Staffs Student Stories: Meet Janette Renshaw, Level 5 BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling Student

Janette Renshaw

Hi! My name is Janette. I’m a (very) mature student, having worked in child protection and safeguarding in schools and prisons for a number of years.

An out-of-the-blue breast cancer diagnosis at the end of 2017, and the following 7 months I had to take off from my job to undergo treatment and recover, gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do with the next stage of my life … and that brought me to Staffs University!

Over the years I had considered taking a further course in counselling but had always, one way or another found reason not to do it – finances, child care, time – but I realised that it was now or never and so I applied to Staffs Uni and I was very happy to be given an unconditional offer! I began the Psychology and Counselling course in September 2018.

I am now nearing the end of my 2nd year and it has been a great experience so far! There is a combination of young and mature students – so no one feels out of place – and we all get along fabulously. I have really enjoyed every part of it – a good mixture of seminars, lectures and practical sessions that all add variety. Lecturers and tutors are very supportive and accessible.

The challenges along the way for me have been overcoming nerves to give presentations and trying to get to grips with SPSS – the statistical package we use to analyse experimental data. I’ve never seen myself as a scientific person – it’s been a challenge, but do-able and I am actually enjoying it. 

There are opportunities to take up voluntary placements both within the Uni itself and externally and also a good variety of venues on site in which to socialise, meet up with friends, eat, drink etc. There is a Sports Centre accessible to all and I particularly enjoy the beautiful nature reserve within our own grounds, that the River Trent runs through. I walk there sometimes, before and after lectures and seminars, taking my camera with me as I love macro photography. I’ve seen kingfishers, woodpeckers and dragonflies – it’s a beautiful, picturesque hidden gem! 

Janette’s Sumi-E Japanese painting


The counselling module itself offers invaluable insight and opportunities for personal growth and development alongside nurturing counselling skills. I have particularly enjoyed the creative/therapeutic sessions along the way – so much so, that where once I never saw myself as a creative person in terms of art – though I’ve always indulged in creative writing since I was a child – I have taken up Sumi-E Japanese Painting. It’s so therapeutic and I’m actually ok at it! 

I am hoping to go on to do a Masters and a Diploma in Counselling, aspiring eventually, to run my own counselling practise. I can’t believe how fast time has flown over the last two years. The CV19 pandemic has obviously affected us all during the last few months,which has seen closure of universities and schools nationwide. However, Staffs Uni have met the challenge head on. Tutors have supported us all via on-line seminars, lectures and chats via MS Teams and have done everything possible to ensure that we have been able to complete our second year fully – for which I am very grateful and commend them. 

I would highly recommend Staffs University and certainly the Psychology and Counselling Undergraduate course, without hesitation. Come and join us!  


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.

Staffs Student Stories: My Placement Year Experience: Pros and … Pros!

My name is Meredith Danks and if you’re reading this, I guess you might be wondering whether a placement year is for you?

Well I can only begin by saying YES – deciding to complete a placement year was, without a doubt, the best educational decision I have made. Over the last 6-8 months I have gained invaluable experiences, that will guide me through both my working and academic career.

However, hindsight really is a wonderful thing; if you had asked me the ‘placement’ question a year ago I would have shared my doubts. My biggest worries were whether I should take a year out and if it would be worth it? If you are feeling like this now my advice would be to make sure that you find a placement that suits you and it will be 100% worth it!

Now, finding the right placement can be a tricky business. I wanted to benefit from a year out by finding a placement that offered the experiences that I was looking for. I contacted over 30 organisations(!) to try to find a suitable placement, with the majority of them ignoring me. This was a tough time, but you need to persevere! It wasn’t until a guest lecturer mentioned “Midlands Psychology CIC” that I actually had some luck in finding my placement! So, I guess the moral of the story is to always listen during lectures!!

During my placement with Midlands Psychology CIC I had the opportunity to gain experiences that an undergraduate student could only dream of. I shadowed and worked closely with some INCREDIBLE clinicians, who have taught me more than I ever thought possible. Furthermore, I gained experience within the Looked After Children Service and Supported Living Service. Working with these services has given me many fond memories and broadened my interests beyond the fields that I already knew.

