Birkbeck flying high in Times Higher Education’s first Psychology rankings

Psychology at Birkbeck has been lauded in a new Times Higher Education subjects ranking, in the top two for London and 68th in the world; plus grant success for Department of Psychological Sciences.

Birkbeck has been highly placed in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings in the first dedicated examination of Psychology at institutions around the globe.

The College’s Psychology offering was eighth out of only 13 UK institutions to make the top 100 and was ranked 68th in the world. Birkbeck was recognised as one of the top two institutions in London at which to study psychology. It is the first time that Psychology has been considered on its own, having previously figured within other rankings.

The listing primarily recognises the work of the School of Science’s Department of Psychological Sciences but as the analysis is partially based on publications in journals classified as 'Psychology' in Scopus, it includes some contributions from colleagues across several other schools.

“Given Birkbeck’s mission to teach working people in the evening, usually without traditional qualifications, this is an exceptional achievement. Congratulations to all our staff for their efforts in providing a world-class environment in which our students can excel,” said Professor Mike Oaksford, head of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

The 2018 THE World University Rankings’ table for Psychology subjects looks at 13 performance indicators covering research, teaching, international outlook, citations and industry income.

The news comes at a time when the Department of Psychological Sciences has achieved considerable success with new funding grants and awards. The department recently welcomed Reader in Psychology Dr Richard Cook, who brings a five-year European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant of £1.3 million, awarded under the 'excellent science' pillar of the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

Dr Cook said: “My ERC grant will study the visual perception of social interactions. This line of investigation fits in very well with Birkbeck’s existing research strength in the area of ‘Social Perception’ – how we recognise other people and interpret their actions and expressions.”

In addition, the department’s Professor Ulrike Hahn was recently awarded a grant of more than £1 million by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) based in the US. The organisation invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programmes to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the intelligence community.

Meanwhile, the department’s Dr Iroise Dumontheil has been awarded the British Neuropsychological Society (BNS) Elizabeth Warrington prize for 2017. The BNS committee commended Dr Dumontheil’s publication record, grant income and ‘evidence of independence and leadership in the field’.

Dr Dumontheil said: “My work looks at the development of cognition and the brain during adolescence, with a focus on social cognition, which allows us to interact with other people, and cognitive control, which allows us to coordinate our behaviour to achieve goals.”

The prize is awarded annually on the basis of distinguished work in neuropsychology, by a person at an early stage in their career. 

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