Staffs Student Stories – Meet Phil Bowman, BSc (Hons) Psychology with a Foundation Year

About me

Foundation Year Psychology Student at Staffs Uni
Phil Bowman

Before coming to Staffs Uni I worked as a substance misuse practitioner, a very rewarding job that I loved doing. The job itself was manageable although most of our clients had very complex needs such as mental health issues, the inability to cope with emotion and those that still lived a chaotic lifestyle.

Although I built a great rapport with my clients, I was also aware that I lacked the ability to help them on a deeper level and I felt out of my depth when they disclosed some deep rooted issues such as childhood trauma, drug induced psychosis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome to name but a few. This left me feeling inadequate as a professional and I began to ponder on the idea that I had the ability to learn how to best support them on a much more holistic level. 

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

Whenever I toyed with the idea of going to uni, I would be filled with self-doubt. I thought that I was too old to learn and that I should just continue as a low level practitioner because it was within my “comfort zone”. To be honest I managed to talk myself out of applying more times than I care to remember. I thought that if I left work I would lose my compassion for the clients, I would lose the ability to empathise and I would lose sight of the reasons why I wanted to support people in the first place. 

For as long as I remember I have always been a very stubborn individual, and I have always feared becoming stagnant, I think these qualities helped me to make the decision to apply to Staffs Uni. I applied for the Psychology degree with foundation year in 2019 with the attitude that this would be my “last roll of the career dice” at the age of 48 I believed that alot of companies like to employ younger people, this is not always the case, but it does not stop me from worrying about it.

My interview with Dr Claire Barlow went really well, she had the ability to dilute my self-doubt and managed to reassure me that if I worked hard enough I could achieve great things. I came away from that interview feeling as though I could achieve anything as long as I applied myself

What has been your experience of the course? 

My first day was very daunting and I felt like a fish out of water, I found myself looking around the room and soon noticed that I was the oldest student, I felt like a grandad that had been invited on an 18-30 cruise! This feeling was short lived because my classmates and tutors were brilliant, within about a week I found my place in the class and was soon voted in as our course rep along with a dear friend of mine called Lisa.

Doing a foundation year was a no brainer for me as I did not have a clue about academic writing or independent learning. I struggled/still struggle with I.T and had not stepped foot in a learning environment for 32 years. I have now completed my foundation year and it has given me the ability to centre myself and slip comfortably into learner mode. I can step up to a computer and apply myself to the task in hand, without thinking that the task is too big to complete. I pride myself on having submitted all my assignments on time and achieving above average grades.

This would not have been possible without the support from an amazing team of tutors but also the support from my fellow students. We all have our strengths within the class, mine was mainly lived experience, we had the younger post 6th form students that were “whiz kids” on computers and we had mental health practitioners that wanted to take their careers further. We, as a team, pulled together, we set up a WhatsApp group so we were always in contact to support each other through the assignments and through the revision weeks leading up to exam days, we, as a team, have had an amazing experience!

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

I am now moving into my second year of study (level 4 at the University). I am going into this year full of confidence and excitement, comfortable in the knowledge that I will be guided and supported throughout my degree. Staffs uni has given me a new sense of self-belief and I am very excited to see where this wonderful journey will take me.

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.

inpsych blog

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Luke (BSc Hons Psychology)

As part of our new series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Luke who graduated from our BSc (Hons) Psychology course in 2017.

Luke introduces himself and talks about his experiences studying Psychology at Staffordshire University, and tells us how his degree has helped him develop his interest in neuroscience, his aims to pursue a career in research and a PhD in Psychology:

I studied A-levels in Psychology, Business, Physical Education, Applied Science and Biology across three years at college before taking the decision to move into full-time work, taking managerial roles at a hotel and Starbucks for a few years. Eventually, my general interest in the brain through reading and A-levels drew me to wanting to study the brains relation to behaviour at University.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I visited a few universities, but Staffordshire stood out from my other options. This was mainly because of the staff I came into contact with when visiting were passionate, encouraging and always offered constant contact, even after the visit.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I managed to gain a perfect balance between socialising and studying hard. It made both of these easier and more joyful, rather than one being sacrificed for the other. The broad range of opportunities whether it be course related (talks and events) or not (sport) gave me opportunities to try and experience many new things.

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

The third-year project was the biggest challenge for me. Not everything went to plan and a technical error with software put me 3 weeks behind schedule. This was huge challenge but putting in the extra work to overcome this really paid off when seeing the final grades.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

I have moved on to study an MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College London where I am studying the brain at a much more cellular level. Thanks to modules such as ‘Cognitive and Biological Determinants of Behaviour‘ on the course at Staffs my interest in Neuroscience began. I have specialised in stem cells and currently undertaking my project monitoring neurogenesis (ability of the brain to produce new neurons throughout adulthood) in a mice model of sleep deprivation (gene knockout).

What are your plans for the future?

My next step will hopefully be a PhD. I want to continue to monitor factors that influence the neurogenic niche in both positive and negative ways. Negative factors have been implicated in multiple neurodegenerative disorders and depression. Other options I am also considering would be to move into full-time industry work with a pharmaceutical company or a research assistantship job in a laboratory. I also aspire to a neurosurgeon, as a long-term goal. This is something I would like to study part-time alongside my full-time career.

