Psychology MPhil/PhD

Major code: PS1R/PS2R

About us

Department of Applied Psychology

This Department pursues applied and theoretical work with an international reputation in a wide variety of areas related to applied psychology. Research strengths include the psychological processes involved in the management of critical and major incidents, preventing violent extremism, terrorism, crowd behaviour, hooliganism, industrial safety and public order, group processes and decision making, risk, safety, and health and legal processes. The group incorporates the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology, the Centre for Investigative Psychology, and the Tactical Decision-making Research Group. The work of the group is supported by research councils, government departments and major private companies. More detailed information can be found at

Research Groups

Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology

The Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology (CAMI) is devoted to providing internationally recognised studies of psychological processes associated with managing critical and major incidents. CAMI research aims to build resilience in national security, enhance public safety and helps to develop and accelerate expertise, especially within the criminal justice system. The Centre is founded on a principle of pragmatic research that has real world value and training applications. Knowledge exchange is a central tenet of CAMI’s work and, in the past five years, has contributed to the training of more than 800 professionals from police services and partner agencies and gathered (as data) the experiences of over 4000. CAMI Director Professor Laurence Alison has also established the only dedicated postgraduate course within a Russell Group university aimed directly at a student cohort of serving police officers with graduates from Detective Sergeant to Chief Superintendent.

Postgraduate research students are an invaluable part of the CAMI team and have the opportunity to be directly involved in cutting edge research. Postgraduate students move on to successful careers in academia, in government departments including the security services and also in the police service and related criminal justice agencies.

The Centre for Investigative Psychology

The Centre for Investigative Psychology (CIP) conducts internationally recognised research on the psychological processes associated with the investigation of criminal activity. This includes studies of the cognitive and emotional processes involved in committing crime. It also researches issues related to how investigations are carried out and the impact of various psychological factors on witness evidence and court processes. As part of a major Russell Group university the Centre supports the development of high quality research, education, and training.

Since it was established the Centre has had an active community of postgraduate research students (PhD) Almost every topic of investigative psychology has been examined and researched by our students. Graduates of both the MSc and PhD have gone on to considerable success within academia, a number have become full professors, while others have moved into private and consultancy sectors, government departments and various police forces. Our alumni are spread throughout the world covering every continent. We look forward to welcoming each generation of new students to join that community.

Tactical Decision-making Research Group

The tactical decision making research group is working on the psychology of conflict and armed confrontations. There are two primary strands to our current projects; (i) tactical decision making in authorised firearms officers (AFOs), and (ii) terrorist decision making. Within these broad strands are numerous smaller subprojects, such as post incident memory in AFOs and the terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction.

Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology

This department is involved with investigating the biological bases of behaviour; including the study of substance abuse, the psychological and physiological controls of eating, neurochemical mechanisms underlying motivational processes, children’s development of language and grammar, and visual perception.

Research Groups


This highly active research group focuses on the biopsychology of major clinical issues. The group has a prominent international profile in the study of appetite, obesity and addiction. Funding for research has come from the MRC, BBSRC, ESRC and industrial partners in the health, food, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Developmental Psychology

The group’s work focuses on Language Acquisition, with a particular emphasis on grammatical development. The group has a strong research profile based on members’ shared interest in building process-oriented models of the way in which children acquire their first language. Funding for research comes both from research councils (eg ESRC), and from charitable organisations (eg The Leverhulme Trust). Psychology/developmental.html

Cognitive Science and Neuroscience

The Department has a strong research profile in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience with several internationally renowned research teams working on a broad range of topics, vision research and the psychology of pain. Funding has come from the Leverhulme Trust, The Wellcome Trust, British Academy and the Pain Relief Foundation.

Institute of Psychology, Health and Society

The Institute of Psychology, Health and Society conducts world-leading research into the effectiveness of health services, the social origins of health and social inequalities in healthcare, mental health and well-being, including the evaluation of a wide range of psychosocial interventions and therapies and conduct internationally acclaimed research into many aspects of psychology and human behaviour, including perception, language development, pain, addiction, appetite, and offending behaviour. We work collaboratively; the Institute employs academic GPs, public health professionals, psychologists from a range of professional backgrounds, psychiatrists, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and social scientists. Our research groups work with colleagues from hugely diverse backgrounds; from academic colleagues from many Universities across the world, with industrial partners, with the NHS and other healthcare providers, politicians and political administrators, the police and partners across civil society.

We work across the world - from investigating respiratory disease in central America, through promoting the psychological well-being of young mothers in the middle east to studying attitudes towards epilepsy in Asia - and across widely different aspects of human behaviour - from innovative therapies for many different psychological problems, managing substance use and obesity, through helping people return to work after periods of ill-health and innovative food policies through to the policing of terrorist incidents. In all these areas, our work is characterised by a focus on research excellence and by attention to the real world impact of our scholarship. In addition to our large and active programme of postgraduate research, we contribute substantially to undergraduate teaching in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and many of us provide clinical services through local NHS Trusts.

Staff research interests

Psychological Sciences

Professor Laurence J. Alison
Professor Alison’s research interests concern developing the potential for psychological contributions to critical incidents, specifically focusing upon police decision making and leadership.

Key areas include the following:

Decision making errors and false assumptions;
Leadership, management, cohesion and esprit in investigative teams;
Simulation Based Training (SBT) exercises;
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and preparation for hostile environments;
Investigative interviewing (specifically suspect and significant witness interviewing).

Dr. Louise Almond
Dr Almond’s research broadly focuses on the following key areas: Arson, Sexual and Violent offending and Offender profiling.

