Dr Tom Heffernan is a senior lecturer at Northumbria University. He has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Manchester. Tom’s main teaching is in memory, abnormal psychology and the psychology of crime

Tom is also the author of The Students Guide to Studying Psychology, which is a great book for anyone new to studying the subject

What got you interested in psychology?

I developed a keen interest in abnormal psychology and forensic psychology. Then studied it at pre-degree level, then decided to take it from there, resulting in a PhD in psychology and subsequent career.

What was your PhD/Masters about?

The development of working memory in children. Specifically focused on how the use of internal strategies, such as internal rehearsal, developed across the ages of 5 and 12 and how this helped in memory development.

What are your main research areas now?

The impact of recreational drug use, such as alcohol, ecstasy, cannabis and even smoking upon memory and cognitive abilities. I have recently been focusing on the impact of lockdown upon mental health and happiness.

One psychology book you recommend?

The Social Animal’ by Elliot Aronson

One piece of advice for students?

Just bear in mind that whatever you do after a psychology degree, having studied psychology will always be seen as relevant to that area.

What would you have liked to do if you had not followed the psychology career path?

A treasure hunter

On a personal note.

I enjoy exercise, such as walking and cycling, I also enjoy films, Motown music and travel (which I feel opens the mind and provides you with perspective). My favourite holiday location is the Island of Skiathos in Greece. I highly recommend for avoiding stag and hen parties, idiots and it is great for swimming, healthy food, and friendly people.

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