PhD application and resources

Alef Trust - Brian Les Lancaster

Professor B. Les Lancaster

Founding Director and Dean of Studies, Alef Trust
Professor Emeritus of Transpersonal Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University
Honorary Research Fellow in Religions and Theology, University of Manchester, UK

Bethany Butzer

Bethany Butzer, PhD

Assistant Director of the Alef Trust PhD Programme in Applied Transpersonal Psychology and Lecturer for the Alef Trust MSc in Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology.

A warm welcome from our PhD Programme Director and Assistant Director

Dear Applicant,

You have arrived at the applications site for the Alef Trust and Liverpool John Moores University collaborative PhD programme in Applied Transpersonal Psychology, and we look forward to receiving your application shortly. Our relationship with LJMU goes back some 30 years, and it was at LJMU that in the early 1990s Les Lancaster first pioneered attendance and online distance-learning postgraduate programmes in Transpersonal Psychology.

The Alef Trust was established in 2012 to facilitate the delivery of high-quality global education programmes in areas we perceive to be of vital importance for human flourishing. Our mission acknowledges the post-materialist turn in understanding mind and consciousness, and we foster a learning community which facilitates dialogue amongst those sharing our values. Our community operates in the context of the profound interconnectedness of all systems—human, technological, ecological, planetary.

The collaborative PhD is a research degree awarded following examination of a research thesis. Your time on the programme is devoted to conducting a research project under supervision. The collaborative basis of the PhD means that you will receive guidance from supervisors from both Alef Trust and LJMU. Given our expertise in the topic, the Alef Trust supervisor will lead in most academic aspects of the programme. However, it is a requirement for this collaborative PhD programme that at least one supervisor must be from LJMU. We take on the responsibility to find an LJMU member of staff suitable for this role. In the unlikely circumstance that there are no LJMU staff wanting to supervise your specific research question, then we will be unable to progress your application.

There are no specific taught classes that you are required to attend. However, each student will be expected to work with their supervision team to establish a research training plan which will require you to attend appropriate sessions selected to support the development of research skills. You will be able to take advantage of online trainings offered by Alef Trust and LJMU’s Doctoral Academy to support you in growing as a rigorous, creative, and effective researcher.

This PhD award is issued by LJMU. The award certificate will be issued by LJMU on successful completion of the PhD. The certificate will state that the research programme was carried out in collaboration with Alef Trust. Graduates of the PhD programme are entitled to attend either or both of the graduation ceremonies organised by LJMU and Alef Trust.

More details of the programme will be found through clicking on the right of this page. The one aspect we would stress here is the importance of your research proposal, which is included in the application form that you will download when you click on the “Complete Your PhD Application” button at the top of this page. In evaluating your application, the admissions team will pay particular attention to the research proposal since we want to be satisfied that you have the potential to engage in the research process effectively and with a reasonable degree of autonomy. We are seeking to facilitate high-quality research in the broad field of transpersonal psychology and need to ensure that our doctoral candidates have a sound grasp of what translates a stimulating idea into an effective programme of research—one that is practical and likely to lead to persuasive outputs. It is the research proposal that gives us a measure of your potential for realising these goals.

So, we advise you to craft your research proposal carefully as you complete the application. We look forward to working with you in this exciting new doctoral programme.


Lancaster, signature                          Butzer, signature

Accordion Content
  • Academic certificates/transcripts
  • Any other qualification that you consider highly relevant to this application (e.g., other trainings, English Language qualification if necessary, etc.)
  • Your CV
  • Photo ID
  • Two reference letters
  • Application form, which includes your research proposal
  • Sign and date your application in the two places indicated
  • Scholarship application letter (if applicable). Please see the information under “Tuition and Finance” below for details about the partial scholarship.

As the award title suggests, we are interested in the range of ways in which the principles and practices developed in transpersonal psychology and allied disciplines find expression in real-world applications. Such applications may include social change and sustainability, therapy and coaching, business and human resource management, research and education, and health and social care – to name but a few. Research aiming to address ‘theoretical / conceptual’ issues will also be fostered, since these invariably underpin future applications.

For the purposes of this programme, we interpret the term ‘transpersonal psychology’ broadly. We are open to any proposed research that relates to the transformative potential of humans, recognising that we are larger and more embedded in the world than many reductionist and functional psychological models suggest; that consciousness may transcend the individual brain, being a fundamental property of the cosmos; and that our highest aspirations may include experiences and states of being traditionally explored through spirituality and mysticism. We recognise the urgency of global issues and that changing our relationship to the earth requires a shift in our understanding of consciousness amongst other changes. Our hope is that this doctoral programme can make a difference to the sense of responsibility that our cultures foster and to the ways in which we relate to other beings.

Translating a stimulating, novel idea into a pragmatic research project is challenging. If that wonderful idea does not lend itself to an accessible research question that can be operationalised in terms of a clear research methodology, then it will be inappropriate as a starting point for a research journey. It is your responsibility to ensure that your initiating idea lends itself to investigation through disciplined research practices.

A research proposal summarises your plan for the research project that you will conduct as a doctoral student. It is a critical document for you and others to evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of your plan. Prior to beginning the writing of your research proposal, you will ideally deepen your grasp of the topic area and the specific issues that relate to your plan. This process is likely to include reflections on your own experience in the topic area enriched by your reading of relevant scholarly literature in the area and perhaps other factors that bear on the applied setting in which the topic is relevant.

The research proposal will outline your:

  • area of research
  • core questions
  • methodologies
  • approach
  • timescale

Please click on the “Complete Your PhD Application” button above in order to download the application form, which includes relevant sections to fill out for the research proposal. 

The brief overview given here can be supplemented by reading the LJMU Postgraduate Researcher Handbook.

Those accepted onto the programme will benefit from being registered with LJMU, giving you full access to LJMU’s Doctoral Academy. The terms of our agreement with LJMU facilitate your studying at a distance—there will be no attendance requirements. Alef Trust has built up considerable expertise in operating fully through online systems over many years, and we are confident that students on this programme will enjoy the same rich level of support that our other students have found exceptional.

When you accept a place on the Alef Trust-LJMU collaborative PhD you will be assigned a supervision team that will include a lead supervisor and one or more co-supervisors. An initial meeting between you and the supervision team will clarify basic operating principles—frequency of meetings, who will be involved in meetings, as well as the steps to be taken and when.

In conjunction with Alef Trust staff, the LJMU Doctoral Academy will provide an induction to your PhD programme. You will be introduced to all the facilities available to you as a member of the Doctoral Academy and as a member of the Alef Research Community. Supervision meetings will focus not only on your research plan but also on your researcher development plan designed to cultivate your efficacy as a researcher.

Your doctoral journey involves frequent reviews to ensure that you are producing work to the required standard and that you are adhering to the appropriate timeline. The first step is to attain programme approval and have your project registered by the Faculty Research Degrees Committee in LJMU’s Faculty of Health, which is where the School of Psychology is located. Programme approval will require scrutiny of any ethical issues surrounding the use of human participants in your research project. Your supervision team will guide you through this step, which should be completed within three months for full-time (FT) students, or 6 months for part-time (PT) students.

Within 12 months (FT students) or 24 months (PT students), the confirmation review must take place. This is a formal review for which you submit a written account of your progress and give an oral presentation. The review panel, which includes your supervisors and an independent assessor, will meet with you to determine whether your progress to date confirms that you have the potential to achieve the PhD.

The final thesis will be examined by both internal and external examiners. The internal examiner may be drawn from either Alef Trust or LJMU staff. The external examiner will be an academic having expertise in the research area but with no formal connection with either Alef Trust or LJMU. Examination of your thesis includes an oral meeting with the examiners (viva voce examination, conducted either online or in-person). The period allowed from enrolment to the submission of your final thesis can be found under the section on Registration Periods in the LJMU Academic Regulations for Research Degrees.

Assuming a successful outcome to the examination, LJMU will award the PhD in Applied Transpersonal Psychology, and you will be invited to an award ceremony in Liverpool. Alef Trust generally operates an online award ceremony to complement that organised by LJMU in Liverpool.

There are two modes of study for this PhD in Applied Transpersonal Psychology, one full-time (FT), and the other part-time (PT). The part-time route acknowledges the various work and family commitments that many potential students may have. Part-time students will be expected to devote a minimum of 12 hours per week to their research and can submit their doctoral thesis in a minimum of four years (maximum seven years). Full-time students will be expected to devote a minimum of 36 hours per week to their research, and the thesis can be submitted in a minimum of three years (maximum four years).

