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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Identifying individual and population-level risk factors for gambling participation and harms

The following fully-funded PhD studentship is available in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences with an expected start date of Sept 2022.

Research environment

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences at Queen Mary is one of the UK’s elite research centres, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. We offer a multi-disciplinary research environment and have approximately 160 PhD students working on projects in the biological and psychological sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

The Department of Psychology, SBBS, and Queen Mary, provides a high-quality training environment. Knowledge exchange and collaboration is supported via initiatives for all students and staff. Students have organised a bi-monthly Journal Club to discuss recent publications. Psychology organises weekly Departmental seminars where external speakers, staff, and students present their work to undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff. Supervisors hold regular lab meeting with PhD students and postdocs to provide formal mentoring (e.g., students learn to design, execute, and troubleshoot projects) and to encourage informal mentoring between students.

PhD students also have opportunities to co-supervise undergraduate projects aligned with their own research to develop management skills. PhD students give a talk in their first year, develop and present a poster in their second year, and take part in a research symposium in their third year, supporting the development of research communication skills and confidence. 

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career. Queen Mary also offers training opportunities for students via its Researcher Development program (

All PhD students are required to complete courses to develop skills in four areas: Knowledge and Intellectual Abilities, Personal Effectiveness, Research Governance and Organisation, and Engagement, Influence and Impact. Students also have support from the Centre for Public Engagement: through advice surgeries, they to learn to engage different stakeholders (general public, charities, industry, government) and can apply for small public engagement grants. If any skills deficits are identified, students can participate in the University of London’s inter-collegiate agreement to take MSc courses to gain basic skills in quantitative analysis and research methods at Kings, UCL, and LSE.

Project details

The number of young people who participate in gambling on a regular basis has risen with the increased availability of in-person and online gambling opportunities. This PhD project will use longitudinal cohorts and large survey studies to understand the risk factors for and and later outcomes associated with gambling behaviour.

In this PhD, the student will examine whether aspects of personality that characterise ADHD/conduct problems like impulsivity, short attention span and risk-taking may also play important roles in gambling participation and harms. These questions will be investigated using large, nationally-representative UK cohorts (e.g., Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS)), to identify factors that place young people at risk for gambling participation, and evaluate factors leading vulnerable adults to problematic gambling. 


This studentship is open to UK residents eligible for 'home' fee status and is funded by GambleAware. It will cover tuition fees, and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at the Research Council rate (£18,062 in 2022/23).

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project including Psychology, Statistics, Psychiatry or Epidemiology. A masters degree is desirable, but not essential. 

Applicants from outside of the UK are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details.

Informal enquiries about the project can be sent to Dr Jessica Agnew-Blais ( Formal applications must be submitted through our online form by the stated deadline.

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences is committed to promoting diversity in science; we have been awarded an Athena Swan Silver Award. We positively welcome applications from underrepresented groups. 

Apply Online


Agnew-Blais J, Polanczyk GV, Danese A, Wertz J, Moffitt TE, Arseneault L. Young adult mental health and functional outcomes among individuals with remitted, persistent and late-onset ADHD in an 18-year prospective cohort of twins. British Journal of Psychiatry 2018; 213(3):526-534.

Wertz J, Agnew-Blais J, Caspi A, Danese A, Fisher HL, Goldman-Mellor S, Moffitt TE, Arseneault L. From childhood conduct problems to poor functioning at age 18 years: Examining explanations in a longitudinal cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2018; 57(1):54-60.

Agnew-Blais J, Polanczyk GV, Danese A, Wertz J, Moffitt TE, Arseneault L. Evaluation of the persistence, remission, and emergence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in young adulthood. JAMA Psychiatry 2016; 73(7):713-720.

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