Psychology featured at Staffordshire University’s Big Biology Day 2018!

Staffordshire University held its annual Big Biology Day on Saturday 13th October 2018, a free public engagement event where families from the local community and beyond came to learn about the different aspects of biology, including its applications to psychology, the environment, forensic investigation and education.

As part of this event, psychologists Dr Michael Batashvili and Dr Robert Dempsey demonstrated a number of biological psychology activities to visiting children and their parents, showing how psychology and biology can be integrated to better understand how people live, think and behave. Demonstrations included the use of Augmented and Virtual Reality to show the workings of the brain, its structures and neuronal connections to children of a wide variety of ages.

Dr Michael Batashvili testing the Virtual Reality headset at the Big Biology day

Over 500 visitors from the Staffordshire county and beyond visited the University’s Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent for the Big Biology Day. The Science Centre was buzzing with families enjoying the activities and taking part in the Great Biology Bake Off cake competition.

The Psychology stall was particularly popular, with children enjoying using VR to explore the brain, finding out about what makes a healthy brain using our augmented reality apps, and testing their brain’s adaptability using our mirror drawing task! The mirror drawing task drew out some competitions between parents and children to see who could draw the best shapes when relying on the mirror to guide their pencil (with children usually winning!).

Visitors using the VR and mirror drawing equipment at the 2018 Big Biology Day.

The Big Biology Day is an annual event organised as part of the Royal Society of Biology‘s Biology Week (click here for more information about the Royal Society and Biology Week).


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Szilvia (MSc & Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Szilvia who completed her MSc in Health Psychology and her Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology here at Staffordshire University. Find out about Szilvia’s experiences at on her course and her plans for the future:


Before studying at Staffordshire, I had completed previous Psychology-related courses and obtained various certificates, such as a BSc in Psychology (in Hungary), PGDip in Psychodrama and Creative Counselling. I then worked as a health care assistant in Staffordshire before starting my Health Psychology studies here at Staffordshire.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I was interested in Health Psychology, and Staffordshire University offered the MSc and Professional Doctorate courses in Health Psychology which other universities in the region didn’t offer.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I really loved the interactive aspects of teaching; we received a great amount of support from the lecturers. The lecturers were always friendly, very well prepared and made the sessions enjoyable. I learned a lot about research methods during the MSc in Health Psychology, and because of that I felt confident to continue with the Doctorate in Health Psychology. Thanks to these good foundations, my critical analytical thinking and problem-solving skills have further developed during the doctorate. I found that these things are super important for people who work in health-related jobs, as science and societies are changing constantly. Also, the other major ‘best part’ was being with like-minded students, I made some friends for life at Staffs.

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

To work and study at the same time, but I was given lots of support and advice how to work with these difficulties (e.g. book blocks of time off), so it all worked out at the end.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

Because I became very interested in health behaviour interventions and I worked with insomnia patients during the doctorate, I enrolled into a graduate part-time course in Sleep Medicine at Oxford. Through this course I met Prof. Colin Espie (who is one of the directors of the Sleep Medicine Centre at Oxford) who developed the evidence-based CBTi – cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia patients. We talked about a possible research project in which I could utilise his CBTi approach and apply it to develop a new form of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for insomnia patients. Also, I’ve spent a week training retreat in Massachusetts with Jon Kabat-Zinn (the developer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme). In terms of work, currently I’m working bank hours for an agency, which is part of the NHS, I’m in the process of relocating to New York.

What are your plans for the future?

In about five years I would like to take the ‘somnologist’ exam (sleep medicine specialist). Also, I would like to write a book about how to use Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for sleeping difficulties.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

There are lots of different kinds of support to help with literally anything. For example, there are lots of materials and even seminars to help with academic writing. Make sure to use those and listen to tips about time management and so forth.


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Stoke Psychology in the Pub returns on 3rd October 2018!

We are pleased to announce the return of the Stoke Psychology in the Pub series of talks for the 2018/19 academic year.

The Psychology in the Pub series features a range of talks about various aspects of psychology but in the setting of The Glebe Pub in Stoke-on-Trent. The talks are open to anyone with an interest in psychology, including staff and students from Staffordshire University as well as the general public. Talks typically take place on the first Wednesday of the month and start at 6pm (although it is recommended to arrive by 5:30 to get a seat and refreshments from the bar).

