We do like to hear from ex-students, especially as helping students develop skills and build confidence is at the heart of much of what we do. It helps us all realise the value of psychology and the skills it provides. We want the psychology that they are exposed to to be professionally relevant and to help them build their careers. We know from conversation and feedback that students want to make a difference to the world and to contribute to supporting people in all sorts of different ways.
This year we have a visit from the BPS to review our programme, and we have used this as an opportunity to reflect on the degree and make changes that will enhance the support we provide for our students. A part of this review will see the introduction of three new pathways, echoing the expertise in the department and the interests of our students. These are pathways in health, education, and forensic psychologies. These pathways will complement the psychology programme, building on its strengths in applied psychology.
As we have reflected on the programme, it is nice to look back on the experiences of some of our graduates. We have been offering placements in education settings through our links with First Campus for 10 years. These placements have helped inspire students to go and work further in education. One of of our ex-students, Donna Ward, has kindly written the below about her experiences as a student in Psychology at Cardiff Met and as a volunteer with First Campus.
It’s been three years since I graduated in Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan, and on reflection, I can honestly say it was an all-round inspiring and supportive organisation. Cardiff Met provided a rich environment that encouraged me to develop personally, professionally and academically. As a BPS accredited course, it provided me with strong research skills, professional work experience through the educational psychology module, and contacts to other organisations to gain further paid experience. All of which has now led to me achieving a position as an Assistant Educational Psychologist, applying for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology.
Student development is at the heart of the organisation. The academic tutors on the psychology course are highly skilled, and compassionate, and use psychology to inform their work with students. A mixture of seminars, lectures, academic workshops, tutor evaluative feedback, and ongoing pastoral support help improve exam performance, essay writing, research skills, and most importantly academic confidence. The relationship I had with many of the staff at Cardiff Met, especially my personal tutor Dr Annette Daly, provided me with the support and encouragement I needed to get through my degree.
The Educational Psychology module fuelled what would become my future career. The content of the module sparked my interest, and the encouragement and feedback from the tutors inspired me to take it further. The module provided the opportunity to train as a student mentor and go into schools once a week and mentor secondary students. From this module I made links with a widening access organisation named First Campus, who aim to improve further education pathways for adolescents. I was offered the opportunity to interview as a First campus ambassador, allowing me gain paid experience delivering a weekly workshop to looked after children (LAC). I still talk about this experience at interview three years later.
I graduated from Cardiff Met feeling like I had developed good research skills and was competent in the use statistical software programmes and methodological analysis. I had developed good essay writing skills, and precision in scientific report writing through the completion of multiple reports, essays and a systematic review. All of which lead to my success in my MSc in Educational Psychology at UCL. Many of the assignments you complete on the undergraduate psychology course at Cardiff Met are of a similar format to what you will complete on the doctorate course, specifically the systematic review, research reports and final research project. I can honestly say I feel confident that I will be able fulfil the academic demands required for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology.
I graduated from Cardiff Met with so much more than a degree. I graduated with work experience, ambition and desire to make a difference in education. From completing my psychology degree in 2015 and gaining relevant work experience from the educational psychology module and First Campus, I was able to work in an adolescent psychiatric hospital as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, complete my master’s in Educational Psychology at UCL, secure a role as an Assistant Educational Psychologist, which has transitioned into my current role as a Senior Assistant Educational Psychologist. With this academic and professional experience, I am now in a position to apply to the doctorate in Educational Psychology.