Dr. Kate M. Bennett
Dr Bennett is interested in gerontological psychology. The core of her work focuses in the impact of gender and marital status on physical and mental health and healthy lifestyles. For further information see:

Professor. Jon Cole
Dr. Cole is interested in (i) impulsive decision making, particularly behavioural economic models of substance misuse, (ii) critical incident decision making, particularly the police use of force, (iii) the short- and long-term effects of substance misuse, and (iv) the prevention of substance misuse, violence, and violent extremism. This work is conducted in collaboration with Dr Field, Dr Goudie and Professor Alison.

Professor Ian J.Donald
Professor Donald’s interests include organisational, social and forensic psychology. Recently he has supervised work on: industrial safety; risk in financial institutions; communication and negotiation; domestic violence; stress and occupational health; attitudes and the Theory of Planned Behaviour; the role of emotion in organisations. Ian is happy to consider proposals covering other topics.

Dr. Jacqueline Wheatcroft
Dr Wheatcroft has interests in applied cognitive and social psychology as applied to forensic arenas. These include - legal processes, eyewitness testimony, pre-trial preparation and questioning styles in courtroom examinations, forensic interviewing of witnesses, and the psychology of policing. 

Dr. Ben Ambridge
Dr Ambridge’s child language acquisition research focuses on how children acquire the word-order rules of their language, how children can “retreat” from over generalisation errors and how they aquire morphology.

Dr. Marco Bertamini
Dr Bertamini's research interests span basic vision, visual neuroscience, middle vision (surface layout), and cognitive aspects of visual perception and reasoning (how people understand and reason about the environment). For more information:

Dr. Franklin Chang
Dr. Chang’s research focuses on the relationship between language acquisitions and adult sentence production. He examines this issue using connectionist models, corpus research and experiments with children and adults. He is also interested in how spatial and social information are used within the acquisition and use of language.

Dr. John J.Downes
Dr. Downes’ interests include Neuropsychology of amnesia – hypotheses about the underlying functional defect(s);Models of implicit memory; Language and memory of neurodegenerative disease; Functional imaging of memory, language and visuospatial processes.

Dr. Matt Field
Dr. Field is interested in the cognitive psychopharmacology of alcohol use and abuse. This includes the study of cognitive biases, impulsivity, and inhibitory control deficits in alcohol users, and how they relate to alcohol craving and binge drinking.

Professor. Jason C. G. Halford
Dr. Halford’s interests include: biopsychology of appetite regulation, food choice, preferences and craving; causes and treatments of obesity and binge eating; functional foods and drugs in weight control; effect on advertising on children's food intake; effect of stress on food intake; role of gut hormones in episodic appetite regulation; obesity discrimination; and the effects of chronic disease on appetite (cachexia).

Dr. Joanne A. Harrold
Dr. Harrold’s interests include: neurochemical mechanisms controlling feeding behaviour; drug-induced obesity in rodents; biopsychology of appetite regulation; cognitive biases and how they relate to the motivation to eat; nutritional programming and other factors influencing infants’ food preferences and the occurrence of food neophobia; obesity discrimination and the effects of media exposure on food intake.

Professor Tim C. Kirkham
Professor Kirkham is interested in Neurochemical mechanisms in the regulation of appetite and body weight, with specific interest in the role of endocannabinoids in the craving for, and enjoyment, of foods.

Dr. Rebecca Lawson
Dr. Lawson’s research investigates diverse aspects of processing by vision and haptics (by active touch) by the human object recognition system. The aim is to establish a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the perceptual and conceptual processes involved in object recognition and understanding. For further details, see ~rlawson/rebecca.html

Dr. Georg Meyer
Dr. Meyer’s general research interest is speech and cross-modal perception (psychophysics and EEG). Particular research interests include speech recognition in noise, in particular the development of models that explain human performance and that can be applied to machine recognition and the integration of audiovisual information.

Professor Julian M. Pine
Professor Pine’s research focuses on how children acquire their first language and on developing a constructivist model of the language acquisition process, specifically use of naturalistic data to test theories of grammatical development, early multiword speech and the language exposure, and methodologies to investigate the nature and scope of children’s grammatical knowledge.

Dr. Abigail Rose
Dr Rose’s research interests lie in the psychopharmacology of addiction and understanding risk factors for hazardous drinking. Her work includes both experimental laboratory work and clinical research.

Dr. Caroline F. Rowland
Dr. Rowland’s research focuses on early language acquisition. A number of studies investigate the relationship between children's productions and the language they hear. Current work focuses on analyses of naturalistic and experimental production data and, most recently, comprehension data on the acquisition of transitive and dative argument structure in very young children.

Dr. Andrej Stancak
Dr. Stancak’s research focuses on the sensory, affective and cognitive components of pain in healthy subjects and chronic pain patients. The main research tool is the functional brain imaging using fMRI, MEG and EEG. Current projects will investigate the effects of personality and attitudes toward pain on functional brain activation, and the correlations between individual pain response and brain structure.

Dr. Sonia Tucci
Dr. Tucci’s research interests include brain mechanisms underlying motivated behaviour with particular reference to neural bases and pharmacological manipulation of feeding behaviour. She also investigates the diverse aspects of biopsychology of appetite regulation and the effects of media exposure on food intake.

Dr. Sophie Wuerger
Dr. Wuerger’s primary research area is human colour vision, and how colour vision interacts with spatial vision and motion perception. She also investigates how the human brain integrates sensory information from different modalities, in particular the auditory and the visual modality.