Andy Tolmie



Westcliff High School 1968-75; Lancaster University 1975-78; City of London Polytechnic 1983-87


BSc Hons Psychology 1st Class; PhD in Psychology

Work History:

Essex Social Services 1979-83; Strathclyde University 1988-2006; Institute of Education from 2007

Current Job:

Chair of Psychology and Human Development


UCL Institute of Education

My Interview

Me and my work

I’m a developmental psychologist with longstanding interests in the development of children’s conceptual representations and behavioural skills. Most of my research focuses on the growth of children’s explicit knowledge, particularly in the pre-school and primary age range. I’m Deputy Director of the Birkbeck/UCL Institute of Education Centre for Educational Neuroscience, as well as being Director of the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre for the Social Sciences.

Typical day

I’m not sure I have any! My Doctoral Training Centre role means I have to juggle teaching and administrative commitments, research activity, and working with my own doctoral students. Every day is different.

What topics do you work on?

I concentrate on educationally-relevant topics and settings, with a substantial emphasis on primary school science learning, but also on the acquisition of road-crossing skills among children, and the acquisition of vehicle driving skills among various adult groups.

What methods do you use?

Primarily behavioural/cognitive testing and in situ observation, though I work increasingly with colleagues who use EEG and fMRI.

Who was your favourite teacher?

Hard to say – I had a lot of positive experiences. My school physics teacher is a strong contender, though – an Abderdonian with about the driest sense of humour I’ve ever known.