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Emma James



  • BA Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford (2010-2013)
  • MSc Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of York (2014-2015)
  • PhD Psychology, University of York (2015-2019)


I completed my undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford (2010-2013), and subsequently spent a year as a Research Associate at Lancaster University. I first joined the University of York in 2014, completing a Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship as part of the Sleep, Language and Memory Lab. I then spent two years back in Oxford, working as a Postdoctoral Researcher within ReadOxford Group and Stipendiary Lecturer at St Catherine’s College. I rejoined the York Psychology Department as a Lecturer in 2022.



I am fundamentally interested in how children and adults learn, drawing upon memory, language, and literacy research. My research asks questions such as:

  • How do we learn and remember new words?
  • How does the way in which we learn words change across development?
  • How does poor language knowledge affect reading and educational achievement?
  • How do learning difficulties affect broader life outcomes and wellbeing?

I address these questions using behavioural experiments that train and test new words, as well as analyses of real-world data and national cohort datasets.


Taking the long view: understanding the precursors and consequences of individual differences in reading comprehension  (PI: Kate Nation, University of Oxford; funded by the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative). This project makes use of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to better characterise reading comprehension difficulties in childhood. We are examining associated cognitive difficulties and preschool predictors, as well as implications for educational attainment and later wellbeing.

Available PhD research projects

I would be keen to hear from potential postgraduate students interested in any of the above research topics.



  • BSc Research Project Supervision
  • BSc Literature Survey Supervision


Selected publications

  • James, E., Ong, G., Henderson, L.M., & Horner, A.J. (2021). The formation and retrieval of holistic event memories across development. Journal of Cognition.
  • James, E., Currie, N., Tong, X., & Cain, K. (2020). The relations between morphological awareness and reading comprehension in beginner readers through to young adolescents. Journal of Research in Reading, 44, 110-130.
  • James, E., Gaskell, M.G., & Henderson, L.M. (2020). Sleep-dependent consolidation in children with comprehension and vocabulary weaknesses: It’ll be alright on the night? Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 61, 1104-1115.
  • James, E., Gaskell, M.G., Weighall, A., & Henderson, L.M. (2017). Consolidation of vocabulary during sleep: the rich get richer? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 77, 1-13.

Full publications list

See Google Scholar for a full list of publications. 

External activities


  • Committee Member (Early Career Representative), Experimental Psychology Society


Contact details

Dr Emma James
Department of Psychology
University of York

Tel: 01904 322913