Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Emma Culley (BSc Psychology and Counselling)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Emma who completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling degree here at Staffordshire University in 2022. Find out about Emma’s experiences on her course and her plans for the future:

Please tell us a little about your background before coming to study at Staffordshire University:

I decided to study psychology at university on my first day at sixth form! I started studying psychology at sixth form in 2017 and my teacher was a real inspiration to me. As soon as I stepped into the classroom on my first day I knew it was what I wanted to study and I became very dedicated to those studies. This set me on the path to where I am now!

Emma Culley

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Staffordshire University was the first place I went to an open day when choosing a university. As soon as I arrived at the university I felt at home and was comfortable walking around. During the talks given by the lecturers on the day I was enthralled by the topics and was very engaged in these talks. I felt that I could gain a lot from the experience that Staffordshire University could give me and what they had to offer and I knew it was the place for me to be for the next 3 years at least!

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffordshire?

During my time at university we went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic so my experience was somewhat interrupted due to this. In spite of this I managed to make the most of the experiences the university had to offer with day trips to Alton Towers to meet people on my course and other extra-curricular activities on offer (the club nights in the LRV and karaoke in the Ember Lounge!). I was also part of the university badminton club for my 3 years of studying and made some wonderful friends there and gained experience in running clubs – highly recommend being part of as many clubs and societies as you can – this is what gives you that full university experience!

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffordshire?

The biggest challenge I faced at university was the change in learning styles from starting with face-to-face lectures in first year to only online lectures in second year and then a mix of everything in my final year. Due to the online learning bought about by the pandemic communication with peers was limited as discussions during lectures were difficult due to often unstable internet connections and difficulty in communicating online. Also arranging meetings with mentors and lecturers meant a stable internet connection which was sometimes hard to find in a student house when everyone was studying online! Due to not being on campus access to resources was limited for a while as not all textbooks/articles were available online, however this was resolved quickly by the university in difficult times! These challenges were overcome through perseverance of online lectures and many emails to and from (very) patient lecturers discussing any questions that students had.

What have you done since leaving Staffordshire? How did you course help you with this?

Since finishing my undergraduate degree in May 2022 I have been busy completing a summer internship with lecturers at the university. This internship has been based within Health Psychology, the area in which I am most interested and has consisted of a systematic review. As part of the review team I have been searching across multiple databases, completing data extraction and quality appraisal of articles. This kind of review is not something I had been able to complete as part of the course and so gaining this experience has been invaluable. This has been a really wonderful experience and has given me many skills that will prove useful in my future career in Health Psychology.

I am starting a master’s in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University in September 2022, during which I will be undertaking a placement module which will give me a great deal of experience working within the industry alongside my studies.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Go for it! Studying psychology at Staffordshire University was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The experiences I have been given and the people I have met have allowed me to develop skills and create lifelong bonds with some amazing people, whether this be the lecturers being great mentors or friends that I have made along the way. All these things make me Proud to be Staffs.


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.

Cost of living crisis – how has it impacted on unpaid carers of people living with dementia?

A small team from Staffordshire University, including Lisa Kyte (a current level 5 BSc Psychology and Child Development student at Staffordshire University) and Dr Dan Herron (Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University) are carrying out some research exploring how the cost-of-living crisis is experienced by unpaid carers of people living with dementia.

Dr Dan Herron and BSc Psychology and Child Development student Lisa Kyte

Research has shown the potential financial challenges associated with being a carer (Gott et al., 2015) and specifically being an unpaid carer of a person living with dementia (Bayley et al., 2021). Being a carer has additional costs that can significantly impact their financial situation. Carers are likely to have been further negatively impacted by the recent cost-of-living crisis (Carers UK, 2022).

Since late 2021, the UK has been experiencing a cost-of-living crisis which has been driven by sharp increases in energy prices and the prices of everyday basics such as food. Carers UK (2022), early in the crisis, carried out a survey and the results illustrated the negative impact of increased prices on carers, with carers having to make tough decisions between food or heating. No research (to the our knowledge) has explored the views and experiences of unpaid carers of people living with dementia during the cost-of-living crisis.

Our study involves taking part in an interview (informal chat) about unpaid carers’ experiences during the cost-of-living crisis this can be in person (depending on location) or by telephone or online chat. If you are 18 years or over, and care and live with a person living with dementia, and are interested in taking part, please read the Cost of living Information Sheet. Please do share this information with anyone you think will be interested.

