AHSS 3: Writing and wellbeing

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Supervisors: Dr Tory Young; Dr Laura Dietz; Dr Ming Hung Hsu; Dr Chris Gribble (external - National Centre for Writing)

Location: Cambridge 

The interview for this project is expected to take place on Monday 17 April.

This project will study the impact of writing upon adult participants in various writing programmes including those at the National Centre for Writing.

Writing in all its forms, from private ‘journalling’ to creative workshops, is increasingly recognised as a powerful and cost-effective means of promoting wellbeing. Whether under the guidance of a trained counsellor as a means of processing trauma, or through the sociable participation in writing communities, writing can aid mental health and increase wellbeing.

This project will focus on an understudied aspect of writing and wellbeing: writing activity that is not explicitly designed to be therapeutic but has a positive effect on health and wellbeing, such as within a workshop that results in countering loneliness, fostering a sense of identity or community, reviving memories, or improving confidence.

The successful applicant will work with a supervisory team who have expertise in auto/biographical writing and narrative theory (Dr Tory Young); creative writing and digital publishing studies (Dr Laura Dietz); arts therapy for ageing and wellbeing in care homes (Dr Ming-Hung Hsu); supported by members of the team at the National Centre for Writing, Dragon Hall, Norwich.

NCW work with five core audiences but it is their focus on Community Groups (older people, people in recovery from addiction, Refugees & Asylum Seekers, Norwich’s Bengali community) which is of particular significance for the proposed PhD project. You'll work with community members, including those who have participated in earlier projects, to develop a new series of writing workshops.


  • To study existing research into writing and mental health.
  • Working with the NCW, to examine the feedback and feedback collection methods from their writing programmes such as the A Life Written series and work with a range of partners who might include The Matthew Project and New Routes, among others.
  • To co-design a new writing programme with community participants as part of ACE Let’s Create Strategy.
  • To study the types of writing practiced and produced.
  • To study what enables participants to continue writing as a group and/or individually.
  • To devise an effective method of gathering feedback that can be used by NCW and similar organisations.
  • To design, pilot, and critique methodologies for documenting and analysing outcomes of writing for wellbeing programmes.

There is scope for the successful applicant to develop their own ideas and focus, as well as employ their preferred methodology of qualitative, quantitative, and action research methods.



  • Experience of creative writing and/or literature
  • Interest in impact of the arts on health and wellbeing
  • Commitment to co-creation with community members


  • Experience with empirical research (qualitative or quantitative)
  • Experience of designing and running writing workshops

If you would like to discuss this research project please contact Tory Young: tory.young@aru.ac.uk

Apply online by 19 March 2023

Funding notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2022/3 this was £17,688 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.

Download the full terms and conditions.