Postgraduate study

Our offer

We offer two routes of postgraduate study within the Behavioural Science Lab (BSL):

Under the current arrangements Tom Dickins acts as the director of studies for all postgraduate research falling within the lab, but other colleagues from across the university join the team to add invaluable support and expertise. The lab is involved more generally with the Evolution at Middlesex University (EMU) group, which draws together all evolutionary researchers within the university, and is coordinated by Dr Martijn Timmermans. Dr Timmermans co-supervises a number of extant projects in BSL.

The MSc should be regarded as a mini-PhD. It is not a formally taught course but rather an opportunity for students to pursue a short and original behavioural science project and to produce a dissertation on that topic. Often students taking this route use it to develop methods and theoretical approaches , adding skills to their portfolio which they can take onto PhD research or into other careers.


BSL are interested in any project that falls under the broad label of behavioural science, but we take a strongly evolutionary view for most of our work. Current projects at both MSc and PhD level include:

  • Life on the Edge - this is a long term project investigating various aspects of Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) behaviour at colonies in the south of England. Currently we have three research students working on this project: Kirsty Neller, Amanda Mead and Warren Horrod-Wilson. Our principal focus is upon parental and chick interactions at the nest and how this might predict productivity. Dr Timmermans is a part of this project.

  • Heterospecific vocal discrimination - Sabrina Schalz is working on Corvid abilities to discriminate human vocalizations and its role in assessing opportunity and danger. Dr Timmermans is co-supervisor.

  • Why people do good things - Claire Gellard is working on vaccine hesitancy during the Covid-19 pandemic, which started in early 2020. This is part of a broader project to try and understand what predicts adherence to and deviation from public facing cooperation. Dr Tanya O'Garra co-supervises and we have external support from Dr Mark Coulson.

  • Hygiene - Jonathan Sigger is working on models of hand hygiene compliance based upon perceptual control theory. Alongside this Tom Dickins is collaborating with colleagues in Sweden on a project about hygiene norms. They are Professor Kimmo Eriksson and Dr Pontus Strimling.

Alongside empirical work there is a strong theoretical and philosophical line of work within BSL, carried out by Tom Dickins at times with various collaborators. A particular interest here is the structure of evolutionary theory and its many uses. Most recently a book length project in this area has been completed.

We are open to any ideas within the behavioural sciences, both empirical and theoretical, so please do make contact if you are interested in working with us. To do this email Tom Dickins:

t DOT dickins AT mdx DOT ac DOT uk

Doctoral (PhD) funding

Self-funded students living in the UK (EU citizens or not) can apply for the UK government's Doctoral Loan scheme:

Do read the criteria for eligibility, terms and conditions, carefully before making any application.

Under this scheme you may be able to get a UK PhD loan of up to £27,265 (in total, covering all years of study) for a doctoral degree in any subject. This will cover your fees and offer some further support towards costs. The loan only needs to be repaid when you earn over £21,000 per annum.

A range of Charities offers small grants towards the cost of a PhD. Please research this subject at:

and check the Alternative Funding Guide at: