Skip to main content

Dr John Lawson

College position(s)

Fellow, Director of Studies


Human, Social and Political Sciences, Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Specialising in


Degrees, Awards and Prizes


Research themes

My research is focused on 4 main areas:

  • An examination of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) in terms of the specific cognitive deficits and talents involved.
  • An investigation of the ‘extreme male brain’ theory of autism; this model situates people with ASC at the extreme end of a continuum that includes the general population.
  • A critical exploration of how ASC should be conceptualised. More specifically, whether a distinction made in the philosophy of science and critical realism, between open and closed systems, is the key factor in characterising the condition.
  • Developing the provision of autism services internationally. My most recent work has been in Slovenia and Egypt.

I am currently writing a book entitled ‘The Role of Autism in Shaping Society’ which combines most of the research areas listed above.


I have been Director of Studies (DoS) for Psychology, Sociology and Politics at Girton College for over ten years, and will continue as DoS in the two new triposes, Human, Social and Political Sciences and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences. I am also a Research Alumni Associate at the Autism Research Centre with the Department of Psychiatry and a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University.

Extra links