Personal profile


As a researcher, I am interested in how people make sense of - and cope with - difficult or distressing experiences. I'm particularly interested in the role played relationships with professionals, peers and family.

My teaching and supervisory work draws on applied psychology, phenomenology, philosophy of science, implementation and intervention science, meta-synthesis, and co-design.

I contribute to the MSc Health Psychology and BSc Psychology programmes.


Prior to my PhD, I worked in landscaping. While writing up my PhD, I worked for Nottingham Trent University, the Open University, and University College Northampton. I subsequently worked for De Montfort University for two years, and then at the University of Birmingham for eleven years. At Birmingham, I worked on the Clinical Psychology doctoral training programme, and also ran the MRes Clinical Psychology course.

I came to Aston as Reader in Psychology in January 2017. At Aston, I am responsible for the Research component of the MSc Health Psychology. I also organise an innovative final-year BSc Psychology module, called 'Applying Psychology,' in which students determine the syllabus and content.

I have an interdisciplinary background, and prefer to work in that way where possible. I collaborate with colleagues who have expertise via their lived experience, and/or via their formal roles in Philosophy, Health Science, Social Policy, Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry.

Research Interests

  • Relatedness and connectedness to others and to places, and their role in coping and adaptation.
  • Experiences of psychological interventions and services; collaborative approaches to healthcare improvement; co-design and co-production of psychosocial services.
  • Understandings of anomalous and distressing experiences (loss of control, strange beliefs, strong emotions, pain, hearing voices).
  • Phenomenological psychology.


I conducted my PhD research on the experience of addiction and recovery in the 12 Step programme. My subsequent research has retained a focus on psychological coping (e.g. adapting, ‘doing well’) and distress (e.g. loss of control, overwhelming emotions) and on the contexts which shape people’s understanding of those experiences (e.g. relationships, families, interventions, services, cultures). Much of this has involved working with young people with psychosis, and their families and friends.

I have published extensively on approaches to qualitative research, and I have made significant contributions to the development of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). I have also been involved with the adaptation of an action research / service-development approach called Experience Based Co-Design (EBCD) for use in psychosocial care settings.

Research Projects/Collaborations

I am currently working on funded research projects with:

Professor Lisa Bortolotti at the University of Birmingham on an interdisciplinary, ERC-funded project which explores the consequences of erroneous beliefs. See the project blog here

Professor Cathy Creswell at Oxford University, on an NIHR-funded project which aims to co-design a pathway for providing online support to parents of school children with anxiety.

Two smaller projects with Dr Abi Merriel at Bristol University, aiming to explore and improve aspects of the care provided to new mothers.


I often collaborate and write with Zoe Boden (Brighton), Jonathan Smith & Virginia Eatough (Birkbeck), Paul Flowers (Glasgow), Rachel Shaw (Aston).


I'm an associate member of the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham.



In 2019, I was very kindly awarded the Mid-Career Research Prize, by the Qualitative Methods Section of the British Psychological Society.

Membership of Professional Bodies

I'm a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). I'm also a member of two BPS Sections: Qualitative Methods, and Consciousness and Experiential Psychology.

External Connections and Partnerships

I have facilitated co-design projects with:

  • The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (outpatients department)
  • West Midlands Police and the Wolverhampton Domestic Violence Forum (helpseeking pathway)
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust (inpatient psychiatric care for young people with psychosis)

I work closely with co-supervisors and research collaborators from:

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Trust
  • The University of Birmingham
  • Forward Thinking Birmingham


PhD Supervision

I'm an experienced supervisor who has supervised over 60 doctoral students to successful completion.

I'm primarily interested in supervising students who are engaged with phenomenological questions about relationships, psychological distress, and coping, or with process questions about co-design and implementation of healthcare.

My current PhD students are:

Psychology, Aston
Shioma-Lei Craythorne; Tiago Moutela; Kat Slade; Robert Taylor; Lindsey Sharratt; Gurkiran Birdi; Samantha Jordan; Jodi Raybould

Psychology, Birmingham
Shoshana Gander Zaucker; Fiona Lerigo

Philosophy, Project PERFECT, Birmingham
Valeria Motta

Funding Applications and Awards

Previous research funding

  1. Larkin, M. (PI) (2005-6). Higher Education Academy: miniproject grant to explore competency frameworks in clinical psychology training.
  2. Rose, J., Burchess, I., Larkin, M. (Co-I) (2008-11). Joint studentship to explore needs of South Asian families caring for a child with learning disabilities. Kuljit Heer [part-funded by Wolverhampton, PCT].
  3. Larkin, M. (PI) (2009-11). Experience-based co-design project commissioned by the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.
  4. Larkin, M. & Newton, E.K. (2011-13). Impact funding from UoB and Research & Development funding from Coventry Warwickshire Partnership Trust: Working to improve inpatient psychiatric units in Coventry Warwickshire Partnership Trust. See
  5. Dixon, L., Larkin, M., Christian, J. (Co-I). (2011-13). Understanding the sexual beliefs, exploitation and assault of British urban street gang youth to inform preventative practice. NOTA.
  6. Wood, A., Blisset, J., Larkin, M. (Co-I). (2012-14). Understanding the challenges and impact of parenting with epilepsy: A focus on mothers. Epilepsy Action.
  7. Larkin, M. (PI), Rose, J. Kroese, B. (2011-14). People with learning disabilities from black and minority groups: An exploration of their experiences and views of services. NIHR SSCR 3rd Wave.
  8. Bortolotti, L. (PI) & Larkin, M. (Co-I). (2014-19). Pragmatic and epistemic role of factually erroneous cognitions and thoughts. ERC Consolidator.
  9. Larkin, M. (PI) et al. (2014). End-of-project impact funding. NIHR School for Social Care Research.
  10. Irvine, F. (ML as Co-I) et al. (2014). End-of-project impact funding. NIHR School for Social Care Research.
  11. Creswell, C., Clark, D., Leigh, E., Stallard, P., Reynolds, S., Violato, M., Taylor, G., Stephens, G., Larkin, M. (Co-I). (2015-18). ‘Specific versus generic psychological therapy for adolescents with social anxiety disorder.’ NIHR Health Technology Assessment.
  12. Weich, S., Bhui, K., Griffiths, F., Crepaz-Keay, D., Madan, J., El Enany, N., Larkin, M. (Co-I), Newton, E., Odunlade, A., Wrench, T. (2015-2017). ‘Evaluating the Use of Patient Experience Data to Improve the Quality of Inpatient Mental Health Care. NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research.
  13. Boden, Z. (PI) & Larkin, M. (Co-I). (2015-6). Relatedness and relationships in mental health. International Social Research Foundation; Small Grants for Flexible Groups Scheme.
  14. Boden, Z. (PI) & Larkin, M. (Mentor). (2015-6). Relatedness and connectedness in early psychosis. Richard Benjamin Trust.
  15. Larkin, M. (2015). Funding to support development of the shortlisted ‘Hub’ application, ‘Succeeding, striving and thriving.’ Small Grants scheme.
  16. Larkin, M. & Unwin, G. (2016). Using experience-based co-design to improve responses to domestic violence. West Midlands Police.

Teaching Activity

'Research project' module and programme (on campus) - MSc Health Psychology

'Qualitative methods' module (online and on campus) - MSc Health Psychology

'Applying psychology' module - BSc Psychology final year

Tutorials - BSc Psychology first year

Placement supervision - BSc Psychology placement year

Project supervision - BSc Psychology final year, and MSc Health Psychology

Contact Details

Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3112
Room: SW608


Dive into the research topics where Michael Larkin is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or