

Our data analysis on the first set of studies will combine samples into a big N dataset to compare the relationship between trauma and dissociation between those believing in the theory, and those not. Secondarily, we will specifically analysis which subscales of the trauma measure (such as emotional, physical and sexual among others) correlate with which subscales of the dissociation measure (e.g., absorption, memory errors, depersonalization).    

In a second set of studies, guided by any consistent correlations between subscales of trauma and dissociation: We will investigate several  potentially explanatory third variables. Depending on our research, these variables may include but not limited to sleep, cognitive errors and fantasy proneness. We will examine the evidence for a causal relationship, and examine reliability and validity of the trauma and dissociation scales.

Fees and funding

Self-funded PhD students only

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Interest in scientific skepticism applied to psychological measurement is desired. Interest in the false memory/repressed memory controversy, as well as the sociocognitive model of dissociation would be ideal.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Lawrence Patihis ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can do so on our Psychology postgraduate research degrees page. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: PSYC5041021