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.

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 – 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.

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.

5 things to get involved in whilst studying with us!

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

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

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

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

#2: You can attend expert talks

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

Group PsychMe

#3: Become a Psychology Advocate!

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

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#4: Develop your practical research skills

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

#5: Join the Psychology society!

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


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

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

About you

Mikki
Mikki, BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology student

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

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

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

What has been the best part of the course?

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

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

Helpful and understanding staff

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

What are your next steps and plans for the future?

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

Would you recommend our course to others?

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


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

The Science Centre

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:

New research into the role of Registered Intermediaries in court cases involving child witnesses

Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader – BSc Forensic Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) has had a new study accepted for publication in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law. Sarah blogs about her new study below:

The new paper, titled ‘Mock jurors’ perceptions of a child witness: The impact of the presence and/or intervention of a Registered Intermediary during cross-examination’, featured students from Psychology and Law departments who took the parts of barristers, court clerk, child witness, and Registered Intermediary as part of a mock trial. The students, who volunteered their time for the time, are named in the acknowledgements for the publication and were given a useful insight into the research process and experience of research in Forensic Psychology. The University’s mock court room was used for the study and the cross-examination of the child victim was video recorded and shown to mock juror participants.

The findings of the study showed no effect of the presence or intervention of the Registered Intermediary on mock juror perceptions, which supports their neutral role in court proceedings. However, rather concerning was the way in which one factor, the likelihood of a guilty verdict, was affected by which professional gave an intervention – if the Registered Intermediary was present and included an intervention (to support communication with the child witness) then the likelihood of a guilty verdict was lower than if the Registered Intermediary was absent and the judge gave the same intervention – the converse was found when no interventions were included. This raises the question as to mock juror perceptions of what is an appropriate role for professionals to take – but that this has an impact on their guilty verdicts is highly concerning.

This new study has recently been accepted for publication in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, and the full text of the article can now be accessed via the journal’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. 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:

Dr Sarah Krähenbühl blogs on the 2016 Intermediaries for Justice Conference

Dr Sarah Krähenbühl (Lecturer in Forensic Psychology & Course Leader for Staffordshire’s BSc in Forensic Psychology) reports on a recent conference held at Staffordshire University for researchers, policy makers and professionals with interests in the use of vulnerable individuals as witnesses:

On March 12th 2016 a national conference took place at Staffordshire University called ‘Intermediaries for Justice’. Registered Intermediaries (RI) are professionals who facilitate communication with vulnerable witnesses (and now also with vulnerable suspects) who are participating in legal proceedings. An RI will have specialist expertise in an area of communication, will conduct an assessment with a vulnerable person, and then liaise with all other professionals involved in the legal proceedings (e.g. Police Officers, Barristers, Judge) to ensure that appropriate communication takes place. At this conference, in addition to Registered Intermediaries, there were a range of delegates including Police, Social Workers, charitable organisation representatives (e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau), academics and students from Staffordshire University. The speakers included Hon Ms Justice Russell, HHJ Sally Cahill QC, Dr. Sarah Krähenbühl, Gill Darvill, Dame Joyce Plotnikoff and Dr Richard Woolfson.

Apr16 SK Conference picture

Dr Sarah Krähenbühl (of Staffordshire University) and Gill Darvill (Registered Intermediary) gave a presentation on the UK findings of a Europe-wide research project conducted for the Fundamental Rights Agency (Vienna) regarding children’s experiences in the Criminal Justice System.

In addition there were a series of 6 discussion groups facilitated by professionals covering a range of topics related to legal proceedings such as witness interview training, pre-trial recorded cross-examination, pre-trial preparation, individuals with autism or mental health vulnerabilities, and fitness to plead issues.

The conference was a huge success and was greatly oversubscribed. You can get further information about the work of Registered Intermediaries from the ‘Advocates Gateway’ website http://www.theadvocatesgateway.org/intermediaries – and of course, look out for their next conference in 2017!


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Staffordshire University’s Psychology Department gives Year 12 students an insight into “Uni Life”

The Psychology Department at Staffordshire University took part in the “Uni Life Event” (23rd to 25th June) which offered year 12 students from the Midlands an opportunity to stay in the halls of residence at Staffordshire’s City Campus in Stoke-on-Trent, explore the state-of-the-art facilities and get hands-on experience of degree courses in subject workshops.

CB Summer School 1

Dr Claire Barlow giving her workshop on children’s drawings

Dr. Claire Barlow and Mel Hall, both lecturers in the Psychology Department at Staffs, ran a workshop about studying Psychology at Staffordshire University. In the session, they talked about the Psychology undergraduate degrees as well as running interactive activities on children’s drawing development, jury decision making and group behaviour.

CB Summer School 2Claire said “The session was really positively received by students, many of whom were introduced to Psychology for the first time. The activities gave students an opportunity to learn more about specialist and applied areas of Psychology and also an insight into studying for a Psychology degree at Staffordshire University”.

CB Summer School 3

Examples of different forms of drawing

Students who took part were asked for their feedback on the session, stating Psychology talks were very interesting and taught me lots about the teaching style at uni. The lectures were interesting’; ‘Psychology was interesting, I now know what I want to do at university’; ‘Sessions were interactive and I now feel more confident’ and Forensic Psychology suited my career aspirations and was really interesting.’


For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology related postgraduate degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

New research explores how officers conduct investigative interviews with children

Dr Sarah Krähenbühl, Lecturer in Psychology and Forensic Psychology researcher at Staffordshire University, discusses her new research exploring the use of “ground rules” by police officers and social workers when interviewing children:

This study examined over 50 transcripts of investigative interviews conducted with children who were either witnesses to, or victims of, different forms of abuse. The particular focus was when, how and if ground rules were used by the interviewing officers (generally a Police Officer but a Social Worker may take this role) and then to establish the likely impact of this on the child’s understanding and the remainder of the interview.

Ground rules refer to explanations such as shutterstock_131453660 Resizedsay if you don’t know’, ‘tell me if I get something wrong’ and an agreement to tell the truth. The interviewing protocol (known as ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ 2011) states that ground rules should be included in all interviews with children. The study took a mixed methodological approach with numerical assessment of what ground rules were included, when this happened, were there any subsequent repetitions of the rules, and a qualitative approach as to the wording used and implications of this.

The results showed that there was a lack of consistency in ground rule implementation despite clear interviewing protocol guidance. Of greater concern was that when the ground rules were implemented the child’s understanding was not established and the relevance of the ground rules to the remainder of the interview was rarely established. So, this study has relevance not only to interviewing officers and legal professionals but also has implications in relation to assessments of child credibility when giving evidence.

Dr Krähenbühl’s study has recently been accepted for publication by Psychiatry, Psychology and Law and can be accessed via the journal’s website:

Dr Krähenbühl teaches on Staffordshire University’s Forensic Psychology degree – for more information about our degrees please visit the Forensic Psychology course page and the Psychology courses webpages.