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Programme Leader in Psychology with Criminology, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Dr Heffernan is Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Psychology with Criminology degree. 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 also supervises projects at Undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels. Tom has acted as both internal and external examiner at various stages of the PhD process, from the Initial Project Approval stage, to the Mid-Point Progression stage and the final Viva Voce. He has held previous administrative jobs including Exams Tutor, Year Tutor (Years 1, 2, and 3), Project Tutor, Head of Undergraduate Ethics and Member of the School Research Board.

Tom's research focuses mainly upon the cognitive consequences of recreational drug use, for example, what impact excessive alcohol consumption (including 'binge drinking'), smoking, ecstasy and cannabis has upon everyday cognition, working memory and prospective memory. Tom is active in terms of peer-reviewed publications in this area, bidding for research funding in the field, and is committed to the wider dissemination of research findings to inform policy, advisory groups and to the wider public.

Tom has presented his findings both nationally and internationally and his work has attracted interest from researchers, students, the media and the general public from around the world. His work has been featured in newspapers within the UK and internationally and has been included in on-line factsheets, including, for example, on-line fact sheets developed by 'Drink Aware' -an independent UK-wide charity.

Tom works with several groups of researchers from both within the UK and in other countries. Tom is actively pursuing external grant funding for larger scale projects within his field of expertise. Tom is Editor in Chief on the Open Addiction Journal; and is on the International Editorial Board for 2 other journals: Current Drug Abuse Reviews and the ISRN Addiction journal. He also acts as a reviewer for several journals and book companies, as well as for grant funding agencies.

Tom is member of the Healthcare Advisors Bureau which offers a voice from the world of medicine to government organisations, medical institutions, scientific publishers, manufacturers of healthcare products and providers of healthcare services for now over 25 years. Tom is also a member of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group (AHR-Group) - an international expert group composed of active researchers in the field of alcohol hangover. The goal of the AHR-Group is to elucidate the pathology, treatment and prevention of the alcohol hangover.

Tom is also a member of the FUSE network - which brings together the five North East universities and works in partnership with the public, the NHS and local government services to support the transformation of health across the region, through public health research and the application of knowledge in policy and practice. Tom is also an Affiliate of the National Drug Prevention Alliance (NDPA), an international body working towards promoting drug-free environments across the world.

Tom has recently become a member of the Youngsters' Alcohol Research Network (YARN). YARN represents an international research group focusing on risk factors for early onset alcohol misuse and barriers for help seeking.


  • –present
    Programme Leader in Psychology with Criminology, Northumbria University, Newcastle