EPILEPSY RESEARCH INSTITUTE DTC PROJECT: The BASE PhD project: Beliefs, Antiseizure medication, and Side effects: A longitudinal study with those newly diagnosed and their significant others



·        This project will explore the impact of beliefs on the experience of seizure medication adverse effects and also healthcare use.


·        A significant proportion of people with epilepsy report adverse effects (also known as side-effects) from prescribed antiseizure medication (ASM).

·        Cognitive effects are amongst the most common. Physical and mental health symptoms are also reported. All can have profound impact on quality of life and may prompt non-adherence or discontinuation from an otherwise effective ASM.

·        The experience of adverse effects may be heightened by psychological factors and in others adverse effects might be misattributed to ASM. Theoretical models which satisfactorily account for this are lacking and there are limited intervention options.

Project aims:

·        This PhD project aims to examine the utility of a cognitive model of self-regulation in predicting:

1)            Adverse effects as reported by people with epilepsy;

2)            Adverse effects as reported by their significant others (e.g., a close family member or friend);

3)            Preference to discontinue current treatment; and

4)            Health service utilisation.

·        The cognitive model to be examined is called the Self-Regulatory Executive Function (S-REF) model of emotional experience. It is a transdiagnostic model of emotional experience that has been applied to a myriad of other experiences.

·        It can potentially account for phenomena relevant to the experience of adverse effects (hypervigilance, preservative thinking). As of yet, its utility in predicting adverse effects has not been examined. This project would be the first to do so.

Design and team:

·        The project will entail recruiting people newly diagnosed with epilepsy, and their significant others, from North West UK healthcare sites to take part in a longitudinal questionnaire-based study assessing the adverse effects and the S-REF model.

·        You will join an active team of researchers who will supervise and support this study, including psychologists and neurologists. This project is part of a larger network of research organised via the Epilepsy Research Institute Doctoral Training Centre (ERI DTC). The successful applicant will therefore be part of a community of PhD students conducting research into epilepsy.

Candidate qualities:

·        Essential qualities: Good (First/Upper Second Class) degree in a relevant subject area (e.g., Psychology, Neuroscience, allied health, nursing etc.), self-motivated, organised and interested in employing quantitative research methods.

·        Desirable qualities: Masters degree in a relevant discipline. Prior research in the realm of clinical psychology, the role of cognitions and emotions in those with health conditions and/or neurological conditions, especially epilepsy. Experience of collecting patient data.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Noble: 

Interviews for this studentship will be held during week commencing 15th July 2024

How to apply

*Please note that candidates may apply for any number of Epilepsy Research Institute (ERI) projects at the University of Manchester and Liverpool for October 2024 entry. A maximum of 6 projects are available across the institutions and all are marked as Epilepsy Research Institute DTC Project

Please apply to the University of Liverpool’s Apply Yourself portal available at: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply//. Please ensure that you follow the following notes when completing this page:

Academic Information 1

In Admission Term, apply for 2024-25 entry

In Application Type, select Research Degree (MPhil/PhD/MD) – Full time

In Programme of Study, select Public Health – Doctor in Philosophy (PhD)

Education and Qualifications 1

Upload the relevant transcripts or certificates here

Research Degree Additional Information

In supervisors you can add the primary supervisor name/s for the project/s you are interested in

In research project or topic, add the project title/s you are interested in

In Are you applying for a studentship within an RCUK Centre for Doctoral Training, tick Yes

The Proposed Start Date is October 2024.

Supporting Information

Upload your CV and supporting statement here. A research proposal is not required; if a document is required you may upload a Word document simply stating the project title you are applying to.


Please insert the names and contact details of your referees in the application form.

Other information – Finance and Publicity

In Do you already have funding in place, tick No.

In What is your main source of funding, select Studentship.

In If you have been awarded funding or you are applying for funding (sponsorship, scholarship, studentship or award), please provide details, insert Studentship

In If you have selected studentship, please indicate the type of studentships (e.g. University of Liverpool studentship) and provide the reference number of this studentship, enter ERI DTC PhD Studentship – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT

Each applicant to the ERI programme will be asked to complete an EDI data form in order to report to ERI on candidate characteristics. A request will be made to all candidates as part of the acknowledgement of their application, via email. 

For further information regarding the ERI, please see here: https://epilepsy-institute.org.uk/eri/research/research-portfolio/cognition-in-people-with-epilepsy-and-their-offspring-how-does-epilepsy-and-its-treatment-affect-brain-function/