Scottish Graduate School of Social Science AQM PhD studentship

Information about eligibility and the application process

Gene-environment correlation and interaction in the development of reading ability and relation to life outcomes.

We invite applications for PhD studentship within Psychology, starting September 2019.

The Project

Reading and language skills are essential cognitive skills which if not developed properly can have negative impacts for children that last through to adulthood. Twin and family studies show that genes and environment influence reading development, with several studies indicating a (total) genetic influence that varies according to environmental circumstance. This project will extend this research in a novel way by incorporating molecular data available in various ESRC Biosocial Sweep datasets.


  1. To establish the pervasiveness of gene-environmental correlation and interaction using whole-genome data and specific environmental measures.
  2. To construct sensitive prediction models of reading impairment risk by incorporating genetic and environmental predictors with potential moderating effects. This could lead to earlier identification of children at risk of reading difficulties and more successful intervention.
  3. To quantify the effect of reading disadvantage in earlier life on later life socio-educational and health outcomes, including the indirect effects of genes and environmental factors.
  4. To boost the power to identify novel genetic variants influencing reading skill by performing genome-wide analysis of reading ability in relevant ESRC datasets and meta-analysing the results with existing genome-wide studies.   

Findings will be of international interest to researchers in psychology and biology, with special relevance to parents and educators.


This studentship is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences.

  • The scholarship is available as a +3 (PhD) or a 1+3 (MSc +PhD) programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. 
  • Tuition fees at the standard UK/EU rate
  • An annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
  • Additional AQM award stipend of £3000 per annum – it is expected this will be used for advanced training
  • Access to Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year


To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees), you must satisfy the residency requirements for ESRC Funding.

  • The successful applicant will have a very good undergraduate degree (at least 2:1) in the social (or other relevant) sciences
  • Demonstrate a keen interest in genetics and multivariate statistics
  • Have a good grounding in quantitative research methods and basic statistics

Application process

Complete application form and supporting documentation should be returned to Katie Keltie, Head of Postgraduate Administration by email:

  • Academic Transcript(s): Full academic transcript(s) from previous studies
  • 2 Academic references: On official headed notepaper and signed by referees.
  • Personal statement specifying how your skills, experience and academic interests align with the aims of a studentship project.
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership Equal Opportunities Form


Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.


Friday 7th December 2018

Shortlisting is likely to be completed by December 21st with interviews being held in early January.

Further information

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Postgraduate Office

  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room 1.06
Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles Street

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