This year’s series features a range of talks delivered by researchers from Staffordshire and Keele universities, including:

3rd October 2018 Dr Rachel Povey (Staffordshire University): Urghh, I’m not eating that!” Why children don’t eat their greens and what we can do about it.
7th November 2018 Dr Yvonne Skipper (Keele University): How mindset can lead to success
5th December 2018 Dr Mike Batashvili (Staffordshire University):  “Do You Fear What I Fear?”: Maths Anxiety and Christmas Shopping

For further details of the Psychology in the Pub series please click here.

Directions to The Glebe Pub can be found via this link.

We look forward to seeing you at the talks – no booking is required for the talks, just turn up on the day!


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Visiting Speaker Series Research talks returns on 27th September 2018

The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is pleased to announce the first in the 2018-19 series of Visiting Speaker Research Talks.

The talks feature a variety of speakers from both within and external to the University who will be presenting their latest research findings to staff and students from the Department of Psychology. The talks are open to all staff and students from across the University, as well as to members of the public with an interest in psychology.

The 2018-2019 series starts with a Showcase Seminar on Thursday 27th September (4pm, R002 Science Centre Lecture Theatre) featuring short talks delivered by members of staff from the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, including:

The #StaffsVSS series of visiting speaker talks are open to everyone (no need to book; just turn up) and take place throughout the academic year. For details of the other talks in the 2018-19 Visiting Speaker Series please visit our Centre webpages:


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines

For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Nuffield Placement Blog: Investigating the impact of TV viewing on children’s creativity

We have recently hosted a local college student on a Nuffield Research Placement. The student worked with Dr Sarah Rose (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Director of the Children’s Lab, part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) to develop a project investigating the impact of watching TV on children’s creativity. Here Manvir writes about his experience.

After a rigorous application process, I  was pleased to have been granted a 4-week placement at Staffordshire University in Psychology, provided by the Nuffield Research Foundation. My placement consisted of carrying out research within the field of child development, where I had to plan and set up a pilot study on the effects of television on 3- to 5-year-old children’s creativity.

My first week was very welcoming, I got a tour around the campus and got to meet many people such as members of staff, IT technicians, whom all aided me through my placement by providing me with the appropriate equipment, guidance etc. I received my workspace and received all the information I needed from my supervisor on the history and aims of my project.

The first couple days were just a matter of settling into the University and summoning the psychologist inside me! My first tasks were to plan out the step-by-step procedures we would use to collect the data. This involved me finding and editing suitable TV episode and audiobook which would appeal to the children at the nursery, writing a script, gathering relevant materials and creating data scoring sheets. Since the research involved working with young children, parental consent was required. The staff at the University Nursery, who were very kind and welcoming, distributed the forms to the children.

The two weeks of preparation flew by and before I knew it, it was time to begin the first day of the experiment! Me, Sarah and 3rd year Psychology Student Charlotte headed to the nursery where we set up and began the experiment in a separate quiet room. One by one children were introduced and taken through various fun activities such as naming everything they can think of that makes a noise, finding as many uses as they can for paper cups, acting like different animals, the list goes on. This was all done to measure their creativity prior and after either listening to or watching a magical story from CBeebies. The children all reacted differently, some thought hard, some laughed, some were confused, but nevertheless they all came up with some great ideas and just watching the children actively engage in the tasks was so thrilling to watch as a researcher. All the procedures went to plan, phew!

After three days of conducting the experiment, it was then my job to score and tally the results and present them on a chart. Finally, on my last week of the placement my task was to write up and create a poster on everything I done in my placement, this included the aims, methodology, results, references, etc. I found it so difficult to sum up such an action packed few weeks in one poster that I struggled to fit everything in!

Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with Staffordshire University, I am proud to of been a part of the research and grateful for Nuffield Research on providing me with the placement and if possible, I would do it all again!


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

BSc Psychology & Counselling – Field trip to Beaudesert Care Farm

By Julie Faulkner, Course Leader – BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling

During the winter this year, we offered our Psychology and Counselling undergraduates the chance to don a pair of wellies and enter the hills of Cannock to experience the eco-therapeutic value of care farming at Beaudesert Park Farm. This is family-run cereal and cattle farm, in a beautiful setting on the edge of Cannock Chase. Fifteen of us travelled by coach to spend the afternoon with staff, members and volunteers, who offered a warm welcome and a range of taster activities.

What are care farms?

