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ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) collaborative doctoral studentship - Understanding wellbeing and wellbeing enhancement for people living with and beyond chronic disease

Project outline

Background and Rationale ,Chronic diseases have no known cure, are long-term and progressive (diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and cancer). Forty-one million people die each year from chronic diseases (71% of global deaths). In England 1 in 4 people live with two or more chronic long-term conditions with an unequal burden of disease in deprived areas and in black and minority ethnic populations. Chronic disease leads to debilitating physical and psychological comorbidity and social and emotional difficulties in adjusting to life. Chronic disease impairs wellbeing. Yet, patterns of wellbeing and chronic disease vary by disease condition, age, comorbidity and sociocultural factors. Evidence shows positive effects of interventions fostering resilience, cohesion and coping (employment, peer and group support and self-management). The precise individual factors and intervention mechanisms which enhance wellbeing for diverse people living with chronic disease are less well known. Wellbeing may have a protective role in reducing risk of chronic disease and enhancing quality of life. Understanding and addressing the complex individual, sociocultural, political and environmental factors influencing the enhancement of wellbeing for those living with chronic disease is significant for effective decision making in health policy, health systems, and professional practice in the wellbeing and health sectors as well as for supporting those living with chronic disease.

The What Works Centre of Wellbeing is an independent collaborating company on wellbeing. The WWCW develops and shares robust, accessible and useful evidence that Governments, businesses, communities and people can use to improve wellbeing across the UK. This project reflects the shared interests of Brunel University London scholars and colleagues at the WWCW for advancing understanding of wellbeing, improving wellbeing and addressing wellbeing inequalities. Broadly, the role of the WWCW within the proposed project will include:

  1. Provision of supervisory support by in-house expertise in:
  • wellbeing evidence, frameworks and measurement,
  • the interests of policy makers and practitioners seeking to improve wellbeing outcomes in the UK,
  • relevant data sets and analysis
  • and policy and practice focused communication of research findings


  1. Provision a collaborative working environment and inclusive working space at the WWCW (London) (COVID-19 managed) to enable the Doctoral Researcher to have access to training, key meetings and knowledge exchange opportunities.


Studentship Details:

The PhD studentship will be funded by the Grand Union DTP for an expected 3 years (or part- equivalent) from October 2021. The award length offered may differ depending on the candidate’s prior training and how they meet ESRC training requirements. Information about Grand Union DTP ESRC studentships and eligibility can be found on the Grand Union DTP website.

How to apply

Application deadline:

Tuesday 26th January 2021 midday GMT

Interviews Wednesday 10th February or Friday 12th 2021

How to apply for this studentship 

To apply for the studentship you must submit:

  1. A Grand Union DTP Application form, downloadable from: https://www.granduniondtp.ac.uk/how-apply#tab-1440826
  2. 2000 word research proposal including references. Your proposal can draw on the description of the research detailed
  3. Two written references, they should have a good knowledge of your academic record to date and your plans for the research project. They should be in a position to judge your suitability and preparedness for doctoral study. Only one of your two referees can be a member of your proposed (or actual) supervisory team. You may ask the supervisor of your Masters dissertation to be one of your referees.

References must include: The referee’s name and their relationship to you and comment on your previous performance/achievements

  1. Your up-to-date CV;
  2. Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project;
  3. Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  4. Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, if appropriate;
  5. Completed Equal Opportunities form

Please email all completed documents to Emma.Smith@brunel.ac.uk with the subject header –Health and Wellbeing ESRC DTP Collaborative Studentship application by Midday 24th February 2021.

The admissions process is in two parts: applications will be assessed by the institution and the selected candidate will then be assessed as part of the applicant pool for ESRC Grand Union DTP funding.

Queries about the studentship should be addressed to: nelli.ferenczi@brunel.ac.uk or louise.mansfield@brunel.ac.uk