Programme description
Types of fellowships
Admission requirements
Application procedure
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Application procedure

In order to apply for the programme, candidates must send the application form with the requested documents in PDF via email.

For applications for the programme starting September 2017 the application deadline for A-candidates is extended until January 15th. 

Download application form (MS Word document)

This form must include the following documents

1.  A personal statement (max. two pages) demonstrating the
     motivation for your application.
2.  Details of academic, professional and other education
     qualifications (European format CV, diplomas with accorded
     translations, grade lists and publications).
3.  One topic from the list below must be chosen for your research
     proposal. Your proposal (1,500-4,000 words) should clearly identify
     the research problem to be studied and the aims (general and
     specific) of the intended research. (See application form).
     Enrolment and partner universities are predetermined by
     topic and can be found in the list of topics.
     Note that the research proposal is primarily used as an assessment
     tool. It might, but does not have to be the base for the candidates'
     three year project.
4.  For all non-native English speakers – proof of having passed the
     academic IELTS (minimum score: 7.5, without any category below
     7.5) or TOEFL internet-based (minimum score: 103), or comparable
     scores on paper-based or computer-based TOEFL test.
5.  Two references from previous or current supervisors.
6.  A copy of your passport.

Sent to: Chantal.meertens@maastrichtuniversity.nl
After sending the application form, applicants will receive a confirmation email. In case the applicant does not receive any communication concerning the receipt of the application within 7 days, applicants are advised to contact mrs. Meertens.

Research topics and the enrolment and partner universities for the 2017/2018 academic year (starting September 2017) 
Decision making and evidence
Topic Enrolment University Partner University
1 Dressing the defendant: the effects of demeanor, court room behavior and clothes of suspects on legal decision making.
Presentation of suspects during court cases seems to influence the decision making of judges and juries. In what way does this do so? Is it hair style or the color of the clothes? These are some of the questions to be answered in this project.
Maastricht (Law) Portsmouth
2 Types of evidence in criminal cases and the manner in which criminal procedure helps preventing miscarriages of justice.
Often it is assumed that certain types of evidence ‘cause’ miscarriages of justice. In actual cases, however, the totality of evidence steers judges and juries in their decision-making. It is rare when only one type of evidence leads to a conviction. Little is known about how types of evidence interact in decision-making. Also, little is known about how procedure and procedural safeguards prevent miscarriages of justice.
Maastricht (Law) Gothenburg
3 Cultural influences on perception, retention, and eyewitness testimony.                                                   Testifying people from Africa in international tribunals are often little understood by the Western participants. This study entails experimental research on how culture influences witness testimony, particular by people from sub-Sahara countries. Maastricht (Law) in cooperation with Free University Amsterdam Portsmouth
4 Motivational bias in evaluations of confession evidence.
Confessions of crime have a powerful impact on legal and investigative decisions, and may at times overshadow other, more diagnostic evidence. Drawing on theories and findings in the 'motivated cognition' framework, this project will explore why it is that some confessions are considered reliable even when there is no corroborating evidence to support them.
Gothenburg Maastricht (Law)
5Credibility assessment in courts: a european comparative approach.
In Europe, there are different legal systems such as the inquisitorial (mainland Europe), the adversarial (UK) and a mixed system (Nordic countries). This project aims at investigating the prerequisites for making the credibility assessment and the techniques used in criminal court in all three countries involved (Sweden, The Netherlands, and The UK).
GothenburgMaastricht (Law)
6 Cognitive biases in forensic sciences.
In October 2015, the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology published a note about how cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias, affect decision making in court. This is the first time a governmental organization involved in justice and forensic sciences explicitly recognizes the importance of taking precautions in forensic procedures.
In this project we want to establish:
- which characteristics of forensic material (e.g., type of prior case context information, audio quality of tapped telephone calls) constitute risk factors for bias;
- to what extent police officers and forensic experts are vulnerable for cognitive biases.
Maastricht (Psych)Gothenburg
7How to reduce biases in legal psychologists.
Recent studies have shown that forensic psychologists are biased towards the side that retains them (Murrie, Boccaccini, Guernara, & Rufino, 2013). If so, does this also count for other psychologists such as legal psychologists? For example, could legal psychologists working as expert witnesses on cases concerning the reliability of statements be biased by the side that hires them as well? And can such biases be prevented or reduced in the legal psychological context by relying on for example counterfactual thinking? These questions will serve as a starting point for the current project. The project has high relevance for psychologists working in the legal arena.
Maastricht (Psych)Gothenburg
8 The role of experts in post-appeal procedure.
This project focusses on Criminal Review cases Committees in the UK and The Netherlands. Specifically, it looks at the prevalence and type of cases that committees in both countries deal with so as to address potential miscarriages of justice. The role of experts – e.g., medical, technical, and psychological experts – in post-appeal stages is considered on the basis of archival data, but also on the basis of experimental work. The rationale behind the experiments that will be conducted is the idea that post-appeal cases are basically a two-stage decision process. So, the question is how this two-stage process should be designed so as to avoid false positives (miscarriages of justice) and false negatives (false acquittals).
Maastricht (Psych)Portsmouth
Victim-Oriented research
TopicEnrolment UniversityPartner University
9 Theory-evaluating approach to victim-blaming research.
There are lots of phenomenon-driven empirical researches published on victim-blaming, especially in sex crimes such as rape. However, the theoretical development is much less advanced. This project aims at comparing, testing and developing theoretical explanations of victim-blaming.
GothenburgMaastricht (Psych.)
10A step-by-step approach to investigating blame attributions in rape cases.
Research on victim-blaming attributions usually employs a methodology in which participants read a vignette and then responds to a number of items. However, this method does not allow for a detailed process-tracing approach - exactly which behaviours and/or situational aspects affect the attributions? This project aims at empirically testing a more refined methodology by having participants receiving the crucial information in the case one piece at the time. It will start by using focus-group discussions to generate critical "tipping points", and then experimentally testing out these.
GothenburgMaastricht (Psych.)
Perpetrator-oriented research
Enrolment UniversityPartner University
11Norms and values as risk factors for sexual offenses.
Sex offenders are known to be a diverse and heterogeneous group. However, the focus of the research has often been on unalterable factors such as background characteristics, personality traits and disorders of the perpetrator. This project will instead explore whether the norms and values (e.g. masculinity norms, derogatory view on women and sexual entitlement) of the perpetrators may be risk factors for sexual offending, and if these factors are possible to influence.
GothenburgMaastricht (Psych.)
Deception and deception detection
Topic Enrolment University Partner University
12 Memory detection.
Typically, lie detection procedures aim to establish whether a suspect, witness, or victim is telling the truth. More recently, however, information gathering, for example concerning the planning of terrorist acts, has become equally important. This project seeks to develop new – theory driven – methods to extract information from individuals and detect memory traces, primarily using psychophysiological measures such as skin conductance, EEG and potentially fMRI.

Maastricht (Psych.)Gothenburg/ Portsmouth
Interviewing of witnesses and suspects
Topic Enrolment University Partner University
13 The effects of an interpreter in eye-witness accounts. More and more criminal investigations have an international character. This means that during interviews of witnesses an interpreter is needed. There is, though, little known known about the intervening effects of such an interpreter on the consistency or validity of the account of the witness. Maastricht (Law) Portsmouth
14 Interviewing child witnesses.                                           Every country has its own methods and procedures of interviewing child witnesses. Until now, there has hardly been any proper comparative study conducted on the process and products of these methods and procedures. Maastricht (Law) Gothenburg
15 How to prevent and recognize false denials and confessions and stimulate true confessions and denials during suspect interrogations?                        
An innocent suspect makes true denials and eventually can make a false confession in contrast to a guilty suspect. Can an interrogation be organized in such way that making true statements is stimulated and recognized?  
Maastricht (Law) Gothenburg
16 Improving children’s interviewing methods.              
Each year, many children are interviewed by the police about traumatic events that they supposedly experienced. Oftentimes, children are interviewed by using props such as anatomically detailed dolls or human figure drawings. However, a plethora of research has revealed that such props lead not only to more correct statements, but also to more incorrect ones. Which methods do support children’s support then?
The purpose of the current project is to:
- experimentally test the efficacy of a promising new method: letting children draw about what they presumably experienced;                                         
- assess whether this new method will add extra interviewing benefits, combined with an extensive rapport-building phase.
17 Human intelligence gathering techniques.
This project will focus on the comparative efficacy of techniques for eliciting human intelligence HUMINT, an understudied topic. The project will pay particular attention to measures for tapping the efficacy of the examined techniques and to refine the experimental paradigms for conducting such research.
Gothenburg Portsmouth
18 QUESISTO: Improving the quality of interviews in alleged Child Sexual Abuse cases using serious gaming.
This project seeks to further test and develop QUESISTO - a serious game for improving the quality of interviews with children in suspected cases of Child Sexual Abuse (Pompedda et al., 2015). In this game, interviewers are given a background scenario describing a suspicion of CSA after which their task is to interview a child avatar. The setup will provide the possibility of giving interviewers direct feedback on their performance, a necessary condition for improving interviewing skills.
Gothenburg Maastricht (Psych)
19 Identity interviews.                                                          Some situations call for interviewing a person to decide whether or not he or she is telling the truth about his/her identity, for example in asylum cases or in intelligence contexts. The main research question for this theme is: how to best conduct such interviews? The project will draw on established lines of research such as Strategic Use of Evidence and the cognitive load approach, but also utilize new lines such as research on true/false intent, unanticipated questions and the verifiability approach. One part of the project will be to compare the efficacy of research-informed protocols against protocols used today. Gothenburg Portsmouth
20How to interview to elicit admissions from suspects in denial.                                                                                   So far, there is very little research addressing how to elicit reliable admissions from guilty suspects. This project will develop and test ideas that draw on the principles behind the Strategic Use of Evidence (SUE) technique. At the core of the project is to use the existing evidence strategically to shift the suspects' counter-interrogation strategies from withholding to forthcoming. In brief, to use what you have (evidence on less critical themes) to get what you want (information on critical themes where you lack information). We foresee both traditional lab-studies and a field study.Gothenburg Portsmouth
Witnesses and witness evidence
Topic Enrolment University Partner University
21 Investigative interviewing of elderly witnesses and suspects
Demographic changes bring about that the number of witnesses and suspects above the age of 60 constantly increases. It is well-established that aging comes along with changes in memory, but what are the special needs of elderly individuals in the context of an investigation? 
In this project we will:
- establish those developmental changes that are relevant for investigative interviews with elderly individuals;
- develop interviewing tools that specifically address the needs of elderly witnesses and suspects in the investigative context.

Maastricht (Psych.)Gothenburg
22Is there a negative effect of stress on eyewitness memory?
In the eyewitness literature, stress and arousal during encoding are considered to adversely influence identification performance. This contrasts with findings from the neurobiology field of learning and memory showing that stress and stress hormones are critically involved in forming enduring memories. This discrepancy may be related to methodological differences between the two fields of research. So is there a negative or positive (or no) effect of stress on eyewitness memory?
In this project we will:
- investigate the (methodological) differences between the two fields;
- test the effect of stress on eyewitness memory (eyewitness reports and identification) while taking into account the current state of knowledge in both fields.
Maastricht (Psych.)Portsmouth
23 Episodic memory modification after treating post-traumatic stress complaints.
A substantial proportion of people who experience a potentially traumatic event, such as witnessing a crime or being involved in a severe accident, develop trauma-related psychopathology (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder). Fortunately, there are several treatments available to alleviate the burden associated with trauma exposure. One such treatment used worldwide is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). While EMDR is highly efficacious in reducing the occurrence of intrusions and the emotional vividness of the original trauma memory, much less is known about how EMDR influences the reliability of episodic memory. Given that in legal settings, how well people who witnessed or experienced a crime are able to recount what happened has tremendous implications for the course of justice, it is imperative to determine precisely how treating posttraumatic complaints through EMDR influences episodic memory.
Maastricht (Psych.) Portsmouth
The history of legal psychology
TopicEnrolment UniversityPartner University
24 The history of legal psychology.
This project will focus on both the early and the modern history on legal psychology. Critical trajectories will be identified and their respective influences mapped. The project aims to illuminate current trends in legal psychology by providing an in-depth historical analysis.
GothenburgMaastricht (Psych.)
Enrolment UniversityPartner University
25Believability of alibi witnesses: children and salacious, self-incriminating details.
Research on alibi believability witnesses shows that friends and family of the suspect are perceived as less believable alibi witnesses, compared to acquaintances or strangers. Child alibi witnesses, however, seem to be an exception: even if closely related (i.e., daughter or son of suspect), they are believable to alibi evaluators. But under which conditions does this child advantage hold?
Similarly, the inclusion of salacious details in an alibi can increase its believability under certain conditions, whereas sometimes such disclosures can have negative effects. Is it then advisable for innocent suspects to admit that they involved in salacious or illegal activities when asked to provide an alibi?
In this project we will:
- investigate limiting conditions of the reported child alibi witness advantage. Coaching is likely to be one of those conditions;
- test the validity of the child alibi witness advantage in experimental (rather than vignette) studies.

Maastricht (Psych.)Gothenburg
26Effect of salacious and self-incriminating details on alibi believability.
Research shows that the inclusion of salacious details in an alibi can actually increase its believability under certain conditions. However, sometimes, such disclosures can have negative effects. Is it then advisable for innocent suspects to admit that they involved in salacious or illegal activities when asked to provide an alibi?
 In this project we will:
- investigate the effect of self-incriminating details on alibi believability and evaluators’ impressions of suspect guilt;
- establish conditions under which salacious and self-incriminating details increase vs. decrease alibi believability;
- study other factors that may moderate the effect, e.g., the timing of disclosure.
Maastricht (Psych.)Gothenburg
False confessions
TopicEnrolment UniversityPartner University
27Does memory distrust promote false confessions?
It has been shown that memory distrust, i.e. the lack of belief in one’s own memory, is a determinant of false memory (Van Bergen et al., 2010). People who distrust their memories are susceptible to false memories because of an increased tendency to accept information provided by other people as true recollections. There is preliminary evidence that memory distrust plays a role in internalized false confessions. This project aims to thoroughly study the relationship between memory distrust and different types of false confessions.
Maastricht (Psych.)Gothenburg

Application Evaluation
Applications will be evaluated by a Selection Committee that consists of academic members from each partner university and co-supervisors from the selected research projects. The panel will assess the suitability of candidates as either poor/moderate/good/very good/excellent on the six criteria below:
  1. Quality of motivation letter (as described in a 2 page motivation letter);
  2. Quality of university career, including knowledge, skills, experience, qualifications, number and quality of the degrees obtained (outstanding study-results (top 10% scores) during their bachelor and master phase) including references, academic credentials and academic performance;
  3. Quality of research proposal;
  4. Certified proof of language test results (i.e. TOEFL minimum score of 103 (internet based; or comparable scores on paper-based or computer-based TOEFL), or IELTS minimal average score of 7.5 without any category below 7.5);
  5. Written letters of recommendation from two previous or current supervisors;
  6. A formal interview via Skype. 
Only applicants that score high on the six criteria can be admitted to the programme. The Selection Committee will organize application interviews with short-listed candidates (via video conferencing or Skype). The Selection Committee will make a ranking of the candidates after the interviews. The selection decision is based on the ranking resulting from the quality assessment of the candidate (criterion 1, 2, 5, and 6, and proven proficiency in English language) and the research proposal (criterion 3) with reference to the research topics of the programme.

Time Line
Final admission evaluation will be done by the Coordination Board, consisting of representatives of the three The House institutes. The Coordination Board will be chaired by prof.dr. Peter J. van Koppen from Maastricht University.

A primary list of selected candidates, together with a reserve list of candidates, will be put together. All candidates, including the rejected ones, will immediately be informed on which list they are positioned. The lists then will be send to the European Commission at the end of February for formal approval of the student selection. Only after the European Union gives formal approval of the selected candidates list a Doctoral Candidate Agreement can be signed. This will probably happen in May 2017 or earlier if possible.

After that, the selected PhD candidates will have about three months to arrange all relevant aspects concerning their immigration. Local officials of the consortium members will help in this process as much as possible. We strive to start the appointments in September 2017.

Appeal procedure
In case of non-selection and if a candidate has grounds to believe that his/her application file, although complete, was not processed through the selection procedure, he/she may engage an appeal procedure by writing a complaint letter to the Coordinator of The House.
The applicants will be informed via email about the appeal procedure at least 7 working days before the deadline for submitting the appeal (2017 call: The date for candidates to submit appeals to the Appeals board is 19 February 2017 at 23:59 PM CET). The head of the Appeal Board is prof.dr. Pär-Anders Granhag.

The House of Legal Psychology Erasmus MundusUniversity of PortsmouthGoeteborg UniversityMaastricht University