If you want to take part in this research, discuss it further or have any questions, please do get in touch with Dan (daniel.herron1@staffs.ac.uk or 01782 295866)


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.

Staffordshire University Psychology Department awarded two prestigious BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantships

The Department of Psychology is delighted to have been awarded funds through the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. The scheme is a prestigious award that marks out a student as a future researcher and potential academic.

The BPS Research Assistantship Scheme is highly competitive, so the Department is proud to be successful in being awarded two summer internships to Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Rose. We wish both students the best of luck in their Summer Research Assistantships!

One of the award holders, Louise Middling, who is working with Dr Sarah Rose, has written a blog piece about her experiences studying BSc Psychology and Child Development and the focus for the research.


If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I would be a mature student at staffs studying BSc Psychology and Child Development I would never have believed you. I can honestly say though that it has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. The course has opened up a wealth of opportunities for me that I could never have envisaged before I started, and I have met some amazing people along the way.

Louise Middling

Having worked as an intervention specialist in a primary school, I have always been interested in exploring new ideas about how children learn and develop and so when the Research Assistantship Module came up as an option module in Level 5, I knew I wanted to take part. I read all of the project proposals hoping to find a project I could really resonate with and learn some new skills that I could benefit from in my final year project.  I found myself drawn to a project with Dr. Sarah Rose on the use of social media among young children. I had to admit that my knowledge of social media was scant, and part of me knew that as well as an interesting project, I would need to know all I could to learn to navigate this with my own children in the future!

Luckily I was accepted onto the project and under the guidance of Dr. Rose set about identifying and researching social media platforms designed for use by young children and researching how they interact with each other on these platforms, while looking for relevant research into this topic area. Over the course of the assistantship, I learned so much that has really benefitted me both personally and professionally, and have built skills that I can take forward into the future.

I was delighted when Dr. Rose put me forward for the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme with the British Psychological Society, and was so happy to hear that we had won one of the awards grants. This has enabled us to extend our research and work with Dr. Beatrice Hayes of Royal Holloway in London into completing a scoping review on perceptions of young children’s SNS use over the summer. I can’t wait to see where this research will lead. If you are reading this and wondering whether to complete the Research Assistantship Module, I definitely recommend it. I’d like to thank Dr. Rose for her mentorship and support throughout.


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.

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.

Professor Richard Cooke joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

The Psychology Academic team are pleased to welcome Professor Richard Cooke who joined the University as a Professor of Health Psychology in January 2022. Richard introduces himself below:

Professor Richard Cooke

I am delighted to have joined the amazing Staffordshire University as their new Professor of Health Psychology, director of the Centre for Psychological Research (SCPR), and co-director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. I am a full member of the Division of Health Psychology and registered as Health Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Registered Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor. I am the current chair of the Division of Health Psychology’s Conference Scientific Committee. I previously acted as Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual scientific meeting hosted at Edgbaston Cricket ground.

My primary research interest focuses on people’s motivation to perform health behaviours, investigating questions such as “Why do people drink excessively?” and “Why don’t people eat healthily and engage in physical activity?”. I’m also interested in health guidelines and why people don’t follow them!, as well as working with colleagues from the Global Drug Survey team, based in Australia, the UK, and the US, on global comparisons of substance use.

My secondary research interest is working with health professionals to design, develop and evaluate health behaviour change interventions. My interest in this area began when I led a qualitative evaluation of the NHS Health Checks programme in Birmingham. Since completing that project I’ve worked with Optometrists at Aston University, and Nutritionists at the University of Manchester, to promote dietary behaviour change in patient populations. I am currently working on a NIHR-funded grant with dentists at the University of Liverpool to test the impact of a health behaviour change intervention to promote routine dental attendance.

Many moons ago, I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Sheffield, before completing my Masters degree in Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Reading. I then returned to Sheffield to complete my PhD on moderation of cognition-behaviour relations using properties of cognition in 2002. Next, I worked at the University of Leeds on the UNIQoLL project – an attempt to map out the mental health of ALL students at the University. I then moved to Sheffield Hallam University in 2003 to take on a post as a Lecturer in Health Psychology. One year later, I moved to Aston University as a Lecturer in Health Psychology, gaining promotion to Senior Lecturer in 2012. I was part of the team that established the MSc Health Psychology programme in 2005 and the MSc Health Psychology (online) programme a decade later. I delivered Quantitative Methods and Advanced Statistics and Health Behaviours modules for 13 years as well as teaching methods and statistics, social psychology, and an optional module on the psychology of alcohol at undergraduate level. Prior to coming to Staffs, I spent four years as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, teaching a postgraduate module in advanced research methods as part of their MSc Research Methods in Psychology.

Currently, I have several ongoing projects, including supervising a PhD student to explore the link between the fear of missing out (FoMO) and alcohol consumption, secondary analyses of big data sets with collaborators at UEA and in Bremen, and secondary analyses of longitudinal data with colleagues in Norway. I continue to write up results of the CALIBRATE study, a funded study seeking to compare prediction of alcohol consumption between university students based in six different European countries. If you are interested in hearing more about these projects feel free to email me via richard.cooke@staffs.ac.uk or you can follow me on Twitter @Prof_R_Cooke.

My first few weeks at Staffordshire have been great – everyone is really friendly, and it’s been a pleasure to meet people and discuss ideas.


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.

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 StaffsPsych PhD researcher Matthew Kimberley

Written by Matthew Kimberley, Psychology PhD Researcher

I am currently in the second year of my PhD at Staffordshire University. Every PhD at Staffs is completely different and is tailored to the researcher. You choose your own research area and much of the design and the direction of the PhD is directed by the research, with support offered by your supervisors.

The wide range of research being conducted within the department at Staffordshire University allows you to interact with researchers with different research interests and methodologies. Through interactions with your fellow researchers, you are able to share your experiences and learn from one another. This may include sharing methodology/analysis experiences or methods of recruitment.

During a PhD at Staffordshire University, you work closely with your supervision team at all stages of research and receive a great deal of feedback. My supervision team consists of Doctor Jade Elliott, Doctor Samuel Jones and Doctor Zachary Parker. During your PhD, you gain a great deal of support and mentorship from your supervisors. Having more than supervisor allows you to gain insight from several viewpoints which is useful when shaping your research.

Completing a PhD allows you to dedicate a large proportion of your time to your research and to focus your attention to answering your research question. My research examines the factors which influence whether an individual shares their sexual fantasies with their partner. To accomplish this, I am primarily using quantitative research methods, such as quantitative content analysis and multiple regression analysis.

Alongside my PhD, I also teach part-time in the Psychology department. This has allowed me to gain valuable teaching experience and provided me with a number of training opportunities. I am particularly interested in gaining HEA associate fellowship in the near future.

My research:

Working alongside my supervisors, my research currently focuses on the disclosure of sexual fantasies. In particular, I am interested in examining which factors may influence how likely individuals are to share their fantasies with an intimate partner.

During the initial year of my PhD at Staffordshire University, I conducted a systematic review which aimed to examine which factors influenced self-disclosure within sexual and/or romantic relationships (Kimberley et al., in preparation). This review highlighted that very little research has examined which factors influence the disclosure of sexual fantasies.

Given that a large proportion of individuals regularly experience sexual fantasies (97%- Lehmiller, 2018) and that sexual fantasies and sexual self-disclosure act as relationship maintenance and enhancement tools, it is important to conduct research to examine which factors may inhibit or promote the disclosure of sexual fantasies.  

Drawing upon methodologies commonly used by HIV research, my first study aimed to identify the reasons participants provided for disclosing (or not disclosing) their sexual fantasies. This study also asked participants how their partner responded (or how they believed their partner would respond) to these disclosures. Recruitment has recently ended for this study, and I am now beginning to start analysis of the data using content analysis. Understanding the reasons people hold for hiding their sexual fantasies from a partner is crucial for developing an understanding of why some people disclose and others do not.

I have also recently received ethical approval for a second study, which examines how relationship characteristics (e.g. trust, love or perceptions of one’s partner) may influence an individual’s likelihood of disclosing their sexual fantasies. Recruitment for this study has started recently. Within this study, participants are asked to reflect on their relationship with a regular partner and to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving the disclosure of various sexual fantasies. To participate, you must be aged over 18 and currently in a sexual and/or romantic relationship. You do not need to have previously disclosed (or had) a sexual fantasy to take part.

If you would be interested in taking part, you can do so by accessing the following link (http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2gK6xCjjZVTMvJA)

If you are a Staffordshire University student, you may also take part in the study through sona, where you can earn 2 sona credits. If you have any questions, please contact me (matthew.kimberley@research.staffs.ac.uk).


Exterior Science Centre

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.

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.