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

Go ahead and apply. Studying Psychology at Staffordshire University changed my career and lifestyle. The staff were incredibly motivating and gave me a level of confidence that was the foundation to being successful in my Master’s. The course is broad, it covers all areas of the discipline, this is great. It will allow you to find which area is best suited to you. My greatest advice would be to make sure you maintain the balance between studies and socialising. This was key to me being able to find enjoyment and success in both.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at Staffs?

The thing I really take away from studying the course was the influence of the staff. The teaching is very good and you will get back what you put in. They always made time and effort to have a positive effect on your studies. This not only helped me develop new skills but also the confidence to execute them well.

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

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

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

Psychology and the Brain

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to invite you to Psychology and the Brain, a fun and interactive evening where you will be given the opportunity to get hands-on with some of our fascinating equipment and hear from experts in the field.

Psychology and the Brain will take place at Staffordshire University’s Science Centre, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, on Thursday 15th March 6 – 8:30 pm. Click here to view the location of the Science Centre on Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. Includes free parking on site and refreshments.

Psychology and the Brain: Listen

Have you ever wondered… how we measure brain activity? How does VR trick our eyes into thinking what we’re seeing is reality? A series of short expert talks will explore these and other fascinating questions.

Psychology and the Brain: Hands-on

Try your hand at learning how our equipment works such as how we tell if you are stressed, how we can uncover if you are lying and how we test your reaction skills in our driving simulator, amongst other fun demonstrations.

Psychology and the Brain: A chance to win

Having taken part in the hands-on activities, you have a chance to win some Love2Shop vouchers. Entry information and winners announced on the night.

Follow the Psychology and the Brain event via our twitter hashtag #StaffsPsychBrain, including live tweets on the night.

Book Tickets: All welcome. Reserve your (free) space at or contact for more information.

Psychology and the Brain is part of a series of events organised in connection with the Psychology Society to celebrate Brain Awareness Week. Full details can be found here.

How does psychology and the brain apply to you and your life? Come along and find out.

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

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

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

Dr Maria Panagiotidi joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

Dr Maria Panagiotidi, who has recently joined the Psychology Academic Staff as a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, writes an introductory blog about herself and her research:

I am delighted to be joining the team at Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology.


Dr Maria Panagiotidi

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Pantio University in Athens, Greece. I fell in love with research and cognitive psychology while working on my research project, which investigated the effects of music training on time perception. After graduating I moved to London, where I obtained a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience.

I completed my PhD in Psychology at the University of Sheffield under the supervision of Dr Tom Stafford. During my studies I examined the role of the superior colliculus in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and worked on establishing a potential objective test for the disorder using a variety of methodologies (eye tracking, behavioural testing, clinical eye tests). The initial findings from my studies were promising and led to a successful grant application (White Rose Collaboration Fund) to fund a study investigating the role of the superior colliculus in ADHD using neuroimaging in collaboration with researchers from the University of York and Leeds.

Over the last year, I have been working as a research psychologist at Arctic Shores, a Manchester based start-up creating psychometric mobile games. My role involved designing and conducting experiments to validate psychometric games. Being part of a multidisciplinary team and an innovative organisation was a great experience and provided me with useful insight into applied psychology and new technologies. As a result, I have developed a passion for cyberpsychology, a subject I am hoping to further explore in the future.

Alongside my previous roles, I have been actively involved in a number of science communication and public engagement activities. A recent project I worked on was the Empathy Station, an installation in collaboration with British Council Film exploring the role of Virtual Reality on Empathy, which was presented at last year’s Sheffield International Documentary Festival. I’m looking forward to continuing this work and taking on some public engagement responsibilities here at Staffordshire University!

If you want to hear more about my research or want to get in touch, please follow me on twitter @mariapage.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into teaching and meeting more of the students and staff at Staffordshire, which has been a very supportive and welcoming place so far! I’m also excited to start doing research using the fantastic facilities here at the Science Centre.

Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The 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.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit:

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.

Dr Jo Lloyd featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing her Stoke Psychologist in the Pub talk


Dr Joanne Lloyd

Dr Joanne Lloyd, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart Gordon early evening show talking about the Stoke Psychologist in the Pub series and her talk on “Is Gambling Really the Son of Avarice or the Father of Despair”?

You can listen to Dr Lloyd’s interview via the BBC iPlayer link below:

The Psychologist in the Pub series takes place on the first Wednesday of the month and is co-organised by the West Midlands Branch of the British Psychological Society and the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. The series of talks is kindly hosted by The Glebe Pub in Stoke town, near Stoke Minster.

Missed the first talk of the 2016/17 series? Don’t worry, upcoming talks include:

Weds 2nd November: Dr. Jim Grange, Keele University.The Reproducibility Crisis in Psychological Science: One Year Later

Weds 7th December: Dave Spence. “The Psychology of Beliefs: Christmas Special”

Weds 1st February: Dr. Daniel Jolley, Staffordshire University. “Are Conspiracy Theories Harmless?”

Talks start at 6pm, but we recommend arriving at 5:30pm to buy food and drink, and find a seat! Directions to the Glebe Pub can found here.

Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams, Health and Behaviour Change, and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015: New research with people with Bipolar Disorder

Rebecca Owen, PhD Student

Rebecca Owen, PhD Student

Rebecca Owen, a PhD Student co-supervised by Dr Rob Dempsey (Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University), reports on her current research investigating the role of psychosocial factors:

With this week being National Suicide Prevention Week, I thought it might be interesting for psychology students and the general public to see how a topic as sensitive as suicide is tackled from a psychological research perspective. Our work is investigating experience of suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours or attempts (also known as, “suicidality”), in people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Despite numerous suicide prevention efforts from various sources including, the NHS and charities such as Samaritans, suicide remains the leading cause of death amongst men aged 15 to 44 in the UK. Every four minutes someone makes a suicide attempt and every hour and a half someone dies – so it really is an epidemic.

2015_wspd_banner_englishSuicide tends to be investigated in terms of risk factors. Research studies will try to identify factors which put an individual at a greater risk of either becoming suicidal or attempting to end their life. Common risk factors include gender (being male is typically associated with greater risk), age, employment status, marital status, a previous suicide attempt and a mental health diagnosis. Although these factors can help to predict who might become suicidal, they don’t really tell us anything about why someone became suicidal. For example, simply being male and unemployed doesn’t give us any explanation of the underlying psychological processes and pathways which led to the development of suicidal feelings.

This is where our work comes in – we’re interested in finding out more about these underlying psychological processes. For example, feeling hopeless, feeling defeated and trapped within a situation, feeling like you can’t cope. By understanding more about these processes, we hope that we’ll be able to better inform psychological interventions which specifically aim to change these processes in order to reduce suicide risk in bipolar disorder.

This type of research is a relatively new area in the field of bipolar disorder, so we started off by conducting an exploratory qualitative study with 20 participants (click here to view the paper’s abstract). We found that factors which protected against suicidal behaviour included, (1) thinking about the impact that suicide would have upon family members and friends, and (2) having a strong social support system. We found that triggers for suicidal thoughts included, (1) experiencing mental health stigma, and (2) feeling like a burden to other people.

Participants sought: Do you have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder?

These qualitative findings have informed a larger, quantitative, questionnaire based study which we are currently recruiting volunteers for. Recruitment for the questionnaire study will close by February 2016. If anyone would like any more information about our work or would like to take part, please get in touch with me directly by email at or by phone on 0161 275 2593.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Psychology’s Big Bang!

Big Bang 2015

The BPS Stall at the Big Bang Fair

Psychology Staff (Sarah Dean, Louise Humphreys, Erica Lucas and Judy David) and Student Advocates (Liam Howitt, Blessing Edobor and Kiran Ul-Haq) attended the Big Bang UK Young Scientist and Engineers Fair at Birmingham NEC on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March 2015. This large event aims to promote science, technology, engineering and maths to young people aged 7-19. The StaffsPsych team were part of the British Psychological Society’s stall at the fair and gave live demonstrations to visitors using the department’s Mirror Drawing task, a procedural memory activity!

Big Bang Mirror Drawing 2015

Blessing having a go at drawing via the mirror!

Level 4 student Blessing said “Working at the Big Bang Fair 2015 was an amazing experience I can never forget in a hurry. I was involved in approaching people of diverse age groups to perform a mirror drawing task and at the end explaining why they experienced difficulty in performing the task using Perception and Learning explanation. I felt really pleased to have taken part in this event to promote Psychology and Staffordshire University. I was able to put my communication skills into effective use during the event. I will also like to add that taking part in this event boosted my confidence level because I was given an opportunity to be in charge; to work as an exhibitor, as participants looked up to me for an explanation and I believe my response was well appreciated based on their expressions. Once again it was an amazing experience!!!’’

Mirror drawing (Big Bang 2015)Advocates (Big Bang 2015)

For more information about courses in Psychology at Staffordshire University please click here. Keep up to date with the latest news, events and research updates from the Staffordshire Psychology team via @StaffsPsych.

Dr Alison Owen featured on BBC One’s Inside Out Programme

Dr Alison Owen, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was featured on the West Midlands’ edition of BBC1’s Inside Out programme broadcast on Monday 23rd February.

Alison was featured on a segment focused on the dangers of sun exposure as BBC journalist Laura McMullan, a former tanning addict and cancer survivor, takes a young woman (Jess) from Stoke-on-Trent on an exploration of the health risks associated with excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Alison can be seen showing Jess and Laura the potential negative effects of Jess’s current UV exposure on the health of Jess’s skin at age 70 based on computer modelling. The Inside Out programme can be viewed via the BBC iPlayer link below. Further details about the programme and Laura McMullan’s story can be found via the Stoke Sentinel link.

BBC iPlayer: Inside Out West Midlands (Broadcast 23rd February 2015)

Stoke Sentinel: BBC’s Laura McMullan speaks of skin cancer battle after becoming addicted to sunbeds