I also spent time working in the admin team, this was invaluable at showing me the other side to Psychology, whilst developing my confidence and resilience. In addition, I attended various courses and workshops which have helped to extend my knowledge in preparation for 3rd year and beyond!

For me, the best thing about my placement was, of course the invaluable experiences, but also having the chance to work within an incredible team of professionals. They have taught me so many things that I will never forget. I am truly so grateful to them all.

So, my advice to you?:
1. Considering a placement year? You might be delaying graduating by a year, but the experiences and skills that you gain outweigh this concern one thousand times over!
2. Looking for a placement? Be patient, do your research and don’t settle for something if it’s not what you want.

A year might seem like a long time, but when you’re on a placement that you love, it flies by and this was definitely the case for me!


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.

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Cassie Kelly, Level 5 BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology Student

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I always wanted to complete a degree, but when I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do, so went straight into work. Being a support worker, I met a lot of individuals with complex needs and mental health issues. However, I wanted a change in career and have always thought about the possibilities of furthering my education.

I initially completed a course through Staffordshire University called Step Up to Higher Education, which enabled me to apply through UCAS to complete a foundation year at the local college, before going on to Forensic Psychology.

What has been the best part of the course?

My favourite part so far has been one of the modules related to crime which takes place in second year, Psychology of Crime and Criminal Justice, this module is fun and interactive. The module leaders make it super interesting and the module itself brings theory and practice together.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us?

I think believing in myself has been one of my biggest challenges and knowing that it is fine to ask lectures, personal tutors, module leaders and university staff for help as and when you need it. They are there for a reason, to support you and guide you through university. I found that building a good rapport with my personal tutor was extremely important, knowing that I have someone designated there to speak to about problems and how to improve grades.

Top tip: When I first started university, I was not sure how I would stay on top assignments and having other responsibilities. The way I manage this now is by making a list of all my assignments at the beginning of the semester and having a week by week plan, it does not always work but having that plan keeps me focussed on what is coming next.

What are your next steps and plans for the future?

I want to complete my postgraduate in Forensic Psychology and hopefully go on to complete a PhD. My ultimate aim is to be involved in the rehabilitation process of ex-offenders.

Would you recommend our course to others?

I would definitely recommend this course; the course leaders and module leaders are amazing and will support you all the way. They have been so supportive and helpful throughout my journey at Staffs.


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.

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Sophie Jarrett, Level 5 BSc (Hons) Psychology Student

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I am originally from Stoke-on-Trent and locally studied A-Levels at my school’s sixth form college. I decided to come to an open day at the university after visiting a handful of others around the country. When I came to Staffordshire University, I saw that the facilities here were incredible, that the accommodation was much nicer than other universities, and the Psychology Department was lovely. When I realised, I could have the same independence living away from home on campus, but also being a 15-minute drive away from family, it was an obvious first choice. I received an unconditional offer and I’ve never looked back!

What has been the best part of the course? 

In my first year, I enjoyed my ‘People Behaving Badly’ module, which taught reasoning behind abnormal behaviours. It was interesting to understand why people may behave in a different way. In my second year, I have really enjoyed my ‘Contemporary Issues in Psychology’ module, as it allowed me to see how the knowledge from my lectures and seminars can be applied to real-life scenarios as a Psychologist.  

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us? 

A challenge I have had at university is getting used to presentations. I have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, so presenting to others has never come to me naturally. Nevertheless, I started by just presenting to my lecturers and now by the end of my second year, I can engage in class discussions and lead presentations in front of my classes. Initially I also struggled with statistics and working with numbers. I could never get my head around the different statistical tests and what they were for. But my seminar leader, Dr Zachary Parker, really helped break down what each statistical test is used for, which really aided my understanding of psychological statistics.  

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

I am an aspiring Clinical Psychologist. I would like to work in the National Health Service and therefore my aims after my undergraduate degree is to continue on to postgraduate study in the hope of a place on the highly-competitive Clinical Psychology Professional Doctorate here at Staffordshire University.

Would you recommend our course to others? 

Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour so it can be used in any career. I’d recommend this course to anyone with an interest in psychology, especially if you would like a hands-on experience, as at Staffordshire University, you get practical experiences which you can use for your final year project or research throughout your time at Staffordshire University. 


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.

Opportunity for Band 6 Health Psychology Trainee at Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and place on Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

An exciting opportunity has arisen through collaborations between the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University for a Band 6 trainee health psychologist. The trainee will be based within the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for two years and will undertake Stage 2 training as a full-time student on the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

The role includes outpatient psychological assessment and therapy contributing towards the psychological component of the inpatient pain management programmes at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The 0.8 w.t.e post presents a unique opportunity for a highly motivated and professional person who has already completed their Stage 1 health psychology training, to complete competences required for their Stage 2 training, directly supported by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. (Please note that the full-time fees of £6,300 per annum and writing up fees will be payable from the salary provided).

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust (RNOH) is the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK and is regarded as a leader in the field of orthopaedics both in the UK and world-wide. The RNOH provides a comprehensive range of neuro-musculoskeletal health care, ranging from acute spinal injury or complex bone tumour to orthopaedic medicine and specialist rehabilitation for people with chronic pain. This broad range of services is unique within the NHS.

Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology said:

Dr Rachel Povey

“We are very excited about this new collaboration between the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Staffordshire University.  The two-year Band 6 post at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital will be a unique opportunity for a trainee to complete their competences in an applied and stimulating environment, whilst studying with us on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology.”


For details of how to apply, please go to: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/vacancy/916050178

Please note that the closing date is: Thursday, 4th June, 2020.

For further information about this exciting opportunity please contact: Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University: r.povey@staffs.ac.uk; or Dr Andrew Lucas, Consultant Lead Health Psychologist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (Andrew.lucas3@nhs.net).


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:

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Phil Bowman, BSc (Hons) Psychology with a Foundation Year

About me

Foundation Year Psychology Student at Staffs Uni
Phil Bowman

Before coming to Staffs Uni I worked as a substance misuse practitioner, a very rewarding job that I loved doing. The job itself was manageable although most of our clients had very complex needs such as mental health issues, the inability to cope with emotion and those that still lived a chaotic lifestyle.

Although I built a great rapport with my clients, I was also aware that I lacked the ability to help them on a deeper level and I felt out of my depth when they disclosed some deep rooted issues such as childhood trauma, drug induced psychosis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome to name but a few. This left me feeling inadequate as a professional and I began to ponder on the idea that I had the ability to learn how to best support them on a much more holistic level. 

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course? 

Whenever I toyed with the idea of going to uni, I would be filled with self-doubt. I thought that I was too old to learn and that I should just continue as a low level practitioner because it was within my “comfort zone”. To be honest I managed to talk myself out of applying more times than I care to remember. I thought that if I left work I would lose my compassion for the clients, I would lose the ability to empathise and I would lose sight of the reasons why I wanted to support people in the first place. 

For as long as I remember I have always been a very stubborn individual, and I have always feared becoming stagnant, I think these qualities helped me to make the decision to apply to Staffs Uni. I applied for the Psychology degree with foundation year in 2019 with the attitude that this would be my “last roll of the career dice” at the age of 48 I believed that alot of companies like to employ younger people, this is not always the case, but it does not stop me from worrying about it.

My interview with Dr Claire Barlow went really well, she had the ability to dilute my self-doubt and managed to reassure me that if I worked hard enough I could achieve great things. I came away from that interview feeling as though I could achieve anything as long as I applied myself

What has been your experience of the course? 

My first day was very daunting and I felt like a fish out of water, I found myself looking around the room and soon noticed that I was the oldest student, I felt like a grandad that had been invited on an 18-30 cruise! This feeling was short lived because my classmates and tutors were brilliant, within about a week I found my place in the class and was soon voted in as our course rep along with a dear friend of mine called Lisa.

Doing a foundation year was a no brainer for me as I did not have a clue about academic writing or independent learning. I struggled/still struggle with I.T and had not stepped foot in a learning environment for 32 years. I have now completed my foundation year and it has given me the ability to centre myself and slip comfortably into learner mode. I can step up to a computer and apply myself to the task in hand, without thinking that the task is too big to complete. I pride myself on having submitted all my assignments on time and achieving above average grades.

This would not have been possible without the support from an amazing team of tutors but also the support from my fellow students. We all have our strengths within the class, mine was mainly lived experience, we had the younger post 6th form students that were “whiz kids” on computers and we had mental health practitioners that wanted to take their careers further. We, as a team, pulled together, we set up a WhatsApp group so we were always in contact to support each other through the assignments and through the revision weeks leading up to exam days, we, as a team, have had an amazing experience!

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

I am now moving into my second year of study (level 4 at the University). I am going into this year full of confidence and excitement, comfortable in the knowledge that I will be guided and supported throughout my degree. Staffs uni has given me a new sense of self-belief and I am very excited to see where this wonderful journey will take me.


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.

inpsych blog

5 things to get involved in whilst studying with us!

There are many things that you can get involved in whilst studying a Psychology degree with us! Here are 5 ideas of what you can do outside of your academic workload.

5 things to get involved in whilst studying for your Psychology degree!

#1: We have lots of events and opportunities for you to get involved in throughout the year!
For example you could:

  • Write a blog piece on your experiences or an event you have supported.
  • Run a demonstration at one of our events such as ‘Psychology and Me’!
  • Present your research at one of the Psychology Research conferences.
PitP expert talk

#2: You can attend expert talks

These take place on campus as part of our visiting speaker series and as part of Psychology in the Pub! You can hear about research and different Psychology fields who are invited to talk about their interests.

Group PsychMe

#3: Become a Psychology Advocate!

Learn more about the field of Psychology and develop your transferable skills by delivering workshops, tours and supporting events within the department!

EEG
EEG

#4: Develop your practical research skills

Conduct your own studies, support academic researchers and participate in studies. These might use our amazing technical resources!
You can put your learning into practice on a placement year or one of your option modules.

#5: Join the Psychology society!

Socialise with students from across our Psychology degrees and become part of a wider Psychology community!


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.

Meet the StaffsPsych Students – Beth Jaromski (Level 5 BSc Hons Psychology & Counselling)

Beth Jaromski talks about her course, future plans and the support she has received, especially during the current pandemic.

Beth Jaromski

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I applied for psychology and counselling because a counselling career within the NHS is my dream, specifically I want to help people, especially individuals with mental health difficulties. Therefore I knew this was the perfect course to give me an idea of the career I may enter!

I applied for this course through UCAS after completing my BTEC’s in Sixth Form. I feel that I got a place on this course because of my passion for mental health and my previous volunteering experience with a mental health charity.

What has been the best part of the course so far?

I would say my favourite part of the course so far has been the counselling modules. This is because we have been able to put theory into practice. We have done this by engaging in counselling sessions where we practice counselling skills with peers on our course.

I have also been able to develop as a person which I feel is a quite unique aspect of the course, as others courses may not contain modules where personal development is integrated throughout.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome so far and how have you overcome them, while studying with us?

I would say one of my biggest challenges have been trusting other people on my course. Within counselling modules, topics and discussions can get personal and sensitive so you do have to put trust in your fellow students to keep confidentiality. However, I have overcome that now because we are always reassured by our tutors that if confidentiality was broken then there would be repercussions. This really does help you with feeling comfortable sharing your personal experiences.

Some of our student’s

I would also say keeping on top of your workload can sometimes be difficult, as you often get multiple pieces of work from various modules. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead. I often decide which assignments to complete first based on my deadlines while also making sure I give myself time to relax to stop myself from getting too overwhelmed. It’s about getting that work life balance.

What are your next steps and plans for the future?

I want to go on complete my postgraduate in psychotherapeutic counselling, to eventually gain the professional counsellor status. I am particularly interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy therefore, I may take a couple of years out then decide to complete a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course after my postgraduate course. I eventually hope to work within the NHS counselling service or mental health wards, where I hope to be working with either young adults or individuals in crisis.

Would you recommend our course to others?

Yes definitely! The course is so interesting, the modules are engaging and the support from the psychology and counselling team is impeccable. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, tutors have reached out, checked on our mental health via emails while also checking on us during live online classes. They have also supported us by giving us extended deadlines and alternative assignments to try and make things as easy as possible for us. I couldn’t thank them enough!


Interested in studying a degree with us? Find out more about our courses:

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Mikki, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology

About you

Mikki
Mikki, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student

My name is Mikki and I’m a full-time third year Psychology and Criminology student. At first, I only wanted to go to University for the experience and I had no solid career path in mind but knew that I wanted to go down the route of something to do with Criminology! Looking back, my time at Staffordshire University has been some of the best years of my life and I’ve met the most amazing people on my journey – I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me!

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I applied to study Psychology and Criminology at Staffordshire University because I’ve always had an interest in Criminology and had some previous knowledge of Psychology so I liked the idea of combining the two! Staffordshire University not being too far from home was also a bonus as I was super nervous about moving away. I applied for the course via UCAS and was offered an unconditional place a couple of weeks later.

What has been the best part of the course?

For me, the best part of the course has been getting to choose my option modules. There were a variety of modules available for us to choose from and it helped me tailor my experience on the course to be specific to the topics that I was interested in, which then allowed me to gain a wider knowledge on some of my biggest interests.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us

Helpful and understanding staff

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome whilst studying at Staffordshire University was coming to terms with the workload and how to manage my time effectively. Coming to University straight from college was a big jump for me and I didn’t realise just how different the workload was and just how much would be expected of me. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust, but all of the staff were so helpful and understanding which made things a lot easier and much less daunting for me.

What are your next steps and plans for the future?

After studying Psychology and Criminology for the last 3 years, I’ve actually had a huge turning point in my mindset for the future and have decided to progress onto a Masters in Education. Despite my change of career path, the past 3 years studying Psychology and Criminology have prepared me for my plans for the future and has given me confidence that I wasn’t even aware I had.

Would you recommend our course to others?

I would 100% recommend this course to anyone interested in Psychology and Criminology! My 3 years studying at Staffordshire University have been 3 of the best years of my life – I’ve made some of the most amazing friends, met some of the most caring staff in the Psychology department and it has also increased my confidence and knowledge in a field that has held my interest for years. I can’t recommend this course enough!


Interested in studing with us? Find out more about our courses:

The Science Centre

Student blog: Raising awareness of autism in children

It is World Autism Awareness Week 2020 and today, 2nd April 2020 is World Autism Awarenss Day. We asked our level four BSc Psychology and Child Development student, Claire, a mother of children with autism, to write a blog on her experiences of children with autism.

What is autism?

The National Autistic Society defines autism as a “lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them”.

A little about my children:

I have two beautiful little boys and two older children.

  • One of my little boys is diagnosed with high functioning autism spectrum condition.
  • My other little boy is currently undergoing assessment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyspraxia.

Our journey for an autism diagnosis:

At the age of 9 my son was diagnosed with high functioning autism. The journey to get the diagnosis was challenging. From the age of 4 my son:

  • Had temper tantrums that would last for hours after school
  • Became restless and was struggling with the children at school

Each parent’s evening, I would have the same feedback that my son was “academically really intelligent, but he lacks concentration and fidgets too much!”.

Until one teacher at a parent’s evening said, “I believe you, I can see traits of autism, but they are very subtle”. Due to this teacher acknowledging these traits in my son and adapting his learning environment he:

  • Had fewer major tantrums after school
  • Seemed happy again and was sharing stories about his day

My son is now 12 and has moved from primary school to secondary school. During the transition we are trying to raise awareness of autism and support him, and other children, to achieve their potential.

Why I chose to study Psychology and Child Development:

Based on the journey that I have been on with my boys I decided that I wanted to be able to help other children, caregivers, families and schools during the diagnosis and support of autism conditions.

I am completing my course as a mature student and I am really looking forward to graduating with this degree to put what I am learning into action!

You can read more about autism on the National Autistic Society’s webpage.


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.