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Nikki Gambles

Public and Allied Health

Faculty of Health

My PhD is being carried out in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Alcohol Impact Scheme (AIS) and will be exploring the relationships between university life and young peoples' drinking behaviours during the transition to and through university. It will explore the growth of ‘hedonistic intoxication’ and pursuit of deliberate drunkenness as characteristics of university students’ drinking styles and will study how this pattern of drinking appears to have become normalised and expected within the university environment.

PhD Overview
Recent trends suggest heavy drinking patterns that develop during the student years are continuing to adulthood, which has put the university student ‘binge drinking’ phenomena at the forefront of public health concerns. Whilst the majority of alcohol research has been conducted on American college students, research exploring British student drinking patterns is sparse. Given the differences in the legal drinking age and cultural context, the transferability of this research to UK university research is questionable. Additional gaps within the literature reveal there is little understanding of the impacts that the transition to university has on student drinking behaviour. Moving to university represents a major transition in the lives of young people, many of whom will be leaving their family home for their first time and gaining independence in a new city. During this transition several tasks must be navigated, these include: separation, social network demands, acquisition of independent living skills and question of identity formation. Amid these changes alcohol consumption has been shown to escalate. Studies have suggested that drinking behaviours that develop during the initial weeks of university become habitual over students’ university careers, making this transitional phase critical for policy intervention. This programme of research aims to examine the relationship between university life and young peoples’ drinking behaviour during the transition to and through university. The research programme adopts a sequential mixed method design which is comprised of three main studies. The initial stage of the research consists of a secondary data analysis of a cross sectional questionnaire developed for the initial purpose of the National Union of Students and the Alcohol Impact Scheme in 2014. For the second phase of the research, a bespoke cross-sectional questionnaire has been designed and disseminated to first year university students through a snowball sampling approach. The final stage of the research will take more of a qualitative approach and includes focus group discussions with prospective students and current university students enrolled at LJMU respectively. The results from this project will identify predictors of alcohol use and related risk during students’ university life course which will help inform local and national interventions to provide effective student support throughout students’ university careers.


Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, BSc Biology


Gambles N. 2019. The trajectory of first year students’ drinking during the transition from home to university and the factors associated with alcohol consumption Quigg Z, Porcellato L, Fleming KM. Public Url