Predictors of feeding problems and weight in children with down syndrome


Qualification type: PhD

Location: Hatfield, United Kingdom

Funding for: UK/EU and international applicants

Funding amount: The three-year studentship includes an annual tax-free stipend of £15,285 (standard RCUK rate) in academic year 2020-21 and fees.

Duration: Three years

Closing application date: 27 November 2020

Interviews: Remote interviews will take place in December. Invitations to interview will be sent within 2 weeks of the application deadline. We may be unable to inform unsuccessful applicants due to the volume of applications.

Expected start: January 2021

Project outline

Young people and adults with Down syndrome are more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population. In typical development, parental feeding practices, feeding problems and eating behaviours in the early years can have significant long-term effects on weight in later life, yet little research has been conducted in Down syndrome.

The studentship aims to understand the longitudinal predictors of feeding problems and weight in children with Down syndrome aged 5 years and under, and explore if this differs to typical development. The studentship will involve quantitative and qualitative methodology.

The PhD will be based in the School of Life and Medical Sciences. Our research environment is enriched by the diversity of our staff and students and we take a responsible approach towards further progressing inclusivity. 35% of our postgraduate research students are of minority ethnic heritage; 65% self-identify as females; and 16.4% have declared a disability. We recognise that subject level trends differ and that nationally, there is much more to be achieved in addressing diversity in the pipeline to success in a research career. That is why we wholeheartedly encourage applications from people who identify with a protected characteristic; those from areas with traditionally low participation in higher education; and people who are the first in their family to study at university.

Supervised by Dr Silvana Mengoni, Dr Samantha Rogers and Dr Amanda Ludlow.

Essential criteria

Essential criteria:

  • An undergraduate degree (2.1 or above) in psychology or related discipline e.g. education, social sciences, nursing
  • Experience of conducting a research project e.g. undergraduate dissertation
  • Experience in quantitative data analysis and software
  • Ability to travel in Hertfordshire and surrounding areas.

Desirable criteria include a Masters degree in psychology or related discipline, and experience/knowledge of qualitative data analysis and software; conducting questionnaire studies; systematic literature reviews; working with families of young children; developmental disorders

Application process

  • A completed application form, available here
  • Two academic references
  • Copies of qualification certificates and transcripts
  • A copy of passport photo page
  • Certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

For enquiries regarding research degrees and the application process, please email Ms Lynette Spelman.

For enquiries concerning this studentship please email Dr Silvana Mengoni.

Please send completed applications to the Doctoral College at

Email subject lines should read: PhD in Down syndrome and feeding (LMS).