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:

Student Blog: Presenting Summer Research Assistantship work at the BPS Annual Conference

Last summer, two of our Undergraduate Psychology students were awarded British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantships. This award enabled them to attend the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham to present the research that they had carried out as part of their summer assistantship. One of the successful students, Ruth, reflects on her experience of the conference.

I had the pleasure of accompanying my course leader, Dr Sarah Rose to the BPS Annual Conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham recently to present our work on “Divergent thinking and pretend play in pre-schoolers. This day summed up what a fantastic experience the BPS Research Assistantship has been for me. It was a proud moment to see my name on the poster representing Staffordshire University amongst many other interesting displays of research that have been conducted all over the world in the last year.

Ruth with Dr Sarah Rose at the BPS Annual Conference

The conference was held at a fantastic venue and there were plenty of oral presentations to attend which were based on many different areas of psychology. I particularly enjoyed the Award presentation on “Puberty and the developing adolescent brain” and having just studied this topic as part of the Typical and Atypical module in level 6, this excellent presentation provided a brilliant consolidation to my knowledge and understanding of the subject. Other fascinating talks were given by the joint Spearman Medal award winners on “Observational to dynamic genetics” and “facial expression communication across cultures”, which were incredibly impressive, using ground-breaking technology within the research.

I had a very enjoyable day and came away feeling inspired and looking forward to Post Graduate study at Staffs in September, where I am hoping to complete the Masters degree in Applied Research.

Ruth Pettitt, Level 6 student, BSc Hons Psychology & Child Development.


Dr Sarah Rose (Lecturer in Psychology) supervised Ruth’s research and attended the conference with her. She writes:

Attending the BPS Annul Conference with Ruth was a real opportunity to feel proud of what our Students at Staffordshire University can achieve. Ruth completed the Foundation Year in Psychology before starting the BSc Psychology and Child Development. Throughout both courses Ruth has grown in confidence and has made the most of the opportunities available to her. This has included applying for, and being successfully awarded, a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship last summer. This enabled her to undertake the research which we presented at the conference.

Ruth, Dr Sarah Rose, and our other successful BPS Summer Research Assistantship recipient Tanya

Ruth has also successfully carried out an ambitious and innovative Final Year Project investigating the use of drawing to enhance young children’s memory. She is continuing to gain valuable research experience as over the summer she is working for the Behavioural Insights Team collecting data for a large-scale project aiming to assess an intervention to improve the language skills of children.


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

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

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

Dr 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:

Toddler’s language development via ‘In the Night Garden’ – Dr Sarah Rose writes for The Conversation UK

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader for the BSc Psychology & Child Development course at Staffordshire University, has recently written a piece for The Conversation UK about how the popular ‘In the Night Garden’ TV programme reflects the language development of the target toddler audience.

You can read Dr Rose’s piece for The Conversation by clicking here.

Watch out for more articles in The Conversation written by the members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!


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:

Student Success! MSc Health Psychology Student Publishes her Dissertation Research

By Dr Sarah Dean, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University.

Lucy Field

Lucy Field completed the MSc in Health Psychology at  Staffordshire University in 2017 and has recently had her dissertation research, which was supervised by Dr Sarah Dean, published as an open access article in the Global Journal of Health Science.

It has been recognised that stress can have a very negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing and it is therefore important that interventions are designed to help people deal with stressors effectively. One way of doing this is to use interventions that help people to become more aware of their bodies, their response to stress and how to regulate this. Lucy’s work explored the effectiveness of a biofeedback intervention, using the HeartMath training programme, to reduce a person’s physiological response to stressors. It was found that the intervention had positive effects for participants. Participants reported feeling less stressed and more relaxed after taking part in the intervention and Lucy’s physiological data supported this. Future research is needed to explore the use of HeartMath further.

This is what Lucy had to say about her time on the MSc:

“I really enjoyed my MSc in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University. Health promotion and stress have become areas of specialty for me. I completed my research on stress using a  biofeedback technique with support from my tutor and other researchers in the field. This has been published! I would not have believed this to be something I could have accomplished at the beginning of the course. I am now looking forward to starting the Prof Doc in Health Psychology!”

Please click here to read Lucy’s published article.

Field, L. H., Edwards, S. D., Edwards, D. J., & Dean, S. E. (2018). Influence of HeartMath Training Programme on Physiological and Psychological Variables. Global Journal of Health Science, 10(2), 126-133.


Thinking about postgraduate study in Health Psychology?

If you are interested in studying our BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology why not sign up to our next Open Afternoon on Tuesday 3rd July?

