Staffordshire University Psychology Department awarded two prestigious BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantships – Meet StaffsPsych Student Heather Cassidy

The Department of Psychology were 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 in 2022 to Dr Alison Owen and Dr Sarah Rose.

One of the award holders, Heather Cassidy, who is working with Dr Alison Owen, has written a blog piece about her experiences studying BSc Psychology and Child Development and the focus for the research.

I have completed year 2 of BSc Psychology and Child Development and I am currently in my final year. During the second year I was really excited to have the opportunity to choose the research assistantship module to build experience to suit my future career plans.

Heather Cassidy

I want to get as much research experience during my time at Staffs as I can, unlike some of the other option modules it had a limited number of spaces and I had to achieve a certain grade in research modules in year 1 to get one of the spaces. I had my fingers crossed that I got a place, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was more than I could have imagined it was going to be. To be trusted to work on the research with the health psychology team was an amazing experience and opened doors of opportunity that have really made my journey at staffs both unique and tailored to me. The research I worked on was looking at breastfeeding and body image, I created adverts online to recruit participants, scheduled video appointments, wrote questions to ask and interviewed the participants for the study. I then transcribed the interviews and wrote my thoughts down of the generated themes to pass on to other researchers. As well as being my first experience of qualitative research, which helped with a further qualitative lab report on a core module in semester 2, the assistantship module provides an opportunity for reflection which will come in handy having had experience writing this ready for the year 3 project.

Wednesdays were my favourite day, I would have an occasional research assistantship lecture first thing, followed by a child development module. At the start of year 2 the first child development lecture asked the whole group what we wanted from the module as individuals. We all scribbled on post it notes and thought nothing of it, we studied the core material in semester 1 and then semester 2 arrived and the module had been set out each week to cover the topics the group had asked for in relation to careers. Each week we covered a different topic and various speakers came in to tell us how it related to their jobs, we heard from speakers working in various child psychology careers. We were taught how this connected to the material from semester 1 and how their diary looked in a typical week from clinical psychologists to family support workers. It was eye opening, and I know the group all enjoyed learning from people working in roles that they aspire to achieve after graduating next year. The child development lecturers always go above and beyond, and for me personally it really supported the notion of my experience being about me. I do not feel like I am a number on a register, my course is shaping my knowledge and putting the building blocks in place for my future career.

Year 2 has also demonstrated just how far I have come. I have done various other courses over the years, and I have never felt confident writing an essay before. At the start of year 1 I had used references in previous work, but I was still clueless about it, I just did it and hoped for the best. I remember my feedback from my first essay at staffs, my marker had written where is the intro? I was so confused, I had done a starting paragraph, nobody had ever pulled me up on my introduction style before. This allowed me to question what it was I needed to do, and it all fell in to place. I finally know how to write an essay. That may not be an achievement for others but for me it has been such a huge step and my marks have increased a lot as the course has gone on through all the teaching and feedback I have received at Staffs.

Outside of the planned lessons there is other support available to teach people study skills such as referencing and searching for journals, there is a section on the website where you can book in for any additional help you need. It is through the extra support available that it was finally picked up this year that I have ADHD. With this extra support it has enabled me to not only receive extra support, but it also puts the pieces into place for me of why I have always been capable of doing work, but the reason why I have struggled. This year has been life changing in so many ways academically and Staffs have truly supported and nurtured my development.

The golden egg moment for me this year was being put forward for a BPS award to take on a summer internship. I cried when I found out I had received it, but even if I had not received it, the fact that I was being able to put my own ideas forward for research and have people acknowledge that and have confidence in me to put me forward was an award in itself. The research I am currently working on is on the experiences of parents breastfeeding twins and multiples. During the assistantship module I interviewed around 15 women, only one was breastfeeding twins, based on her experience it opened my eyes to the differences she was experiencing as a mum of twins, and I suggested a twin study on the back of the research I had carried out in year 2. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Dr Alison Owen, Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Amy Burton, all from Staffs health psychology department with experience in breastfeeding and qualitative research. Even just from writing the proposal to put forward to be considered I was able to learn how proposals are put forward, how to fill in ethics forms and carry out a literature review to use in the study. In August, I finished the literature searches, written the introduction, written questions, recruited participants, used Qualtrics as part of the recruiting process where there are around 170 detailed responses to use for the study as well as 19 video interviews I have carried out. I have been transcribing the videos ready to start the thematic analysis of both the videos and written responses over the next few weeks. I could not have pictured where this year would have gone, but it has been far greater than I could have imagined, and I am so thankful for the support I have received. I do not feel like I am at university to just get a degree and enter the job market, I truly feel like I am being given the skills I need to have a successful career in Psychology.

