Audiology and deafness: postgraduate opportunities

Postgraduate taught

For further course information, see:

  • Audiology (MSc)
    Supplemented by an in-service clinical training year, course is suitable for those wishing to become state-registered audiologists
  • Advanced Audiology Studies (MSc/PGDip/PGCert)
    The course combines Audiology specific course units with a range of core units shared with health professionals from a variety of other disciplines
  • Deaf Education (PGDip)
    This postgraduate diploma provides training for qualified teachers who want to work within deaf education. It provides an evidence-based approach to meeting the diverse needs of deaf children
  • Deaf Education (MSc)
    This course provides an opportunity to develop research skills within the field of deaf education as well as providing training for qualified teachers who want to work within deaf education

Postgraduate research

  • Studentships and funding
    Funding for PhD study and Masters studentships may be available from UK research councils (MRC, ESRC, BBSRC), charitable trusts and organisations
  • PhD/MPhil: programme outline
    Details on how to apply, fees and the graduate training programme

Professional training

Prospective students may wish to undertake one of the School's postgraduate modules. These can be taken separately to aid career progression, and some may be available to give students a taster for the challenges of postgraduate education.

Possible PhD Research Topics

Below you can find examples of research topics that would be suitable for studying at PhD level. Please contact the individual concerned if you have any questions.

 

  • Ethnicity and hearing health inequality in England

Piers Dawes, Laia Becares and Paul Norman     Email: piers.dawes@manchester.ac.uk

Our recent analysis of UK Biobank hearing data (Dawes et al, 2014, Ear & Hearing) suggests that ethnic minority groups are at much higher risk of hearing impairment than ethnically White British. Despite higher rates of hearing impairment, use of hearing aids in ethnic minority groups is lower than in people with White British ethnic background. Hearing health inequality is an increasingly important topic, and one that has received little or no research attention (to our knowledge) to date. This project will examine reasons for higher rates of hearing impairment and under-use of audiology services in the UK by ethnic minority groups.

 

  • Listening effort and fatigue in adult hearing aid users

Kevin J Munro, Chris Plack, Piers Dawes and Andrew Stewart     Email: kevin.munro@manchester.ac.uk

Individuals with a hearing loss commonly complain of the extra effort (and accompanying fatigue) required when attending to, and understanding, an auditory message e.g., speech in the presence of background noise. There is growing interest in the concepts of listening effort and fatigue in this population, but the area is still in its infancy and research studies use a variety of measures including self-report, behavioural, and physiological. This PhD will investigate clinically useful measures of listening effort and fatigue in adults with an age-related hearing loss.

 

  • The effects of age and hearing loss on neural temporal coding

Chris Plack     Email: chris.plack@manchester.ac.uk

The temporal properties of sounds are represented in the auditory system by the ability of neurons to synchronize their firing to the temporal fine structure and the temporal envelope of sounds. This ability, known as "phase locking," is important for auditory localisation, pitch perception, and sound segregation. We have developed a number of electrophysiological and behavioural techniques for measuring the precision of phase locking. These techniques will be used to investigate the impact of age and hearing loss on temporal coding, and how these changes affect "real world" tasks such as hearing speech in noise, and musical pitch perception.

 

  • "Hidden" hearing loss: causes and consequences

Chris Plack     Email: chris.plack@manchester.ac.uk

There is growing evidence that noise exposure causes damage to the auditory nerve that is undetectable by pure-tone audiometry. This type of loss has been called "sub-clinical" or "hidden" hearing loss, although such loss may be detectable using advanced electrophysiological and/or psychophysical techniques. We have a number of projects that aim to determine the physiological bases of hidden loss, the "real-world" impact of hidden loss, a diagnostic test for hidden loss, and the role of hidden loss in disorders such as tinnitus and hyperacusis.

 

  • Towards clinically useful phenotypes of Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

Kai Uus     Email: kai.uus@manchester.ac.uk

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) affects ca 10% of all children diagnosed with permanent congenital childhood hearing impairment. Patients with ANSD display a wide range of features: behavioral hearing thresholds ranging from within normal limits to profound hearing loss; typically poorer speech perception than would be predicted from the behavioral audiogram; and a poor relationship between electrophysiological measures of hearing sensitivity and function. Speech perception ability in children with ANSD varies greatly: although some perform at levels similar to children with comparable degrees of typical sensorineural hearing loss, others show very little or no speech understanding despite sufficient sound detection. The aim of the study is to find ways to distinguish between phenotypes allowing the start of the most appropriate management as early as possible.

 

  • Auditory brainstem responses in premature human neonates; a predictor for neurodevelopmental outcome?

Kai Uus     Email: kai.uus@manchester.ac.uk

Based on the evidence provided in the critical review by Davis et al. (1997), the NHS National Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) was first introduced in 2001 and fully implemented in England by the beginning of 2006. The aim of the nation-wide programme is to identify children with congenital permanent bilateral moderate or greater hearing impairment within the first month of life and to provide age-appropriate evaluation and high-quality family-centred support. However, the results of the early hearing tests recorded in the NHSP database provide an untapped dataset that may potentially shed light onto early changes in the childs general neurodevelopment. Unlocking these datasets by investigating whether the absence of early auditory brainstem responses could prove clinically useful as a marker for neurodevelopmental disorders would allow the newborn hearing screening programmes potentially to identify infants with needs above and beyond hearing loss, adding clinical value and improving cost-effectiveness of the nation-wide screening programmes both nationally and world-wide.

 

  • Outcomes of children with asymptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus infection: a prospective study

KaiUus     Email: kai.uus@manchester.ac.uk

Cytomegalovirus is the most common antenatal infection, affecting ca 1% of all live births. The majority of the seropositive babies are born asymptomatic but develop auditory, visual and neurological symptoms during the early childhood. A prospective study is proposed to longitudinally follow-up seropositive infants. Best suited for a part-time student.

 

  • The perceptual consequences of cochlear dead regions

Karolina Kluk De-Kort      Email: karolina.kluk@manchester.ac.uk

 

  • Speech perception and complex listening in patients with Meniere's disease

Karolina Kluk De-Kort     Email: karolina.kluk@manchester.ac.uk

 

PhD funding opportunities

1. ESRC PhD graduate training

The ESRC runs national network of 21 institutional and consortia level Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs) through which deliver studentship funding. The DTCs cover the full disciplinary range of the social sciences as well as areas of interdisciplinary research.

The ESRC support postgraduate training to help ensure the flow of highly qualified people into research careers both within and beyond academia. The ESRC supports around 3,000 PhD students each year with an approximate funding total of £40 million. The PhD is the first step towards a career in research and provides training for a range of opportunities.

You would need at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level plus a masters degree to be eligible.

For further details about ESRC PhD funding, see http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/postgraduates/

 

 

2. HEE/NIHR Funding Opportunities for Non-Medical Healthcare Professionals

Health Education England (HEE) and The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) offer Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme competitions for doctoral and post-doctoral awards.
 
These personal research training awards replace the previous Healthcare Science Research Fellowship and Clinical Academic Training (CAT) Programmes and offer a range of opportunities to undertake fully funded clinical research, research training and professional development whilst maintaining clinical practice and salary. If you may be interested in applying, please see the NIHR website for details. Research staff within the Audiology and Deafness Research Group would help you prepare an application.

 

Contact: piers.dawes@manchester.ac.uk