For more information about the Open Afternoon, please email the MSc Health Psychology  Course Directors Dr Sarah Dean s.dean@staffs.ac.uk or Dr Gemma Hurst G.L.Hurst@staffs.ac.uk.


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:

New research explores mothers’ experiences of feeding infants

By Dr Sarah Dean, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Researchers at The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, based at Staffordshire University, are conducting a study to learn more about the experiences of new Mums who live in Stoke-on-Trent. Dr Sarah Dean and Professional Doctorate student Sarah Thurgood are leading this research, which is funded by CHAD (The Centre for Health and Development), in order to learn more about factors that influence infant feeding.

The research team hope to use the information gathered to learn more about the types of support Mums have found useful and areas they felt less supported in. The idea is that this knowledge could then be used to inform future research or to help in the design of future interventions to help new mums with feeding their babies. The survey is open to mothers living in Stoke-on-Trent who have had their first baby between 6 weeks and 6 months ago.

Interested in taking part in this study? Click here to visit the study’s website for further information and/or to take part


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:

Innovative national study of university students’ experiences of high mood launched at Staffordshire University

By Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

As part of an exciting and innovative collaboration between eight UK universities and the Student Minds charity, we are conducting a national survey of the relationship between students’ experiences of high and variable moods with their academic experiences and general wellbeing. Experiences of variable mental health by university students has received significant attention over the past few years, with increases in the rates of reported mental health issues amongst students aged between 18 and 24 years and an increased number of students disclosing mental health difficulties to their universities (IPPR, 2017).

Whilst there has been a lot of discussion of students’ experiences of depression, anxiety, suicidality and the engagement in self-harm related behaviours, there has been little focus on the experience of high and variable moods amongst students and how this might impact on their social and academic functioning. High moods, which are associated with increased energy and activity levels, disturbed sleeping patterns, but also the engagement in more impulsive and risky behaviours, could have as much of an impact on student wellbeing during university studies as can depression, anxiety and negative moods. Given that studying for a degree is often one of the most stressful experience encountered in students’ lives, understanding how students respond to this stress and manage their moods is important for developing preventative interventions and improving students’ overall wellbeing and university experience.

Our unique collaboration aims to better understand students’ experiences of high and variable moods, identify the predictors of high mood amongst students and the potential avenues for intervention to improve students’ wellbeing and performance at university. As part of a collaborative network of researchers based at eight UK universities, which Staffordshire University is pleased to be part of (alongside Northumbria, King’s College London, Exeter, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading, and Glasgow universities) and Student Minds, we have launched a national survey of students’ experiences of high mood. We plan to follow-up this first survey with additional surveys to allow us to understand how students’ experiences of changeable and high moods develop over time.

Updates about this study and other research being conducted in the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research will be posted on the Department of Psychology’s InPsych blog!

The National Survey: Seeking University Students!

The survey is open to all UK university students aged between 18 and 25 years who are currently enrolled at any UK university. We are seeking a broad range of participants, including those who perhaps haven’t experienced any high or variable moods, to take part in the survey and help to inform future interventions in this area.

Note that Staffordshire, Northumbria and Exeter Psychology students can take part via their SONA systems (the study is listed in SONA and can be completed in return for credits). All UK students who complete the survey can also opt-in to a prize draw for vouchers.

For further information and/or to take part, please click here to visit the survey’s website.

 

Currently a student, but aged 25 years and over?

A separate study I am conducting is investigating how pro-social behaviours such as volunteering impact on mental health and coping strategies, e.g. suicidal thinking and self-harm. This is another collaborative study between myself, based at Staffordshire, and researchers at external universities.

Anyone can participate in this separate study (there is no age limit) which takes the form of an online survey of personality, prosocial behaviours and mental health. Students studying at Chester, Nottingham Trent and Staffordshire universities can sign up to the study in SONA to receive credits (please log into SONA to find the study).

If you are not a Chester/Staffs/Trent student, you can find out more about the prosocial behaviour study by clicking here. Chester/Staffs/Trent students please see SONA for more details.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Development, Social and Cognitive Psychology.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Dr Daniel Jolley appears on the Adam Ruins Everything podcast discussing psychology of conspiracy theories

On this week’s Adam Ruins Everything podcast, Dr Daniel Jolley, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was an invited guest to discuss the topic of conspiracy theories.

Daniel is a social psychologist in the Department of Psychology whose primary research interest involves examining the psychology of conspiracy theories.  In his research, he is interested in why people believe in conspiracy theories and what potential consequences exposure to conspiracy theories may have on individuals and society.

On the podcast, the host Adam Conover interviewed Daniel where they discussed why so many millions of people subscribe to conspiracy theories and what tools can be developed to alleviate their potential harm, such as with the use of counter-arguments against the conspiracy account.

This interview was a follow up to Daniel’s appearance on the hit-US TV Show also called Adam Ruins Everything on the American channel Tru TV. Daniel was a guest on the show, which aired on US TV in October 2017, where the show showcased the topic of conspiracy theories with the help of scientific research.

You can listen to the podcast here and also catch up with the TV series on the show’s website.


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:

Using photo-elicitation to understand experiences of quality of life, paraplegia & chronic pain

By Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Together, working with one of our MSc in Health Psychology students and a fellow member of staff (Dr Amy Burton), we have just published a paper using a photo-elicitation approach to understand the lived experience of quality of life amongst a group of individuals experiencing paraplegia and chronic pain.

Our paper, currently in press in the Journal of Health Psychology, details a novel study where we were interested in better understanding the factors which give and take away from the quality of life experienced by people living with paraplegia (who experience paralysis to their lower limbs due to a spinal cord injury) and chronic ongoing pain. Many people who are paraplegic also experience chronic pain but studies to date have tended to focus on self-report measures of pain experiences. Using self-report measures of pain experiences might not allow researchers to really understand the nature and quality of pain, as the experience of pain can be difficult to objectively measure, and may not help understand how individuals ‘make sense’ of these experiences.

It is well known that managing chronic pain when living with paraplegia, and being reliant on a wheelchair for mobility, can be a challenging experience for many people. We were particularly interested in understanding how people in this situation manage their pain and maintain a good quality of life, whilst maintaining a focus on their experiences as individuals. A lot of qualitative research into people’s experiences of physical health conditions uses researcher-led interview schedules focused on topics that the researchers are interested in – this can be problematic as it may not allow the participants to direct the interview discussions towards topics and issues they feel are important when making sense of their own experiences.

To help us ensure our study was focused on our participants’ experiences we used a form of interview technique referred to as photoelicitation, sometimes known as photovoice. Rather than just asking our sample of participants a series of questions about their experiences, we asked them to spend a week taking photos of things they felt took away from their quality of life or improved their quality of life. Six photographs from each participant were then chosen for discussion in the interviews, during which we only asked the participants some general questions about their photograph (such as: ‘what does this photograph represent in terms of your quality of life?‘). Our discussions based on these photographs produced some incredibly rich and complex data, showing some of the complexities of living with paraplegia, chronic pain and also using a wheelchair for mobility (which we wouldn’t have found if we just asked a series of set questions).

For example, one of our participants discussed a photo she took of a toy dinosaur, similar the one shown on the right. The participant explained that this toy dinosaur represented her experiences with healthcare staff, particularly doctors, who she saw as being old-fashioned, not understanding of her pain experiences and frustrating to deal with. These communication problems contributed to this participant’s worsening pain as she was often prescribed ineffective medications attributed to her pain experiences not being understood by healthcare staff. Discussions like this demonstrated the complexity of our participants’ experiences living with pain and paraplegia whilst attempting to maintain a good quality of life – often related to a sense of frustration that factors like medical professionals should help improve, not worsen, their quality of life.

Interestingly, using a wheelchair was viewed as a factor that both improved and worsened our participants’ quality of life. Some participants were grateful for the wheelchair giving them independence, to be mobile and not be over-reliant on others to get around. However, this sometimes came at the cost of the wheelchair preventing our participants from being fully mobile (e.g. by not being able to access parts of their own home or having difficulty using public transport) and even caused further pain and discomfort due to sitting in the chair.

Using photo-elicitation, and allowing our participants to be much more involved in directing the interview discussions, produced some rich data participant-focused data which demonstrated the complexity of living with both paraplegia and chronic pain. Had we just used a standard set of written questions we would not have uncovered such complexity in our participants’ experiences. The use of photographs to guide the interviews could be incorporated into healthcare communication practices as it may help healthcare professionals to better understand their patients’ experiences, particularly of chronic pain which can be difficult to communicate verbally.

It was a pleasure to work with one of our MSc in Health Psychology students (Melanie Hughes), who led the data collection, and one of our Health Psychologist colleagues (Dr Amy Burton) on this analysis. This project represents one of a number of published studies and papers produced with students as part of our BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology course here at Staffordshire University.

We have published two papers based on this research, including a commentary paper reflecting on the use of photo-elicitation as an interview tool and our recent paper detailing our analysis of the interviews (click here). Links to the papers can be found below:


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: