Department of Psychology


Photo of Dr Zarah Vernham

Dr Zarah Vernham

  • Qualifications: BSc, MSc, PhD
  • Role Title: Senior Lecturer
  • Address: King Henry Building, King Henry 1st Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2DY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6345
  • Email:
  • Department: Department of Psychology
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


In 2009, I graduated from the University of Surrey with a BSc (hons) in Psychology. My BSc 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 the lectureship in June 2015, I went to the University of Gothenburg to work alongside the research group for Criminal, Legal and Investigative Psychology.

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 of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by passing the Academic and Professional Excellence Programme (APEX). I am Unit Coordinator for the Level 6 ‘Psychology of Security’ unit. Additionally, I deliver lectures on various undergraduate and postgraduate units, including ‘Psychology of Offending Behaviour’ and ‘Cultural Psychology’. I am a member of the UG Course Management Team as Year 1 tutor as well as a member of the placement team. 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 a member of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology (ICRFP), the British Psychological Society (BPS), and the BPS Division of Forensic Psychology (DFP). My main research interests are investigative interviewing, deception detection and offender behaviours. I continue to conduct studies into detecting deception using a collective interviewing approach, whilst also completing projects exploring offender expertise and offender risk assessment. 


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile