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Experiencing the Body Multiple: Representations from Patients and Health Professionals


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

Wednesday 23 January

About this project

In the process of coming to manage a multiplicity of conditions, a person’s embodied self can become fractured, constituting a ‘patchwork patient’ (Mol, 2002); one whom is required to understand, navigate and manage the complexities of multiple clinical specialisms that are inevitably implicated in the care of a person living with long-term conditions. It is difficult, in this context, for the clinicians who support them and who work within a single disease framework, to see the patient as a recognisably ‘whole’ and embodied person.

This project seeks to purposefully reconstitute and explore the embodied experience of living with multiple long-term conditions, employing an arts-based approach to focus attention on the ways in which people represent and understand their embodied experience of illness.

We are interested to understand how ‘bodies’ are managed both clinically and personally in this context and how patients make sense of their own embodiment in increasingly resource limited clinical settings.

Research questions

The PhD will constitute two strands of investigation, linked by the concept of embodiment:

  • First, the study will focus on the variety of ways in which the embodied ‘person’ is variously deconstructed, becoming ,in the process, the disembodied ‘patient’, shifting, semantically, from personhood to patienthood through a variety of clinical activities and processes.
  • The second strand focuses on patients’ representations of multimorbidity through an arts-based approach which will enable patients themselves to chart their individual representations of their condition, its impacts and outcomes.

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme. 

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Full-time UK/EU and International PhD Scholarships will include tuition fees and maintenance (£14,777 in 2018/19) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

Applicants for all projects should have a 1st class undergraduate degree and Masters level qualification in health, social work or a social science discipline, together with relevant research experience. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

Applicants will be required to submit a research proposal (approx. 1500-2000 words) with their application. Within each scholarship there is scope to develop the project in accordance with an individual applicant’s disciplinary interests and experience.

Interviews will be held between 7 and 27 February 2019.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 15 March 2019 at the latest.

Studentships will start on 16 September 2019.

Interested applicants should contact Professor Liz Walker (Project Lead) for additional details.