Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates: Nicola Clarke (MSc Health Psychology)

Blog piece written by Nicola Clarke, MSc Health Psychology Graduate 2020

A fantastic experience!! Staffs MSc Health Psychology course has broadened my social network, enhanced my research skills and taught me to apply psychological knowledge in the real world.

About me:

I’m a recent MSc Health Psychology graduate with research interests in experimental psychology and promoting healthy food choices. On completion of my BSc in Psychology at Leeds Beckett, I was keen to continue my studies with the aim of becoming a chartered psychologist. After exploring several career pathways, I decided to apply for the MSc in Health Psychology. Following this, I took a year out to work and save up for the course. I joined Staffs as a new student in September 2019 enrolling as a full-time student living in Shelton, near the Stoke-on-Trent campus.  

My research:

“The Effect of Health Priming on Visual Attention and Food Choice: An Eye-Tracking Experiment”

During recent years, rising rates of obesity have contributed to various health complications such as cancer. This issue could be explained by our current living environment, which constantly advertises unhealthy foods, making it more likely for us to choose and consume them. At present, there are no successful methods for guiding consumers to make healthy, rather than unhealthy food choices. Therefore, it is really important to find new ways to achieve this.

Research suggests that health priming (e.g. showing someone the word ‘healthy’) can increase visual attention towards healthy foods and prompt people to choose them. Studies have also found health priming effects to be more pronounced in dieters because being healthy is more important to them. Therefore, it may be useful to target health priming interventions at this group. However, this is a new area of research. More evidence is needed before health priming can be considered as a tool for reducing obesity.

My project involved students choosing between healthy and unhealthy foods, whilst either being shown a health prime (the words ‘healthy recipe’), a prime unrelated to health (the words ‘new recipe’) and no prime (no words). The primes were shown on a banner like an advert and the task was made to look like an online supermarket. Whilst students were making their food choices, an eye-tracker was used to measure visual attention (how long students looked at the foods). A questionnaire was then used to assess whether students were dieters or non-dieters.

Example of both of the banners and food choices

Two forms of quantitative analysis called ANOVA and mixed ANOVA were used to analyse the food choice, eye-tracking and dieting data collected.

The findings:

  • Health primes did not guide people to make healthy food choices.
  • Health primes did increase visual attention for healthy foods.
  • Health primes guided non-dieters to choose healthy foods, but not dieters (suggesting it may be counterproductive to target health priming interventions at dieters).
  • Health primes did not increase visual attention for healthy foods in dieters or non-dieters.

This research provides a valuable contribution where current knowledge is limited. The key finding that a health prime increased visual attention for healthy foods in an online supermarket has important implications for potential intervention design. For example, health primes could be used to effectively steer consumer attention towards healthy foods.

Future research should investigate health priming in real world settings and its effectiveness over time. The current findings could then combine with future research to provide a tool for guiding consumers to make healthier food choices and reduce obesity.  

  My top tips for students considering the MSc:

  1. Make connections! Get in touch with staff and students. Ask about the university. Ask about the course. Contact me about my experience.
  2. Plan! Prioritise your learning. Having my finances and living arrangements sorted prior to the course start date really helped me to focus on my assignments.
  3. Apply! This course offers you every opportunity for success.
  4. Get involved! Join a society. Attend guest speaker lectures. Try out new research equipment. Explore new topics. Present your research.

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:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates: Victoria Baker (MSc Health Psychology & BSc Psychology)

Written by Victoria Baker MSc Health Psychology Graduate 2020.

Please tell us a little about your background before coming to study at Staffordshire University:

I completed my BSc Psychology undergraduate degree in 2007, and finally returned to complete my MSc in Health Psychology on a part-time basis in 2018 as a mature student. I have been lucky enough to have worked alongside different Psychologists in several different fields in the world of work. Including Forensic Psychologists when I was a Tutor in a Young Offenders Institute, Clinical Addiction Psychiatrists when I was a Drug and Alcohol Practitioner, and Child Psychologists when I worked in family mediation. This varied experience allowed me to ascertain where my interests truly lay, which are predominantly in health promotion and harm reduction work.

In 2017, I decided to move into teaching A Level Psychology. However, I began to feel that my degree was outdated, given that Psychology is an ever changing field and new research is being published all the time. I felt the urge to return to study and update my skillset.

What attracted you to studying your course at Staffordshire University?

When I saw that Staffs offered a part time option for the MSc Health Psychology, I felt that it was the perfect opportunity for me to continue with academia whilst remaining at work and parenting my 2 small children. I went to an open evening and was impressed with their £30 million Science Centre and all the facilities and services it had to offer. As a Staffs Alumni this university always held a special place in my heart, and when I returned as a prospective postgraduate student, I was pleased that I still felt this same sense of belonging.

What are the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

The best part of my experience at Staffs was the lecturers on my course. They are very knowledgeable, friendly and have a varied wealth of expertise that they are willing to share with you. I enjoyed the sessions and being able to talk in great depth and length on the topics that we covered on the course. The lecturers treated me as an equal professional, which was nice as a mature student and fostered a relationship of mutual respect. I certainly had a lot I needed to learn and initially it was a very steep learning curve, but I also had a lot of experience to share. They were always supportive, and when I had a wobble and felt as though I couldn’t do it, they were always there to encourage me.

Why did you choose to study your subject?

I chose to study Health Psychology because my true passion lies with helping people to make positive changes in their life to improve overall quality of life. As a Drug and Alcohol Practitioner, I had to develop collaborative care plans to help people manage stress better, support people to lead a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise and educate young people to make informed choices around alcohol and substance misuse. Therefore, Health Psychology was a “good fit” for me.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to continue teaching A Level Psychology and to use the knowledge and skills I have gained from the MSc as CPD to support me in the delivery of related content. I think that by obtaining the MSc, it sends an important message out to my students; that it is never too late to set yourself a goal and it also demonstrates my commitment to education. I am in the process of setting up my own company with my husband who carries out adaptations to properties to improve people’s quality of life, for example people with long term conditions, elderly and disabled people. I can apply the knowledge gained from the MSc to allow a more responsive and sensitive approach to be taken when undertaking such work.

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

My best advice to anyone wishing to study an MSc is that you need to have a mature attitude to your studies, organise your study and assignment time wisely and do not leave assignments til the last minute! – You may not achieve your true potential by completing work in this way. Forward planning will ensure that you are able to access support from lecturers should they not be available for last minute questions. Expect ups and downs, highs and lows. Sometimes you’ll feel like you really understand a module and other modules you may find you are not so taken with. This is human nature, its what makes the world go round, we are not all destined to like or be good at the same things!

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

When I started the course in 2018, no one could have predicted that 2020 would have unfolded the way it did with the Covid pandemic. There were times that I doubted my ability to complete the course. When the schools were closed in March and I found myself at home with two small children to home educate, a teaching job to contend with and I was halfway through my dissertation, there were some overwhelming moments! I can’t thank my supervisor Dr Gemma Hurst enough whose support is what carried me through to the end and for this I will be forever grateful.


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:

Using photographs to explore what quality of life means to assisted living residents.

Dr Amy Burton


Dr Amy Burton has recently published a paper detailing a project conducted by one of our graduates as part of their MSc Health Psychology.

Riana Mansfield’s project was supervised by Dr Amy Burton and explored assisted living residents’ experiences of quality of life.


Assisted living is a popular form of housing care for older adults. Residents benefit from their own living spaces within a supportive environment including a range of services such as domiciliary care, health care and social activities.

Understanding quality of life for these older adults is important for ensuring assisted living residences provide the best possible service. However, little work had been conducted to uncover what quality of life means to older adults or how it is experienced on a day to day basis.

Riana’s project used a unique approach of collecting photographs taken by seven assisted living residents to better understand their lives. The residents collected images that captured their own personal meanings and experiences of quality of life. Riana then discussed these pictures with the residents through research interviews.

Stock photo from Pixabay of a woman holding a camera to take a photo.

A form of qualitative analysis called Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was then used to identify common themes and experiences in the residents’ accounts. Riana’s work highlighted three themes that helped to explain and understand quality of life in assisted living.

  1. Firstly, the residents believed it was important to have continuity in their lives and found new ways to continue with activities that they enjoyed or were important to them prior to assisted living.
  2. Secondly, they discussed how social events and opportunities to make new friends within assisted living were essential for ensuing good quality of life. Several enjoyed supporting other less confident residents to be part of the community.
  3. Finally, the residents spoke about the supportive environment provided by the assisted living facility. This helped them to feel safe and provided access to services and support that would aid them as they became older.

Riana and Amy’s paper concludes by making recommendations to enable assisted living facilities to help their residents maintain good quality of life. These included: supporting residents to continue with valued and meaningful activities following a move to assisted living; setting up peer support buddy systems to assist new residents with becoming part of the community and to engage them in social activities; and discussing quality of life with residents and tailoring care and support to reflect the needs and wants of individual residents.

The research paper has been published in Geriatric Nursing and can be accessed here if you would like to read about the research in more detail (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2020.03.021).


