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Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology

We are amongst the Top 10 Psychology Departments in the UK with an outstanding academic staff highly rated for both teaching and research and are consistently ranked as one of the best Psychology departments for employability. In the REF 2014 ranking for Psychology, Neuroscience and Psychiatry, 83%
of our research was assessed as “internationally excellent quality” or “world leading". We are a collegiate and welcoming department committed to success for all who work here. One mark of our commitment is our Athena Swan Silver Award which the department received in 2013 and was renewed in 2017.

Queens Campus Relocation Update

In October 2018 the Department of Psychology will benefit from both a completed refurbishment of our existing Durham City building, as well as the addition of new space in Rowan House, adjacent to the existing building. The refurbishment and reconfiguration will enable our staff and students to be integrated into one location, after many years operating in a split-site capacity between Durham City and Queens Campus in Stockton. This exciting integration will provide a host of new facilities for Psychology (including new research labs, staff offices, large computer suite and teaching rooms, as well as a totally brand new open-plan postgraduate research office). Bringing everyone together in to one location will provide the bedrock for our aim to significantly expand both our staff and student numbers. Furthermore, it will supercharge our intellectual and interdisciplinary ambitions to broaden our coverage of the field from the biological to the developmental to the social foundations of psychology. 2018 looks set to be an exciting year indeed for Psychology at Durham!

Professor Richard Crisp, Head of Department

People who hear voices can detect hidden speech in unusual sounds

People who hear voices that other people can’t hear may use unusual skills when their brains process new sounds, according to new research.

The study, published in the academic journal Brain, found that voice-hearers could detect disguised speech-like sounds more quickly and easily than people who had never had a voice-hearing experience. The research was led by Durham University and University College London (UCL).

Mission completed!

Students and staff celebrated the end of the exam period at the annual Finalist Party. What a relief … for students and staff!

Employability Retreat 2017

The Employability Retreat 2017 was held in (sunny!) Allendale, Northumberland, where our undergraduate students and staff enjoyed three days of outdoor fun and informal, extra-curricular employability activities which, we hope, will make our students more likely to gain employment and to be successful in their chosen occupation.

The Psychology Department has entered the top 10 in the Guardian league table for 2018 and was ranked 7th up from 16th last year.

Postgraduate student was awarded £1000 for bringing science into public.

Miss Emine Gurbuz, Global Citizenship Programme (GCP) scholar, and Ph.D. candidate in Psychology, was awarded £1000 for her contribution to the Café Scientifique at Ustinov College. The Café Scientifique brings science from the lab into the café. Congratulations Emine!


Dr Yan K. Birch (Ustinov College) has successfully completed his PhD in Psychology. The title of his thesis: "Re-examining rumination: An investigation into the relative contributions of reflective and brooding ruminative processes to problem solving’.” Yan has also completed a BSc Hons Psychology and MSc Cognitive Neuroscience in our department. Yan has published two papers in well-established, peer-reviewed journals and he will continue his academic career as a Research Associate. The department wishes him all the best for his future career.


Dr Sophie Hodgetts (Ustinov College) has successfully completed her PhD in Psychology. The title of her thesis: "The neuromodulatory properties of gonadal steroid hormones with regard to individual differences in cognition and brain organisation." Sophie has also completed a BSc Hons Psychology (Applied) and MSc Cognitive Neuroscience in our department. Recently, she has accepted a new post at the University of Sunderland, where she will continue her academic career as a Lecturer in the Psychology Department.

Rising Stars Research Symposium.

Harriet Welch (left), Naina Kant (middle) and Lauren Jeffers (right) presented research from their undergraduate dissertation projects at the Faculty of Science's research symposium. The event showcases the success and breadth of research within the faculty at undergraduate level.

1.1 Million Euro Multi -Site Project.

Dr Dan Smith (Centre) was the lead applicant for a consortium that was awarded 1.1m euros for the multi-site project "A motor bias theory of attention" funded by ESRC (Durham, UK), DFG (Munich, Germany) and NWO (Utrecht, Netherlands).

The Psychology Department is ranked highly in national and international league tables focusing on research power, teaching quality and student satisfaction. We are proud of our Athena Swan Silver Award which recognizes our sustained commitment to gender equality.

A fresh old look on Vision

20th October 2017, 16:00 to 17:00, L47, Prof Michael Herzog, Brain Mind Institute, Lausanne

In classic models of vision, vision proceeds in a hierarchical fashion, from low-level analysis (edges and lines) to figural processing (shapes and objects). Low-level processing determines high-level processing. Here, we show that, to the contrary, shape processing determines basic visual processing.

For example, we presented a vernier stimulus and asked observers to indicate its offset direction. Performance strongly deteriorated when the vernier was surrounded by a square, in line with most models of vision. Surprisingly, performance improved when more squares were added. This improvement of performance can hardly be explained by classic models of vision, which predict a further deterioration of performance. We propose that shape interactions precede low-level processing in a recurrent fashion. Using high density EEG and trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we show how good Gestalt emerges during recurrent, unconscious processing within 420ms. The outcome of this processing, i.e., the conscious percept, determines, paradoxically, the first stages of visual processing.

Contact Details

Durham City
Psychology Department
Durham University
Science Laboratories
South Road
Tel:+44(0)191 3343240

Queen's Campus
Psychology Department
Durham University
Queen's Campus
University Boulevard
TS17 6BH
Tel:+44(0)191 3340101

Durham subjects in QS World Subject Rankings Top 100

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In May 2017 the Department of Psychology was delighted to achieve the 'Athena Swan Silver Award' recognising our commitment to advancing women's careers in STEMM academia. For more information please follow link.

World leading research across all Durham University subjects

Durham University REF results