Student Blog: My Stage 2 Health Psychology Bursary & Training at Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent City Council

By Meghan Linscott, Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology Trainee

In July 2016, I learned about a Health Psychology Professional Doctorate bursary opportunity at Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent City Council (working across Public Health and Planning). I was excited immediately as I knew I wanted to progress to Stage 2 training but I was not in a position that supported me to do so. I had no experience in planning but after doing some research, I knew I had to apply.

I was invited for an interview at the end of July. The panel was large (with six people round the table from both Staffordshire University and the Council) but very friendly, which helped settle my nerves. One thing that stood out to me was the opportunity for a tour of the Science Centre with the Psychology Technicians following the interview. I took up this opportunity and was impressed with the facilities available. I also got a better feel for the University and knew I could be happy studying there.

Staffordshire University’s Science Centre

I learned I had been successful on the same day as my interview and had no doubt in my mind that I would accept the offer!

Prior to starting my placement, I had always worked with individuals and small groups in roles that provided me with an opportunity to get out and about in the community. Therefore, initially, a desk based role came as a small shock! However, it did not take long for me to settle in and I was treated like an employee from the word “go”. My placement role is wide ranging. I act as a consultant, policy writer and researcher within the planning department to embed health into planning and the built environment. I also support Public Health initiatives such as suicide prevention, dementia friendly communities/cities and asset-based community development. Looking back, very few of the proposals I put forward at interview have been a part of my Prof Doc journey. This is largely because my placement role has been very forthcoming with opportunities to complete the competences whilst also going about my day job.

I am very grateful to have gained experience working at the population level and I could not have anticipated how valuable my bursary experience has been; it has widened my skill set and opened my eyes to the breadth of the health psychology discipline. I can confidently say health psychology and planning go hand in hand and I hope we see health psychology training opportunities as highly regarded as those available for clinical psychology, in the very near future.


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 – 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:

New Funded Bursary Opportunity for a Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology trainee at Staffordshire University

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to announce a further funded student bursary for the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology programme.

The two-year bursary is for £14,000 per annum for a full-time trainee, which is inclusive of course fees and a contribution towards living and study costs. The bursary is in partnership with Leicester City Primary Pupil Referral Unit, working within the Primary Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Team. The role at the PRU will be combined with training at Staffordshire University on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology course.

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

“We are very excited about this new collaborative partnership with Leicester City Primary Pupil Referral Unit. This represents another exciting opportunity for a Trainee Health Psychologist to work in an applied environment and complete their competency training.

Further details about the bursary is available via this link. Applicants should be due to be awarded their BPS Accredited Stage 1 Health Psychology training by 19th September 2018 (further details about the eligibility criteria for this exciting opportunity can be found via the bursary advert). For further information about this exciting opportunity, please contact Dr Rachel Povey (r.povey@staffs.ac.uk).

Please note that the closing date for applications for the bursary is noon on Thursday 14th June 2018.


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:

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

Successful BPS Accreditation Visit for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

By Dr Rachel Povey, Associate Professor in Health Psychology.

Staffordshire University’s Health Psychology team are delighted to announce that their postgraduate Health Psychology programmes have been accredited for a further five years by the British Psychological Society (BPS), and were awarded nine commendations with no conditions. The British Psychological Society visited the University for two days in March, where they interviewed students, staff, placement providers, service users, and the senior management team.

“We had the first accredited Health Psychology programmes at both Stage 1 and 2, and so it is fantastic to have confirmation from the BPS that we continue to provide first class training in this area”.

Dr Emily Buckley, Head of the Department of Psychology

In particular, the Health Psychology programmes were commended for having a positive and strong ethos of developing reflective practice in students and for providing exemplary support to help foster positive and professional relationships with students.  The senior management team was also commended for their commitment and understanding of health psychology.

Health Psychology has a long and successful history at Staffordshire University with both programmes being the first to be accredited by the BPS in the UK, and being consistently commended for good practice. The MSc in Health Psychology (directed by Dr Gemma Hurst and Dr Sarah Dean) was also commended for embedding employability, developing applied skills and using real world assessments.

Some of our Health Psychology team celebrating after the recent BPS accreditation visit

The Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology (directed by Professor Karen Rodham and Dr Rachel Povey) provides applied training for students wanting to become Health Psychologists. All students gain professional skills in health-related placements, varying from NHS pain management services, to public health settings, to pupil referral units. The Professional Doctorate was commended for its widening access agenda (including providing training bursaries), the constructive engagement with placement providers, and the positive relationship with service users and carers.

Dr Nigel Thomas, Dean of School of Life Sciences and Education commended both teams for their hard work and commitment and stated:

“I’m delighted to see the health psychology programmes at Staffordshire University receiving such high praise from the BPS, this is a result of the level of dedication and commitment of the team”


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:

Sun Awareness Week 2018 – Protecting against skin cancer & harmful UV exposure

The British Association of Dermatologists’ Sun Awareness week is running from May 14th to May 20th. The aim of the week is to teach people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning, and to discourage people from using sunbeds, as well as encouraging people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer (click here for more details about Sun Awareness Week).

Each year in the UK, there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast and lung cancers combined. Thankfully, the majority of skin cancers are treatable, but the most deadly form, malignant melanoma, kills over 2,000 people in the UK each year, with all skin cancers killing a total of more than 2,500 people annually (click here for a factsheet by Skin Cancer UK). Malignant melanoma is the second most common cancer in 15-34-year-olds, and at least two young people in Britain receive this diagnosis every day (Cancer Research UK, 2011). The World Health Organization (WHO, 2012) suggests that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including exposure to the sun and sunbeds, are the primary causes of all melanomas, leading to skin cancer.

Here at Staffordshire University, Dr Alison Owen carries out research encouraging people to take care of their skin, and protect it from the sun and sunbeds. Dr Owen, alongside colleagues Prof Sarah Grogan (Manchester Metropolitan University), Prof David Clark-Carter and Dr Emily Buckley, have carried out a number of pieces of research looking at the impact of APRIL facial ageing software, which can show people the damage that exposing their skin to the sun without sun protection, or using sunbeds, can do to their skin. The researchers found a number of very positive findings, in particular when comparing the appearance-focussed intervention to more traditional health-focussed literature (i.e. leaflets), there was a much bigger impact on people’s opinions after viewing the damage to their skin.

The World Health Organization recommends a number of steps to protect your skin from the sun and UV exposure, including:

  • Limit time in the midday sun
    The sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To the extent possible, limit exposure to the sun during these hours.
  • Wear protective clothing
    A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face, and the back or your neck. Sunglasses can greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose fitting clothes will provide additional protection from the sun.
  • Use sunscreen
    Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.
  • Avoid sunlamps and tanning parlours
    Sunbeds damage the skin and unprotected eyes and are best avoided entirely.

Dr Owen will be at the This Morning Live shopping and lifestyle show (running from the 17th to the 20th May, NEC Birmingham) demonstrating the APRIL software, working alongside the award winning sun protection brand Tancream.


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:

Dr Rob Dempsey comments on ‘smart drug’ use by university students for the i newspaper

Dr Robert Dempsey (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in The i newspaper commenting on recent media coverage of the use of ‘smart drugs’ by university students. The story highlights reports of increasing rates of the non-prescribed use of substances like Ritalin by university students to improve their memory and performance in examinations.

Dr Dempsey conducts research into the role of perceived social norms in determining health-related behaviours, and has previously published research with EU colleagues on the role of perceived norms on students’ use of substance like alcohol, cannabis and other forms of illicit substances. Dr Dempsey’s research has highlighted the existence of misperceptions of the use of these substances amongst students, and the association between these misperceptions with personal use and attitudes towards using such substances (click here for a blog about Dr Dempsey’s collaborative research into the use of Ritalin and similar substances by students). Dr Dempsey teaches on Staffordshire University’s MSc in Health Psychology and a new MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology course starting in September 2018.

The full story can be read on The i website below:

The i: Exclusive: University students turn to dark web for performance enhancing ‘smart drugs’


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:

Two Funded Bursaries for Trainees on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to announce two funded student bursaries for the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology programme.

The two-year bursaries are both for £12,000 per annum, which is inclusive of course fees and a contribution towards living and study costs. One has been provided by Lawnswood Campus in Wolverhampton, which is a home to four Pupil Referral Units, working with students who find mainstream schooling a challenge. The other bursary is in partnership with The Huntercombe Centre, Birmingham, which is a 15-bed locked rehabilitation hospital for men aged between 18-16 years old with mild to moderate learning difficulties, mental illness, autistic spectrum conditions and complex needs.

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

“We are very excited about the new partnerships we have with Lawnswood Campus and The Huntercombe Centre.  The two-year bursaries will enable two new trainees on our Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology to gain their competences in two quite different, but stimulating and interesting environments”

Further details about the bursaries are available via these links (1) Lawnswood and (2) Huntercombe. For further information about these exciting opportunities, please contact Dr Rachel Povey (r.povey@staffs.ac.uk).

Please note that the closing dates for the bursaries are Tuesday, 15th May (Lawnswood) and Wednesday, 13th June (Huntercombe Centre) respectively.


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:

Dr Rachel Povey comments on childhood obesity for The Sentinel

Dr Rachel Povey (Associate Professor in Health Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in The Sentinel newspaper commenting on recent statistics from the National Child Measurement Programme showing concerning rates of childhood obesity in the Staffordshire county. The Sentinel story highlights high rates of children who are classed as obese or overweight in parts of Stoke-on-Trent and the wider county.

Dr Povey, who conducts research into the psychology of children’s eating behaviours and ways to promote healthy eating (click here for a blog about this work), provides expert commentary in the story about why rates of childhood obesity appear to be increasing. The full story can be read on The Sentinel website below:

The Sentinel: This area has Stoke-on-Trent’s fattest kids – find out how overweight your neighbourhood is


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:

Psychologists from the UK & France gather at Staffordshire University to discuss the psychology of children’s healthy eating behaviours

By Dr Rachel Povey, Associate Professor in Health Psychology.

On 25th April 2018, the first of three research seminars on psychological perspectives on healthy eating in children was held at Staffordshire University. The seminars are funded by the British Psychological Society, and was organized by myself in collaboration with colleagues at Aston University (Professor Jackie Blissett and Dr Claire Farrow).  Psychologists from all over the UK and France attended and presented findings from their research.

The day opened with a stimulating talk by Dr Angel Chater (University of Bedfordshire) providing an insight into experiences of barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among foodbank clients. This was followed in the morning by a wide range of thought-provoking talks which examined healthy eating in childhood from pre-school up to adolescence.  Presentations focused on different factors found to influence healthy eating in young children including genetic factors, exposure to different foods and parent-child interactions. Studies involving older children focused on peer influences and included interventions which used social media to change eating behaviour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The afternoon began with a fascinating presentation by Lisa Cowap (Staffordshire University) on a school-based intervention which used simple plans to improve snacking behaviour in primary school children. Following presentations described different ways of changing children’s eating behaviour, from using carefully-designed Apps, to creative techniques to get children more engaged with the food they eat. Finally, the day closed with an inspiring talk by Dr Sophie Nicklaus (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), on how to help children make healthy food choices by emphasizing pleasure.

Overall it was a fascinating and motivating day which provided an opportunity for psychologists researching children’s eating behaviour to network and share ideas. The next research seminar will take place in Autumn.

British Psychological Society: Society funds event on the psychology behind children’s eating habits

InPsych: Dr Rachel Povey featured in The Sentinel newspaper discussing children’s fussy eating habits


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: