Developing an intervention for primary school-aged children to increase acceptance of diversity of appearance

An opportunity for a fully-funded PhD studentship in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol. The PhD is funded by the Vocational Training Charitable Trust VTCT Foundation and hosted by the Centre for Appearance Research, UWE Bristol.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 25 July 2017.

About the studentship

This is an exciting opportunity to conduct an applied, fully funded PhD. The successful candidate will benefit from the opportunities presented by being part of a thriving university research centre focused on psychosocial aspects of appearance, with a strong, vibrant postgraduate community, and strong links with relevant charitable organisations and education providers. The supervisory team will include senior members of the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) and the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE Bristol.   

The Centre for Appearance Research, based at the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol, is the world’s largest group of researchers focusing on the role of body image and appearance in people’s lives. CAR strives to make a real difference to the lives of the millions of people with appearance-related concerns both in the United Kingdom and across the world. CAR is internationally regarded as a centre for excellence for psychological and interdisciplinary research in appearance, disfigurement, body image, and related studies. 

Appearance and body image concerns are prevalent in children at an early age and can have serious negative consequences such as reduced self-esteem, increased depression, as well as health-related implications including reduced exercise and unhealthy eating behaviours.    

Children with appearance-altering conditions (eg craniofacial conditions, burns, skin conditions, birthmarks) may be at even greater risk of developing negative outcomes, for example poor social confidence and reduced engagement in academic and social opportunities. 

Interventions that aim to improve these negative outcomes are urgently needed. 

This PhD will explore interventions to promote acceptance of diversity of appearance in primary school aged children, with the aim of providing a more inclusive environment for all, including those who have an appearance-altering condition.  

The PhD will build upon existing research into the use of interventions to promote body confidence in the general population, as well as interventions and approaches aimed at those experiencing appearance-related distress resulting from a visible difference. Funding provided by the VTCT Foundation to the Centre for Appearance Research will also provide a unique opportunity to work with the Appearance Collective (a collaboration of charities and organisations working to support individuals with a wide range of conditions that result in visible differences). 

The PhD will likely involve:

  • conducting an extensive literature review into existing interventions and approaches to boost resilience to appearance-related distress and improve body confidence
  • working collaboratively with stakeholders (including schools, parents, children, charitable organisations with knowledge and expertise in this area)
  • developing and testing approaches to improve acceptance of diversity of appearance in primary school aged children.

However, there is room for the candidate to offer their own ideas and thoughts for shaping the PhD.

Upon completion of the PhD, the student would have expertise in the psychology of appearance, visible difference, and intervention approaches to promote diversity of appearance, and could be in a position to continue work in this field at a post-doctoral level and establish themselves as a future leading figure in this research area.   

Funding details

The studentship will start on 1 October 2017 and consists of an annual tax-free stipend of £14,553 subject to satisfactory progress, for three years. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for three years, and a budget to cover consumables is available.

The studentship will only fully fund applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees. Applicants who are normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates.

Eligibility criteria

This is a three-year full-time commitment. The project is ideal for a self-motivated and enthusiastic student with a good honours degree (2:1 or equivalent) in psychology, and evidence of further study at Masters level or equivalent (eg MSc health psychology, educational psychology).

Knowledge and experience of the psychology of appearance and body image and qualitative and quantitative research methods will be highly desirable. Experience working with primary school aged children in an educational setting will be valuable. 

How to apply

Download and complete the Graduate School studentship application form and send it directly to the UWE Bristol Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake, and detail why you are interested in undertaking this PhD project and what relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications you would bring to the research. Please see the Graduate School studentship application guidance notes for further information about how to complete the application form.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities monitoring form and complete the first section of the Graduate School application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Amy Slater (

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 25 July 2017.

Further information

Interviews will take place week commencing August 14 2017.

If you have not heard from us by the end of August 2017, we thank you for your application, but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

The start date of this PhD studentship is 1 October 2017.

Back to top