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.

The Learning and Teaching Festival

Staffordshire University recently held the Learning and Teaching Festival (LTF [Monday 6 June to Friday 10 June 2022]). The festival provided an opportunity for the University community to share and develop innovative learning and teaching practices from across the University. The day consisted of a variety of different styles of talks (e.g. presentations, simulations, workshops, demonstrations, discussions, and 5-minute pecha kucha) across diverse topic areas. There were also opportunities for networking as people from across the University came together to share practice. The festival talks covered several key themes, including: Learning support; Co-creation between peers, staff, and students; Digital technology; Social mobility and resilience; Innovative pedagogies; Employment; and Addressing differential outcomes for students. 

Several talks were provided by members of the Psychology department. Dr Dan Herron and MSc Foundations in Clinical Psychology student, Jack Beardmore, discussed experiences of using a world café to understand student feedback. Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Nikki Street delivered an interactive session providing attendees with a taster of the mindfulness intervention they recently facilitated for Psychology students which was aimed at improving a range of outcomes including wellbeing, resilience and student experience. 

Using a world café to gain a rich understanding of student feedback 

By Dr Dan Herron & Jack Beardmore 

When I (Dan) saw the abstract call for the LTF I thought my recent experiences of gaining rich feedback from students was an example of good practice which would be useful to share across the University. Jack and I wanted to provide an interactive demonstration of how I gained a deeper understanding of MSc student feedback (mid-course) using a world café technique.  

Before jumping into my reflections of the workshop, it is important to reflect on the reasons for why I decided to collect this feedback and in this format. The main driving force was that the previous years end of course feedback did not provide the reasoning behind the student scores. For example, students identify on a scale from definitely agree to definitely disagree with written responses, where students can provide reasons, being optional. Therefore, from my experiences with world cafes, I thought this method would be ideal and provide rich insight, which would allow for informed changes to the course.  

It is also important to understand a little bit about what world cafés are and how I applied them. How world cafés are utilised varies based on their purpose- for gaining student feedback, I had two one-hour world cafés (same time and same place but a week apart) because of the availability of students. As illustrated in Diagram 1, world cafés can consist of several tables, and on each table, there is a host who facilitates the discussion, and 4-5 participants. We had one question per round (all students, across all tables, discussed the same question at the same time) and there were seven rounds across the two sessions. After each round, students moved (as randomly as possible) to different tables.  

A visual representation of World Café

Jack and I worked collaboratively to develop and deliver the workshop. I asked Jack to come along and provide his perspective (as a participant) of world cafés to gain student feedback. We had planned for it to be an interactive workshop, where the audience took part in a mini- world café, but due to the amount of people in the audience (less than needed) we decided to go to plan B and focus more on our experiences of the world café sessions. For different, but interlinked reasons, we both found usefulness in world cafes- for me, they helped to provide rich insight which was developed through collaborative discussion between students; for Jack, it provided the space and opportunity to dive deeper into their issues, share perspectives and give feedback as a community. We shared these views and experiences with the audience.  

We had interesting and useful feedback about the content of the talk and suggestions of how it could be used beyond feedback (something I have previously done when teaching thematic analysis). I feel Jack’s perspective, as a participant, really added value to the talk.   

Mindful Students: Mindfulness interventions to improve student outcomes

By Dr Jenny Taylor and Dr Nikki Street

This interactive workshop discussed the background research exploring how and why mindfulness interventions may have had a positive impact on student experience as well as providing a taster of a mindfulness intervention in the form of a guided meditation recently delivered to a small group of our undergraduate psychology students.  The benefits of mindfulness are well known, particularly in terms of health and wellbeing.  The general benefits of engaging in mindfulness for students in a learning context are also well documented but we know less about its impact on specific constructs such as resilience, perceived academic control, and sense of belonging. The research also is lacking more qualitative insight into the impact of mindfulness therefore our study looks at not only quantitative changes across an intervention but also explored students individual experiences in qualitative interviews to offer further understanding of the potential benefits that practice can have. 

Both Nikki and Jenny are trained Mindfulness Now practitioners (a version of mindfulness that is approved by the British Psychological Society) and, as academics, are particularly interested in how mindfulness can help our students.  

Nikki and Jenny were awarded funding from the Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic practice (SCoLLP) to explore the impact of an 8-week mindfulness intervention on a range of student outcomes including wellbeing, resilience, belongingness, perceived academic control, and student experience.  The weekly sessions involved Nikki and Jenny facilitating a small group of students to engage with mindfulness in a variety of different formats including meditation, activities, stories and poems, as well as providing space for personal enquiry and reflection.  Students were also encouraged to engage in some mindfulness ‘homework’ each week in order to further enhance their practice.

To assess its impact, students were asked to complete a survey pre and post intervention as well as taking part in a follow up interview about their experiences.  This data will be analysed in conjunction with data we collect from the additional roll out of the intervention. To date, feedback from the students has been overwhelmingly positive with one student commenting on their general enjoyment of the intervention:

“It was a commonplace thing that I’d be kind of bragging to whoever I was talking   to that I get to take part in this study and kind of get to experience this new                      mindfulness way of living. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

student feedback

Another student commented specifically on how they felt the intervention had helped them during the examination period:

“I found that I was not relying on but turning to the teachings of mindfulness when I  was a   little overcome by the anxiety of that period and leading up to each of the exams…kind of resolving the anxiety that I was feeling rather than  just brushing it off, I was able to actually manage and control the anxiety”

Student feedback

The workshop delivered for the LTF presented an overview of the project, our reflections so far, as well as a taster of some of the practices that we guide our students through.  The workshop led to some interesting discussions around the potential use of mindfulness for students across different contexts and discussion around potential cross discipline applications.

If you are interested in hearing more about our intervention, then please contact Jenny on or Nikki on

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.

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 ( 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.

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.

The Third joint Keele-Staffs Psychology Postgraduate conference held in May 2022.

Matthew Kimberly (Psychology PhD student) blogs about the third annual Keele-Staffs psychology postgraduate conference, with postscript from Dr Richard Jolley (PhD psychology course leader)

Following from the success of the first two joint conferences and a forced hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the third joint Keele-Staffs psychology conference was hosted at Keele University in May 2022. The conference was organised by Dr Richard Jolley (Staffordshire University), Dr Sue Sherman (Keele University) with the help of a conference committee. The event offered an ideal opportunity for postgraduate researchers at both universities to network and share their research with an audience. It was also a great opportunity to practice their presentation skills in a supportive environment!

Tanya Schrader presenting their research

The conference commenced with an introduction from Professor Abigail Locke (Head of School of Psychology, Keele University) and Dr Richard Jolley. The first presenter in the morning session was Krystian Ciesielski from Keele University, who gave an informative overview of his research on whether visual information is used differently in functional and taxonomic scene categorisation. The second presenter was Tanya Schrader from Staffordshire University, who gave a dynamic talk about the dark side of conspiracy theory belief and how this may influence violence towards groups of people. Tanya was followed by Keele University’s Sebastian Nikolas Tustanowski, who discussed a study he was planning on the role of perceptual and cognitive factors (such as salience and consistency) on long-term memory of objects within a scene. Next, Darel Cookson from Staffordshire University discussed how social norm interventions may be used to reduce anti-vaccine conspiracy theory beliefs.

