Psychiatry MPhil/PhD/MD

Major code: PCMR/PCPR/PCMD


The University of Liverpool Division Of Psychiatry provides supervision for postgraduate students who wish to undertake research degrees in specific fields of interest. For further enquiries regarding these fields of interest please refer to the Divisional research themes below. The Division cannot provide funding support for research degrees unless specific arrangements are made with lead supervisors or the student applies through competitive and advertised posts.

Subject Overview

There are several outstanding research themes within Psychiatry. In General and Adult Psychiatry where Professor Christoph Lauber was appointed in late 2007, “social inclusion and exclusion of people with severe mental illness” best describes the research addressed. The research’s mission statement is “People with severe mental illness: From clinical questions to research evidence and back again”. This includes the following topics: supported employment in people with psychosis and common mental disorders, user and carer involvement in mental health care, stigma of people with mental illness, mental health services research and intervention studies. The aims of the new research group are

(i) to make a significant contribution to a better understanding and treatment of people with mental illness who have complex needs,

(ii) to significantly contribute to mental health services research, and

(iii) to be a leading centre in translational research in mental health.

In child and adolescent psychiatry, Professor Gowers is undertaking a Department of Health funded multi-centre trial on cognitive behaviour therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa. He leads an international collaboration to develop and field test the Health of the Nation outcome scales for children and adolescents.

Professor Rahman was appointed to the chair of child psychiatry in early 2008 and brings his international portfolio to the Division. He has recently completed the largest trial of a psychological intervention for perinata depression in a developing country and is carrying out further interventional studies for the promotion of early child development in low-income countries. He is an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a member of the Guidelines Development Group for the WHO Mental Health Gap Action programme.

Dr Helen Sharp is conducting a large Medical Research Council funded study into the earliest developmental origins of childhood conduct disorders. The aim of this work is to identify risk and protective factors for the development of conduct problems and to establish an epidemiological sample for longitudinal study into later childhood and early adulthood. A subsample of families, stratified by psychosocial risk, are being studied in great detail using developmental, observational and investigator interview measures at frequent intervals. A recent pilot RCT funded by the NHS Forensic R&D Programme has just been completed by Dr Sharp, evaluating a new intervention for treatment resistant conduct problems in childhood. We also have an ongoing research project exploring the role of burden and carer/family issues in relation to complex healthcare treatments for Cystic Fibrosis. This project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Research for Patient Benefit Programme and is led by Dr Claire Glasscoe.

Within old age psychiatry, Professor Wilson has undertaken Cochrane reviews of interventions in the treatment of depression in older people. This work is complemented by publications of randomised controlled trials in long term treatment of depression and he is currently engaged in HTA funded study of RCT of antidepressant treatment in depressed patients with dementia. These intervention studies are against a strong background of epidemiological studies of mental illness in older people. In particular, the Unit has fully recruited into a five year longitudinal study focus on the phenomenology of depression in Parkinson’s disease. Professor Wilson is Director of the NIHR Cheshire and Merseyside Comprehensive Research Network, providing support for research across all 25 Trusts within Cheshire and Merseyside.

Psychiatry offers an opportunity for a wide range of research spanning age groups, community and secondary care services. Students undertaking postgraduate degrees will be engaged in a busy seminar programme, being expected to play a part through presentation, and attending appropriate conferences. Research supervision leading to the degrees of MPhil, PhD and MD is offered.

Key Facts

Strong research funding
We've solid funding partnerships with Research Councils (AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC), charities (e.g. Wellcome and Leverhulme Trusts), DEFRA, NHS, Home Office, Police Service, industry and commerce.

Why Department of Mental and Behavioural Health Sciences?

Innovative research

We've highly active, internationally renowned research groups and, in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2008), 80% of our research activity was rated as of international standard. Targeting our key areas of interest we've systematically enhanced our research base, culture and infrastructure, whilst building internationally influential groups. Our work is theoretically robust and problem and policy focused, with a research agenda that's socially relevant and postgraduate teaching that's truly research-led.


The department's two main research groups study 1) mental health in its cultural and community context, and 2) psychological processes in health and health care.