PhD & Postgraduate Research

We offer the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Psychology in our state-of-the-art facilities, helping our aim of carrying out advanced postgraduate research.

Postgraduate Open Day

Join us on Wednesday 21st November 2018 to find out about postgraduate study at Lancaster University - the Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2018. Discuss the subjects that interest you and find out about scholarships and postgraduate loans.


Studying for a research degree is a highly rewarding and challenging process. You'll work to become a leading expert in your area with regular contact and individual supervision with your supervisor.

All our academic staff are active researchers, who are at the leading edge of their research field. We have an outstanding reputation for ongoing research in our specialist areas:

  • cognitive psychology
  • developmental psychology
  • social psychology
  • neuroscience

This makes for a world-class research environment for you to pursue your studies. To further your interest in PhD Research, we recommend that you contact a relevant member of staff to discuss topic areas. Staff can also help you to develop and scope an appropriate proposal. We particularly support applications to work with early-career staff.

Self-funded applications

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

Industry-funded applications

Launch your career in research and development with an industry-focused, three year funded PhD for graduates with a background in scientific disciplines. Each PhD is tailored to both the subject and the requirements of a specific industry.

We will require a research proposal on the area/s you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor for your research. 

This is the starting point to find a suitable supervisor who will then, if interested, contact you for a phone interview to discuss the proposal and intended research, meaning your proposal is not your permanent topic for your PhD studies and open to negotiation. Past guidelines have suggested the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the art in this area
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the state of the art which you would like to address in your PhD
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections

We recommend that you submit your research interests and the PhD Admissions Tutor can pass your application onto the most relevant and available supervisor. However, If you would like to search for a suitable academic supervisor (to quote in your application) then you can find a list of our academics here.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying. For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, July start date will be considered. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

Research training

We take care of all of our students at Lancaster University. The Faculty of Science and Technology runs a series of training sessions designed to improve your skills and abilities during your PhD.

Learn more

PhD Supervisors

Infancy and Early Development, Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 593833 C04, C - Floor, Fylde College

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593937 C13, C - Floor, Fylde College

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 594335 D10, D - Floor, Fylde College

Infancy and Early Development

+44 (0)1524 593821 C03, C - Floor, Fylde College

Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 593990 C24, C - Floor, Fylde College

Language and Cognition, Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 594573

Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593826

People, Work and Organisation, Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science), Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593830

Language and Cognition, Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593885

Infancy and Early Development, Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593761

Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 593470

Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science), Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593207

Infancy and Early Development, Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 593856

Infancy and Early Development, Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593696 D14, D - Floor, Fylde College

Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Infancy and Early Development, Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 593822 C22, C - Floor, Fylde College

Lancaster Intelligent, Robotic and Autonomous Systems Centre, Perception and Action, Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science)

+44 (0)1524 593217

Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science)

+44 (0)1524 594543

Language and Cognition, Perception and Action, Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 594336

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 592633

Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593694 D08a, D - Floor, Fylde College

Infancy and Early Development, Language and Cognition, UCREL - University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language

+44 (0)1524 593813

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 592842

Infancy and Early Development

+44 (0)1524 593605 D07, D - Floor, Fylde College

Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 594869

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593831 D36, D - Floor, Fylde College

Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science), Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593999

Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593835 C25a, C - Floor, Fylde College

Infancy and Early Development

+44 (0)1524 592915 C05, C - Floor, Fylde College

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593834 D08, D - Floor, Fylde College

Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science), Security Lancaster (Cyber Security)

+44 (0)1524 594421

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593832

Language and Cognition, Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science)

+44 (0)1524 593705

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 594625

Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593163

Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593858 C07, C - Floor, Fylde College

Infancy and Early Development, Perception and Action

+44 (0)1524 593676

Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science), Social Processes

+44 (0)1524 593220 D05a, D - Floor, Fylde College

Infancy and Early Development, Lancaster Intelligent, Robotic and Autonomous Systems Centre, Language and Cognition

+44 (0)1524 592942 D09, D - Floor, Fylde College

Research Areas

Our research is divided into four themes. Each theme is led by a team of research-active staff, at the forefront of their fields.

Research Projects

The Department is keen to support PhD applications to work with early-career staff. Below are staff that are interested in hearing from students looking to work in the areas they have highlighted. If the area is of interest to you, please contact the relevant staff member before submitting a PhD application.