Following the morning presentations there was a short break before the Keynote speaker – Professor Lindsay O’Dell who is the director of the graduate school at the Open University.  Lindsay reflected upon her own PhD journey – giving some wise tips for the PhD students – and then discussed some of the challenges she had experienced in a research project on disabled children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these were addressed.

Following the Keynote speaker, there was time for lunch, poster presentations and a group photo! Posters were presented by Sian Calvert (Staffordshire University), Iwan Dinnick (Keele University), Chloe Fahey (Keele University) and Chloe Pritchard (Keele University). Sian’s poster examined how social norms can be used to reduce unhealthy snacking in secondary school students. Iwan’s poster examined how characteristics of ingroup identity can reduce forgiveness of outgroup members. Chloe Fahey’s poster focused on the experiences of female sexual health services amongst individuals with autism. Chloe Pritchard’s poster examined public perceptions of child witnesses.

The afternoon session started with a presentation by myself discussing a recent study which examined the influence of relationship characteristics on the disclosure of sexual fantasies. The next talk was by Sonia Begum from Staffordshire University, who discussed some of the factors highlighted within her research to affect uptake and completion of Diabetes prevention programmes in the UK. Next Jamie Holmes from Keele University discussed a planned study examining the role of cognitive porousness in identity construction within players and characters within games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Matt Kimberley presenting their research

In the final session Shwetha Davis from Keele University examined the experiences of teachers using trauma informed practices within educational settings. Next, Angela Bonner from Staffordshire University discussed how type 2 diabetes risk influences cognition. The final talk of the conference was by Stuart Moore from Keele University, who discussed how dimension switching can impair visual short-term memory resource allocation.

After Stuart’s talk, Professor Abigail Locke presented the prizes to the winners. Warm congratulations to Shwetha Davis for winning best talk presentation, Sian Calvert for winning best poster presentation and Stuart Moore and Iwan Dinnick for winning best open science research!

And finally a trip to the Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA) for a much deserved refreshment (or two!)

Matt Kimberley, PhD researcher

After the covid-enforced break from this joint postgraduate conference with the School of Psychology at Keele University I was delighted to offer this opportunity to our PhD students to present their research and network with fellow PhD students from our neighbouring institution.  Furthermore, the talk from our external keynote speaker provided a very useful personal reflection on conducting research.

In the psychology the Staffordshire University we have around 10 PhD students. As a body of research scholars they provide a significant contribution to the Psychology Department’s research output, and more generally to our research culture. If you are reading this blog and are interested in studying for a PhD in the psychology department at Staffordshire University please get in touch with me for further information. We very much welcome applications.

Dr Richard Jolley

Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology and PhD Psychology Course Leader


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.

Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology – Trainee Testimonials

Recent trainees from the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology share their experiences:

Dr Meg Linscott

Dr Meg Linscott, Health Psychologist – Pain Service, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust

Completing the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University was a dream come true for me and from early on, opened so many doors for my career. The bursary scheme in place is commendable. As a trainee, I was able to build excellent relationships with the experienced, professional yet friendly teaching team and this was invaluable to my personal and professional development. I felt that the team got the balance of supporting me and enabling/encouraging me to be autonomous, spot on. The doctorate always felt organised, diverse, innovative, up to date and responsive to me as a student. The mix of theory and applied content was great. The opportunities that were made available to me above and beyond my applied placement, to support me in completing my portfolio of work and to enhance my development, were fantastic. The facilities and technology available throughout the doctorate were always sufficient for me. Overall, the doctorate facilitated me to learn and achieve more than I could have imagined. I am #ProudtobeStaffs and I highly recommend the course. The opportunities that were made available to me above and beyond my applied placement, to support me in completing my portfolio of work and to enhance my development and professional network, were fantastic.

Dr Louise Clancy, Health Psychologist, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Louise Clancy

Undertaking the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology was a challenging but highly rewarding journey. I found the range of competencies covered and flexibility for completing these especially helpful whilst working full time alongside the course. The scope of the course broadened my appreciation of the range of areas within which a Health Psychologist might practice and further strengthened my passion to progress my career along the Applied Health Psychologist route.

