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.
We always like to hear what our graduates get up to next, and are often amazed by what they go on to do. This week, we have a new contribution from Tess Liddell. Tess graduated a year ago, and now lives and studies in Cambridge. Here, she tells us about her decision to study Psychology and describes what she is up to now.
Prior to attending university, I had been working as a Data Coordinator in the banking sector. Although I knew this was not the long-term career I wanted, I was unsure about my future career goals. The only thing I was certain of, was my fascination with Psychology and the structure and function of the human brain, both in health and pathology. It was this interest which encouraged me to apply for the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree programme at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
It was not long before I knew this was the right programme for me, and I vividly recall being in one of my first lectures with a sense that I was exactly where I should be. I found the programme itself varied and interesting, and being given the opportunity to select my final year modules allowed me to tailor the programme to my specific interests. Making the most of the work placements available through the programme also allowed me to gain experience working with service-users, and provided me with the opportunity to integrate theory and practice in a non-academic setting.
Whilst I found the programme itself challenging, I utilised the feedback I received to make improvements to my work and most importantly, my understanding of the topic areas. As I originally did not know what career I wanted to aim for after my degree, I kept an open mind and tried to develop my understanding and skills in various areas of Psychology. I found this not only helped me to better understand what type of career I wanted, but it also helped me to not limit my future trajectory. For instance, although I had never considered a career in research, and frankly I initially found the concept quite daunting, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the research element of the programme. Taken together with the academic support I received, along with the unwavering mentoring support provided by the staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University, I was given the support and confidence to apply to graduate school so that I could pursue a career in research.
Having now graduated from the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree programme, I am completing an MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. During my current programme, I am applying the knowledge and skills that I developed during my undergraduate degree to my current thesis project, where I am working at the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Since starting my MPhil programme, I have been granted an MRC Research Studentship, which will allow me to further my research training after my MPhil to complete a PhD in Biological Sciences at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge, bringing me one step closer to a career in research. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the guidance and support provided by the staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Dr Mike Dunn employed Tess as a research assistant in the summer break between her second and third years said this about Tess:
Tess Liddell is that extremely rare student who exudes enthusiasm and ability in equal high measure. Tess is without doubt one of the most gifted and diligent students it has been my pleasure to teach. I am convinced that she will excel in whichever field of study/research she embarks on in the future and I wish her all the very best.
And Dr Leanne Freeman, who was tutor and supervisor for Tess in her final year said this:
I had the pleasure of supervising Tess during her undergraduate dissertation. Tess was an ideal student in that she was constantly seeking feedback which she utilised to improve her work. Tess is a brilliant researcher and I look forward to watching her career develop.
O Gaerdydd i Gaergrawnt
Rydyn ni bob amser yn hoffi clywed yr hyn y mae ein graddedigion yn ei wneud nesaf, ac yn aml yn synnu wrth glywed am yr hyn y maent yn mynd ymlaen i’w gyflawni. Yr wythnos hon, mae gennym gyfraniad newydd gan Tess Liddell. Graddiodd Tess flwyddyn yn ôl, ac mae hi bellach yn byw ac yn astudio yng Nghaergrawnt. Yma, mae hi’n dweud wrthym am ei phenderfyniad i astudio Seicoleg ac yn disgrifio beth mae hi’n ei wneud nawr.
Cyn mynychu’r brifysgol, roeddwn wedi bod yn gweithio fel Cydlynydd Data yn y sector bancio. Er fy mod yn gwybod nad dyma’r yrfa hirdymor yr oeddwn yn ei dymuno, roeddwn yn ansicr ynghylch fy nodau gyrfa yn y dyfodol. Yr unig beth yr oeddwn yn sicr ohono oedd fy niddordeb mewn Seicoleg a strwythur a swyddogaeth yr ymennydd dynol, mewn iechyd a phatholeg. Y diddordeb hwn a’m hanogodd i wneud cais am y rhaglen gradd BSc (Anrh) mewn Seicoleg ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd.
Nid oedd yn hir cyn i mi wybod mai hon oedd y rhaglen gywir i mi, ac mae gen i gof byw bod mewn un o’m darlithoedd cyntaf gyda synnwyr fy mod yn union le y dylwn fod. Roedd y rhaglen ei hun yn amrywiol ac yn ddiddorol, ac roedd cael y cael i ddewis fy modiwlau blwyddyn olaf, yn caniatáu i mi deilwra’r rhaglen at fy niddordebau penodol. Roedd manteisio i’r eithaf ar y lleoliadau gwaith sydd ar gael drwy’r rhaglen hefyd yn caniatáu i mi gael profiad o weithio gyda defnyddwyr gwasanaeth, a rhoi’r cyfle i mi integreiddio theori ac ymarfer mewn lleoliad nad yw’n academaidd.
Er bod y rhaglen ei hun yn heriol, defnyddiais yr adborth a gefais i wneud gwelliannau yn fy ngwaith ac, yn bwysicaf oll, fy nealltwriaeth o’r meysydd pwnc. Gan nad oeddwn yn wreiddiol yn gwybod pa yrfa yr oeddwn am anelu ati ar ôl fy ngradd, fe wnes i gadw meddwl agored a cheisio datblygu fy ngwybodaeth a’m sgiliau mewn gwahanol feysydd Seicoleg. Fe wnes i ganfod bod hyn nid yn unig wedi fy helpu i ddeall yn well pa fath o yrfa yr oeddwn ei eisiau, ond roedd hefyd wedi fy helpu i beidio â chyfyngu ar fy llwybr yn y dyfodol. Er enghraifft, er nad oeddwn erioed wedi ystyried gyrfa mewn ymchwil, ac yn wir, fe wnes i ganfod y cysyniad yn eithaf brawychus i ddechrau, rwyf wedi canfod fy hun yn mwynhau elfen ymchwil y rhaglen yn llwyr. O’i chymryd ynghyd â’r gefnogaeth academaidd a gefais, ynghyd â’r gefnogaeth mentora gadarn a ddarparwyd gan staff ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd, cefais y gefnogaeth a’r hyder i ymgeisio i ysgol ymchwil er mwyn i mi allu dilyn gyrfa mewn ymchwil.
Ar ôl graddio o’r rhaglen gradd BSc (Anrh) mewn Seicoleg, rwyf yn cwblhau MPhil mewn Niwrowyddoniaeth Sylfaenol a Throsiadol ym Mhrifysgol Caergrawnt. Yn ystod fy rhaglen gyfredol, yr wyf yn cymhwyso’r wybodaeth a’r sgiliau a ddatblygais yn ystod fy ngradd israddedig i’m prosiect traethawd ymchwil cyfredol, lle rwy’n gweithio yng Nghanolfan John van Geest ar gyfer Trwsio’r Ymennydd yn Ysbyty Addenbrookes yng Nghaergrawnt. Ers dechrau ar fy rhaglen MPhil, rwyf wedi cael Ysgoloriaeth Ymchwil MRC, a fydd yn caniatáu i mi ymestyn fy hyfforddiant ymchwil ymhellach ar ôl fy MPhil i gwblhau PhD mewn Gwyddorau Biolegol yn Uned Gwybyddiaeth a Gwyddorau’r Ymennydd MRC ym Mhrifysgol Caergrawnt, sy’n dod â mi un cam yn nes at yrfa mewn ymchwil. Gallaf ddweud yn onest na fyddwn i le ydw i heddiw, pe na bai am yr arweiniad a’r gefnogaeth a ddarparwyd gan staff Prifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd.
Cyflogwyd Tess gan Dr Mike Dunn fel cynorthwyydd ymchwil yn ystod egwyl yr haf rhwng ei hail a’i thrydedd flwyddyn a dywed y canlynol am Tess:
Myfyriwr hynod brin yw Tess Liddell sy’n llawn brwdfrydedd a gallu mewn mesur uchel iawn. Yn sicr mae Tess yn un o’r myfyrwyr mwyaf dawnus a diwyd y bu’n bleser gennyf ei ddysgu. Rwy’n argyhoeddedig y bydd yn rhagori ym mha faes astudio / ymchwil bynnag y mae’n ei ddilyn yn y dyfodol ac rwy’n dymuno’r gorau iddi hi.
A dywedodd Dr Leanne Freeman, a oedd yn diwtor a goruchwyliwr Tess yn ei blwyddyn olaf:
Cefais y pleser o oruchwylio Tess yn ystod ei thraethawd hir israddedig. Roedd Tess yn fyfyriwr delfrydol gan ei bod hi’n gyson yn chwilio am adborth a ddefnyddiwyd i wella ei gwaith. Mae Tess yn ymchwilydd gwych ac edrychaf ymlaen at wylio ei gyrfa yn datblygu.
Looking back over the year, I have been taken aback with what I have achieved since completing my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and graduating from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015. I was lucky enough to have secured a position with the Office for National Statistics which was dependent upon my graduating with a 2:1 degree – which I did!
Upon starting the job I was wondering ‘Would my degree be useful for this job?’ and ‘Would this degree help me progress further?’. The answer to the both questions was yes. When I started with the ONS I had a case of the statistical jitters. As it turns out, the experience was great and the ONS was an excellent stepping stone to starting my career in the right direction.
I worked in Methodology for the ONS. This is the department that quality control all the methods used to gain the data and fix any problems that may occur. It was a demanding role and I had to use a variety of statistical methods that I learned from the research and statistics part of the Psychology degree. I then had to build up my statistical knowledge, for example to learn more about weighting and sampling. In addition I had to learn coding for specialist statistical software to be able to analyse and assess whether the statistics were correct or not. Another area that was important from the Psychology degree was report writing. In the ONS I was required to present my results in professional reviews and reports. As a student it is sometimes difficult to understand the importance of report writing especially when the deadlines come closer, however I found that I was in good stead to clearly communicate my findings.
I was proud to be able to work on a few important projects that influenced decisions within the Government. I was also keen to develop my skills and so I got involved with different groups including the Research, Analytical and Statistician Committee and the Positive Action Group. I was President for the Psychological Society at Cardiff Met and involved with the BPS which I feel gave me the confidence to be part of these ONS committees.
As my time drew close to the end of my ONS contract I knew I had to start looking for another job or apply for a promotion. So I applied for a position within Ministry of Defence working for the Defence, Equipment and Support Group. I attended the assessment day having met the competitive job specification, and there were lots of psychologists there. Six weeks later I got the promotion with the MoD as Commercial Officer (Management Level) dealing with budgets of up to £14 million.
All in all, I found that all of the degree was relevant in my working environment. I use writing skills I learned from the degree as well as being open minded to different theories. The degree taught me good work management skills, which I needed on a daily basis due to the high demand of work. I also found that the Psychology degree helped me with my communication skills, which is essential in any job and helped me to get the promotion.
My advice for students is to start planning ahead. If you have the time, take the opportunity to get involved with committees and expand your work experience. Doing a degree with Cardiff Metropolitan University gave me this opportunity and the lecturers there gave me the chance to make my life a better one.
One of most recent graduates, Jed Clarke, was fortunate enough to work as Research Assistant with us briefly, and in chatting with him it seemed like a good idea to ask him to reflect on his time as a psychology undergraduate at Cardiff Met.
Looking back, I never would have thought that I would have achieved this much in the space of three years. The undergraduate degree has allowed me to explore concepts that now I love and find things in the world that I am truly interested in. My first two years in Cardiff Met were difficult but exciting. I took on a lot, including training with the Army Officer Training Corps part time. This involved going on exercises in the Brecon Beacons over some weekends and over summer. Support in my first year was always available, whether it was personal or academic. Being able to have a personal tutor during this period was excellent, as it meant that I could find my feet during the early stages of the degree.
One of the most valuable experiences I had was being able to work with Hafal charity as part of my work and volunteering module in the second year. Hafal provide services for people with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders and I was able to get service-users involved in community projects such as gardening, and help them acquire new skills to be able to re-join the community after they had come out of hospital. On paper this seemed daunting, but it was only when I went to go and do it that I realised that they were just people with burdens (no matter what the films and TV programmes tell you).
During my degree I especially enjoyed modules related to cognitive psychology and research methods and statistics. There was something exciting about being able to discover first-hand how another person’s brain functions, and so when it came around to choosing what I wanted to do for my final year project I was immediately overwhelmed by the options available but I did have some ideas. It was only when I met up with my supervisor, Deiniol Skillicorn, that all the pieces fell into place. I had already taken an interest in schizophrenia, and I knew that Deiniol specialised in Schizotypal traits, so after some negotiation my topic ended up being about context processing in schizotypal and depressive traits (don’t let that put you off!), and it proved to be one of the best experiences I have had. Not only was the research literature enjoyable, but conducting the research in the labs was a thoroughly gratifying experience. I was able to meet other third years properly and meet first and second years who came in to do take part in my experiment. Deiniol was a great supervisor, and Geraint Davies and other lecturers made the process personal, and much easier to deal with.
During my third year I decided that I wanted to do more research, so I decided to take on a placement for work and volunteering module working with the Digital Literacy Project part time throughout the year. This involved conducting focus groups to explore how students engage with technology when at Cardiff Met. This was particularly exciting because this was going to be included in a journal article, something I couldn’t let pass!
After I had written my dissertation, I was offered a summer position as a Research Assistant with Deiniol and Andy Watt to develop a new learning task. This was phenomenal, as this is the kind of experience that future employers/course directors would be looking for on a CV. I spent my final month at uni conducting more research, and I enjoyed being able to work in the labs for more time, as I felt my project wasn’t enough!
I have now been accepted onto an MSc in Research Methods in Southampton, something I would have only dreamed about achieving.
The support from the department has been outstanding, and the staff clearly have a passion for their subjects. They have tutored, taught and supported me through a character defining period and I wouldn’t have come this far without them. The degree has had some lows as well as highs, but that is to be expected during such a time in a person’s life.
My advice to students that are coming onto the course — or even who are already on the course –would be that “you get what you give”. Grades don’t necessarily reflect ability, but rather how much effort you put into understanding the content and the processes involved in writing, such as critical evaluation. The myth of “I’m naturally not good enough” seems to be common amongst students, and you need to be able to challenge that throughout your degree. Don’t be put off by joining extra-curricular activities, as this will only serve to increase your motivation and better your uni experience. There is enough time in the day to work, relax and party. The challenge is being able to balance all three! I would also recommend taking on the Work and Volunteering modules, as this would enhance your CV and provide you with excellent life experiences, something that I am very grateful for. Opportunities will come, but it is your responsibility to go out and find them. I am sad about leaving Cardiff Met, but I am now anticipating a new journey laid out for me in the coming year.
Jed’s supervisor, Deiniol Skillicorn has this to say:
Jed has worked hard during his three years, and clearly made the most of the opportunities in front of him. I was lucky to supervise Jed with his level 6 project that examined contextual processing abnormalities in schizotypy and depression. It was a challenging project but Jed had a willingness and commitment to tackle these challenges. This enhanced his learning experience by further developing independent thinking and problem solving skills. These skills were put to the test when Jed joined us for 4 weeks as a research assistant working on a project to develop a learning paradigm for use with people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. With the demands of level 6 study out of the way, Jed flourished in this new role. I took great delights in seeing one of our undergraduates develop and grow over the three years of his degree and then apply these skills as an independent researcher on this short project. I wish Jed all the best in his future and hope that our academic paths cross again.
If you would like to find out more about our Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme please have a look at: www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/psychology
It’s a strange time of year. Things feel like they ought to slow down for the summer, but it doesn’t work quite like that. As students finish their exams and coursework the process of marking then awarding grades takes place, with the important aspect of letting students know how they’ve done. This is obviously especially a concern for final year students as they come to the end of their degrees, and want to see how they’ve done. As staff, while we are marking and entering grades, there is delight in seeing how well students have done and recognising how much they have learned with us.
We asked Daniel Carr to reflect on completing his degree and his final year project, which won this year’s prize for best project:
Last week, after months of anticipation, I was informed that I would be awarded a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology! Among the emotions I felt (relief, pride, joy), I was also overwhelmed with gratitude – gratitude for having had the opportunity to undertake study at Cardiff Met.
My experience of studying Psychology at this university has always been a positive one. The teaching staff are knowledgeable and passionate, easy to follow during lectures and available to answer questions in person or via email. I found all the staff to be very personable, and I have only positive remarks to make about each lecturer individually. In particular, I could not have wished for a more suited supervisor to help me with my final year project, Dr. Jenny Mercer. Jenny’s knowledge, guidance, and friendliness encouraged my progression throughout, and I shall be eternally thankful to her for this.
To become a practicing Psychologist has been my goal since I first pursued started in the university. Though my desired area of practice has changed (mainly due to learning about so many different topics within psychology) my passion for the discipline has only grown, and I am thrilled to be continuing my studies this year as I pursue a Masters in Health Psychology. My decision to stay at Cardiff Met was an easy one. After my experiences here as an undergraduate, I would not even consider study at another institution, and have full confidence that my development and transition into a practicing Health Psychologist will be guided by the lecturers I have grown so fond of. I would without a doubt recommend Cardiff Met to anyone wishing to study Psychology, and am humbled by the opportunity to have been taught by such admirable and accomplished individuals.
After Dan mentioned the support from his supervisor, Jenny, we had to ask her about how Dan had done:
Dan’s project was an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study entitled ‘The Lived Experience of a Fashion Model’. I have to say that Dan was a delight to supervise because he came to me with a clear idea of what he wanted to look at – the experience of being a model. However, on a practical note he also had links in the industry – which is an important point when selecting a project – you may have grand ideas, but have you though through how you might access potential participants? The other thing (which he does not tell you in this blog) is how hard he worked. He read a lot background literature, some very challenging papers about the principles behind IPA, and was very organised (even getting ethical approval before the beginning of the final year). Also Dan was always prepared to ask me lots of questions, often coming to see me with a long list (don’t be afraid to challenge your supervisor at all times!).
Your dissertation is an opportunity to explore in more detail a topic which you select and are interested in; it allows you to demonstrate the research skills that you have acquired during your degree. It is hard work, but it can also be the most rewarding part of your studies. So as you enter the summer vacation start to plan and think of potential ideas….you never know, it could be you writing this blog next year!
Cardiff School of Health Sciences Graduation took place at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay last week. The 16th of July 2014 was a day that many students and their families had looked forward to for several years!
The ceremony began at 10am with Psychology BSc students processing towards the end of the ceremony. We were proud to award 100 BSc (Hons) in Psychology to our 2014 cohort of graduands; each had worked very hard over the course of their studies and it was wonderful to see everyone in their academic gowns. The BSc Programme Team were also very pleased to award Tasmin O’Donnell the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award for the best performing student and James Clay the British Psychological Society Welsh Branch Student Prize for best dissertation. It was excellent to see so many students graduate, especially after such a good year.
As well as the undergraduate programme we also saw one student graduate with an MSc in Lifestyle Psychology, three students graduate with an MSc in Health Psychology and nine students with an MSc in Forensic Psychology. Postgraduate prizes were awarded to Rhiannon Lewis (Award for best postgraduate dissertation in Psychology) and Karen Ozzati (Award for the best academic progress made by a student at postgraduate level) who both graduated with an MSc in Forensic Psychology. It was also the first year for a cohort of students from the Health and Forensic Practitioner Programmes to graduate; we saw one student awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Practitioner Health Psychology and five students awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Practitioner Forensic Psychology. These programmes have been warmly received by the practitioner communities and we hope to see many graduates from these programmes in the future.
We also saw one of our PhD students process and receive her doctoral degree. Dr Honor Young received her PhD for her thesis entitled ‘The attitudes of teenagers towards unprotected sex and pregnancy’. Dr Young will be familiar to many of our students as she taught throughout her studies and is now working at Cardiff University. Congratulations to Honor!
Congratulations to all students from the Department of Applied Psychology and CSHS students who graduated last week! We hope you continue to keep in touch and inform us of your ongoing achievements, of which we are sure there will be many.