Postgraduate Research

The Psychology Department at the University of Buckingham is highly research active, and during 2016 we have consolidated our research projects and interests into four main departmental research hubs. See our Psychology Postgraduate page for more information about our areas of specialism in research, and research opportunities which are currently open for applications.

In addition, details of individual academic research interests and collaborations can be found by visiting our Psychology Department Staff pages.

Our current Postgraduate students are working across the full range of our research interests: details are given below.


Centre for Health and Relationship Research

Name: Margaret Tilley (Graduate Teaching Assistant)
Area of Research: The factors involved in chronic pain in people with a spinal cord injury
Supervised by: Dr Katherine Finlay and Dr. Philip Fine

Overview: Over 62% of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients experience chronic pain, however, in the UK there is currently no tailored pain management programme. The development of a tailored programme requires a profile of the biological, psychological and social characteristics of chronic pain sufferers with SCI but the existing knowledge base is fragmented. Margaret is carrying out a study with spinal cord injured in-patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC), Stoke Mandeville. Participants will be asked to complete a set of eight pain and psychological assessments and to provide salivary cortisol samples to assess levels of stress. Additionally, a cross-sectional study using the same questionnaires and cortisol sampling will be undertaken with out-patients of the NSIC. It is anticipated that the outcome of the research will be the generation of a knowledge base from which a SCI-specific pain management programme will be designed.


Name: Jill Suckling
Area of Research: Social Support in Chronic Pain
Supervised by: Dr Katherine Finlay and Dr Emily Doe

An impressive body of literature has investigated the relationship between social factors and health outcomes. It is apparent that social support influences health via physiological, psychological and behavioural mechanisms, providing benefit in a diverse range of disease and injury states, via both reduced risk to illness and improved recovery from it. Within chronic pain, support is available from many sources; through medical professionals, NHS and charity-led formalised peer support programmes, community support and online forums. Jill is seeking to understand the factors that predispose people living with chronic pain to choose where they access support, and how these sources of support affect pain outcomes.


Name: Vuyolwetha Hlabangana
Area of Research: Social Support in Chronic Pain
Supervised by: Dr Shelly Kemp and Dr Jasmine Hearn

Overview: Vuyo is working with the Spinal Injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and investigating the effect of moderating factors on the salience of the relationship between recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Quality of Life (QoL) in individual with a spinal cord injury.


Name: Kate Rocheteau
Area of Research: HIV Status Disclosure
Supervised by: Dr Emily Doe and Dr Katherine Finlay

Overview: Disclosure of HIV status is related to increased emotional and social support, as well as improved access to HIV prevention and treatment services. However, disclosure of HIV status is a complex process that carries important positive outcomes alongside challenges and risks. It is an important first step in gaining HIV-specific social support and can help prevent the spread of HIV to HIV-negative individuals and facilitate adherence to antiretroviral medications. However, sharing such information may also render the individual susceptible to stigmatizing reactions such as social ostracism, physical harm, and workplace discrimination. Kate is investigating reasons why people do and do not disclose their HIV status, with the ultimate aim of developing an intervention to facilitate disclosure.


CREATE – (Centre for Research into Expertise Acquisition, Training and Excellence)

Name: Paige Vanleer
Area of research: Investigating the thinking styles of medical practitioners
Supervised by: Dr Philip Fine and Dr Kathryn Friedlander

Overview: In recent years, there has been extensive debate concerning the relative merits of evidence-based medicine – an ‘engineering model’ grounded in scientific, clinical research – compared to intuitive clinical judgment – the ability to sift through incomplete, potentially conflicting and imprecise data in order to arrive at a more holistic diagnostic hypothesis. This research programme seeks to investigate the thinking styles, motivation and background of both medical students and qualified doctors, using a broad-based on-line survey. Results obtained from this wide-ranging study will provide a grounded research rationale for subsequent investigations into medical diagnostic thinking styles, following the Grounded Expert Components Approach (Friedlander & Fine, 2016).


Name: Amira Svensk
Area of research: Creativity, Switching and Fluid Intelligence
Supervised by: Dr Philip Fine and Dr Kathryn Friedlander

Overview: Amira is investigating various aspects of creativity, including why individuals differ in how creative they are, how this relates to people’s ability to switch between tasks, and their fluid intelligence. She is using verbal protocol analysis (VPA) as one of her methodological techniques.


Psychology of Educational Development

Name: Kirsty Lowe-Brown (Technician and Demonstrator)
Area of research: Cognitive / Developmental / Educational Psychology
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin and Dr Philip Fine

Overview: Kirsty is investigating children’s understanding of how they regulate and hide their emotions. She has assessed primary school aged children using one-to-one interviews and is using a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques to explore children’s understanding.


Name: Sarah Pitwell
Area of research: Cognitive / Developmental / Educational Psychology
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin and Dr Kathryn Friedlander

Overview: Sarah is a part-time research student, exploring aspects of the assessment and diagnosis of primary school children with MLD (moderate learning difficulties) in connection with her role as SENCO at a primary school.


Name: Ramona Rusu
Area of research: Cognitive / Developmental / Educational Psychology
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin and Dr Masa Popovac

Overview: Ramona is investigating primary school teachers’ understanding of astronomy concepts and how this relates to their logical thinking, pedagogical knowledge, self-efficacy and their confidence in science teaching.


Emotion and Life-Span Relationships

Name: Hannah Murphy
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin and Dr Philip Fine
Area of Research: Emotion comprehension and working memory

Overview: Investigating emotion detection and working memory in relation to a variety of measured factors in specific adult populations. Hannah is using both questionnaire and face to face assessment.


Name: Isabelle Nicolas
Supervised by: Dr Shelly Kemp and Dr Alan Martin
Area of Research: Emotion regulation

Overview: Isabelle is investigating emotion regulation and mental toughness in a sample of medical staff and medical students in two different cultures.


Name: George-Ilias Papathanasiou
Supervised by: Dr Shelly Kemp and Dr Alan Martin
Area of Research: Cyberbullying

Overview: George is researching the role of bystanders in cyberbullying situations.

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