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Research in the Department of Psychology

The psychology department has seen significant investment in research facilities and it has appointed outstanding researchers in a wide range of fields. The laboratories offer a variety of technical equipment (eg eye tracking systems-EyeLink and Tobii, BioPac, driving simulator, EEG, tDCS, behavioural telemetry), software (eg Qualtrics, MatLab, Eprime, SuperLab), and audio-visual facilities. The department has over 26 registered PhD students and now offers five postgraduate masters programmes.

Staff are passionate about their work and publish in renowned international journals (eg. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Journal of Experimental Psychology, Experimental Brain Research, Journal of Vision, Current Biology, Cognition, Psychopharmacology, PLoS ONE, The British Journal of Psychiatry). Many publications achieved high national and international impact via mentions in Nature, The Sunday Times, BBC Radio 4, and Times Higher Education, among others.

Over the last five years, the department has secured research funds in excess of £1m, from The Economic and Social Research Council, The Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy, The Qatar National Research Fund, The European Commission, Alcohol Research UK, The European Foundation for Alcohol Research, The Fetal Medicine Foundation, Sanofi-Pasteur, and The National Grid. 

Research facilities

Over the last five years the University has invested extensively in equipment and infrastructure to support psychological research.

Key features include:

  • A driving simulator (XPDS-RS from XPI Simulation);
  • High-resolution EEG (The BioSemi ActiveTwo 64+8+2 channel system);
  • Biopac MP100 Physiological monitoring system;
  • State-of-the-art video/audio monitoring in a dedicated observation room with digital viewing/editing suite (configured by Tracksys with Observer XT 11.0 monitoring applications);
  • Eyelink 1000 high-resolution eyetracker;
  • Tobii T-120 eyetracker;
  • Mobile eyetracker (Tobii Smart IR plus Tobii Studio Enterprise Edition);
  • CANTABeclipse tablet-based (touchscreen) neuropsychological test battery.

Laboratories have also been equipped to support studies in psychopharmacology, infant behaviour, decision-making and visual cognition. Laboratory facilities also include:

  • A suite of generic laboratories for staff/student research that can be configured for a range of research purposes, each containing 2 networked dual-function (Mac/PC) computers, high-resolution large-screen monitors, tables and chairs;
  • a large test room containing 25 networked dual-function computers for group testing. Laboratory and equipment bookings are managed online by a dedicated faculty website and by the SONA systems research participation web application.

The department also subscribes to a range of software research tools, eg Qualtrix, Observer XT Video Pro, Observer Facereader, Matlab, E-prime, Superlab, Nvivo, and others. A large number of laptops configured with Eprime and Superlab are available for offsite testing (eg at schools and clinics).

The department also operates a psychometric test store that maintains an updated repository of around 100 standardised tests; with a capital spend of around £2k per annum to maintain currency.

Research impact

The key beneficiaries of our research have been charities, local government, schools and social enterprises, and our goal has been to extend the reach of our research from the local community outwards. Some examples of projects include:

Regional schools

New methods for teaching numeracy in preschools were implemented (the "PLUS" system). Evaluations have demonstrated the efficacy of the methods and service providers were trained to deliver the programme in preschools throughout the region (Dr Jo Van Herwegen and Dr Claudia Uller).

UK-based Afghan refugee charities

A research project at two charities, Afghan Paiwand and the Klevis Kola Foundation, identified persistent psychological problems in Afghan refugee children to develop new mentoring and support mechanisms to address those problems (Professor Muthanna Samara).

Art exhibitions based on community issues

Psychology students curate pop-up exhibitions linked to problems or issues affecting the London communities. The first of such exhibitions was "Paper Boats" at Stanley Picker Gallery. (Students' supervision: Stanley Picker Gallery staff and Dr. Fatima M Felisberti)

Anti-bullying policies in the Arab territories of Israel

Work on the factors that contribute to bullying and the effectiveness of different approaches to intervention have led to widespread adoption of his research-informed recommendations in schools across the Arab territories of Israel and also by the Islamic Courts of the Arab territories - the first time that such policies have been adopted (Professor Muthanna Samara).

Public engagement activities

A series of different activities are organized to engage with the community outside academia. Some examples:

  • A Sensory Walk through Self-Perception: Dr Fatima M Felisberti led a walk through a London park discussing the human sensory system in a real scenario.

Read more about past events like this.

  • Young scientist days: Dr Jo Van Herwegen and collaborators guide parents and their children to learn about psychology and gain first-hand experience of psychological research. Research topics include how we learn about and perceive emotions, how maths ability develops, and how we solve puzzles.

Read more about past events like this.

Science Museum

The researchers recorded children's eye movements while manipulating different objects to learn more about how visuo-spatial abilities develop as we grow older and whether there are any strategies that lead to better performance (Dr Jo Van Herwegen, Dr Elisa Back, and Dr Sabira Mannan).

How to apply

If you are interested in studying for a research degree, the first step is to submit your research proposal to the Research Student Co-ordinator (tel: +44 (0)20 8417 2304). Please produce your proposal using the following research proposal guidelines.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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