Skip Navigation

Psychological Research – Graduate Teaching Assistant PhD Studentship

PGRs working on psychology and neuroscience projects are normally housed in the Department of Psychology.

Apply today

The Department of Psychology is a success story within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. We are ambitiously pursuing research excellence, and, in recent years, we have seen considerable investment in our research capacity and capabilities. Housed in a purpose-designed building with state-of-the-art research laboratories, we are keen to build on our growing international reputation for research excellence and, with this in mind, are looking to recruit outstanding postgraduate researchers to join our vibrant and friendly team.

The University particularly welcomes applications for studentships in the project areas outlined below, with additional research information on the research area webpages. All postgraduate researchers will be supported by a supervisory team with appropriate expertise. Also, see the University’s research repository for further information on the research outputs of each member of staff.

“As a PhD student, an important part of your journey is your relationship with your supervisors. It can make or mar you. It can inspire you or make you anxious for the rest of your journey.

I have been blessed with an amazing supervisory team who have been consistent in guiding, encouraging, supporting and directing me at every step of the way. They make my student experience enjoyable.

I am proud to say that they have given me wings to fly. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and I am thankful to each of them for their kindness and support.”

Aniekan Ekpenyong – PhD Postgraduate Researcher


Please direct all enquiries about proposed projects on topics related to psychology and neuroscience to Dr Dorothy Tse, Graduate School research degree contact for psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience, by emailing [email protected] stating the specific research theme/s of interest from the research themes list.

Research areas

Likely DoSBrief Summary of Research Interests
Adam QureshiSocial cognition, executive function, the contribution of executive function to social cognition. Perspective taking and theory of mind in adults, and the role of theory of mind and gaze direction in online communication using virtual agents. Executive function and alcohol-related cognitions.
Andy LevyUtilising social psychological theory and individual differences to understand, intervene and change lifestyle related cognition and behaviour. Three specific strands of interest are 1) mental biases and lifestyle related decision making; 2) personality and psycho-social determinants of lifestyle beliefs and behaviour; 3) interventions to change lifestyle behaviour. Methodologies: Quantitative and qualitative research design and analyses.
Alex BalaniResearch exploring human cognitive functions; e.g., visual attention, working memory, and executive function. Short- and long-term effects of brain
injuries on cognition, behaviour, and quality of life and cognitive rehabilitation after brain injury.
Derek HeimCancer risk perception and alcohol. Exploring the perception of the risk that alcohol poses to the development of cancer and the social and contextual factors that may impact this perceived risk.
Derek Larkin Psychosocial Oncology. Cancer affects 1 in 2 people, with this there is an increasing interest in the process of living with and beyond cancer. Research would be concerned with aspects of individuals’ experience with cancer beyond medical treatment, and across the cancer trajectory, including at diagnosis, during treatment, transitioning to and throughout survivorship, and approaching end-of-life care.
Dorothy TseLearning and memory. What makes memories last? How factors such as emotion, novelty and prior knowledge affect episodic, semantic and spatial memory. Another research area is to investigate different strategies to alleviate mild cognitive impairment and dementia symptoms.
Edwin BurnsProject 1. Developmental prosopagnosia is a lifelong face perception disorder characterised by severe difficulties when recognising faces. During this PhD you can research the following: new ways to diagnose the condition, test atypicality’s in their cognition and behaviours, develop new treatments. You can also compare and contrast problems in prosopagnosia with other neurodevelopmental conditions, e.g., autism, aphantasia, and dyslexia.

