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Run by Faculty of Life Sciences
Awards available PhD, MSc by research
Programme length PhD: Three years full-time or part-time equivalent;
MScR: One year full-time or two years part-time, with one further year to write up.

This research degree is also available via distance learning.
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date Not fixed

Programme overview

Studying in the School of Psychological Science will give you the opportunity to be part of a vibrant postgraduate community and a world-class department. Our postgraduate students are a very important part of the departmental research culture and are a key component in maintaining our international research reputation.

Before submitting an application, we strongly recommend that potential applicants make informal contact with the member of academic staff who has expertise in the research area you wish to pursue. 

Fees for 2019/20

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-time
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2019/20

UK/EU students may be eligible to apply for funded scholarships, for example doctoral training centre scholarships and University of Bristol scholarships. Details of these and other scholarship opportunities, such as the China Scholarship Council programme, are published on the School of Psychological Science website.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology or a related discipline.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile C
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

Research activity in the school is currently organised into two research themes: Cognitive Processes and Brain, Behaviour and Health. Within each theme, there is a set of focused research groups.

An important feature of this research structure is the extent of collaboration across research groups and across the themes. All groups address fundamental questions and look at the impact of their work more broadly in industry, healthcare, education and society. Across these thematic research groups, there are particular strengths in computational neuroscience and neuropsychology.

Cognitive Processes

Focused research groups in cognitive processes are:

  • Developmental (includes the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre and Bristol Autism Research Group)
  • Language (speech comprehension, speech production, reading and dyslexia, language and thought)
  • Memory (short-term memory, modelling, dynamics, lifespan memory)
  • Social (social cognition and evolutionary social psychology)
  • Vision (fusing cognitive science and information technology to tackle research problems that cannot be comprehensively addressed by the single disciplines alone)

Brain, Behaviour and Health

Focused research groups in brain, behaviour and health are:

  • Neuropsychology (neural basis of both typical and pathological cognition, using a range of methodologies including EEG and fMRI)
  • Nutrition and Behaviour Unit (effects of substances on cognition and performance; appetite, weight control and diet)
  • Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (social drugs and social cognition; plain packaging of tobacco products; carbon-dioxide inhalation model of anxiety)
  • Decision-making and rationality (areas of current focus include selecting the appropriate movement response; how properties of the environment shape decisions; structuring the world to facilitate good decisions; food choice and dietary decisions; the origins of supernatural beliefs)


Many of our PhD graduates work in academia; others work in the private sector or in government institutions.

Staff profiles

Dr Angela Attwood, (Research Fellow), Effects of social drugs and drug-related stimuli; psychological and biological factors that underline addiction and continued drug use.

Dr Roland Baddeley, (Reader), Computer modelling of neural and psychological function.

Dr Chris Benton, (Senior Lecturer), Visual perception, particularly the investigation of low-level visual processing through psychophysics and computational modelling.

Professor Jeff Bowers, (Professor), Connectionist modelling; memory and language; speech production; visual word recognition; word learning.

Dr Josie Briscoe, (Senior Lecturer), Developmental cognitive neuroscience; developmental disorders; episodic and event memory in children; language impairment; working memory.

Professor Jeff Brunstrom, (Professor), Biological psychology, especially learned and cognitive aspects of appetite control and food choice.

Dr Philip Collard, (Teaching Fellow), Temporal dynamics of attention during cognitive tasks

Professor Markus Damian, (Professor), Computational models of language; language production; numerical cognition; psycholinguistics; speaking; unconscious processing; visual word recognition.

Professor Colin Davis, (Chair in Cognitive Psychology), Computational modelling of cognition; reading and visual word recognition.

Dr Danni Ferriday, (Lecturer in Experimental Psychology), The relationship between cognition and human dietary behaviour

Professor Iain Gilchrist, (Professor), Acute vision; decision-making; drawing; eye movements, neuropsychology; foraging; perception.

Dr Claire Haworth BA(Oxon), MSc(Kings College London), PhD(Kings College London), PGCAP, (Reader in Behavioural Genetics), Behavioural genetics

Professor Bruce Hood, (Professor), Cognitive development from a neuroscience perspective; face and gaze processing; inhibitory control of thoughts and actions; naive theories.

Professor Chris Jarrold, (Professor), Developmental psychopathology, particularly autism, Williams syndrome and Down' s syndrome; executive dysfunction; pretend play; working memory in special populations.

Professor Risto Kauppinen, (Chair in Imaging), Cerebral blood volume-based MRI techniques; development of MR techniques for imaging of normal and abnormal brain functions; use of MRI to define imaging biomarkers for early neurodegeneration.

Dr Nina Kazanina, (Senior Lecturer), Language acquisition; neurolinguistics; perception; sentence processing; speech.

Dr Chris Kent, (Lecturer), How perceptual encoding processes and retrieval processes interact; overlapping cognitive operations including identification, categorisation, object recognition, perceptual matching, visual search and memory search; perceptual cognition.

Dr Ute Leonards, (Reader), Visual perception and action, embodied cognition, locomotion, ageing and neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive neuroscience methods, eye movements.

Dr Olivia Maynard, (ESRC Fellow), Healthy behaviour change and choice architecture interventions, with a focus on tobacco and alcohol use.

Professor Marcus Munafò, (Professor), Molecular genetic influences on addictive behaviour and the use of social drugs (primarily nicotine and alcohol), in particular the behavioural, cognitive and neural mechanisms that mediate these relationships.

Professor Jan Noyes, (Professor, Head of School), Cognitive ergonomics, in particular the application of cognitive psychology in the interface design of advanced and emerging technologies, eg speech input/output.

Dr Justin Park, (Senior Teaching Fellow), Evolutionary social psychology; social perception and cognition.

Professor Ian Penton-Voak, (Professor), Evolutionary psychology; social perception of facial characteristics.

Dr Kit Pleydell-Pearce, (Senior Lecturer), Cockpit technologies; mental workload; neurophysiological and autonomic correlates of cognition (especially perception, attention and memory); real-time analysis of physiology and behaviour; slow cortical potentials

Dr Susanne Quadflieg PhD(Aberd), (Lecturer in Experimental Psychology), person construal, person knowledge, person perception, social neuroscience

Professor Peter Rogers, (Professor), Motivation, learning and cognition, especially in relation to appetite and weight control, addiction, and caffeine psychopharmacology; nutrition, health and behaviour.

Dr Angela Rowe, (Reader), Social cognition with specific regard to person perception and interpersonal relationships.

Dr Nick Scott-Samuel, (Reader), Visual perception of motion in humans.

Dr Brian Stollery, (Senior Lecturer), Cognitive aging; effects of lead, aluminium, pesticides, organic solvents, anaesthetics on mood and cognitive performance; memory; metamemory; occupational stress; recovery of cognitive functioning following day-case surgery; relationships between aspects of cognition and health; risk perception and environmental pollution; workplace errors.

Dr David Turk, (Reader), Investigating the cognitive, neural, developmental and affective components of self-association, and how these impact on memory for the things we encounter. 

Professor Lucy Yardley, (Professor of Health Psychology)

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year.

The closing date for ESRC studentship applications is midday on Tuesday 29 January 2019. For further details on applying for ESRC funding, please visit the SWDTP website.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience:
  • 43% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 37% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 18% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

Charlotte Powell Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 928 8452 Email:

School of Psychological Science
University of Bristol
12a Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU


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