Nicholas Dowdall

Nicholas Dowdall is a Doctoral Researcher at Oxford University who focuses on interventions to promote child development in Low and Middle-Income Countries and evidence synthesis of ECD and adolescent interventions.


He completed his undergraduate studies in Psychology, Economics and Spanish with distinction, and completed his honours degree in Psychology at the University of Cape Town in 2014, graduating as the top student. His research at UCT focussed on the impact of neighbourhood-level deprivation on mental health outcomes in South Africa.


He then completed an M.Sc degree in Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship where his research focus shifted to early childhood development and parenting interventions. His current doctoral work at Oxford University explores the effects of book-sharing interventions on parenting, and child behaviour, socio-emotional development and cognition. The project is a collaboration between Stellenbosch, Oxford and Reading Universities and is being conducted in Khayelitsha, the largest township in the Cape Town area. He has worked as a consultant for WHO and Hilton Foundation systematic review projects, and is a consultant and trustee of the Mikhulu Child Development Trust. 


His other research interests include child theory of mind, the impact of children’s home language environment of their cognitive development, meta-analytic research techniques, and thinking about dissemination and scaling of ECD interventions in Southern Africa.

Dowdall, N., Melendez Torres, G.J., Murray, L., Gardner, F., Hartford, L, & Cooper, .P (in press): Shared picture book reading interventions for child language development: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Child Development.

Skeen, S., du Toit, S., Gordon, S., Laurenzi, C., Melendez Torres, G.J., Dowdall, N & Tomlinson, M. (2018). Helping Adolescents Thrive: WHO Evidence Review.

Dowdall, N., Ward, C., & Lund, C. (2017). Neighbourhood-level Deprivation and Depression: Evidence from the South African National Income Dynamics Study. BMC Psychiatry.

Dowdall, N., Cooper, P., Tomlinson, M., Skeen, S., Gardner, F., Murray, L. (2017). The Benefits of Early Book Sharing (BEBS) for child cognitive and socio-emotional development in South Africa: Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials Journal.

Dowdall N. The effectiveness of shared picture book reading interventions on child language outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Paper presented at World Association of Infant Mental Health Conference, Prague 2016. 

List of site pages