samedi 13 décembre 2014

PhD studentship available for 2015 in animal social communication & cognition

signalling in animals: identifying positive affect and its consequences

School of Psychology, University of Sussex
 Supervisor: Prof Karen McComb (University of Sussex) and Dr Leanne Proops (University of Sussex)

Emotional signalling is a crucial but poorly understood aspect of animal social behaviour, mediating important social interactions and contributing to an individual’s ability to form social relationships and reproduce successfully. One aspect of emotional signalling in animals that has received surprisingly little attention is the way in which positive emotions are expressed and the consequences of this signalling both for the individual itself and its conspecifics.  Displaying positive emotions may contribute to building an individual’s own resilience as well as enhancing its ability to form social bonds – a possibility that has not been investigated in animals. Moreover, it is now recognised that animal welfare should be assessed not simply by the absence of negative emotions, but also by the presence of positive ones, so a systematic study of how positive emotions are expressed in a range of species would have considerable applied value. The PhD student would use techniques developed in our lab for quantifying animal facial expressions (and vocalisations) in order to identify cues that are consistently associated with positive emotional experiences. They would also explore the relationship between signals with positive emotional valence and physiological and behavioural measures of coping behaviour. Work on domestic horses would provide a starting point for this study, but the project would look at parallels in cues used to signal positive emotion across a range of different mammal species and their relationship to individual coping mechanisms and social behaviour.

Applications should be made by Friday 30th January 2015. The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £13,863 per annum. There is an expectation to contribute to teaching on a paid basis.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:
·       This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate. The maintenance allowance is currently £13,863 per annum.
·       Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:
Please send your initial enquires by email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:

If you wish to discuss the details of this PhD project further please contact Prof Karen McComb (

Applications should be submitted to the University of Sussex online postgraduate application system ( by Friday 30th January 2015.

Please submit your online application together with:
·       A research statement that briefly outlines our current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
·       A teaching-related statement that addresses the normal expectation that you contribute to teaching of statistics and research methods (up to 300 words).
      An up to date CV
·       A current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses
      Two academic references

      The proposed source of funding should be specified as 'GTA’.