Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Development of a novel approach to neurophysiological pain assessment in unresponsive patients


Title: SCH08: Development of a novel approach to neurophysiological pain assessment in unresponsive patients

Funding: Full time Home/EU fees and a stipend of £15,009 p.a. (terms & conditions)

Application deadline: 7 May 2019

Start date: October 2019

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (in collaboration with the Department of Psychology)


This studentship is now closed to applicants. View our latest opportunities.


Improvements in intensive care have led to an increasing number of patients surviving traumatic brain injuries. Due to their injuries these patients may be unable to self-report pain.

Vital signs are not a reliable primary indicator of pain and methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging cannot be applied at the bedside. Thus, the goal of this project is the development of a novel method based on the online analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) data to determine if a patient is experiencing pain.

The successful applicant will (1) investigate the influence of the tonic experience of pain on neurophysiological markers extracted from the EEG, and (2) implement the detection of the neurophysiological markers of pain in a signal processing pipeline, based on brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that can be deployed at the bedside, for the online detection of pain. 


The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.


The lead supervisor is an expert in brain-computer interfacing and the online analysis of neurophysiological signals in clinical settings. The co-supervisor is an expert in pain science and the induction of experimental pain.

Together they will provide the PhD student with an ideal training environment in experimental design and data collection, online and offline analysis of neurophysiological data as well as guide the student through the process of disseminating the results of the project via scientific publication in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals.


The successful candidate should possess:

  1. A Master level degree with a strong background in programming (Matlab, Python and ideally C++) and neurophysiological data analysis
  2. experience in the collection of neurophysiological data such as EEG
  3. strong motivation to be involved in a project with a clinical background and learning advanced neuroscience data analysis skills
  4. proficiency in spoken and written English.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

Please upload:

  • Transcripts 
  • Covering letter and detailed CV
  • Personal statement
  • One reference letter

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "PhD Computer Science"
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH08: Development of a novel approach to neurophysiological pain assessment in unresponsive patients)
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr Sebastian Halder)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Sebastian Halder (

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).