I feel very lucky to have met some amazing people whilst undertaking the course both students and staff; and still maintain many of these connections. The range of experiences of both students and staff further enhanced my learning and was a great source of support throughout this journey.

Dr Mike Oliver

Dr Mike Oliver, Health Psychologist & Chartered Psychologist, Health Psychology Matters Ltd.

I was fortunate enough to do both my MSc in Health Psychology and Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University. Doing both my Stage 1 and Stage 2 qualifications at Staffordshire University really helped me to get a deep understanding of the subjects taught, an appreciation of health psychology as a profession and allowed me to build good working relationships with the staff on the Professional Doctorate. I also thoroughly enjoyed making professional and personal friendships with my fellow students, and these are enduring after completing the Doctorate, and will do for years to come. The highlight of the Doctorate for me was how the different competencies individually and collectively, gave me confidence for, and prepared me professionally, for the role I had in Public Health whilst I studied, and now in my career as an independent Health Psychologist.

Dr Dayyanah Sumodhee

Dr Dayyanah Sumodhee, Research Associate at King’s College London and NHS Stop Smoking Practitioner

The doctorate was a fantastic opportunity to learn the core aspects and professional practice of health psychology. I had incredible support from my supervisor and the whole team from the Health Psychology department. The peer-support system set up from the start of the programme was a great opportunity to share, discuss ideas and get further support. The different modules covered in the programme opened up many opportunities for a range of work positions after graduating.  The mix between taught sessions, work experience and supervision sessions was ideal to learn new skills and grow in confidence. This programme has given me all the preparation I needed to work as a proficient Health Psychologist.

Have questions about the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology? Please contact Dr Rachel Povey who is one of the course directors.

Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in 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 Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych @HealthPsyStaffs and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

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 (

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 (

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.

Etched in the skin: Grief on a living canvas, memorial tattoos as expressions of grief

Written by PhD researcher Bee Swann-Thomas.

Bee Swann-Thomas

I am Bee Swann-Thomas and I am currently in my second year of studying for a PhD in Psychology. My research interest is exploring whether having a memorial tattoo has an impact upon the grieving process.

I have previously researched this topic for my MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling at Staffordshire University. What sparked my interest was the death of my Dad and having a memorial tattoo in his memory. Memorial tattoos have a very personal meaning to me, and I am pleased to have recently had my paper published in Mortality Journal.

The findings from this research showed that memorial tattoos can be a valuable therapeutic aid in the grieving process. They can serve as a permanent physical reminder of a loved one, help with continuing bonds, allow the deceased a virtual afterlife, help in the adjustment to loss, serve as a tool of communication, and be an embodied representation of change. Memorial tattoos empower the bereaved to emerge from the loss of a loved one with a ‘beautiful scar’.

Conducting my MSc research was really fascinating, and it was an honour to hear peoples’ stories of love and loss. As a result, I have decided to continue my research for my PhD.

I would like to invite you to participate in my research that is being conducted in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University. I am interested in the experience of individuals (aged 18 years or over) who have experienced the loss of a loved one and have had a memorial tattoo in their memory. I will be researching five different categories of bereavement: Perinatal loss, Loss through suicide, Military Loss, Cremation ashes tattoos and Loss through Covid-19.

The research will involve a one-to-one interview conducted remotely via the Microsoft Teams platform. The interview will last approximately 1 hour, where you will be asked questions relating to your loved one and your memorial tattoo. You will also be asked to provide a photograph of your memorial tattoo which will be included within the research.

If you are interested in taking part in the research or would like to request further information please contact the me at

If you are affected by any of the bereavements outlined and would like to access a grief support service please contact one of the following:

  • Sands – Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity, Helpline: 0808 164 332, Email:
  • Suviviors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), Helpline: 0300 111 5065, Email:
  • Supporting the Military Family, Cruse Bereavement Care Helpline: 0808 808 1677, Email:
  • The Lullaby Trust, Helpline: 0808 802 6868, Email:
  • Covid-19 Bereavement Support, Cruse Bereavement Care Helpline: 0808 808 1677, Email:

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.