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The role of poetry writing and engagement with poetry, in both established and emerging forms, in supporting the mental health and well-being of young people

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


The dramatic rise in young people’s mental health issues been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic (Fruehwirth, Biswas and Perreira 2021). The positive relationship between participation in creative arts-based activities and mental well-being in young people has also been an increasing focus of research over the last decade (e.g. Zarobe and Bungay 2017). The importance of and need to identify creative outlets for young people’s self-expression is therefore of growing concern.

Young Poets’ Stories (Dymoke and Wilson research project in progress) includes longitudinal research with 30 young poets in the UK and internationally about their poetry development. It is revealing the significant role that poetry writing has to play in enabling young people to make sense of the world around them and to explore their feelings in safe spaces. This project leads on from previous theoretical work exploring why poetry matters and poetry writing as a socially contextualised process (Wilson and Dymoke 2017; Dymoke et al 2013/15) and empirical work exploring the significant impact of a spoken word programme in developing young people’s confidence and voice (Dymoke 2017).

The proposed studentship would build on the Young Poets’ Stories research to investigate more broadly the various ways in which young people are being enabled to use and create poetry to support their own mental health and well-being. Proposals for qualitative studies, particularly those using collaborative and creative research methods such as poetic enquiry, graphic or photo elicitation would be welcomed.The studentship research could focus on young people’s engagement with Spoken Word, page poetry, Found poetry, Instagram poetry or other emerging forms. Additionally, it could investigate the perceptions and practices of primary and secondary teachers in promoting poetry as a an aid to young people’s well-being. The exact nature of focus and research questions would be negotiated with the successful applicant. This studentship could make a significant contribution to the research literature in this field and inform current policy and practice in supporting young people’s self-expression and personal development.

Potential research questions:

  • How do young people engage with poetry to support better mental health and well-being?
  • How has writing, performing and/or listening to poetry enabled young people to explore their own feelings and improve their mental health and well-being.
  • How are teachers and workshop leaders using poetry to support young people’s mental health and well-being both within school and in out of school community contexts?

The vision of the Institute of Education at NTU is to be a distinctive world-class provider of teacher education and the study of education, rooted in and serving communities and families and founded in partnerships which are research-based and student-centred.

This project alignswith the work of the Research Centre Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families (NCCYPF) and with the School strategic research priority Health and Well Being

Potential Supervisors:

Director of Studies: Dr Sue Dymoke (Nottingham Institute of Education)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Verusca Calabria (Dept of Social Work)

Entry qualifications

Entrants should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a master’s degree at Merit level (or equivalent) of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

An applicant not meeting the certificated requirement may be considered on merit and in relation to the nature and scope of the proposed programme of study. Applicants are considered against evidence of ability and background knowledge in relation to the proposed research. Professional experience, publications, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment are taken into consideration.

How to apply

For a step-by-step guide to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Application deadline: Friday 23 June 2023.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded PhD project. Applicants are welcome to contact project leaders to discuss potential funding opportunities.

Guidance and support

Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on our apply page.

Still need help?

Dr Sue Dymoke