Skip to main content

The School of Psychology

The School of Psychology was established in 1958 and is part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. We currently have over 450 undergraduate students and over 100 postgraduate students. We offer an undergraduate degree accredited by the British Psychology Society and a breadth of postgraduate qualifications, including professional doctorates.

Our purpose is to be:

“A world class School of Psychology which empowers our students and undertakes innovative research, that influences the future of the discipline, and enables far reaching benefits for society.”

We do this through;

•             Creating a world class educational experience for all students

•             Supporting a vibrant research environment that is collaborative and cross-disciplinary

•             Raising our international profile at teaching and research level

•             Embracing technological advances in every part of our work

•             Connecting with key policy and decision makers to ensure our research has impact

Research in the School of Psychology has been judged to be world-leading and outstanding by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). 73.3% of the School’s submitted impact case studies and impact templates were classed as outstanding in terms of their reach and significance outside academia, receiving a 4* rating.

The results place the School among the UK’s top 10 Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience departments in terms of research intensity. The impact figures reflect how the School’s research knowledge is informing policy makers, developing industry partnerships and ultimately touching on the lives of thousands of individuals.

We are proud of our achievements at individual and School level. The only psychology department to hold an ATHENA Gold SWAN award is testament to the progress we have made towards supporting career development in science for both female staff and students. Our supportive environment embraces the diversity of both staff and students, making it an inclusive place to work.

The quality of our educational provision is recognised by awards to both staff – Best Personal Tutor Awards and students – winner of UK Graduate of the Year in Social Sciences and Humanities at the British Graduate 100 Awards.

The excellence of our research is manifested in our ability to secure prestigious European (European Research Council) and national funding awards (BBSRC, ESRC, MRC grants) to support our world class research. Our aim in the next five years is to stretch this ambition further to truly establish ourselves as a globally recognised department of psychology.

 Aerial view of the David Keir Building and the Ashby Building


The School of Psychology is located in the David Keir Building, just a short walk away from the main campus. We have recently undergone a major £2.5m refurbishment and are supported by state of the art laboratories and equipment which include:

•             128 channel EEG systems and custom made sound proof booth

•             Eye movement tracking systems

•             Trans-magnetic stimulation (TMS) labs

•             An in-house child development lab, with the ability to record using closed circuit TV

•             Balance and movement labs with motion capture equipment, balance master and bespoke balance measuring equipment

•             Animal Welfare Lab with appropriate facilities for welcoming animals

•             A comprehensive collection of psychological tests

The School also has excellent links with local Schools and Hospital Trusts, and many others, facilitating collaborative work with many external organisations.


Educational portfolio

The School provides excellent training in Psychology and currently offers a variety of undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research degrees. These include a three-year single honours BSc in Psychology, accredited by the British Psychological Society and an intercalated BSc Psychology degree for medical and dentistry students. The School offers four postgraduate taught masters MSc Psychology (Conversion), MSc in Political Psychology, MSc in Childhood Adversity, Diploma and MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism).  The School also offers three types of postgraduate research degree programmes that incorporate the Doctorates in Clinical Psychology and in Educational Psychology, and a vibrant PhD programme.

Queen’s has been offering a degree in Psychology for over 50 years and applications to the undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses are buoyant with increased interest coming from students in North America and Asia.

Over 84% of our students expressed their satisfaction with the course in the National Student Survey (NSS), particularly recognising the additional effort we have recently put into providing high quality feedback. Our MSc courses are research led and attract excellent students who are also very satisfied with the quality of their experience.

For more information on our educational offering,


Research in the School

Queen’s University Belfast, a member of the Russell Group, is a broadly based, research-driven university with a dynamic world-class research and education portfolio and strong international connections. The University’s priority is to achieve nationally and internationally recognised research excellence in all of its many and varied disciplines.

School level

Our research mission is to undertake high- quality research that addresses fundamental questions about the determinants of behaviour and major issues of contemporary relevance. We undertake research in both basic psychological processes and applied areas of psychology and have well developed links with external organisations in areas such as Health, Social Care and Education. We pride ourselves on the flexibility that staff and students have in their research field, methodology and ways of working.

Research degrees are awarded in an environment that provides secure academic standards for conducting research and learning about research approaches, methods, procedures and protocols. We conduct both quantitative and qualitative research using both controlled lab based techniques and real life case studies.

Our research environment offers students the opportunities and the support they need to achieve successful academic, personal and professional outcomes from their research degree.

We currently have a number of research strengths within the School in the following areas:

Perception action communication

The research in this group is sub-divided into two main areas. The first area focuses on the psychology of perception and action. Research includes understanding perceptual processes and the specification of information for action, motor timing, postural control and the neural plasticity of the motor system. The second related area focuses on non-verbal communication, particularly emotion. The emphasis is on the measurement and modelling of emotion, signalling and communication processes. Both areas of research have particular relevance to human-computer interaction. 

Child development

The research in this group surrounds 2 broad areas.  First is to increase understanding of how cognition in children changes as they get older. Members of the group study fundamental skills, such as reasoning, language processing and motor skills, as well as researching, reading and mathematics abilities in educational settings. Second the group researches the broad area of childhood adversity. The research examines the intrinsic and contextual factors during development which help protect exposed young people from negative outcomes in order to aid the development of practical interventions with significant public health impact and the intergenerational transmission of adversity. Further information on the research on childhood adversity can be found under the information provided for the lectureship in this area.

Social psychology

Social psychologists in the School form the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations (CIIR), which aims to advance the academic and public understanding of some of the key challenges facing individuals, groups and societies, from the perspective of social and political psychology. Our research focuses on the role of identity in explaining attitudes and behaviour, and examines intergroup relations in a variety of contexts both within and beyond Northern Ireland. Key topics under investigation in the Centre include: political engagement; encouraging psychological resilience among children living in conflict and post-conflict societies; community policing and police/youth interactions; the role of education in a divided society; developing and testing interventions (e.g., different forms of intergroup contact) to generating intergroup tolerance; gender issues related to bias and empowerment; the nonverbal expression of intergroup bias; and the challenges and benefits of diversity. The Centre currently holds funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Global Challenges Research Fund, the Leverhulme Trust, the Richard Benjamin Trust, the Spencer Foundation, and UEFISCDI.

Animal Welfare and Behaviour

This research is led by The Animal Behaviour Centre and research programmes focus on fundamental and applied aspects of domestic, farm and zoo animal behaviour. This group also looks at well-being and the impact of animals on human health.

Health / Clinical / Educational

The School is intending to expand research in this area, building upon existing expertise within the School from individual academics and the research undertaken by the Doctoral Training programmes, the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and the Doctorate in Educational Child and Adolescent Psychology.  Currently the group undertakes a broad range of research across the general areas of health, clinical and educational psychology.

There are two main research areas in Clinical Psychology - Trauma and Clinical Health Psychology. Trauma research focuses on understanding precursors to PTSD, psychometric assessment as well as evidenced-based treatments. Clinical Health Psychology focuses on the development and evaluation of cognitive behaviour therapy and behaviour change interventions to reduce the psychological sequelae of physical health conditions (cancer, chronic pain, asthma, IBD) as well as disease prevention through encouraging lifestyle change (e.g. diet/oral hygiene).

The School has a long history of research in the area of health psychology that is concerned with psychological well-being / quality of life among people with physical health conditions, and their formal and informal carers. This research includes modelling work exploring the factors that are related to quality of life, and the development and evaluation of interventions designed to enhance quality of life. There is also a related methodological strand that explores our approaches to assessing quality of life and the meaning of this concept in different populations.

Further information can be found on our website: