PhD Studentship in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement

3-year PhD Studentship


Application submission deadline:  Sunday 4 June 2023 (23:59 BST)

The NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and King's College London are offering one fully funded 3-year PhD studentship in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement.  The successful candidate will have a background in a science that provides quantitative and/or qualitative training from any background.  Those who have used mental health services are highly encouraged to apply.

This award is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), through the Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Our aim is to pioneer multidisciplinary translational research and experimental medicine in the areas of mental health and neuroscience.

To achieve this we select the best students and provide them with excellent training, tailored flexibly to their individual needs and interests. We will equip them with the intellectual and technical skills that are needed for the future of translational research, and complement this with key transferable skills (including public engagement, business development and entrepreneurship) to ensure that they emerge as well-rounded scientists, prepared for their next career stage. Our excellent clinical setting will ensure all students benefit from an understanding of the context of their research and produce scientists with a strong translational ethos.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is the UK’s largest NHS mental health service provider with a long history of involvement in translational research and training in partnership with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London.

The IoPPN is the largest academic community in Europe dedicated to the study, treatment and prevention of mental health problems and neurodegenerative disease.  It is the world’s leading centre for mental health research in terms of citations of our publications.  In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework the IoPPN was judged to have a 100% 'outstanding' (4*) world leading research environment.  The impact of its research outside academia scored 92%  'outstanding' (4*) and 8% 'very considerable' (3*).

The IoPPN offers excellent opportunities for research training in basic and clinical science across the mental health spectrum including its interface with physical health, precision psychiatry, novel therapeutics and translational informatics.  Studying at the IoPPN you will benefit from world class research and clinical facilities plus internationally recognised supervisors.

We continuously strive to be an inclusive, culturally aware and culturally competent organisation that respects the differences of our community by providing an environment that both acknowledges and celebrates diversity and embraces inclusion.  


Important:  Before applying for this studentship, please read the information provided under the headings below.  

The submission deadline for Stage One applications is 23:59 BST on Sunday 4 June 2023.

Interviews are scheduled for Wednesday 28 June 2023 and will be held online via MS Teams.


Project Description

Understanding the views of therapy end users is vital for translating clinical evidence into services. This PhD will test procedures that can be built into trials to discover barriers vital for implementation. The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London has championed the employment of service users as researchers, we are now taking an extra step to encourage people with appropriate qualifications and who have used mental health services to apply for this PhD.

The views of service users and healthcare professionals are vital for implementing novel treatments. We need to know how to understand the benefits, especially when they rely on a single primary outcome. Service users and healthcare staff may want to balance all potential outcomes when judging whether to receive or provide the treatment. The proposed PhD will investigate the variety of views on a range of outcomes using mainly quantitative methods, but also adding some qualitative information to provide context. It should aim to develop Multi-Criterion Decision Modelling to allow the views of service users and staff to be considered in judging the benefits of a treatment. We are also interested in Discrete Choice Experiments (DCEs) in mental health that will aid the choice of primary outcomes before a trial begins as a method of considering the most appropriate benefits. Both techniques are relatively novel in mental health and will be important in developing the personalisation of treatments and services in the future.

Candidates should have a 2.1 or equivalent degree in a suitable subject. The PhD will be registered in King’s College London and be part of the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre which offers extra support and training.

Objectives / project plan: (1) Focus groups to determine questions for a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) survey, (2) A DCE to discover what attributes service users will accept and avoid using trade-offs of stratification elements, (3) multi-criterion decision modelling (MCDM) with service user and healthcare staff participants who rank outcomes to produce weights for a more nuanced outcome decision. We can use these weights to [re]interpret the results of a large trial. All studies will investigate whether ethnicity, gender or subjective medication side effects influence the results.

Year 1:  Systematic review of methods (DCE, MCDM), Study ethics and R&D completed, focus groups to develop the DCE questionnaire, Qualitative research methods training. Publication 1.

Year 2:  DCE survey, analysis Recruitment to MCDM using primary and secondary outcomes of a completed trial Publication 2 Complete MCDM and analyse Publication 3.

Year 3:  Publication 3 MCDM, Thesis write-up and further publications prepared.


Professor Dame Til Wykes
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr Hannah Belcher
Department of Health Service and Population Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Two representative publications from supervisors

Publication 1: JILKA S., HUDSON G., JANSLI S.M., NEGBENOSE E., WILSON E., ODEI C.M., MUTEPUA M. & WYKES T. (2021) How to make study documents clear and relevant: the impact of patient involvement. BJPsych Open 7, e202, 108; doi: 10.1192/bjo.2021.1040.

Publication 2: Paul McCrone, Iris Mosweu, Deokhee Yi, Tamatha Ruffell, Bethan Dalton, Til Wykes, Patient Preferences for Antipsychotic Drug Side Effects: A Discrete Choice Experiment, Schizophrenia Bulletin Open, Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2021, sgab046,


Funding is available for:

  • One 3-year PhD studentship to commence October 2023.

The award covers:

  • Full Home rate tuition fees;
  • A stipend (currently £19,668 per year);
  • A contribution towards training, conference attendance and research costs.

Overseas applicants may apply but will need to cover the difference in tuition fees.

Fee status guidance - Home or Overseas?

Determining whether you are classified as home or overseas depends on whether you meet certain criteria. These criteria are set by the Government’s Department for Education. To be classed as a home student, applicants usually fit into one of the following categories, subject to residency requirements being met:

  • be a UK national (meeting residency requirements)
  • have settled status
  • have pre-settled status
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

For full details of all the different categories of student who can be classified as home, please read UKCISA guidance, including the explanatory information provided in this PDF guide.

If you do not fit into one of these categories, you are most likely classified as overseas.

For Stage One of the application process please self-identify your fee status as best you can using the guidance and links provided above.  If you progress to Stage Two, your fee status will be fully assessed and confirmed by KCL Admissions.

Entry Requirements

The programme is very competitive and applicants must have, or be predicted to obtain at least a 2.1 or equivalent overseas qualification in a relevant science subject. 

Students who do not meet the above primary criteria may apply if they satisfy the following conditions:

  • A 2.2 BSc degree and a MSc in a relevant subject with Merit or Distinction.
  • A 2.1 or higher non-science first degree (BA) and a MSc in a relevant subject with Merit or Distinction.

English Language

Applicants for these studentships must meet the King's College London Band D English language requirements.  Any offer you are made will be conditional upon you meeting these requirements prior to enrolment.

Further information is available on the King's College London English language entry requirements page. 

Strengthening our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

In line with the NIHR's national strategy we aim to:

  • foster an inclusive environment
  • engage the talents and energy of diverse people in all areas of our work
  • improve the relevance and quality of our research

To do this we will widen access for greater diversity and inclusion of applicants across under-represented groups.  This includes, but is not restricted to gender and sexuality, diverse racial and ethnic groups, people from different geographical regions of varied socio-economic backgrounds, people with disabilities or lived experience of mental health issues.

People who have used mental health services are actively encouraged to apply.


You will benefit from the wide range of training and support offered by King's College London to its postgraduate research students.

Maudsley BRC students are members of the NIHR Academy and have access to resources and training opportunities provided nationally through the Academy and wider NIHR infrastructure. 

Applying to this programme is a three-stage process.

Stage One

To apply for this studentship at Stage One please send the following to by 23:59 BST on Sunday 4 June 2023:

  • CV – including both educational and professional history;
  • Personal statement – on why you are interested in this project;
  • At least one supporting reference - see below.

Academic references – all applications require at least one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on their referees to submit a reference directly to the College after they have submitted their admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that (1) their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline (i.e. 7 days from application deadline) and (2) that the reference needs to be sent from an institutional email address.

Please note there is no need to include a research proposal in your application as the project has already been set. You are welcome to email Professor Dame Til Wykes for more information regarding the project and studentship.

Stage Two

  • Successful candidates will be invited to attend a panel interview in June.

Interviews are planned for Wednesday 28 June 2023. 

Following interviews, candidates will be contacted via email and informed of the outcome of their interview.  The successful candidate will be required to complete Stage Three.

Stage Three

  • The successful candidate will be asked to submit an application and Project Approval Form (PAF) via King’s Apply where final checks on academic qualifications, English language requirements and fee status will be made.

This will need to be completed by the first week of August.

Providing all checks at Stage Three are successful, the candidate will be sent a formal offer letter confiirming their programme of study and funding. 


The submission deadline for Stage One applications is 23:59 BST on Sunday 4 June 2023.


Further Information

If you have questions please email:

Follow the NIHR Maudsley BRC on Twitter @nihrmaudsleybrc

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