PhD Fellowship 2017 - Exploring Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis, University of Worcester, UK

Publish Date: Mar 16, 2017

Deadline: Jun 05, 2017

About the fellowship 


Applications are invited for a fully-funded full-time PhD studentship exploring the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in individuals who have bipolar disorder in the UK.

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder share some similarities in their symptoms and signs. Despite these similarities the two disorders have very different aetiologies and prognoses (Paris & Black 2015). However, the two disorders are commonly diagnosed comorbidly. Estimates of the degree of comorbidity vary from as low as 4% (George et al. 2003) to as high as 50% (Wilson et al. 2007) but sample sizes are often very small. This high level of comorbidity could in fact reflect diagnostic uncertainty. There is currently no biomarker for either disorder, thus diagnosis relies on clinical assessment of signs and symptoms and interpretation of these against diagnostic criteria. Misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatment, incorrect prognosis and may have important effects on the patient’s self-identity, self-worth, illness behaviours and interpersonal interactions. However, there is a paucity of research in this area, particularly in the UK. Much of the previous research has been in North America, where there are cultural differences in psychiatric diagnostic practices compared to the UK (Fornaro et al. 2016), and has relied on small samples or systematic reviews of a number of heterogeneous small studies. There is a lack of in-depth qualitative research exploring the patient perspective, and that of healthcare professionals.

This studentship addresses an important clinical issue that has previously received little research attention. The findings of this research have the potential to influence diagnostic practice within this complex area of psychiatry.

Closing date: Monday 05 Jun 2017

Reference number: N/A


Institute of Health & Society The Institute of Health & Society brings together academics and researchers from across a wide range of disciplines but with a shared focus of enhancing the health and well-being of society through its education and research. Its transformational research seeks to address some of the major issues within health professions, local services, community and beyond. By pulling together academics working across disciplines to tackle important, social, scientific and environmental challenges, this research is having an impact on people's lives and helping to expand the institute’s base of world-leading research. Areas of particular research strength are: Mental Health, Dementia Studies, Domestic Violence and Abuse and Palliative Care. The Mood Disorders Research Group is a core component of the University’s mental health research.

Research School

The Research School is a focal point for all our research students. It provides:

  • day-to-day support for our students, both administrative and practical, through our dedicated team
  • a Research Student Study Space with both PCs and laptop docking station
  • a comprehensive Researcher Development Programme for students and their supervisors
  • a programme of student-led conferences and seminars

Details of the studentship

During the period of your studentship you will receive the following:

  • a tax free bursary of £13,863 for a period of 3 years
  • a fee-waiver for 4 years at the UK/EU fee rate
  • a laptop
  • use of the Research Student Study Space in Research School
  • access to the Research Student Support Scheme to cover costs and expenses related to your research

You will be expected to play an active role in the life of both the Research School and of the Institute of Health & Society. You will be given opportunities to gain experience in learning and teaching within the Institute under the guidance of your Director of Studies.

Person specification


Applicants should have and be able to evidence:

  • A First or Upper Second (2.1) Honours Degree, or expect to receive one by October 2017;
  • A sound understanding of, and interest in severe mental illness;
  • Experience of relevant research methods and skills;
  • Ability to contribute to research study design;
  • Means of travelling independently to conduct research interviews with research participants in their own homes. Research participants live throughout the UK;
  • Computer literacy;
  • Ability to organise and meet deadlines;
  • Good interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work independently and contribute to a team;
  • Commitment and an enthusiastic approach to completing a higher research degree.


Education to Masters Degree level in a relevant area.

As part of its mission statement the University is committed to widening participation for its higher degrees. Although most candidates will have an undergraduate and/or a Masters degree, the University is happy to accept applications from candidates with relevant professional qualifications and work related experience

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United Kingdom