Goldsmiths’ Department of Psychology is a flourishing centre of study and research: one in every five of our students is a postgraduate. We strive for, and achieve, high teaching standards, as reflected by our teaching rating in the 2008 National Student Survey, which was in the top quarter of the 101 UK Psychology departments. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) we were ranked 24th in terms of the grade point average of our research activities and, in comparison with the last exercise (2001), we rose above all departments ranked equal to us and overtook a number of prestigious departments that were previously ranked above us. The panel noted that all six of our research clusters produced internationally excellent research, and 50% of our research activity was rated as being internationally excellent or world leading. This strong result reflected our research publications in academic journals and the reputation of our academic staff, but also the general research environment. This research environment is manifested in our success in attracting external grants from a wide range of national and international sources to employ additional research staff, in the ESRC’s recognition of our postgraduate training, and in our considerable success in winning competitive government funding for postgraduate studentships and postdoctoral fellowships.
The Department’s research is structured around six main clusters.
—The culture and cognition cluster investigates the impact of culture and language on visual perception and attention, categorisation behaviour and the development of cognition. The cognitive neuroscience of music is an active area within this cluster too. This cluster lies at the heart of Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cognition, Computation and Culture (CCCC), which aims to foster interdisciplinary research with other academic departments (such as Music, Anthropology and Computing) focusing on how neural, computational and cognitive models relate to cultural and social processes.
—The individual differences and psychopathology cluster is one of the largest groups in the UK researching personality, intelligence, and clinical conditions such as depression and anxiety. A recent emphasis has been on behavioural genetics and gene-behaviour association studies.
—Another cluster studies social relationships within couples, and by investigating imitation in children and primates. The internationally respected Unit of School and Family Studies focuses on the changing nature of grandparenting, and on studies of bullying, in a variety of national and international settings.
—The Department’s neurodevelopmental disorders cluster carries out cutting edge studies on conditions such as visual impairment, autism and dyspraxia, focusing on changes in executive functions, movement ability, musical ability and the preservation of special abilities.
—The large cognitive psychology, neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience cluster carries out research in basic processes in attention and working memory, integration across sensory modalities, memory learning, eye-witness identification, and musical cognition. Neuropsychological research with patients addresses their awareness of deficits and attempts rehabilitation. The neurofeedback group investigates the use of this technique in therapy and ‘peak performance’ training. This cluster has a strong neuroscientific perspective, recently consolidated by the acquisition of a superb new research suite equipped with highly-specialised, state-of-the-art EEG, eye-tracking, computational modelling and psychopharmacology facilities.
—Within our work psychology cluster, current foci of research include employee selection and assessment, maximising performance in the workplace, and occupational health psychology in relation to work design, organisational change, stress management, and working after chronic illness.
The Department has additional strengths in anomalistic psychology and digital consumer research. The Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit investigates extraordinary phenomena of experience and behaviour, including those often labelled as ‘paranormal’. In digital consumer research the Department has formed a ‘spin-out’ company, i2media, which aims to understand the digital media experiences and needs of consumers. The company’s research runs alongside related academic projects within the Department.
We have a strong and active interest in applying psychological theory to real-world issues and problems. Recent examples of our research which have had a direct influence on practice and policy include work on eye-witness identification, bullying, rehabilitation after brain injury, consumer use of digital media, stress in the workplace, and return to work after serious illness.
The resources underpinning our ability to carry out these varied types of research include well-established connections with other universities and research groups both in this country and internationally, and with a wide range of agencies and organisations in the public and private sectors, including hospitals, schools, charities, government bodies, and commercial organisations. These links provide excellent opportunities for students to become involved in collaborative research in many different settings. Postgraduates also have access to excellent research facilities in the Department: in addition to new laboratories, we have several existing testing rooms, dedicated observational suites with high calibre video equipment, a wide range of equipment for laboratory and field research, and a well-stocked psychological test library. There is a dedicated computer laboratory for postgraduate use, and all doctoral students have shared office space and their own computer.