Dr Sarah McGeown

Co-Deputy Director of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact (RKEI) / Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology


  • MA (Hons) Psychology, University of Aberdeen, 2002
  • MRes Psychology, University of Aberdeen, 2003
  • PhD Psychology, University of Hull, 2008
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, 2010
  • Higher Education Academy Teaching Fellow, 2011

Responsibilities & affiliations

Membership of Professional Bodies

British Psychological Society and United Kingdom Literacy Association.


Undergraduate teaching

Education Studies 2 A (MA Primary)

Children and Young People (MSc TLT)

Cognitive and Social Development in Education (MA Primary)

Postgraduate teaching

Child and Adolescent Development (MSc Education)

Psychology of Learning and Teaching - course organiser (MSc Education)


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

  • 2020 - : Charlotte Webber.  Thesis title: Tackling the drop-off:  Understanding the teenage reading experience.
  • 2021 - : Kawla Alhamad.  Thesis title: Augmented Reality Books and Reading Engagement
  • 2021 - : Elena Santi.  Thesis title: Reading as a Mirror, Window and Sliding Glass Door
  • 2022 - : Maggie Chan.  Thesis Title: Disability Representation and Picture Books
  • 2023- : Ross Young.  Thesis Title: The Writing Lives of Children and Young People

Past PhD students supervised

  • 2013 - 2016: Jennifer Salfen. Thesis title: Extracurricular activities and positive youth development in adolescence. 
  • 2014 - 2017: Matluba Kahn. Thesis title: Environment, Engagement and Education: Investigating the relationship between primary school grounds and children's learning: A case study in Bangladesh (with Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture).
  • 2014 - 2018: Xiaoyi Hu. Thesis title: Foreign language learning, anxiety and motivation among primary school aged children.
  • 2014 - 2018: Thalia Theodoraki. Thesis title: Executive functions and academic attainment among adolescents (with Department of Psychology).
  • 2018 - : Brendan Kwiatkowski. Thesis title: Canadian adolescent males' masculinities and school experiences: A mixed methods approach
  • 2019 - 2023: Jill Steel.  Thesis title: Children's emotional wellbeing and reading outcomes: Exploring the impact of reading to dogs. 

Research summary

I am Director of the University of Edinburgh Literacy Lab and my research focuses on understanding and improving children and young people's reading experiences and outcomes, using research-practice partnerships and participatory approaches.  


Project activity

My research focus on understanding and supporting children and young people's reading experiences and outcomes. Details of this research can be found here:  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/literacylab/

Furthermore, in 2019, I co-founded LALco: Language and Literacy: Communication, collaboration, co-production (www.lalco.org.uk) with Lynne Duncan at the University of Dundee.  This is a multidisciplinary network of individuals with a shared interest to promote attainment and equity in the language and literacy skills of children and young people.


Current project grants

2023-2026: ESRC/Social Graduate School of Social Sciences Collaborative Scheme (PhD studentship), with National Literacy Trust. Title: The Writing Lives of Children and Young People

2023 - 2024: Education Endowment Foundation, with National Literacy Trust. Title: Love to Read: Reception

2022 - 2024: Challenge Investment Fund. Title: Neurodiversity and Narrative Fiction.

2022 - 2024: Leverhulme Trust. Title: Reading and Wellbeing.

2021- 2023: Nuffield Foundation. Title: Love to Read: A co-designed intervention to motivate and engage child readers.

2020-2024: ESRC/Social Graduate School of Social Sciences Collaborative Scheme (PhD studentship), with Scottish Book Trust. Title: Tackling the drop-off: Understanding the teenage reading experience.

Past project grants

2019-2022: Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre. Title: Learning about Neurodiversity at School (LEANS).

2019-2021: Carnegie UK Engaging Libraries, with Wellcome and The Wolfson Foundation, with Glasgow Life. Title: Sharing Stories.

2018-19: Challenge Investment Fund. Title: Growing Up A Reader.

2017-18: Scottish Universities Insight Institute: Conversations about language and literacy: Promoting equity and attainment through engagement.

2016-2017: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Improving children's reading: Research informing practice, with 6 Scottish local authorities/22 primary schools.