Due to increasing financial pressures on the British farming industry, many farmers need to explore alternative income streams to survive. Care farming is one example of this, based on the principles of ecotherapy, where the natural environment offers a therapeutic space. In the case of Beaudesert, this involved structured farm-based activities for people from vulnerable groups and extends to carpentry, crafts, preparing food for the team and walking. Many volunteers of the project are previous members who now support others. This work is funded by health, social care and education agencies, but this funding is not always available. Mary Cope, one of the farm’s owners explained how this type of purposeful activity has had a profound impact on the quality of life for people with mental health difficulties and their families. We heard how some members had previously been isolated in their homes without structure or social contact before attending the farm.

Sadly, funding for these programmes is becoming increasingly scarce. The Seeds of Hope Programme that supported these members came to an end due to lack of funds. But rather than leave them unsupported, the staff team decided to set up a weekly walking group, which is now exploring new locations for walks within the local countryside.

Our time at the farm

When we arrived, we were introduced to the ‘Rolls Royce’ of composting toilets! Then we were greeted by the group of members and volunteers in a modern, purpose-built educational facility. Mary told us about the work of the care farm, which also included a project for people with dementia and activities for school children. We were taken on a tour of the farm to feed goats, see the rare breed cattle and talk to members and workers about their experiences on the farm. Incidentally, most of the volunteers are previous members of the care farm’s programmes. John Hegarty, a keen eco-psychologist took us through a mindfulness exercise as we stood among the woodland. I could feel the tension of the day giving way to the calm of the present moment. Later, we were treated to home made cakes and hot drinks, whilst mingling with the team and weaving with corn. The students were able to ask questions and give their feedback about what had impacted them about the experience.

Final reflections

As we walked around the farm in coat and wellies and chatted with members, I could see how this setting created a sense of peace and how the people’s lives had been changed through coming in to this space, whether spending time alone in the beautiful setting or through practical tasks and being together in the rural setting.

This field trip was also a chance for students from all levels of the undergraduate course to take some time out of their studies to be together. In their own words, her are some of their thoughts:

“It was a great place to be with nature and to see how it helped the people who used the service”

“It was inspiring to witness how an environment offering a supportive network, acceptance and purposeful activity impacted and improved the lives of the people at the farm.”

It was such a success that we plan to repeat this trip in the coming year for any students on the BSc Psychology and Counselling Degree course.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

PhD Student Blog: Attending the Conspiracy Theory Research Training School

By Darel Cookson (PhD Student in Psychology; Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research).

This summer I was lucky enough to attend a training school in Canterbury (at the University of Kent), organised by the COST Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories action group, which focussed on quantitative methods in conspiracy theory research. My PhD research is investigating belief in conspiracy theories and exploring how understanding why people believe in conspiracy theories could help us develop interventions to reduce harmful beliefs. Therefore, this training school was an invaluable opportunity to develop my understanding of the research area and to work with both pioneers and fellow postgraduate students in the field.

The week did not disappoint! Each day was jam-packed with seminars from experts in the field, group-work with peers and challenging discussions and debates. Everyone was completely engaged with the topics, meaning that discussions often ended with new and exciting research opportunities we are now working on. The social schedule was bursting too, with several ideas being developed over fish and chips and a can of pop!

The social schedule also included a walking tour where we visited Canterbury Cathedral

The week kicked off with an introduction to the Psychology of Conspiracy Theories from the training school organiser, Professor Karen Douglas. Professor Douglas discussed the developments in the field, summarising that conspiracy beliefs are often a natural response to psychological needs and threats. For example our epistemic, existential and social needs can all drive people towards conspiracy theories. However, research has found that adopting these beliefs may ultimately be self-defeating.

Professor Sutton then led a seminar discussing the measurement of conspiracy beliefs and some of the pros and cons to using survey measures – extremely relevant to my work! This was followed by our first group work session, where myself and my group learned about each other’s research interests and so began our first discussion session.

The following day Dr Nefes delivered a brilliant seminar discussing his recent research using Rational Choice Theory, demonstrating how conspiratorial theorising can be used rationally in line with people’s political opinions and perceptions of threat. As I am from a psychological, rather than sociological, background it was really interesting to learn about sociological theories and my group were particularly fond of our research ideas developed in this session! We also had an engaging seminar in the afternoon by Dr Cichocka, about conspiracy theories and intergroup relations. We discussed theory development and mediation and moderation models which I think helped everyone with their current research ideas!

