Project code



Department of Psychology

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part-time PhD project, to commence October or February.

Binge drinking can have serious negative impacts on health – and the issue affects a huge number of people each year. In the UK alone, there were over a million admissions to hospital during 2013-14 due to alcohol-related problems.

If you're interested in researching the effects and influences behind this growing problem - and helping, through research, to find possible solutions to it - this PhD programme is for you.

On this self-funded PhD programme supervised by Dr Lorenzo Stafford and Dr Alistair Harvey, you'll carry out experiments, comparisons and analysis of internal mechanisms, behaviours and data, to identify trends and understand influences.

The data you'll produce will help develop a screening test for individuals less sensitive to alcohol, helping to identify those with an increased risk. With significant theoretical and practical benefits, this PhD falls in line with the UK Government's alcohol strategy to reduce binge drinking.

The work will include:

  • experiments to isolate the internal mechanisms that influence binge drinking and its relation to alcohol sensitivity
  • comparing drinking behaviour between those with low and high alcohol sensitivity
  • exploring how novel alcohol warning labels influence binge drinking behaviour
  • using data from previous experiments to develop and assess the accuracy of a screening tool to identify those at risk, such as those less able to detect the effects of alcohol

The focus of this PhD programme Understanding more about the mechanisms influencing this behaviour and the effectiveness of strategies to reduce binge drinking.

This project takes an experimental approach, to examine the differences in individuals’ capacity to detect the sensory (including alcohol taste), behavioural (intoxicating) and cognitive (attention and memory) changes that occur during alcohol consumption.

It will explore explore whether the speed of alcohol consumption changes depending on an individual's alcohol sensitivity. This is important since the same quantity of alcohol drunk in a short versus longer period of time will have dramatically different effects on behaviour and cognition.

The research will then test the effectiveness of using health warning labels in reducing binge drinking in both an experimental and field study.

Finally, the data from these studies will be used to develop a screening test for individuals less sensitive to alcohol, thereby helping to identify those at an elevated risk.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: 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).

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

  • A good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending on the 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
  • All applicants are subject to interview

Make an enquiry

Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made to:

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Psychology postgraduate research degrees and select the link for the relevant intake. 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.