Alison Torn


Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile


Alison spent 9 years working as a psychiatric nurse, specialising in the field of drug and alcohol addiction, and HIV and AIDS.  Following this she began a career in research, working on diverse qualitative projects: for example, exploring the emotion work of nurses, identifying problematic drug use in younger people and evaluating city wide health initiatives in Bradford, with a focus on community led initiatives.  Her PhD looked at the relationship between people’s understandings of their ‘madness’, and how this related to identity, social positioning and recovery.  Current research is focussed on the history of mental health and narratives of early education.

Teaching and Administration

Level 4  : Social psychology in the Social, Developmental and Individual Differences module

Level 5  : Social Psychology in the Behavioural Neuroscience and Social Psychology module

            : Seminal Studies

Level 6  : Module coordinator Psychology, mental health and distress

            : Qualitative methods as part of Final Year Project module teaching

            : Final Year Project and Individual Project Report supervision


Chair of Departmental Ethics Committee

Collaborations and Validations committee 2011-2014

Departmental Academic Committee for Sport, Health and Nutrition
Departmental Academic Committee for Psychology
Learning, teaching and assessment task groups

Research interests

I have been actively involved in both collaborative and my own research for the past 18 years.  My doctoral research was located in the fields of social psychology and mental health, which brings together my psychology background and my clinical experience in the mental health field as a fully qualified psychiatric nurse.  My thesis centred around the relationship between narrative, understanding, identity and recovery in first hand narratives of madness, focusing in particular on how the theoretical ideas of Foucault and Bakhtin can be brought together in narrative research.  Since completing my doctoral research, I have continued to be research-active (see publications). My interests in alternative methods of understanding distress continue in my support of local mental health charities, who are committed to non-medicalised approaches to unusual experiences.  I co-edited ‘Psychology for Nursing’ for Polity Press, which is due for publication in 2016.  I regularly present at BPS psychology section conferences and international narrative conferences.  I have contributed to successful applications for grants and led on the research in these initiatives.  I was also one of the co-organisers for Leeds Trinity University’s inaugural research day.  More recently I have established an external research partner at a local primary school who is piloting a new method of teaching early years (ages 5-7) for the first time in the UK.  A pilot study exploring the impact of this pedagogical approach was conducted in June 2014, with external reports and dissemination of this study completed in June 2015.  The longer term aim is to establish the school as a research centre, with the university as its academic partner. 

Education/Academic qualification

PGCertLTHE, University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jun 2012

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bradford

Award Date: 1 Jun 2009

Postgraduate Diploma, University of Bradford

Award Date: 1 Jun 2006

Bachelor of Science, The Open University

Award Date: 1 Jun 2001

Diploma, University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jun 1993

External positions

External Examiner, University of Gloucestershire


Associate Editor: The Psychologist, British Psychological Society

2015 → …

Treasurer, BPS History and Philosophy of Psychology Section


External examiner, University of Lincoln


REF 2029 UOA

  • UOA4 - Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience


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