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.

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:

“Oh, I’m really sorry, the jacket potato took ages to arrive…” Do you feel guilty about taking a lunch break?

By Mike Oliver, Trainee Health Psychologist.

What has the length of time it takes to queue up for a jacket potato got to do with taking breaks at work? For some people, it turns out that it’s a handy way to explain to their colleagues why they’re “late” back from lunch. And by “late”, I don’t mean “late”. All they’ve done is taken a bit longer than they feel comfortable in taking for their lunch break.

How have we got to the point where some people feel guilty about taking their legally allowable break?

Taking a break is good for your health isn’t it? So taking breaks is just common sense isn’t it? It’s certainly not common practice. At the place I work, our latest staff survey told us that 42% of our workforce, either don’t take a lunch break at all or take less than the legally required minimum time of 20 minutes. (Yes, that’s right – it is the law for your employer to allow most workers to take a 20 minute, uninterrupted break, at some point during the day). There appears to be a growing trend nationally for large numbers of people not to take breaks at work, with surveys reporting that between 66% and 82% of workers do not always take their breaks (Bupa, 2015; Mastercard/Ipsos Mori, 2016).

In my research into the psychological and social benefits of taking breaks during the working day (in office settings), I uncovered an amazing set of thoughts and behaviours linked to taking breaks (or not) during the working day. As well as review and meta-analysis of literature in the field, I was curious to find out how people thought about taking breaks.  Putting it simply, I asked groups of office workers at a large employer, the following, deeply insightful, questions:

  • “Do you take your lunch breaks?”
  • “Why?” Or: “Why not?”

Using a combination of my curiosity and a structured way of analysing what people said, I found that:

  • Lots of people feel anxious and guilty about taking breaks
  • Work “wins”. Faced with a choice when they’re really busy, even if someone wants to take a break, then work “wins”
  • If you’ve got a great set of colleagues who all want to take lunch breaks, then guess what… you’ll take your breaks!  And if you don’t have a great set of colleagues, then guess what…?
  • If you choose to take your break at your desk, then people acknowledge that they are “fair game” for being given work to do!
  • It’s not  as simple as 2 groups emerging (those who do, and those who don’t take breaks) – people move from group to group depending on lots of situational factors

I’m now trying to work with these themes to look for ways to change the culture to one where people at least feel more comfortable to take a break if they want to. Clearly, if you have a job, the culture at your workplace will almost certainly be different to the one where I work, but perhaps, this blog might make you think a bit differently. Go on, stop reading this, move away from your screen… and take a break!


Mike will be sharing more about his research into the consequences of taking breaks (or not) during the working day at Psychologist in the Pub on Wednesday 1st May at The Glebe in Stoke.

Mike currently in his third year studies in his Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, which he combines with working in the Public Health team in a Local Authority. Mike can be contacted via: m.oliver@student.staffs.ac.uk


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

Forensic Psychology students visit the Keele Mortuary

By Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology & Course Leader – BSc Forensic Psychology) and two Level 5 Forensic Psychology students

Students on our BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology course study a range of modules related to Psychology and Forensic Science, including individual modules focused on Crime Scene Investigation, the Psychology of Crime and Criminal Justice, and Forensic Applications of Psychology.

After completing their studies, many of our Forensic Psychology graduates pursue careers in the police force or a variety of roles working with offenders. As part of this work, many Forensic Psychology graduates may be working on crimes scenes or other settings where they may see a dead body. To help prepare our students for these potential future careers, we recently took a group of our Forensic Psychology students to the Keele University Mortuary. Staff at the Mortuary delivered a number of sessions for our students, including observations of a dead body, seeing how lived experiences (such as smoking or livening in a polluted environment, damage to areas of the brain, undiagnosed aneurysms) affect the body which may only become apparent post mortem, and viewing the Mortuary’s surgical equipment.

Two of our Level 5 Forensic Psychology students who attended the Mortuary visit, Emily and Emily, commented:

“We were taken into the mortuary and shown the cadavers. We were able to see different sections of the body such as the torso, the brain, legs and arms, and a full body. With these different sections we were able to explore actual organs including the brain. This was especially fascinating as psychology students as we were able to see the different areas of the brain that we learn about on our course, and how diseases can be physically shown within the brain. This was especially useful to apply to our Biological Psychology module”

“Another benefit of this trip was to prepare for potential future job areas that a Forensic Psychology student may be interested in, as some jobs may involve viewing the deceased. This also provided an insight into post mortems and anatomy which may be applicable to the forensic field. This trip was not for the faint hearted; you would need a certain mindset to attend this as some students may find this distressing. However, this was a great opportunity and we would definitely recommend that other students take part in this trip in the future.”

Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Course Leader, BSc Forensic Psychology) commented: “This was a unique opportunity for our Forensic Psychology students to have direct contact with bodies post mortem, to get some understanding of anatomy, and relate potential theoretical forensic-based experiences to the reality of an individual.”

Please click here for further information about Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology course.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. 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 further information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Student Blog: The importance of incorporating public and patient involvement in my MSc Research

One of our current MSc by Applied Research students, Sophia, blogs about her MSc dissertation project which is incoporating public and patient involvement into a study of experiences of local mental health services:

My current research project has been developed by myself and a team of lived experience advisors as part of a public and patient involvement (PPI) strategy. Our aims are primarily to explore the experiences of mental health service users in Stoke-on-Trent and provide a service-user perspective of these services at a local level. Secondly, we aim to add to the literature surrounding the implementation of PPI strategies and co-production in mental health research.

A PPI strategy is a plan to engage with the public and /or patient groups, depending on your research question, with a view to enhance the quality of the research. PPI teams generally offer their experience, perspective and advice through roles such as ‘advisory’ or ‘steering’ groups. But consider this. If I told you that someone I have regular contact with has helped me to develop the proposal, ethics, interview questions, participant information, analysis, dissemination plans, plain language summary, presentation, and once even provided tech support, would you describe that as an advisory role? Perhaps a co-producer is more accurate.

My area of interest is mental health; historically outcomes of importance in this area have been identified by clinicians and researchers. This has led to much research focusing on eliminating symptoms and assessing the effectiveness of psychopharmacology; and although these areas are important, outcomes such as improved quality of life are neglected and clinical trials concerning talking therapies are kin to unicorn sightings. Consequently, strategies such as that adopted by the National Institute of Health Research asking researchers to provide a plan for PPI work alongside applications for funding have become more common. However, PPI work isn’t just the concern of the NIHR. Involving the public and patient populations in your research no matter what level you are at, undergrad, MSc, PhD, or full-blown professorship with bells on, helps you to keep your research focused on population relevant questions and outcomes. That is, it allows you to investigate the things that are important to the people you are trying to help. Further to this, it provides dialogue between patient populations and researchers, allows for the exchange of knowledge and experience and develops trust in the community. It demonstrates that the research is being done, that we do care what you think about what you have been through and together we can make things better.

As students, we can contribute to a better way of conducting research and set precedents. Eliminating tokenistic steering groups and sitting down with our gran/neighbour/kids/patient/pilot participant, asking them how something was for them, really listening and making co-production the norm. I know that’s what the public and patient group I’m working with want, because I asked them.


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

Body Esteem & Social Media use: StaffsPsych Graduate Hollie publishes her undergraduate research!

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

As you’re probably already aware, social media is widely used nowadays. For example, the last recorded statistics of this year showed that Facebook alone had 2.27 billion monthly active users and one billion people were using Instagram in June 2018.

Researchers at the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research decided to look into whether using social media has an impact on a person’s feelings towards their body. Staffordshire University Undergraduate student Hollie Ormsby, along with her supervisors (Dr. Alison Owen and collaborator Dr. Manpal Bhogal from the University of Wolverhampton), surveyed 100 students, with participants completing measures of social media use and body esteem. The body esteem measure looks at how people feel about their body, and includes statements such as ‘I am proud of my body’. Hollie and her supervisors found that social media use and intensity of use (the amount of time people spent on social media) did not predict a person’s body esteem. However, they did find that the women had significantly lower body esteem compared to men. Whilst it might seem disappointing not to replicate previous studies’ findings in relation to body esteem and social media use, this study provides useful evidence indicating that the assumed negative effects of social media use may be more complicated than previously thought, especially in relation to body esteem.

Hollie and her supervisors have recently published their findings in the journal Current Psychology (click here to view the paper) and Hollie is progressing her studies at Staffordshire University on the Department of Psychology’s new MSc Foundations in Clinical Psychology course after completing her BSc (Hons) Psychology degree in 2018.


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:

100% PTES Student Satisfaction on Staffordshire University’s MSc Psychology Conversion Course!

According to the Post Graduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2018 results, the first cohort of students who completed the MSc Psychology Conversion course were 100% satisfied with the overall quality of their course. The Higher Education Academy’s annual Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is the only sector-wide survey to gain insight from taught postgraduate students about their learning and teaching experiences.

Dr. Louise Humphreys, Course Leader for the MSc Psychology conversion degree, comments:

“This is fantastic news and I am delighted that students were highly satisfied with the course. These students started the course with little or no knowledge of Psychology, and it was great to see the students’ progress throughout the year. In addition, 83% of the students achieved a Merit or Distinction for their degree, which is fantastic. Our team of academic staff work very hard to ensure that students receive an excellent experience here at Staffordshire University, and we are extremely pleased with the success of the course in its first year.  The team are currently continuing this hard work to ensure that the second cohort get the very best out of the course and receive a stimulating and rewarding experience.”

The MSc Psychology conversion course is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in Psychology, but do not have a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited undergraduate degree. The course allows students to gain Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC). This is a means by which the BPS ensures that those working towards Chartered Status have studied Psychology at the appropriate breadth and standard to equip them for postgraduate training. Upon completing the course students will have covered all the core areas of Psychology defined by the BPS. Graduates from this course can go on to apply for BPS accredited professional psychology training courses (such as Clinical, Health, Forensic, and Educational Psychology, amongst others) and eventual achievement of Chartered Status.


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: