British academy

Professor Margaret J Snowling

Professor Margaret J Snowling
Professor of Psychology, University of York (S6)

Developmental disorders of language, learning and cognition including basic research on dyslexia and language impairment and the development and evaluation of interventions that ameliorate children’s literacy difficulties


Maggie Snowling spent her childhood in the north of England before moving to the Home Counties with her parents as a teenager.  She completed her first degree in psychology at Bristol and her doctorate at University College London.  In 1988 she qualified as a clinical psychologist.

Maggie's first academic position was at the National Hospital's College of Speech Sciences where she later became Principal (1989). She moved to be Head of the Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992 before taking up her present post in the Department of Psychology at the University of York where she co-directs the Centre for Reading and Language with Charles Hulme.  The main aim of the Centre’s research is to take basic research on typical and atypical development through to practical application; Maggie is proud that the work of the group has led to improved scientific understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that underlie impairments of reading and language in specific and general learning disorders. In turn, these advances have led to theoretically motivated interventions that ‘make a difference’. Maggie was a member of Sir Jim Rose’s Expert Advisory Group for the recently published independent review on Dyslexia and more generally, the work of her group has been included in government guidance on the teaching of literacy and supporting pupils with difficulties.

Maggie is an internationally recognised expert on childhood disorders of reading and language. She currently holds a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant investigating the developmental relationships between dyslexia and specific language impairment.  She is also directing parallel studies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and will soon be extending this work in the Bangalore region of India.  Maggie firmly believes that major insights about the causes and consequences of learning disorders come from individual case work and consequently, she continues to run a diagnostic clinic in the Department of Psychology for children and families with language and learning difficulties. 

Maggie was awarded the Marion Welchman Award of the British Dyslexia Association in 1997, the British Psychological Society Presidents' Award in 2003, and the Samuel T Orton award of the International Dyslexia Association in 2005. She held a British Academy Research Readership between 2005 and 2007, she is past- president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Psychology section) and currently President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. In 2008, she was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Maggie is committed to supporting children with special needs to fulfil their potential and much of her research and teaching reflects this theme.  She feels very strongly about enabling the academic careers of women, she loves working in collaboration with others, and is very proud of the achievements of her group.  For these reasons and many others too, she is extremely honoured to be elected Fellow of the British Academy.