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:

Children’s drawings of their coronavirus experience

Dr Richard Jolley writes about recent coviddrawings research and how you could help!

How has the current coronavirus situation changed the lives of children? What would the children themselves tell us?

The current coronavirus situation presents a unique opportunity to discover the diverse characteristics and consequences of a pandemic upon children. When children are facing changes and challenges to their lives it’s important to allow them to communicate how they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes they’re happy to talk about their experience, but sometimes they prefer to express themselves in other more creative ways, such as making a picture.

Dr Richard Jolley

Since June of this year a group of researchers in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University have been asking children and parents across the UK to help us understand how children are experiencing the coronavirus situation through their drawings. It is being led by myself, Dr Richard Jolley, with co-investigators Dr Sarah Rose, Dr Claire Barlow and Dr Romina Vivaldi. It has been funded by the School of Life Sciences and Education (LSE). This has enabled us not only to purchase a dedicated website and database for the project but also to employ a final year student (Gina Halliwell) as a research assistant to manage the day-to-day running of the project. You may like to read Gina’s own blog on her research experience on the project!

So what is involved in the project?

Parents are directed to the website www.coviddrawings.org.uk where all the information about the project and what they need to do is provided. We even have made a video just for children to explain the project! In essence, children are asked to think about their life since the coronavirus entered the UK, how it might have changed their lives, how they have felt about that, and then to draw a picture about it. There is a comments box provided if the child wishes to write about their drawing (potentially with the parent’s help).  A parent then takes a picture of the drawing and uploads it to the website.

So, what themes might you expect children to show in their drawings? The highly transferable nature of the virus? Or perhaps the behaviours we have all been asked to do to limit the risk of transmission – washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolation? Then, there is the psychosocial impact upon the children, particularly the isolation from friends during the lockdown. Will children show psychological reactions of fear, sadness or loneliness? And what about the changes in the routine of their lives, such as disruption to school attendance and different family dynamics at home? Has this led to boredom and restlessness, or presented an opportunity to spend more time on activities and family they love? Despite the challenges the current situation has brought children we are seeing children communicate more positive aspects through their drawings. 

What themes can you see in this drawing?

Whatever themes the children communicate we are interested in whether they vary across the ages of the sample, which might indicate that developmentally children have experienced the current situation differently. Also, will there be differences in the themes communicated between boys and girls? In addition to age and gender, we will be exploring whether the themes vary according to a set of demographic and situational variables. For instance, which country the child lives in, whether they live in a rural or urban environment, if either parent is a key worker, and whether the child returned to school – all of these could have an impact on how the child draws their experience of the coronavirus. In addition, we ask the parents to indicate on a scale the extent in which the family health has been affected by the coronavirus situation, and ask the child to choose from a series of faces how they have felt about their life in these times.

Would you like to participate?

And here is the good news – we are very keen to recruit more children and parents! If you are reading this blog as a parent of a child between 4 and 14 years, and you live in the UK, do you think your child would like to draw their own experience of the coronavirus situation? In which case please have a look at the project’s website www.coviddrawings.org.uk If you have any further questions please contact the project email address research@coviddrawings.org.uk and we will respond as quickly as we can to your query.


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

PsyPAG 2020 Virtual Annual Conference: Insights from Sophia Fedorowicz

Written by Sophia Fedorowicz, PhD researcher.

Sophia Fedorowicz

On the 31st of July I presented the preliminary findings of my PhD project ‘Experiences of talking to your GP about suicide’ at the PsyPAG annual conference, and this year the conference came with a twist. As a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak the majority of academic pursuits have moved online, including conferences. The Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group answered the call to remote conferencing by designing a Twitter-takeover style conference, depositing delegates posters and pre-recorded presentations in an open access database facilitated by the Open Science Framework and scheduling posts and discussion around them on Twitter throughout the day. There were also workshops over zoom and a social area to network and support each other. Nice. An excellent effort by the PsyPAG team that somehow made us all feel like we were together, despite being apart.  

My Project

My PhD focusses on the patient experience of being assessed for risk of suicide in primary care with an emphasis on patient and public involvement in the project design and execution. The presentation featured at PsyPAG 2020 detailed a study that was co-created with Expert Citizens, an independent group of people who have all experienced multiple needs – combinations of mental ill health, homelessness, addiction and offending behaviour, and offer their lived experience to projects such as mine, service evaluation and many other exceptional undertakings. I presented the preliminary findings of this study seeking to understand how patients experience talking to their GPs about suicide alongside Phil Parkes, the volunteer coordinator for Expert Citizens who has played a key role in the work so far.  

The project consists of an on-line, open-ended survey asking participants questions about their experiences. Working with people who have lived experience led to designing the questions to be as trauma informed as possible and using language that was suitable for the general public. We also emphasised to the participants that they could stay up to date with the progress of the study should they wish to. The purpose of this was to allow the participant to maintain ownership of their contribution and to keep being involved as the study progressed should they wish to.  

We are currently engaged in the analysis of the responses of forty-one participants, aged between 19 and 67. Presently, a dominant theme is how much the attitude of the GP towards the patient matters to the overall experience. For example, even if the GP is not able to provide any practical support for the patient, if they are perceived to be empathic and understanding allowing the person seeking help to talk about their distress, then the patient leaves feeling more positive about the consultation. Participants commented that they felt somewhat relieved by being able to talk to someone about it and to have the potential for ongoing support from their GP. Whereas patients who received a referral to a secondary service but felt the GP was dismissive of them left feeling regretful, and in some cases worse than they did before the consultation.  

These findings are preliminary and there is much more work to be done, this project will also inform further investigation focussing on people trying to access support for suicidal thoughts and feelings using primary care services during the lockdown. If you would like to discuss any part of this project or be kept up to date as it progresses, please get in touch via email (sophia.fedorowicz@student.staffs.ac.uk) or Twitter (@Soph_Fedorowicz).


If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings 

Please know that you are not alone. We encourage you to seek support from someone you trust, your GP or a support service like the Samaritans. You matter.  

You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or access their website for further support HERE (https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/).

You can also go to stayingsafe.net, this resource was developed in collaboration with people who have lived experience and is designed to help keep you safe.


Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Fozia (BSc Hons Psychology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Fozia who completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology degree here at Staffordshire University. Find out about Fozia’s experiences on her course and her plans for the future:


What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Great course offer, great friendly teaching staff and great student population. I also wanted somewhere not too far from my home town of Birmingham so Stoke-on-Trent was a great location with fantastic transport links. The surrounding area was quiet and friendly.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

Student life as a whole – studying aspect, socialising, great resources to support studying and living, great community of people to make me feel safe whilst living away from home

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

How small the campus and city of Stoke-on-Trent is so I was able to get about easily compared to living in a busy large city, feeling safe as well as independent. When studying late in the library or on campus, my living accommodation was only few roads away so I was able to walk in the dark very late at night without the fear of anything happening. The security staff/fellow students were happy to walk with me a short distance if they were able to.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

Lots of work experience and employment. Studying MSc in Health Psychology and then going onto do my PhD which I was awarded in 2013 from Aston University. Alongside my PhD I completed my BPS Chartership Stage 2 in Health Psychology qualification and am now continuing with my HCPC membership as a Registered Psychologist.  I have had many clinical roles mainly in smoking cessation and acute health, embarking on project management at Birmingham Children’s Hospital as a Research Fellow and Project Manager for the CLARCH 1 project. I then moved on to Primary Care Transformation Team Project Manager working for HEE. I now work as the Clinical Engagement Manager for Wolverhampton CCG/WMCA on an innovative health led trial testing IPS employment support in primary care.

What are your plans for the future? 

Continue to work on health led trials and develop my leadership skills within NHS/WMCA

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

Do it! No matter what background you are from or whatever the situation you will be able to develop yourself as a person at your own pace with plenty of support. Studying at Staffordshire University gave me my first opportunity to learn about health psychology and I have never looked back. My passion and dedication to health psychology has surfaced in all the different roles I have had since leaving Staffs clinical as well as none clinical, and I have been able to keep up with a lot of the new innovative ideas in health promotion as it all stems from health psychology i.e. behaviour change. I may not be working as a Health Psychologist as I once aimed for, but I am working in a role where I can use my health psychology knowledge and PhD skills to work to the best of my ability and to help to tackle wider determinants of health and achieve better health outcomes.

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

I started off as a very quiet and introverted person contrary to my character as I was in a new place for the first time on my own. However by the second year I gained the confidence to socialise more as well as working with others to study harder and efficiently. I became better in decision making and problem solving as well a financial more savvy! My times at Staffs was a huge step for me but one I have never regretted!


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. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

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:

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:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Laurna (BSc Psychology & MSc Health Psychology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Laurna who graduated from our MSc Health Psychology course in 2016 after studying her BSc (Hons) Psychology here at Staffordshire University.

Find out about Laurna’s experiences at Staffordshire University and her career after completing her Master’s course:


I grew up in Staffordshire and studied down the road at Newcastle-under-Lyme College. I studied Psychology at GCSE and A-Level, and loved the subject so much that completing a psychology degree was a no brainer!

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

After my A Level results I entered Clearing. During this uncertain time, I knew that my first choice of potential universities was Staffordshire University. Throughout the clearing process I had an excellent experience talking to the staff in the Psychology Department, and they made the process so easy and straight forward. The helpfulness of the staff, in addition to the open day confirmed my decision that Staffs was for me.

Following my undergraduate degree, completing the Health Psychology Master’s degree at staffs, the home of health psychology, was an easy decision. The excellent teaching staff, with research and practice experience in various areas of Health Psychology affirmed my choice!

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

The whole university experience was great, especially living with my friends and spending many hours in the Ember Lounge and LRV for gobble on a Wednesday night. During the Health Psychology Master’s Degree I was fortunate to be around a bunch of lovely people that over the year became great friends! The highlight of the whole experience was graduating with a First Class honours at undergraduate, and a Distinction at Master’s degree in the Italian Gardens at the Trentham Estate surrounded by my fellow students, friends, and family.

What have you done since leaving Staffs? How did your course help you with this?

During my undergraduate degree, I realised my passion for improving the quality of life of those living with neurodegenerative conditions. I volunteered at a dementia charity during my Master’s degree, and worked as a Clinical Studies Assistant at South Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where I helped with many mental health and neurodegenerative research projects.

Following the Master’s degree I started my PhD in pain for people living with dementia at Keele University. Both my undergraduate and Master’s degree gave me the perfect foundation to start a PhD, both in relation to the research skills that I learnt, but also the encouragement and support provided from my tutors in the Psychology Department.

What are your plans for the future?

Following the PhD, I wish to work on research projects in the domain of health psychology, focusing upon those living with a neurodegenerative condition. At the moment however, I intend to focus on my PhD!

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

I would advise to all of those that are interested in either a psychology degree or health psychology Master’s degree should attend one of the Staffordshire University open days. This day will allow you to talk to the psychology staff, and look at the facilities on offer.


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:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Luke (BSc Hons Psychology)

As part of our new series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Luke who graduated from our BSc (Hons) Psychology course in 2017.

Luke introduces himself and talks about his experiences studying Psychology at Staffordshire University, and tells us how his degree has helped him develop his interest in neuroscience, his aims to pursue a career in research and a PhD in Psychology:


I studied A-levels in Psychology, Business, Physical Education, Applied Science and Biology across three years at college before taking the decision to move into full-time work, taking managerial roles at a hotel and Starbucks for a few years. Eventually, my general interest in the brain through reading and A-levels drew me to wanting to study the brains relation to behaviour at University.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I visited a few universities, but Staffordshire stood out from my other options. This was mainly because of the staff I came into contact with when visiting were passionate, encouraging and always offered constant contact, even after the visit.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I managed to gain a perfect balance between socialising and studying hard. It made both of these easier and more joyful, rather than one being sacrificed for the other. The broad range of opportunities whether it be course related (talks and events) or not (sport) gave me opportunities to try and experience many new things.

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

The third-year project was the biggest challenge for me. Not everything went to plan and a technical error with software put me 3 weeks behind schedule. This was huge challenge but putting in the extra work to overcome this really paid off when seeing the final grades.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

I have moved on to study an MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College London where I am studying the brain at a much more cellular level. Thanks to modules such as ‘Cognitive and Biological Determinants of Behaviour‘ on the course at Staffs my interest in Neuroscience began. I have specialised in stem cells and currently undertaking my project monitoring neurogenesis (ability of the brain to produce new neurons throughout adulthood) in a mice model of sleep deprivation (gene knockout).

What are your plans for the future?

My next step will hopefully be a PhD. I want to continue to monitor factors that influence the neurogenic niche in both positive and negative ways. Negative factors have been implicated in multiple neurodegenerative disorders and depression. Other options I am also considering would be to move into full-time industry work with a pharmaceutical company or a research assistantship job in a laboratory. I also aspire to a neurosurgeon, as a long-term goal. This is something I would like to study part-time alongside my full-time career.

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

Go ahead and apply. Studying Psychology at Staffordshire University changed my career and lifestyle. The staff were incredibly motivating and gave me a level of confidence that was the foundation to being successful in my Master’s. The course is broad, it covers all areas of the discipline, this is great. It will allow you to find which area is best suited to you. My greatest advice would be to make sure you maintain the balance between studies and socialising. This was key to me being able to find enjoyment and success in both.

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

The thing I really take away from studying the course was the influence of the staff. The teaching is very good and you will get back what you put in. They always made time and effort to have a positive effect on your studies. This not only helped me develop new skills but also the confidence to execute them well.


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: