Staff Profile


Professor Jan Burns

Faculty Director of Research

School: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences Faculty Office

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 922206

Profile summary

I completed my undergraduate psychology studies at Manchester University and then went on to complete my PhD on quality of life and people with learning disabilities at the University of Wales in Cardiff.  Having an interest in clinical and applied psychology I then pursued training as a Clinical Psychologists at Leeds University. Over this time I also developed an interest in gender and psychology and was one of the founding members of the Psychology of Women Section of the BPS. I then worked clinically in the NHS within forensic and learning disability services before returning to academia half-time as a lecturer in Clinical Psychology at Leeds University and half-time for the NHS as Head of Learning Disability Psychology services in Bradford.


In 1996 I joined the Clinical Psychology programme at Salomons, which subsequently became part of Canterbury Christ Church University. After holding a number of roles I am now a Professor of Clinical Psychology and Head of the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology. In more recent years my research interests have led me into the world of Paralympic sport for people with intellectual disabilities and I am Head of Eligibility for the International Federation for sport for para-athletes with an intellectual disabilities ( and also an associate of the Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research (SPEAR) in the University.  In the 2015 New Year’s Honours list I was awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE) for my services to people with learning disabilities.

Research and knowledge exchange

My research interests span a range of interests including:

1. Elite athletes with intellectual disabilities: I am part of an international research group working with INAS and the International Paralympic on whose work the re-inclusion of athletes with ID in the London 2012 games was based. This research also won the prestigious UK Research Councils Podium gold award for ‘Exceptional Research Contribution’.

2. Quality of Life and people with learning disabilities. This has included a range of studies of social networks, neuropsychological testing and sexuality.

3. Professional issues associated with clinical psychology. I have always played an active part in the development of my profession and was co-chair of the nationally funded ‘New Ways of Working: Training’ group and have written numerous papers on the development of the profession.

4. Gender and Sexuality: This has continued as a research theme within my work and I have published on sexuality, donor conception and physical health.

Teaching and subject expertise

I teach regularly within my areas of research interest, especially within the role of clinical psychology to assist people with learning disabilities, gender and health, and research methods. I enjoy teaching and use a range of blended learning techniques.

External activities

My external activities currently focus on my work within sports and people with intellectual disabilities. Organisations with whom I work closely are INAS (the International Federation for sport for para-athletes with an intellectual disabilities), the International Paralympic Committee and the Special Olympics UK.

I supervise both Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and PhD students. I have provided consultancy to organisations wishing to develop their research strategy and I have contributed to a number of research advisory panels. I am an active reviewer of journal papers and grant proposals.

Publications and research outputs

Burns, J. (2015) Working with People with Intellectual Disabilities. In Topics in Applied Psychology:  Clinical Psychology, 2nd Edition, (Eds),  G. Davey, N. Lake & A. Whittington, Routledge: London.

Burns, J. & Zitz, C. (2015). Clinical Psychology, Sexuality and Gender. In Psychology of Sexuality and Gender, (Eds) M., Barker & C., Richards, Palgrave: London. 

Ferrara, K., Burns, J., Mills, H. (2015) Public Attitudes Towards People with Intellectual Disabilities after Viewing Olympic/Paralympic Performance. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. 32 (1), 19-33.

Burns, J. (2014). A response: A political-representational crisis. Special Issue - Draft Manifesto for a Social Materalist Psychology of Distress, Clinical Psychology Forum, 256, 34-37.

Zitz, C., Burns, J. & Tacconelli, E. (2014). Trans Men and Friendships: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Feminism and Psychology, 24, 216-237, doi: 10.1177/0959353514526224

Davidson, T. Burns, J & Smith, H. (2013). The Impact of Cognitive Assessment on the Identity of People with Learning Disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities online DOI: 10.1111/bld.12027

Cherguit, J., Burns, J. & Pettle, S. (2012). Non-Biological Lesbian mothers' experiences of maternity health care services, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69, (6) p1269-78 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06115

Burns, J. (2012). Obituary: Prof Mark Rapley. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56 (12) 1194-1195, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01652

Burns, J (2012). What Does the Olympics mean to you? The Psychologist, 25 (7), p508-509.

Burns, J. (2012). Falling Through the Rabbit Hole: Elite sports and people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Critical Psychology Counselling and Psychotherapy, 11(1), p. 56-63.

Burns, J. (2012). Psychology of Women in the UK: Toxin or Tonic – Our contribution to ‘the admirable transformation of opportunities for women’. Psychology of Women Section Review, 14 (1), p8-14.

Goodbody, L. & Burns, J. (2011). A disquisition on pluralism in qualitative methods: the troublesome case of a critical narrative analysis, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 8, p170-196.


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00