The timings of reviews and the final submission of the thesis vary between the two programmes, as indicated above under The journey of a PhD student.

Full-time students: The full-time fee will be 9,300 GBP per year; in exceptional case that extend beyond four years, subsequent years in which you are writing up the thesis and no longer conducting research will attract a continuation fee of 1,550 GBP; no other fee would be charged.

Part-time students: The part-time fee is 6,900 GBP per year; in exceptional cases that extend beyond seven years, subsequent years in which you are writing up the thesis and no longer conducting research will attract a continuation fee of 1,000 GBP; no other fee would be charged.

Fees are payable to Alef Trust. The financial arrangement with students is with Alef Trust and not directly with LJMU.

Invoices for fees will be sent prior to enrolment. Fees can be paid in two equal instalments each year, the first within four weeks of the invoice date, and the second within six months of the invoice issue date.

A partial scholarship is available to a PhD student starting in September 2024, who can demonstrate both strong research potential and real financial need. The scholarship will cover 50% of fees over the normal duration of the PhD. Competition for the scholarship is expected to be intense, and we advise you to apply for the PhD programme only if you are able to finance yourself without a scholarship. Please note: Acceptance on the programme is not a guarantee of securing a scholarship. Should you wish to apply for the partial scholarship, please email a letter (1,000 words maximum) detailing your financial need to Nick Theo ( by the application deadline of July 22nd, 2024.

Students in England or Wales may be able to secure loans through their respective Student Finance organisations. A useful guide to securing loans can be found on the FindAPhD site here.

*Note that while part-time PhD students can complete their degree in 4 years, Liverpool John Moores University has set the duration for student loan payments across a 6-year period as most PhD students complete their degree in 5 to 7 years. If you are accepted onto the programme as a part-time student and you receive a loan from Student Finance England (SFE), you will need to budget accordingly such that the total amount of your loan will be divided across 6 years. If you complete your degree in less than 6 years, SFE will stop your loan payments at the time of degree completion, or if you go beyond 6 years you will not receive any further funding.

Graduates of Alef Trust programmes validated by LJMU or Middlesex University are entitled to a 15% discount on the fee.

Successful candidates will be enrolled on the PhD programme in January or September. In order to be considered for the September 2024 enrolment, your full application must be received by Monday, 22nd July 2024In order to be considered for the January 2025 enrolment, your full application must be received by Monday, 18th November 2024Please ensure that your references are also received by these dates.

You will need:
  • A Masters degree with a research dissertation in a relevant subject

Additional information

  • The applications of those with alternative qualifications will be considered on merit
  • Appropriate research and previous experience will be taken into account
  • 58-64 (minimum 51 in each component for UKVI purposes)
  • IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component)

In addition to the specific entry requirements listed, we also welcome applications from those with non-standard qualifications who can demonstrate knowledge, experience, and skills developed in the workplace or other setting relevant to the programme of research.

If you do not hold the standard academic entry requirements, please use the application form to provide further details. Non-standard applications will be considered by the Admissions Team on a case-by-case basis.

Questions? We are here to work with you

Please contact  for any further information. If you would welcome a conversation, he will be happy to schedule a time to speak with you by phone, Skype, or WhatsApp. Please do not approach LJMU directly, as all admissions processes are handled by Alef Trust.

Visual Map of the MSc PROGRAMME

Year 1
7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)
7501ALEFTP Approaches to Consciousness (20 Credits)
7502ALEFTP Spiritual Psychology (20 Credits)
Year 2
7504ALEFTP Transpersonal psychology (20 Credits)
7506ALEFTP Research Design (20 Credits)
7505ALEFTP Applied Transformative Psychology (20 Credits)
Year 3
7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)










Visual Map of the MSc PROGRAMME

7503ALEFTP Learning Through Integrative Practice (20 Credits)
7501ALEFTP Approaches to Consciousness (20 Credits)
7502ALEFTP Spiritual Psychology (20 Credits)
+ Two Specialist Options
7504ALEFTP Transpersonal psychology (20 Credits)
7506ALEFTP Research Design (20 Credits)
7505ALEFTP Applied Transformative Psychology (20 Credits) + Two Specialist Options
7500ALEFTP Research Dissertation (60 Credits)
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