Student Blog: Experiences of Undertaking a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship

Tanya Schrader, current Final Year BSc Forensic Psychology student at Staffordshire University, blogs about her experience working as a BPS-funded Summer Intern:

Tanya talking about her Summer Intern research on Six Towns Radio

During Summer 2017, while my friends were raising their hands in the air (like they just don’t care), I was doing a research project. I know what you’re thinking, but I can assure you, it was anything but dull. In fact, I think I may have found my career path. I assisted Dr Daniel Jolley in a project investigating the influence of belief in conspiracy theories on criminal behavior. This was made possible by the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Research Assistantship Scheme and Staffordshire University. The internship aims to provide students an opportunity to sample real-world research.

The project involved examining the relationship between conspiracy theories and White-Collar Crime (WCC); these types of crimes concern fraud and embezzlement which can cost the UK economy £193 billion per annum. We were specifically interested whether believing in conspiracy theories would lead to higher intentions to engage in WCC – If they conspire, why can’t I.  During the project, I undertook data collection and analysis utilizing varied methods and designs, alongside writing sections of the academic paper, which will hopefully lead to publication (an exhilarating thought). I also wrote for non-acadamic audiences such as a piece for Psych-Talk, a student publication. This project improved my academic skills which, I strongly suspect, will prove invaluable while undertaking my third-year project and postgraduate study.

Tanya presenting her work at the BPS East Midlands Conference

Moreover, Dr. Jolley and I were invited to speak about the internship and Staffordshire University, at 6 Towns Radio. Despite my initial anxiety, it was fun!  It was an opportunity to talk about psychology and research in non-academic terms and increase awareness of social psychology concepts. Folks from as far afield as my native South Africa tuned in and engaged in the discussion.

In addition to the radio interview, Dr. Jolley and I submitted an abstract to present a poster at the BPS East Midlands Conference. This gave me a flavor of the processes involved in such events. The application was successful and I joined the Staffordshire University team at the conference. The poster was well received and generated interest (I even heard a PhD student refer to it as ‘really cool’) which was a lovely endorsement for the Summer’s hard work.

Tanya with members of staff from the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University

I am grateful to have had this opportunity to expand my knowledge, skills, and confidence. Thanks to Dr. Jolley, the BPS and Staffs Uni for making it possible. The experience has solidified my intention to pursue a career in research and my upcoming third-year project feels less daunting. In fact, I relish the prospect of another investigation.

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: