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Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Potential PhD projects in the area of alcohol and drug use; alcohol and drug dependence or use disorders; and/or trials methodology.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Focus

Gillian Shorter's work is focused on people who use alcohol and drugs who are currently experiencing harm or are at risk of harm but are not seeking treatment. Her research aims to improve health and wellbeing, reduce stigma, and empower change. The work has four strands:

  1. Identifying need for support (e.g. polydrug use epidemiology).
  2. Developing randomised control trial methods for intervention evaluation (e.g. recruitment to trials, trial retention).
  3. Determining what works in interventions to support people who use alcohol and drugs who are seeking help (e.g. alcohol brief interventions, digital health, drug consumption rooms, overdose prevention centres).
  4. Developing core outcome sets to prioritise measures of change following an intervention and to improve the evidence base (e.g. core outcome sets or minimum data standards for alcohol and drugs and their psychometric properties).

She has received ~six million in research funding to support her research activities. Current research funders are National Institute for Health Research, Health Service Executive (Ireland), Health Research Board (Ireland), Higher Education Authority (Ireland), and Drug Science (UK).

Previous grants include projects funded by the Medical Research Council, HSC Public Health Agency, Alcohol Research UK, Extern, Economic and Social Research Council, British Tinnitus Association, Placental Analytics (USA), Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), University of York, Home Office, Ulster University, Linköping University, and University of Nottingham.


Gillian Shorter has conducted research in substance use for over 17 years. She co-Directs the Drug and Alcohol Research Network, an Internationally recognised interdisciplinary research cluster in the addictions at Queen's University Belfast (with co-Director Dr Anne Campbell).

Gillian's employment history

  • Reader in Psychology, Ulster University (2018-2020)
  • Lecturer in Psychology, Ulster University (2018)
  • Research Fellow, Teesside University (part-time 2016-2018)
  • Research Fellow, Ulster University (part-time 2016-2018)
  • Promoted to Senior Research Fellow by Trinity College Dublin (2016)
  • Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin/Health Services Executive Mental Health Services South Dublin (2015-2016)
  • Medical Research Council funded Lecturer in Population and Clinical Trials Methodology at the MRC All Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research, part of the UK MRC Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (2012-2015)
  • Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Nottingham Trent University (2008-2012)

She joined the School of Psychology in July 2020.

Gillian has supervised nine PhD Researchers to successful completion Dr Abby Hunter (McCormack), Dr Daria Kuss, Dr Jane Rigbye, Dr Lucy Handscomb, Dr Lydia Devenney, Dr Vanessa Gstrein, Dr Kenneth Ross, Dr Jane Williams, and Dr Nicole Miller.

Her current Doctoral level students are

  1. Luke McCann - DClinPsy QUB
  2. Niamh Ni Cheallaigh - DClinPsy QUB
  3. John McQuaide - PhD Ulster University
  4. Zoe Campbell - PhD Ulster University
  5. Elizabeth Cowdean - PhD Ulster University
  6. Ben Scher - DPhil University of Oxford (SSA studentship)
  7. Juliette Allen - PhD Liverpool John Moores University
  8. Clara Wilson - PhD Queen's University Belfast
  9. Kerry Campbell - PhD Queen's University Belfast





Gillian teaches:

PSY7100 Health Behaviour Change

PSY7104 Research Design and Essential Methods in Psychology

PSY7066 Quantitative Data Analysis II

PSY3131 Forensic Psychology and Crime

PSY3132 Contemporary issues in addiction and mental health

Placement MSc Clinical Health Psychology

She supervises Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Research Dissertations on substance use topics; so too, dissertations for the MSc Clinical Health Psychology degrees.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • BF Psychology
  • RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine


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