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Psychology's PGR students benefit from non-academic collaborations, and become involved in academic/industry/policy workshops and events. Examples include student involvement in a UK Government policy oriented event in May, 2020, organised in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre and for a regional CyberFest organised by Dynamo in autumn of 2019. 

Several of our PGR students have gone on to win national prizes with examples including those presented by the BPS Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG) and BPS PG thesis award. The PGR community also has a successful record of students publishing work from their PhD, with 27 students having published in peer-reviewed journals from the last REF cycle. 

See a showcase of some of our PGR students and their work below. 


Richard Brown 

Supervisor: Gillian Pepper

Title of thesis: Out of control? The perceived controllability of risk and socioeconomic inequalities in health.

My research interests centre around exploring the psychological processes involved in public health behaviours. I have recently commenced a PhD studentship within the Psychology department after investigating COVID-19 health behaviours for my Master’s thesis. My doctoral research focuses on understanding some of the underlying causes of socioeconomic gradients in health. Throughout my PhD I hope to develop our understanding of the role that perceptions of risk and controllability play in health behaviours. I am also currently working as part of a multidisciplinary team across the UK looking into data sharing behaviours among those living with long-term health conditions.



Brown, R.D (2021; in press). Lessons from the history of open science: beyond ideals and technology. The Psychologist.

Brown, R.D, Coventry, L., & Pepper, G. (2020; preprint). COVID-19 risk perceptions and their associations with related media consumption and personal experiences. Retrieved from

Brown, R.D, Coventry, L., & Pepper, G. (2020; preprint). COVID-19: the relationship between perceptions of risk and behaviours during lockdown. Retrieved from



Ellen Smith

Supervisor: Dr Emma Wightman

Title of thesis: The effects of resveratrol on cognition, cerebral blood flow, gastrointestinal microbiota and systemic inflammation in healthy weight, overweight and obese adults

I completed my BSc and MRes in Psychology at Northumbria University. My PhD project is multi-disciplinary (Psychology and Applied Sciences) and is part-industrially funded (Evolva). My research takes place within the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre and looks at the effects of resveratrol (a compound found in grapes) on various outcome measures including cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, gut microbiota and mood in healthy adults.



Moss, M., Smith, E., Milner, M., & McCready, J. (2018). Acute ingestion of rosemary water: Evidence of cognitive and cerebrovascular effects in healthy adults. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32(12), 1319-1329.

Babateen, A. M., Rubele, S., Shannon, O., Okello, E., Smith, E., McMahon, N., ... & Siervo, M. (2020). Protocol and recruitment results from a 13-week randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of different doses of nitrate-rich beetroot juice on cognition, cerebral blood flow and peripheral vascular function in overweight and obese older people. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 18, 100571.

Babateen, A. M., Shannon, O. M., O’Brien, G. M., Okello, E., Khan, A. A., Rubele, S., Wightman, E., Smith, E., … & Siervo, M. (2021). Acceptability and Feasibility of a 13-Week Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Incremental Doses of Beetroot Juice in Overweight and Obese Older Adults. Nutrients, 13(3), 769.


Alexandra ThompsonAlexandra Thompson

Supervisor: Professor Thomas Pollet

Title of thesis: An examination of egocentric social network aspects in relation to loneliness and well-being in older adults

Alex completed both her BSc and MRes at Northumbria before obtaining a fully funded doctoral studentship here. During this time, she completed an internship within the Health in Action research group leading to a publication investigating a writing intervention in relation to Type D personality. Her PhD focuses on examining the importance of specific personal network relationships and aspects in relation to loneliness and both psychological and physical well-being in older adults. The identification of these optimal aspects can inform interventions in this age group relating to loneliness and well-being. Her latest preprint investigates friendships and loneliness.


Twitter: AlexT_Psych


Thompson, A., Smith, M. A., McNeill, A., & Pollet, T. V. (2020, September 30). Friendships, loneliness and psychological well-being in older adults: A limit to the benefit of increasing the number friendships.

Smith, M. A., Thompson, A., Hall, L. J., Allen, S. F., & Wetherell, M. A. (2018). The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of Type D (distressed) personality. British journal of health psychology, 23(4), 857-871.


Connor Leslie

Supervisor: Dr Kris McCarty

Title of thesis: Characteristics and Perceptions of Male Physical Dominance

I completed my MRes in Psychology at Northumbria University and continued my research into my PhD. The aim of my research is to investigate how men have evolved to display their physical dominance through their movements, and how onlookers of these movements perceive them. By using motion capture techniques, movements will be recorded to gain a better understanding around our abilities to assess if these actions could be a threat to us (therefore giving us a chance to avoid a physical fight that cannot be won). My main research interests are within evolutionary and forensic psychology domains.



Leslie, C., & McCarty, K. (2020/2021). The Male Intimidation Pose. Accepted to present at EHBEA, Krakow, Poland. Cancelled due to COVID-19. Presented online in 2021.

Leslie, C., McGill, G., Kiernan, M. D., & Wilson, G. (2020). Social isolation and loneliness of UK veterans: a Delphi study. Occupational Medicine, 70(6), 407-414.

Leslie, C., & McCarty, K. (2017). The Assessment of Dominance and Aggression from Male Gait Patterns. Poster presented at PsyPAG, Newcastle Upon-Tyne.


Vicki Groves

Supervisor: Dr Katri Cornelissen

Title of thesis: Exploring Body Image Distortion in Men

I completed both my BSc (Hons) and MRes in Psychology here at Northumbria, with both final research projects addressing body image in men. In 2019 I was awarded a PhD studentship which has allowed me to further my research into the exploration of male body image distortion. My current project aims to understand the various factors that might influence the development of eating and body image disorders in men, and will explore the impact of these factors on distorted self-perceptions of body size.



Groves, V., Cornelissen, P., McCarty, K., Mohamed, S., Maalin, N., Tovée, M. J., & Cornelissen, K. (2019). How does variation in the body composition of both stimuli and participant modulate self-estimates of men’s body size?. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 720.

Cornelissen, P. L., Cornelissen, K. K., Groves, V., McCarty, K., & Tovée, M. J. (2018). View-dependent accuracy in body mass judgements of female bodies. Body Image, 24, 116-123.


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