Dr Louise Bunce PhD, CPsychol, FHEA, AFBPS

Senior Lecturer in Human Development


I re-joined Oxford Brookes University in the summer of 2016, having received my doctorate from here in 2007. In between times I worked as a lecturer at London Metropolitan University then as a Senior Lecturer at The University of Winchester. I am enjoying being back at Brookes and working as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health.



Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Distinction): Oxford Brookes University 2010

PhD Developmental Psychology: Oxford Brookes University 2007

BSc 1st Class (Hons) Psychology: Royal Holloway, University of London 2004



My primary responsibility is for leading the modules relating to Human Growth and Development (U48800 and U48801). I also teach on modules relating to child welfare and research methods. I am an academic advisor to a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students and supervise research projects and dissertations. In 2016, I was shortlisted for the award of Best Research Supervisor in the University of Winchester Student Led Teaching Awards.


My current research can be divided into two strands: Cognitive Developmental Psychology and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

1) Within cognitive developmental psychology I have two main interests. The first area investigates the influence of engaging in fantasy and pretence on cognitive development, and in particular problem solving and creativity. This is an international collaboration with Dr J Woolley (University of Texas at Austin) and Dr E Boerger (Slippery Rock University). Specifically, we are researching how higher levels of fantasy orientation (an individual’s proclivity to engage in fantasy worlds) may be beneficial when it comes to finding solutions for problems or producing creative responses because they involve using your imagination to go beyond the here-and-now and think ‘outside the box’.


The second area in cognitive developmental psychology explores children’s developing understanding of the concepts of the living/non-living distinction and the authentic/artificial distinction as applied to museum taxidermy. This is a collaboration with educators at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It addresses questions that arose from an ESRC seminar series led by Prof. J Dillon in which I participated. One of the questions concerned how visitors, particularly young children, appreciate authenticity because authentic museum objects foster awe-inspiring reactions among visitors that promote curiosity and engagement (Bunce, 2016). My research found that comparing taxidermied animals to toy animals (see Figure below) really helped young children to appreciate the importance of taxidermy. I’m currently exploring how these findings can support children’s learning in museums.

Figure 1. The taxidermied rabbit (left) and a toy rabbit (right) used in the research to help young children appreciate the special value of taxidermy

2) Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. I am interested in student engagement and the student-as-consumer approach in higher education, specifically exploring the impact of the introduction of increasingly higher levels of tuition fees paid by students studying at university in England. The government has identified students as 'customers' which is changing the nature of traditional pedagogic relations between students and their university. While this shift gives students a more powerful voice and may see rises in standards and quality of provision, it risks encouraging passive approaches to learning, and situations in which lecturers may feel pressured to dumb-down content for the sake of student ratings of satisfaction. My research has revealed that there is a negative impact on students identifying as a consumers on academic performance because it encourages surface (as opposed to deep) approaches to learning and teaching. I am currently collaborating with Dr Naomi King (Oxford Brookes University), Dr Michael Tomlinson (University of Southampton) and Dr Naomi Winstone (University of Surrey) to explore these issues further.



Bunce, L., Lockley, S., Palmer, S., & Woolley, J. D., (under review) The role of imagination in pretence and creative thinking in childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Bunce, L., & King, N., (in prep) Perceptions of and responses to student consumers in the classroom among academics: a self-determination approach

Bunce, L. (under review). Still life? Children’s understanding of the distinctions between life versus death and the authentic versus artificial as applied to animal taxidermy. British Journal of Developmental Psychology

Bunce, L., Bennett, M., and Warhurst, A. (under review) I’m paying for this! Why does a consumer attitude have a negative impact on academic performance in undergraduates? Educational Psychology

Bunce, L. (2016) Appreciation of authenticity promotes curiosity: implications for object-based learning in museums. Journal of Museum Education, 43(1), 230-239.

Bunce, L. (2016) Dead ringer? Visitors’ understanding of taxidermy as authentic and educational museum exhibits. Visitor Studies, 19, 2, 1-15.

Bunce, L., Baird, A,. & Jones, S. (2016) The student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance. Studies in Higher Education (open access)

Baird, A. & Bunce, L. (2016) To what extent do undergraduates perceive themselves as learners or consumers? ALFRED, 5, 8-15

Stansfield, J. & Bunce, L. (2014) The relationship between empathy and reading fiction: separate roles for cognitive and affective components. Journal of European Psychology Students 5(3), 9-18.

Bunce, L. & Harris, P. L. (2014) Authenticity and ontological status in children’s judgments of reality. Cognitive Development, 32, 110-119 (doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2014.10.001)(open access)

Bunce, L., Burgess, M. & Harris, M. (2014) Charge up then charge out? Drivers’ perceptions and experiences of electric vehicles in the UK. Transportation Research, Part A, 59, 278-287.

Bunce, L. & Harris, M. (2013) “He’s not real because he hasn’t got the real tool kit” Young children’s reasoning about real/not-real status. Developmental Psychology, 49, 1494-1504. (doi: 10.1037/a0030608)

Bunce, L. & Harris, M. (2008) “I saw the real Father Christmas!” Children’s everyday uses of the words real, really, and pretend. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 26, 445-455

Other Reports

Shaw, S., Bunce, L. & Kotttasz, R. (2014) Recommendations to inform the setting up of regional e-mobility information centres. E- Mobility NSR, Workload Package 6.8

Shaw, S. & Bunce, L. (2014) Mapping public and private gaps in the electric vehicle market. E-Mobility NSR, Workload Package 6.6 Visit the E-Mobility website

Carroll, S., Walsh, C., Burgess, M., Harris, M., Bunce, L. et al., (2013) Assessing the viability of electric vehicles in daily life. A report to the Technology Strategy Board by Cenex and Oxford Brookes University. Doc. number TSB ULCVD-12-036 v1.0

Bunce, L. (2014, Jan) “The Butler” A poignant history lesson. The Psychologist

Bunce, L. & Westermann, G. (Spring 2010) Babylabs: What can they tell us about development? Developmental Psychology Forum, British Psychological Society.

Bunce, L. & Harris, M. (2008) "I saw the real Father Christmas!" Children's everyday uses of the words real, really, and pretend. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 26, 445-455. PDF

Bunce, L. (2007) Children's understanding of distinctions between real and not-real. PhD Thesis. Oxford Brookes University.

Book Chapters

Bunce, L. (forthcoming ) The student-as-consumer voice in higher education. To appear in Voices and Actions in the Student Experience, N.E. Winstone, S. Lygo-Baker, S. Warburton & I.M. Kinchin (eds.) Bloomsbury

Bunce, L. (forthcoming) Experiences and challenges facing electric vehicle drivers:charging and charging infrastructure. In M. Burgess (ed.), BMW MINI E: International Electric Vehicles Trials: Drivers’ experiences. London: Routledge.

Shaw, S. & Bunce, L. (2015) Electrifying London: Connecting with mainstream markets. In W. Leal & R. Kotter (Eds) E- Mobility in Europe: Trends and Good Practice. Springer


I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students who would like to work within of my areas of interest relating to Developmental and Educational Psychology, Children and Families, and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Specific topics may include the relationship between imagination, cognition, personality and creativity; children's learning in museums; the student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance


  • 2016: Oxford Brookes University, Building academic success and resilience in social work students using a self-determination theory approach (with Jill Childs and Adam Lonsdale) (£5,000)
  • 2016: British Psychological Society, Undergraduate Research Assistantship. The impact of engaging in fantasy on cognition in children and adults (£1,600)
  • 2015: The University of Winchester Learning and Teaching Award: Staff perceptions of the student-as-consumer approach in Higher Education and implications for pedagogy (£2,000)
  • 2014: Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society, International Collaboration Scheme (£1,500)  ​
  • 2013: Cognitive Development Society, Conference Travel Award ($100)
  • 2011: British Academy, Overseas Conference Travel Grant (£500)
  • 2011: Society for Research in Child Development, Early Career Travel Award ($500)
  • 2010: British Academy, Small Research Grant with Prof. Westermann. Young children's understanding of the fantasy/reality distinction: Perceptual or conceptual processing? (£7150)
  • 2009: British Academy, Overseas Conference Travel Grant (£500)














Collaboration with myself and a writer, Deborah Fielding, who wrote a short story inspired by research entitled 'Is it real?' https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/projects/science-writes-to-life/louise-bunce-and-deborah-fielding/


  • Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol)
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)



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The British Psychological Society - the regulatory body for Psychologists in the UK.

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Website for the Society for Research in Child Development













Louise Bunce


+44 (0)1865 482584