Zarah Vernham
  • King Henry I Street, King Henry Building

    PO1 2DY Portsmouth

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


In 2009, I graduated from the University of Surrey with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology. My BSc (Hons) Psychology dissertation explored the general public’s knowledge of, and attitudes towards the sentencing of rape cases in England and Wales. I remained at the University of Surrey and, in 2010, I completed an MSc in Forensic Psychology in which I was awarded a distinction. My MSc dissertation was conducted within Broadmoor High-Security Hospital and investigated whether observer ratings of interpersonal behaviour can accurately predict institutional incidents of verbal and physical aggression, and self-harm in male forensic inpatients. In 2015, I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a PhD in Psychology. My PhD research applied a collective interviewing approach, in which groups of individuals are interviewed together at the same time, to the detection of deception.

In addition to completing my PhD, I was a Research Associate, under the supervision of Professor Aldert Vrij, working on two research projects. The first project was funded by the FBI and evaluated training into cognitive lie detection, and the second project was funded by the EPSRC and explored the deterrence of deception.

Following the completion of my PhD I was awarded a lectureship in the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth. Before starting this lectureship in June 2015, I completed an internship at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden whereby I worked alongside the research group for Criminal, Legal and Investigative Psychology.

Research Interests

I am the Deputy Director of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology (ICRFP) within the Department of Psychology. My main research interests are in the area of investigative interviewing, deception detection, mental health, sexual offending, and offender behaviours and cognitions. I conduct studies that explore investigative interviewing and detecting deception using a collective interviewing approach, as well as studies that examine offender expertise and offender risk assessment. I am involved in conducting research that examines the mental health of music professionals as well as running studies that explore student and staff mental health within Higher Education.

Teaching Responsibilities

Before commencing teaching at the University of Portsmouth, I undertook mandatory training: the Graduate Students Professional Development Programme (GPROF). I have also been awarded fellowship status of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by passing the Academic and Professional Excellence Programme (APEX).

I am currently the Undergraduate Programmes Lead for the BSc (Hons) Psychology and BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degrees. I am also the Module Co-ordinator for the Level 6 ‘Cybercrime, Policing, and Security’ module. Additionally, I deliver lectures on various Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules, including ‘Psychology of Offending Behaviour’ and 'Research Methods and Data Analysis’. I supervise final year research projects at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level on the detection of deception, investigative interviewing, offending behaviours, and mental health disorders. I am also a PhD supervisor for a number of PhD students who conduct research in the areas of investigative interviewing, deception detection, sexual offending, emtional abuse, Quality of Working Life, or offender expertise. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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