  • Social Psychology and Language - Dr Tamara Rakić

    In today’s world, with increased mobility and heterogeneous societies, understanding how we form impressions of individuals is crucial for preventing discrimination. My previous research has looked separately (or in a pair) at different aspects of person perception, such as labels, accents, appearance, or stereotypes. One possible PhD project aims at providing a comprehensive investigation of how we evaluate unknown individuals based on complex combinations of categories, including their gender, occupation, appearance, ethnicity, accent, and nationality. This can be expanded to different social contexts (multicultural or not) and different age groups (younger vs. older adults). This would allow a better understanding of how impression formation develops over time, as well as how they might be influenced by a social context (multicultural or not).

    Related to the previous project, the effects of standard-accent bias have been demonstrated in a variety of context, where standard accent speakers are perceived more competent and hireable than nonstandard accent speakers. Some evidence suggests that there might be possible to suppress this negative bias at least in short term. The proposed project would aim to investigate different interventions and determine which are more practical and long-lasting. This could also be investigated in the presence of other types of information (e.g., appearance, occupation, etc.).

    If you are interested in these topics or if you have other ideas that are related to these topics please contact Dr Tamara Rakic.

    Key references for this work include:

    • Hansen, K., Rakić, T., & Steffens, M. C., (in press). Competent and warm? How mismatching appearance and accent influence first impressions. Experimental Psychology.
    • Hansen, K., Rakić, T., & Steffens, M. C. (2014). When actions speak louder than words: preventing discrimination of nonstandard speakers. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 33(1), 68-77.
    • Rakić, T., Steffens, M. C., & Mummendey, A. (2011). Blinded by the accent! The minor role of looks in ethnic categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(1), 16-29.
    • Rakić, T., Steffens, M.C., & Mummendey, A. (2011). When it matters how you pronounce it: The influence of regional accents on job interview outcome. British Journal of Psychology, 102, 868-883.
  • Social Cognition and Cognitive Development - Dr Jess Wang

    I’m interested in the ways in which we understand other people’s minds, an ability which is often known as Theory of Mind. In the Cognition of Social Interaction (CoSI) lab, we employ a range of techniques to better understand the cognitive basis for social interactions. This includes tracking people’s eye movements during conversations, testing their memory for communicative content, and measuring their response times and response accuracy to social stimuli.  I would be very happy to discuss ideas for PhD projects on social cognition across the lifespan. Please contact me to discuss your ideas for a PhD.

    Possible projects for 2018/19 entries include (but not limited to):

    1. Automatic mindreading: what, when, and how
    An increasing body of evidence suggests that complex mental states such as beliefs may be tracked automatically (e.g., Meert, Wang, & Samson, 2017). However, the underlying cognitive mechanism has not been fully understood. This project will examine whether automatic mindreading can be flexibly controlled by top-down mechanisms and be adaptive to different contexts (Furlanetto et al., 2016).

    2. The role of memory in communication
    It is known that working memory supports referential communication (e.g., Wang, Ali, Frisson, Apperly, 2016; Zhao, Wang, Apperly, submitted). However at present little is known about the types of memory representations interlocutors form, and whether the richness of the representation changes with age. This project will examine the episodic memory traces for social interactions (Burns, Russell, & Russell, 2015).

  • Emotion, Language and the Brain - Dr Francesca Citron

    I am interested in how people process evolutionary or contextually salient stimuli, such as pictures of threatening or appetitive objects (bear, cake), emotional words (war, kiss), or idiomatic and metaphorical expressions (‘That was a kick in the teeth’, ‘I drank a heavenly coffee’). I am also interested in how these processes differ between second language and first language speakers, or between multilingual and monolinguals. Finally, I am developing a growing interest in beauty perception (aesthetics) in response to literary texts and poetry as well as to paintings, statues, and other artwork.

    I employ a range of methods, from self-reports (e.g., ratings) and reaction times, to electrical brain responses (EEG/ERPs) and neuroimaging (fMRI). I am also interested in using eye-tracking and physiological responses.

    I am interested in hearing from motivated and enthusiastic students on topics related the those above.

    More information on what we do can be found in the Emotion and Communication lab webpage.

    If you are interested in discussing a project together, please contact Francesca.

  • Visual Perception - Dr Michelle To

    I am interested in how the sensory system processes complex natural stimuli, such as photographs, movies, music and language. More specifically, my research investigates how human observers perceive differences and how different features from the sensory environment are integrated. In addition, I have also studied visual perception in the extreme peripheral field.

    The main topics I am interested in include:

    • Natural stimuli perception
    • Feature integration
    • Cross-modal integration
    • Visual perception in the far and extreme periphery

    If you are interested in doing a project in one of these, or a related one, please contact me.

Other Funded PhDs