Dept of Psychological Sciences | Study here | Leverhulme PhD Studentship Optimisation of Perception during Action
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Leverhulme Trust funded PhD Studentship: The optimisation of perception during action


Principal supervisor: Dr Clare Press, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Secondary supervisor: Dr Floris de Lange, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Applications are now closed.

Project overview

A three-year full-time PhD studentship is offered to examine the optimisation of perception during action. The studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will start on 1st October 2017. The studentship covers PhD course fees, a stipend of approx. £16,000 per year, and payment of research costs, training and conference attendance. Non-UK EU applicants are eligible for a full award (these conditions are expected to be guaranteed throughout the term of the award independent of the UK’s status with respect to the EU).

To interact successfully with our environment we should perceive it accurately, but our perceptions are rarely veridical – as demonstrated recently with the sensation of the ‘white and gold dress’. In this project we will test a novel model of how expectation optimises perception during action, and the similarity to optimisation processes outside of action contexts. We will use both behavioural methodologies and fMRI to answer these questions.

Project research labs

  • The student will be based at the Action and Interaction lab headed by Dr Clare Press. The Action and Interaction lab is based in the Department of Psychological Sciences – currently rated as the 5th leading Psychology department in the UK. The lab is part of the joint Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging. The project is in collaboration with Dr Floris de Lange at the Donders Institute, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and would ideally involve being based at the Donders for 2-3 months during the PhD (funded by the project). English is the lingua franca at the centre.

Candidate requirements

  • Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a high 2:1 or 1st class honours degree in a subject relevant to the proposed project. A relevant MSc degree (completed or due to complete) is desirable, for which a merit or distinction level is required. Current research skills will be taken into account but the aptitude for scientific reasoning and skill development will take priority.


How to apply and application deadline

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the Birkbeck admissions portal for the PhD programme. You will be asked for the names of two referees who will be contacted by Birkbeck. Instead of providing a research proposal, please instead upload a cover letter (1-2 pages) which answers the following questions:

  • What is your theoretical background that has informed your interest in this project?
  • What technical expertise do you have that would enable you to undertake the project?
  • Give an example of a research question that you have examined before now and the way(s) in which it did / could have informed psychological theories.

Please highlight clearly in your application that you are applying for the Leverhulme Trust funded position with Dr Clare Press.
Applications are now closed -  interviews will be conducted in February 2017.

Further information

For further information about this project, please email Daniel Yon. Questions regarding the application process can be directed to the Departmental Administrator: Ida Akhtar, telephone +44(0) 207 631 6535.