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Psychology

Modern psychology focuses on the understanding of perception, cognition, motivation and behaviour at several different levels, from the study of the brain to complex social interactions of humans and animals. Psychology at St Andrews is taught with an emphasis on understanding how the mind and brain work to facilitate our behaviour.

Courses

Undergraduate

Psychology BSc (Hons)
Psychology MA (Hons)

Joint degree options 

The Psychology BSc (Hons) and the Psychology MA (Hons) programmes can be taken with another subject as part of a joint degree or a "with" degree.

Postgraduate

Taught

Psychology (Conversion) MSc
Research Methods in Psychology MSc
Health Psychology MSc
Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology: The Origins of the Mind MSc
Neuroscience MRes
Adults with Learning Disabilities who have Significant and Complex Needs MSc/PGDip
The Psychology of Dementia Care PGCert


The School of Psychology and Neuroscience also offers an MSc and a MPhil by research. Please contact the School for more information.

PhDs

Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

 Undergraduates

Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017

 

Postgraduates

  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Latest in Psychology

Professor Stephen Reicher from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience explains the extraordinary appeal of Donald Trump in a prophetic new book to be published in the New Year.

News

Scientists have discovered that support from family and friends significantly reduces stress in wild chimpanzees during conflicts with rival groups.

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The Baby and Child Lab had a successful Family Fun Day, with around 50 families signing up to take part in further research with the lab.

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Psychology research areas

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience has consistently been ranked as one of the best research departments in the UK.

Research is broadly organised around four key themes, with many members of the School carrying out research in more than one theme. Researchers from the School also contribute to numerous interdisciplinary research centres and institutes.

Cellular and developmental neuroscience

Research is aimed at an understanding of how neural systems develop across an individual’s lifespan and function to regulate behaviour and cognition.

The following members of staff are currently undertaking research in areas of cellular and developmental neuroscience:

  • Dr James Ainge: underlying neural mechanisms of spatial and episodic memory through examining learning and memory in rodents.
  • Dr Eric Bowman: behavioural neurophysiology through focusing on the bursts of electrical signals that nerve cells exhibit while animals perform behavioural tasks.
  • Dr Gillian Brown: sex differences in behaviour from neuroendocrine, developmental and evolutionary perspectives.
  • Professor Verity Brown: response control; the neural basis of the control of movement (both eye and skeletal-motor); psychological functions, such as attention, expectation and planning which influence and modify processes of response selection.
  • Dr Gayle Doherty: the signaling pathways that determine whether a neuron lives or dies, both during development and as part of the ageing process.
  • Dr Wenchang Li: basic neuronal mechanisms underlying motor control using young Xenopus laevis tadpoles as a simple model system.
  • Dr Gareth Miles: the neural control of movement with a focus on motor systems of the brainstem and spinal cord.
  • Dr Stefan Pulver: neural control of locomotion in Drosophila larvae.
  • Professor Keith Sillar: the development and function of spinal motor control networks with a focus on the role of neuromodulation and the role of ion pumps in short term memory of network function.
  • Dr Karen Spencer: understanding of the mechanisms that underlie complex patterns of animal behaviour through integrating behavioural, physiological, endocrine and neuroendocrine approaches using avian species in both the field and laboratory.

Origins of mind

Research includes studies of social learning, communication and other aspects of social and physical cognition in human children and nonhuman species, including primates, birds and elephants.

The following members of staff are currently undertaking research in this area:

  • Dr Gillian Brown: sex differences in behaviour from neuroendocrine, developmental and evolutionary perspectives.
  • Professor Richard Byrne: the evolution of cognitive and social behaviour, particularly the origins of distinctively human characteristics.
  • Professor Josep Call: technical and social problem solving in animals with a special emphasis on the great apes.
  • Professor Malinda Carpenter: infants' and young childrens' participation in shared activities, prosocial behavior, reactions to in and out group members and understanding of others' mental states; differences between ape and human social cognition.
  • Dr Catharine Cross: sex differences in human social behaviour, and how these vary depending on contextual factors.
  • Dr Juan-Carlos Gómez: the development of intentional communication and social understanding in human children and nonhuman primates; autism; theory of mind; cognitive development.
  • Dr Catherine Hobaiter: the evolution of communication and social behaviour in primates, particularly gestural and vocal communication in wild chimpanzees.
  • Dr Amanda Seed: the evolution of flexible behaviour and abstract thought, in particular the extent to which non-human primates and human children solve problems using object concepts and causal reasoning.
  • Professor A Whiten: social learning, traditions and culture through the study and comparison of human and non-human primates, especially chimpanzees.
  • Klaus Zuberbuhler: the evolution of intelligence and origins of language, focusing on the mental mechanisms underlying non-human primate communication and behaviour both in the field and in the lab.

Perception, cognition and action

Current research includes work on perception of faces, objects and actions, and the perception of shape, space and layout, emotion recognition, attentional processes and episodic memory.

The following members of staff are currently undertaking research in the areas of perception, cognition and action:

  • Dr James Ainge: underlying neural mechanisms of spatial and episodic memory through examining learning and memory in rodents.
  • Dr Justin Ales: neuroimaging, vision, and computation; how the brain modulates its information processing to optimally respond to variations in the environment caused by both changes in stimulus properties and by changes to behavioral goals.
  • Dr Daniela Balslev: cognitive neuroscience using transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging in healthy humans as well as behavioral testing of neurological patients with a brain lesion.
  • Dr Eric Bowman: behavioural neurophysiology through focusing on the bursts of electrical signals that nerve cells exhibit while animals perform behavioural tasks.
  • Professor Verity Brown: response control; the neural basis of the control of movement (both eye and skeletal-motor); psychological functions, such as attention, expectation and planning which influence and modify processes of response selection.
  • Professor Julie Harris: using psychophysical, behavioural and computational techniques to explore the basic processes underlying human visual perception and its links to motor action.
  • Dr Ines Jentzsch: different aspects of attention and performance in humans; cognitive control, effects of event history and expectancy in decision making, dual-task interference, and planning and control of voluntary movements.
  • Dr Akira O’Connor: cognitive and neuroscientific studies of recognition, memory decision-making, subjective memory sensation, and mathematical modelling of memory processes.
  • Dr Mike Oram: the neurophysiology underlying behaviour, particularly primate visual information processing and how this might lead to psychological phenomena related to perception.
  • Dr Thomas Otto: the interface between perceptual and cognitive neuroscience using mainly mental chronometry and mathematical modelling as methods.
  • Professor David Perrett: how we recognise facial attributes and understand actions of others.
  • Dr Reiner Sprengelmeyer: clinical and cognitive human neuropsychology (deficits associated with basal ganglia disorders) and neuropsychiatry (neuropsychiatric disorders).
  • Dr Dhanraj Vishwanath: 3D visual cognition, visuomotor control, eye movement, and visual displays.

Social and group processes

Research in this area includes collective behaviour and national identity, intergroup relations, the psychology of helping behaviour, personality, social cognition and autobiographical memory.

The following members of staff are currently undertaking research in the areas of Social and Group Processes:

  • Dr Martin Campbell: research in services for people with intellectual disabilities; effective staff training in the treatment and management of challenging behaviour, and in adult support and protection.
  • Dr Catharine Cross: sex differences in human social behaviour, and how these vary depending on contextual factors.
  • Dr Barbara Dritschel: mood and memory; problem-solving; the effects of neurological impairment; eating disorders; cognitive processing.
  • Dr Ken Mavor: social and personal identity and implications for social and political attitudes; the nature of religious and political ideologies; the cognitive processes and representations of self and social categories, and implications for person and group perception.
  • Dr Sam Pehrson: discrimination and conflict; national identity and multiculturalism; legitimate authority and policing in divided societies.
  • Professor Stephen Reicher: group processes and collective behaviour; processes of mass social influence and political rhetoric; the psychology of social change.
  • Dr Nicole Tausch: intergroup relations and conflict; prejudice and discrimination; contextual and psychological factors involved in political action and political violence; intergroup contact and social change; and social perception and trait attribution.

Psychology research groups

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience currently has three research groups:

The Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution (SoLaCE)

Research in SoLaCE combines theoretical, observational and experimental studies of both wild and captive populations of animals. A wide range of animal groups are studied, ranging from fish to birds and mammals, including human and non-human primates.

Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences (IBANS)

IBANS was created to bring together researchers interested in the study of behaviour, cognition and neuroscience. Research is conducted in silico, with experimental tissues or subjects in the lab, and even by observing animals in their natural habitats.

Scottish Primate Research Group (SPRG)

The SPRG focuses research on the natural behaviour, mentality and ecology of primates. Results often inform welfare and conservation policies, and members of the SPRG do not conduct invasive primate research.

Psychology research portal

Psychology facilities

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience is equipped with modern technology to perform virtually all aspects of modern psychological and neuroscientific research. 

Facilities include laboratories in:

  • neurophysiology
  • cell culture, molecular and cellular biology
  • high resolution microscopy and image analysis
  • psychopharmacology
  • cognitive neuropsychology
  • neuroimaging (including fMRI, EEG, TMS, spinning disc confocal microscopy, optogenetics)
  • psychophysics
  • computational modelling
  • eye-tracking
  • animal learning and cognition (including the Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre at Edinburgh Zoo, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
  • developmental psychology
  • social psychology.

There are also extensive computing facilities for both online control of experiments and offline analysis of data. 

Careers for graduates in Psychology

The School provides opportunities to gain experience of working in an academic context, by being involved in tutorials, laboratory classes and other aspects of academic work.

The vast majority of Psychology students have gained postdoctoral and lecturing positions in universities across the world while others have jobs in healthcare (as researchers and clinicians), wildlife conservation, information technology and management services.

See recent graduate employment case studies.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills. 

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to prospective undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students.

Undergraduate

Find out about undergraduate funding opportunities offered by the University of St Andrews.

Undergraduate scholarships

Postgraduate students

The Scottish Funding Council is offering a scholarship up to £7,500 for applicants to the Psychology of Dementia Care course.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

Find out about funding for PhD research at St Andrews.

Funding for PhD students

Awards

Athena SWAN award

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience is determined to foster an inclusive environment that promotes equality and values diversity. In 2014, the School was awarded the Athena SWAN bronze award in recognition of its commitment to advancing the careers of women in science.

REF 2014

Research within the School of Psychology and Neuroscience was ranked second in Scotland by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework with 84% of the research rated world leading and internationally excellent.

University league tables

Psychology at St Andrews was ranked first in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2017 and first in Scotland by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017 and the Complete University Guide 2017 for student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects.

Contact

School of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of St Andrews
St Mary's Quad
South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 1334 462157
Email: psych@st-andrews.ac.uk

Psychology and Neuroscience website

Psychology and Neuroscience research portal