Project 2. Why do some people find terrorism and war acceptable to achieve political goals? In this PhD you’ll investigate which personality traits and life experiences predict an individual’s acceptance of violence to achieve their goals.
Elena SpiridonThe effect of feedback on mood and goal pursuit motivation; ambient colour light effects on mood and motivation; sleep deprivation and Melanopsin deficits. EEG, facial EMG, ECG, ICG.
Geoff BeattieHuman multi-modal communication and cognition, 2. The relationship between iconic gesture and speech in human communication. 3. The psychology of climate change, 4. Implicit cognition and sustainable behaviour, 5. Behaviour change, 6. Implicit racial prejudice, 7. Cognitive biases, 8. The analysis of political discourse, 9. Ethnographic approaches to social life.
Graeme Knibb1) Cognitive and social factors that underlie excessive alcohol consumption. This includes the pharmacological effects of acute alcohol consumption and the potential role of impulsivity. 2) Self-stigma among heavy drinkers and how this may lead to harmful drinking behaviour.
Gray AthertonI am interested in understanding how people with autism spectrum condition see the social world. Specifically, I explore individual differences in social processing and
how these differences often found in people with autism also exist in the general population. I also investigate anthropomorphism, or seeing the human in the non-human, and how this relates to social processing in autism. To investigate this, I am devel
Joanne Powell Research investigating theory of mind and strategic thinking in relation to game theory and expertise. Much of the research involves chess-based paradigms. Some funding has already been obtained to conduct a neuroimaging study in this field (details available on request), thus, an MRI investigation would form one component of the PhD. Funding already obtained to conduct the MRI component of the study (equivalent to £11,250), making this a rare and unique PhD opportunity.
Laura NicholsonPsychological predictors of student motivation and engagement including evaluation of teacher messages, achievement emotions, test anxiety, wellbeing at school and in general, student-teacher relationships, academic self-efficacy and perceived value of achievement.
Lauren McGaleExploring the acceptability of sustainable (aka environmentally friendly) eating behaviours, and avenues to encourage their uptake. For example, nature exposure, home food growing, increased consumption of fruit & vegetables or alternative proteins (soy, insects, algae). Projects may include real-world research, controlled laboratory experiments, and online research. Research will primarily be quantitative but could be augmented with appropriate qualitative approaches.
Liam Cross My research interests are in embodied and social cognition. My two main current research streams are:1) The social consequences of coordination. How moving in time with each other in rhythmic ways leads to pro-group behaviour.2) The link between Autism, Anthropomorphism and Theory of Mind. How individuals with autism may have a penchant for anthropomorphism and this may ameliorate typical ToM differences.
Linda Kaye 1) What is “social” in online settings? 2) Individual and contextual factors related to persuasive communication on social media.
Michel BelykVocal communication: Singing, speech, and first impressions. Research on how the voice is used effectively, how it goes awry in speech disorders, vocal hygiene, how attractive, dominant, and trustworthy we sound to others. Topics on ASMR also welcome. Methods: Audio playback, audio recording, acoustical analysis.
Nicola van Rijsbergen1) Using EEG to study recognition of emotional states in the self and others; 2) Ageing and neurodiversity (alexithymia, autism spectrum) – how does the emotional brain change as we grow older? 3) The ‘authoritarian’ disposition and perceptual biases.
Philip Murphy Genetic bases influencing the experience of substance use (i.e. cannabis, alcohol, ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, heroin), including effects on cognitive processes (e.g. memory), mood stability, withdrawal from substance use, and the maintenance of abstinence. Additionally, the relationship of self-efficacy beliefs to the processes of withdrawal from substance use, and the maintenance of abstinence.
Rebecca Monk Exploring the impact of social and environmental contextual influences on substance use and related beliefs, with a particular focus on alcohol. Projects are welcome which seek to harness real-world research, controlled laboratory experiments (e.g., bar laboratory), and/or advanced technologies (e.g., Smartphone Applications, TMS, Facial EMG). Applicants welcome to discuss ideas about developing further avenues of research in this domain.
Stergios Makris1) Bridging neuroscience with the art therapies. 2) The neural basis of eating behaviour and eating disorders. 3) The neural and cognitive correlates of elite sport performance. Methods: non-invasive brain stimulation; EEG; behavioural.
Themis KaraminisExploring how autistic children and adults see or perceive the world differently; studying the acceptance of autism and neurodiversity. Also: individual differences in cognitive development, (a)typical development, visual perception, language development, cross-linguistic/cross-cultural differences, interventions: online, educational. Methods: experiments, psychophysics, eye-tracking, computational cognitive modelling, computational approaches/machine learning, corpus linguistics
Valeria Occelli Sensory perception. Multisensory integration. Crosstalk between sensory perception and cognitive processes. Individual differences in perception. Methods: behavioural, EEG, eye-tracking.

Also, see the University’s research repository for further information on the research outputs of each member of staff.