Dr Krouwel delivering his seminar on conspiracy beliefs and political orientation

On Wednesday, Dr Krouwel led a session focussing on politics and conspiracy beliefs; specifically the comparisons of left and right and moderate and extreme political views. Dr Krouwel was extremely generous with his time, answering all of our questions and helping us develop interesting and testable hypotheses. On Thursday we had the privilege of listening to Dr van-Prooijen discuss his recent paper on using evolutionary psychology to explain the origins of conspiracy beliefs. This new perspective is fascinating and the ideas bred from this session were definitely innovative and exciting.

By Friday I was feeling inspired but also quite sad that the week was almost over as the research group had become friends. The final seminar was led by Professor Uscinski and this focussed on the politics of conspiracy theories. Here we learned a lot about the role of partisanism in belief in conspiracy theories. Discussions then continued into Kent University’s excellent student union bar!

The training school was extremely useful for my research, particularly the focus on current research and methodological issues within the field. It was also great to collaborate with other postgraduate students and discuss and refine our research ideas. I am extremely grateful to the COST research group and Professor Douglas for organising the summer school and I am looking forward to working with the research group in the future.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Grace (BSc Psychology & Criminology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Grace who graduated from our BSc (Hons) Psychology & Criminology course in 2018. Find out about Grace’s experiences at Staffordshire University and her plans for the future:


Before coming to Staffs I had worked as an Auditor for a building society for nine years. I took redundancy after having my little boy and then became a full-time mum. My little girl soon followed, and when the children were 3 and 1, I decided to get back into studying to fulfil my ambition of working within the criminal justice system. I completed an Access to HE course which enabled me to continue into university.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I knew that Staffs had always had a really good reputation particularly for Psychology, I attended an open day, completely fell in love with the place, and as I only lived 20 minutes away it made perfect sense.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I have honestly loved every part of studying at Staffs and I would do my degree again in a heartbeat! If I had to pick best bits, I’d say the lecturers are all brilliant! Always there to help no matter how busy they are! The facilities at Staffs are excellent and the Psychology technical staff are so friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to doing your final year project!

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

With having two small children, I really learned how to juggle my time, keep organised whilst remaining focused on my studies. I learned a lot about myself during my degree and if you stay focused, organised, and determined, you will have no problems getting a first class degree!

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

Since graduating I have continued with my volunteering with young offenders, spending time with my family and getting ready for my next venture at Staffs which obtaining my degree has helped me to achieve.

What are your plans for the future?

I am returning to Staffs in September to do my Masters in Applied Research, which I am very excited about! After this I plan on building my dream career working within the criminal justice system….however I do plan on doing my PhD in the future!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Just go for it! It really will be the best decision you make, the knowledge and experience you gain along with personal growth and confidence will all be worth it and will open doors to an amazing future!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at Staffs?

I wish I could do it all over again!


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Staffs Psychology – 2018 Graduation Gallery!

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University held our Annual Graduation Ceremony at the beautiful Trentham Estate in July 2018. A selection of images from our Graduating Class of 2018 can be viewed below:

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Highlights from the Psychology graduation day and ceremony can be viewed below:


Thinking about applying for a Psychology degree at Staffordshire University via Clearing?

Visit our clearing pages for details of available places starting in September 2018: https://clearing.staffs.ac.uk/


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

I’m a Scientist… get Dr Jolley out of here!

This Summer, Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) took part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here.

The event involves two weeks of online chat with school children where, during the second week, the children vote for their favourite Scientist in X-Factor style. Dr Jolley was crowned the winner!

Dr Jolley was in the Society room, which was sponsored by the British Psychological Society and included other researchers who are involved in health psychology, alcohol and autism. Each day, there were 30-minute chats with school children from across the UK where no question was off limits. The children were able to ask our favourite pizza, what we love about our jobs and whether Beyonce is a robot. Dr Jolley commented:

 “The experience was challenging but so fun and rewarding! My research explores the psychology of conspiracy theories – so why do people believe climate science is a hoax or that Princess Diana was murdered by the Royal Family. The children really engaged with the topic – and not just asking about weird conspiracy theories (such as that Beyonce is a robot!!), but about why people believe.  We also talked about their potential harm. This, of course, was alongside my favourite pizza, which is a Margherita!”

The winner is awarded funds to help with further outreach work, which Dr Jolley is currently planning. He hopes to use the funding to educate children – and the public more generally – about the psychology of conspiracy theories: conspiracy theories are fun, but they can be quite worrisome! Click here if you want to learn more about Dr Jolley’s conspiracy theory research.

The Society Zone is freely available, so you can view all the profiles and content: https://societyj18.imascientist.org.uk/


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages: