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

A warm welcome from our Academic Dean and PhD Programme 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 I 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.

More details of the programme will be found through clicking on the right of this page. The one aspect I would stress here is the importance of your research proposal. 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, I advise you to craft your research proposal carefully as you complete the application. I look forward to working with you in this exciting new doctoral programme.

Sincerely,

Lancaster, signature
Accordion Content
  • Academic certificates/transcripts.
  • Any other qualification that you consider highly relevant to this application.
  • Your CV.
  • Photo ID
  • Make sure that you have completed: Proposed Research Topic Overview; Title;
  • Background; Aims & Objectives; Highlight Novelty; Methodology; Expected
  • Project Outcomes; List of References.
  • Sign and date your application in the two places indicated.

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 core of the research proposal is the research question which represents a pragmatic and operationalised formulation of the initiating idea. One or more subsidiary questions may follow from further reflection on the research question.

Research proposals should be no more than 2,500 words (exclusive of bibliography) and should outline your:

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

Your research proposal should include:

  • the title of your PhD(this can be revised at a later date)
  • a summary of what you want to examine
  • brief overview of your general area of study, summarising current knowledge and recent debates on the topic (you should demonstrate your familiarity with the field and your ability to communicate clearly and concisely)
  • the central aims and questions that will guide your research (prioritise one or two main questions, from which secondary questions may follow)
  • how you intend to answer your research questions
  • The methodological approach(es) that you are planning to use (can be revised later in discussion with your supervision team)
  • your main research techniques(interviews, case studies, modelling, use of psychometric instruments, etc) and data collection procedures
  • an explanation of why your research is important and what makes it original
  • a bibliography identifying the most relevant and recent works for your subject area

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), 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; full-time students will be expected to devote a minimum of 36 hours per week to their research.

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. 

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.

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.

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 2023. In order to be considered for the January 2023 enrolment, your full application must be received by Monday, 5th December 2022. Applications for the September enrolment period must be received by Monday, 7th August 2023. Please ensure that your references are also received by these dates.

 
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.

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