Dr Caoilte Ó Ciardha

Reader in Forensic Psychology,
Deputy Head of School,
UG Outreach Team member
+44 (0)1227 823923
Dr Caoilte Ó Ciardha


Dr Caoilte Ó Ciardha obtained his PhD from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) in 2010. His doctoral research examined the use of indirect/implicit cognitive measures in the assessment of individuals how have sexually offended.

Caoilte joined the School of Psychology at the University of Kent in 2011 as a postdoctoral research associate working on an ESRC funded project to develop a psychological treatment programme for adults who had engaged in deliberate firesetting (see project blog).

Following this period as a postdoctoral research associate, Caoilte obtained a lecturing position in the School of Psychology. He is part of the forensic psychology research group within the school - the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP). He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology and Head of Undergraduate Recruitment and Student Experience.

Caoilte publishes and presents internationally on the topics of sexual offending, sexual interest, and firesetting. He is associate editor of the journals Sexual Abuse and Psychology, Crime & Law and reviews for over 20 other journals. He also sits on the research committee of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA).

Research interests

Dr Caoilte Ó Ciardha's research focuses on the aetiology of offending behaviour, as well as on the assessment and treatment of factors that are causally related to offending. His research to date has been primarily concerned with sexual offending against children and adults and with firesetting. 

Caoilte's research draws on theory and methods across forensic psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology and social cognition. As a result, his research, and the research conducted in his lab, draws on a range of approaches to attempt to understand potentially criminogenic psychological factors such as problematic sexual interest, cognitive distortions, maladaptive coping, and the psychological consequences of childhood adversity. These approaches include reaction time measures, eye-movements and brain stimulation, as well as questionnaire and qualitative methods.


  • SP847 Forensic Cognition: Theory, Research and Practice (Module convenor)
  • SP805 Psychology of Criminal Conduct
  • SP645 Forensic Psychology Reflective Log (Stage 3; Module convenor)
  • SP644 Forensic Psychology Reflective Log (Stage 2; Module convenor)
  • SP306 Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Project supervision

Caoilte is interested in supervising projects that improve our understanding of the psychological causes or factors that help prevent:

  • Sexual offending against children
  • Rape and sexual aggression
  • Firesetting


Individuals considering applying to complete a PhD under the supervision of Dr Ó Ciardha should make contact with him in the first instance with a brief summary of their proposed topic and methodology. 

Current research students

As primary supervisor

  • Mónica Da-Costa-Oliveira: The developmental trajectory of risky and problematic sexual behaviour in the context of childhood adversity
  • Gaye Ildeniz: A Dangerous World and other Implicit Theories: Does biased information processing lead to sexual offending?
  • Nilda Karoglu: Theory of Mind, sexual offending against children and cognitive distortions: An analysis of quantity and content in Theory of Mind 
  • Sarah Kelleher: Cognitive schemas surrounding sexual violence and the "justice gap" for sexual assault cases
  • Aarohi Khare: TBC

As secondary supervisor

  • Samuel T. Hales: Reducing Sexual Aggression in Male University Students: A Study of Self-Help Interventions
  • Victoria Lister: Investigating the Pathways of Men who Engage in Voyeurism.
  • Alisha O'Connor: TBC
  • Katie Sambrooks: the utility of Virtual Reality Technology for the assessment and treatment of deliberate firesetting.

Past research students

  • Dr Phoebe Smith: Creatively exploring the implicit component of implicit theories (2nd supervisor, with Dr Afroditi Pina as primary supervisor)
  • Dr Janice Attard-Johnson: Eye-tracking assessment of sexual interest (2nd supervisor, with Dr Markus Bindemann as primary supervisor)  
  • Dr Magali-Fleur Barnoux: Qualitative investigation of firesetting in male prisoners (2nd supervisor, with Professor Theresa Gannon as primary supervisor)


Editorial Board Member: Sexual Abuse; Psychology Crime & Law; Sexual Offending: Theory, Research, and Prevention

Reviewer (selected):  Aggression and Violent Behaviour; Aggressive Behavior; Archives of Sexual Behaviour; Child Abuse and Neglect; Child Abuse Review; Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health; European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience; European Review of Applied Psychology; International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology; Journal of Interpersonal Violence; Journal of Sexual Aggression; Journal of Sexual Medicine; Justice Quarterly; Legal and Criminological Psychology; Psychology, Crime & Law; SAGE Open; Sexual Abuse; Sexual Offender Treatment; Sexual Offending: Theory, Research, and Prevention; Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.

ForenPsyD examiner: University of Birmingham

Grants and Awards

2017J Wood (PI), T Gannon (Co-I), C Ó Ciardha (Co-I) & E Alleyne (Co-I) 
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria
"Evaluating polygraph use for managing sexual offenders and suspects in five police areas"
1.7.17 to 30.6.19
2012With Dr Markus Bindemann
National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers
Comparing multiple indirect measures of sexual interest with an implicit but direct eye-tracking and pupil dilation paradigm
2012Faculty Research Committee
Indirect Measurement of problematic sexual interest
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