Postgraduate research opportunities

PhD Studentship - "Understanding the Determinants of Resilience in Biological, Adoptive and Foster Families Living With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder"

This doctoral study will examine the individual, family and contextual factors that promote positive family functioning in biological, adoptive, kinship and fostering families living with FASD.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


4 February 2020


30 April 2020


36 months (+3) 48 months (1+3 - includes Masters year)


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria.

For 1+3 funding (Masters and PhD), candidates are required to have:

  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), in social work, psychology, education, or a relevant social science subject
  • A strong background and understanding of quantitative research methods.
  • An interest in child development, parenting and family relationships, and some knowledge of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Students may also have other relevant experience or skills which are relevant to this project
  • Candidates who are not native English speakers will be required to provide evidence for their English skills (such as by IELTS or similar tests that are approved by UKVI, or a degree completed in an English speaking country).

For +3 funding (PhD only):

  • As above, and additionally, a Masters degree with social research methods component

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*

Project Details

The effects of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder on children and young people’s development and wellbeing can create significant challenges for families. While previous studies mostly focus on the deficits and difficulties experienced by families, there is emerging evidence that some families living with FASD are able to overcome these difficulties to enable children to thrive. However, little is known about the factors that facilitate such resilience. This doctoral study will examine the individual, family and contextual factors that promote positive family functioning in biological, adoptive, kinship and fostering families living with FASD. Specifically, it will encompass three interconnected studies: a) a systematic narrative review mapping the individual and structural determinants of resilience in families living with FASD; b) an interpretative qualitative study to examine lived experiences of FASD families in the UK; and; c) a quantitative study testing a hypothesised model of the determinants of family resilience (based on findings from study 1 & 2) in a larger sample of families accessed through a partner agency, Adoption UK, Scotland. The findings of the study will generate novel insights into the individual and structural determinants of resilience and evidence to inform interventions. An immediate impact will be the use of this knowledge to inform service developments for our collaborating partner. 

The proposed study builds on an existing collaboration between University of Strathclyde and Adoption UK researching family support services. It will provide an opportunity for the student to engage in a research study designed to influence an active area of policy development, namely, the support needs of families living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). There will be an opportunity to spend time alongside the Adoption UK Scotland team to observe policy in action and create impact through research findings.

Funding Details

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.  The programme will commence in October 2020.  It includes

  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

The scholarship is available on either a full-time or a part-time basis.

Further information

The successful candidate will be based in the School of Social Work & Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK. The School is well recognized in Scotland and internationally for research in the areas of Children, Young People & Families, Citizenship and Communities, Health and Wellbeing, Criminal & Social Justice. We engage with local and central governments, the private, voluntary and independent sectors, national and international organisations through a number of centres of excellence located within the school including the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection. 

The student will also be part of a vibrant postgraduate community of over 300 students across six Schools, many international, who have a dedicated work space in our Graduate School. The Graduate School provides support with research training, organizes regular events for students and runs a mentoring scheme for new students.

How to apply

Applicants register on GradHub and fill out Equal Opportunities data (this is a requirement of the application process)

  • Applicants complete and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • References
  • CV
  • A statement up to 1,500 words, detailing your reasons for applying and any ethical issues you would anticipate within the research design - this should be uploaded in a standalone document with a naming convention as follows: *your name/Jones/Strathclyde/CollaborativeVS/date*

Applicants submit application through GradHub.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 15th May 2020. Interviews will take place on 29th May 2020

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within University of Strathclyde (applications to Strathclyde are via Pegasus). Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.