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:

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).

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:

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:

Professor Karen Rodham to appear at Latitude Festival discussing the future of healthcare

Professor Karen Rodham (Professor of Health Psychology & Director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) will be appearing at the Latitude Festival on Saturday 14th July discussing the future of healthcare and the role of self-management for people living with long term chronic conditions.

Professor Rodham will be participating in a discussion about new developments in healthcare practice with Robin Ince, Professor Daniel Davis and Professor Greg Hanon (click here for details). Professor Rodham will be discussing her experiences working as a Health Psychologist in the NHS with people living with long term pain conditions and the implications of self-management for patients, policy-makers and healthcare staff.

Professor Rodham has also written for the British Psychological Society’s The Psychologist publication on the topic of the use of self-management in healthcare – read more via:

Karen Rodham – Overrated: Self-management (The Psychologist)


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:

StaffsPsych Technical Skills Staff Support Work Experience Week

The School of Life Sciences and Education recently welcomed seven work experience students to Staffordshire University to give them a taste of working within the scientific field. All students were Year 12 students from local schools and colleges; Stoke-on-Trent College, The Cheadle Academy and St John Fisher Catholic College, and are studying Biology or Psychology.

Some of our work experience students

The combined departments of Psychology and Biology developed an interactive programme showing the effects of stress on the human body through the hormone, cortisol. The activities started with a presentation, led by Biology Technician Sue Avery, which gave the students information about cortisol, how it can be altered and tested for, as well as an introduction to the laboratory testing facilities. Next, Justin Rich (Sport Technician) led the students in a workshop looking at the importance of Health and Safety and Risk Assessments. Students enjoyed the practical session, identifying hazards from a health and safety ‘crime scene’ – a nightmare for most technicians! This laid the foundations for the importance of health and safety in the laboratory and is something that students can take forward into their scientific careers.

Once health and safety matters had been observed, Paul Gallimore and Alice Taylor (Psychology Technicians) introduced the students to the Virtual Reality kit, which caused much excitement amongst the teenagers. Students took part in immersive experiences that were designed to induce relaxed or stressful states; this influenced cortisol levels and students were able to see their physiological responses using the Biopac which shows Heart Rate and Galvanic Skin Response. The visitors particularly enjoyed the stress-inducing experience of ‘walking the plank’ where they were placed at the top of a virtual 30-storey building and attempted to walk out across a wooden beam!

Using the Department of Psychology’s VR equipment in our Virtual Reality Lab

The second day comprised of students testing for cortisol with Rob Manning and Alison Davidson (Biology Technicians). Students watched demonstrations and took part in various activities to learn about the chemical extraction and transformation of cortisol from saliva samples. This included pipette measuring, calibration exercises, microfuge activities, and the use of spectrophotometers which aimed to teach students the importance of accurate measurements and give them the experience of using laboratory equipment. The students learned lots about the chemical processes involved in cortisol detection and analysis and will be able to take these important skills away and reflect upon them in their studies.

This is a great example of technicians collaborating and working together to deliver a successful event. We received fantastic feedback with some of the students commenting that it had helped them to realise which strand of science they wanted to continue to focus their studies at university. We are glad that our efforts could help the students in this way and we wish them the best of luck for their 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:

Dr Alison Owen blogs about demonstrating APRIL Face-Aging Software at This Morning Live

By Dr Alison Owen (Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research)

From the 17th to the 20th May the This Morning Live Shopping and Lifestyle Show took place at the NEC in Birmingham. The show is a shopping festival, where the This Morning television program is filmed live, and presenters from the show give talks and discussions on topics such as cooking, fashion and healthcare.

I was invited to attend the This Morning Live show by Katy Foxcroft and Gillian Robson, the developers of tanning cream, Tancream. They developed the cream after Gillian was diagnosed with skin cancer five years ago. After undergoing surgery for the cancer, Gillian was advised to wear a high protection sun cream of SPF50 daily. As she liked to have a tan, Gillian used fake tan, however this also meant having to apply a separate SPF50 product, so together Gillian and her friend Katy developed a false tan with added SPF50.

As well as selling their product, Katy and Gillian’s aim is to inform people about the dangers of not protecting their skin from the sun, and the risks of skin cancer. They therefore asked if I was able to come along to the This Morning Live show, as they had heard about the APRIL software that I use here at Staffordshire University, showing people how their skin may age if they do not protect their skin from the sun.

At the stand, ready to show people the APRIL software

I worked on the stall demonstrating the software to visitors to the show, as well as talking to them about all aspects of safe UV exposure, including skin cancer, sun damage, sunbeds and moles. I met such a wide variety of people, from elderly women who had always protected their skin, to a 19 year old girl who used sun beds for 20 minutes at a time, four to five times a week, and had done since she was 13 years of age. It was so interesting to meet so many different people, and hear their thoughts and experiences of protecting their skin from the sun.

The event was definitely ‘Health Psychology in action’. It was great to speak to such a wide variety of people, and to try and encourage them to protect their skin, and make healthier choices about UV exposure, when at times I only had short bursts of sometimes just a minute before they moved on to the next exhibit.

On the second day of the show, we had the addition of a UV camera on the stall to show people damage that had already been done to their skin. This was great for people to see, as they were able to view any underlying damage to their skin, before going on to see what further damage could be done to their skin (using the APRIL software) if they did not start protecting their skin.

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As well as talking to visitors to the Tancream exhibit, I was also able to enjoy the show, watching Philip and Holly film sections of This Morning alongside other This Morning presenters, including Rylan, Gok Wan, and the This Morning doctors, Dr Chris and Dr Ranj. It was also an opportunity to meet other experts in the area of sun protection and UV exposure, and do some networking.

The show was a great experience, and just shows how different and varied the job of Psychology Lecturer here at Staffordshire University can be!


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for 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 Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

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:

StaffsPsych on Tour! Talking Conspiracy Theories, Super-recognisers & VR at Biddulph High School

By Dina Grinsted, Schools & Colleges Champion (Psychology)

On 21st May, myself and Dr Alexa Guy visited Biddulph High School to deliver some psychology outreach sessions to a group of Year 12 psychology students, in order to discuss the benefits of studying a psychology degree, and to showcase some of the research that happens here at Staffordshire University.

Dr Alexa Guy delivering a session at Biddulph High School

After starting with a talk on ‘Why Study Psychology?’ and ‘What Do Psychologists Do?’ the students then learnt about conspiracy theories, discussing some well-known conspiracy theories and what they have in common, before looking at why people might believe them, and the impact that they can have on behaviour.

The ‘Jesus in toast’ illusion

This was followed by Jesus in Toast (and other face oddities), a session asking why people are so good at seeing faces in random patterns such as clouds, or even the markings on a piece of toast! We looked at so-called ‘super recognisers’ who are extremely good at identifying faces, and Prosopagnosia – a disorder leading to the inability to recognise faces, sometimes even your own face! They then had a go at creating their own versions of the Thatcher Effect, which has recently been updated to the ‘Adele Illusion’ demonstrating how we often fail to attend to facial features when presented with an inverted face.

The ‘Adele Illusion’ based on the famous ‘Thatcher Illusion’ – this is the same picture but shown in two orientations (look at Adele’s eyes and mouth in both pictures!)

Finally, the students learnt about how Virtual Reality tricks our brain into believing that we are in a different world. After looking through some visual illusions and examples of how we can trick our brains, they saw how VR takes advantage of certain processes. To finish, they were able to try on a VR headset and have a go at diffusing a bomb in VR.

Students trying out our Virtual Reality equipment

Throughout the sessions, the students engaged in the activities, enjoying making their own version of the Thatcher Effect, testing their ability to recognise faces, trying to see pictures in patterns, and diffusing the virtual reality bomb. We are hoping that this will be followed up by a class trip to the university, watch out for future blogs!


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: