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Award details

Evaluating the bona fides of Shaken Baby Syndrome, Law School, PhD (Self-Funded) Ref: 4136

About the award

Research Project Summary:

“Shaken Baby Syndrome” (SBS) is known as a form of abuse inflicted on a child, and is a diagnosis often given in legal cases involving child abuse. However, increasingly there is controversy over the medical basis for SBS and the reliability of diagnoses. This project will locate and examine legal decisions in which SBS is allegedly at play, and will conduct research in both law and medicine to evaluate whether this is a diagnosis that is sufficiently reliable for court. 

Project Description:

“Shaken Baby Syndrome” (SBS) is known as a form of abuse inflicted on a child, and is a diagnosis often given in legal cases involving child abuse. However, increasingly there is controversy over the medical basis for SBS and the reliability of diagnoses. Some countries, including Sweden and the USA, are moving away from support for the diagnosis. In 2016, an independent group of experts appointed by the Swedish Agency for Health Technology

Assessment and Assessment of Social Services published findings stating that that evidence on SBS is “insufficient.”

However, the diagnosis has been important, and continues to be important, in criminal convictions in the UK and UK doctors have been sanctioned for questioning it. This project will evaluate the continued viability of SBS as a diagnosis presented in criminal cases.

This evaluation will include:

1. Locating and examining legal decisions in which SBS is allegedly at play.
2. Conducting research in both law and medicine to evaluate whether this is a diagnosis that is sufficiently reliable for court.

Contact for informal enquiries For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Dr Rebecca Helm.

Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in Law or Medicine.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and two academic references. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project.

You may also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

Closing date is Monday 24th May 2021.

Interviews will be held online in June 2021.

Please quote reference 4136 on your application and in any correspondence about this project.

For general information about this project and the application process, please contact Postgraduate Admissions.  embed hyperlink

Summary

Application deadline:24th May 2021
Number of awards:1
Value:The project is self-funded and therefore applicants will need to find external funding sources to cover their tuition fees and living expenses.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk