There has been a lot of focus recently on degrees and degree outcomes, especially when thinking about what graduates do once they leave university. While much of the discussion is often on graduate earnings and degree value, which is of course important, it often obscures the range of career destinations for students, and also how they value and appreciate what they have learned. Sometimes a degree can offer more than just a final income, but also offer opportunities to go in new directions, to gain skills and confidence that has longer-term benefits. Sometimes it can take time to recognise that.
Psychology degrees offer students a very broad education, supporting critical thinking in a range of core domains from social aspects of how we live to the more cognitive ideas of understanding human capability. This breadth comes together in the breadth of research methods skills that students develop. They become increasingly literate and numerate, and find opportunities to employ the skills learned in many different settings. Graduates who are capable of supporting change in organisations and communities are important, and that is of great value to us all.
We asked Lawrence to write a short piece for us last year (One year on) and have again asked him to reflect on what he’s been doing since then. What is striking is how his degree and the skills gained have taken him on a career journey that was unforeseen at the start.
An open mind is an open future
It has been a little more than two years since I graduated at Cardiff Metropolitan University and I got to admit it has been an extremely busy time. In my last blog I spoke about my first job since graduating as well as transferring government departments to the Ministry of Defence as a Commercial Officer. Since then I have been promoted within the Ministry of Defence and thanks to my skills I learned through my degree I am now a Commercial Manager for Defence Science and Technology Laboratories, the UK’s leading investor into innovative science. Now I am going to talk about how having an open mind got me here and how Cardiff Metropolitan University helped me get to where I am.
When I started at Cardiff Metropolitan University, I have to admit I went in with a rather closed and unfocused way of thinking. I wanted to be a Forensic Psychologist and wanted the best grades to achieve this. However, I was focusing far too much on the grades as well as thinking there is only one way forward for me. This started to change at Cardiff Metropolitan University, the feedback on my assignments and the advice I was given started to open my mind and allow me to see outside this circle I had set myself. I learned not to take feedback personally, but use to it empower myself to become more open minded and discover new career paths. My grades became better and I was able to focus on myself. I felt this was an extremely important learning curve of going through university, being able to take feedback and moulding it to better your skills. You will find in any job you go in feedback will always be given, not to put you down but to help you to improve by identifying any areas you need improving on.
It is important to keep an open mind. Set yourself goals but allow yourself to be flexible about them as you never know what is waiting for you round the next corner. Having an open mind also prepares you for when you leave university, as a majority of organisations look for people who are able to be innovative. Innovation is about open mindedness and flexibility in thinking, as a psychologist it is important to be able to take feedback, think outside the box and being prepared to change direction. At the end of my degree I wanted to be a neuropsychologist, I was accepted onto a Masters to help me get there. However, when I got the opportunity to join the Ministry of Defence, I changed my path and became part of something big. My life changed for the better, because I allowed myself to be open minded and flexible. I used my skills I learned from my Degree at Cardiff Met University and built on them. My job as a Commercial Manager involves negotiation, due diligence, innovative thinking, flexibility, effective communications skills, excellent writing skills and most importantly being able to keep an open mind as I am responsible for spending over a hundred million pounds in one year alone.
I thank Cardiff Metropolitan University Psychology Department for helping me get where I am today, the department has a great selection of lecturers who are always willing to help. If it wasn’t for their willing and guidance I would still be wondering what to do with my life.
Lawrence’s personal tutor, Dr Nick Perham, has added the below:
Lawrence was a mature student who joined us for the second year of the degree so he had not experienced us or the programme earlier like the majority of his fellow students. However, this did not affect or deter him. Throughout his studies he was always engaged both in and outside of lectures where he was a key driver of the Psychology Society. Lawrence always took the opportunity to ask questions about his work and the topics he was being taught so that he could be proactive in his learning and draw links between the various area of psychology. This open-mindedness, independence, and inquisitive nature helped to create the graduate student from Cardiff Metropolitan University who went on to work for the Ministry of Defence.
It’s really nice to see how Lawrence recognised the skills he had gained, and especially how he had to work at them, but also took opportunities and chances that come to him. Supporting skills development and offering opportunities to reflect is something we take seriously in Psychology at Cardiff Met, recognising the value of the contributions our graduates will go on to make in the world.
We have been a little quiet over the last few months. We’ve just been very busy over the summer and into the start of term. We are now ready to start again, show-casing the writing of students and staff. The aim of the blog is to give an insight into the things that staff and students get up to, to reflect on events we are involved in, and also to think about things that are outside of the day-to-day running of the department. We will be publishing a series of blogs this year, from students, graduates, and staff covering topics and events that relate to applied psychology at Cardiff Met. We hope you enjoy them!
A few years ago we introduced service learning modules into the second and third year of the undergraduate programme. The two Work, Volunteering and Applied Psychology modules offer students opportunities to work with placement partners, building applied psychology skills, and gaining useful work experience for the future. The impact of the WVAP (pronounced Ooohvap) modules has been profound as the work Alison Walker completed for us has helped us think carefully about the skills that students need, but also the areas that they wish to work in. That is important, but what always strikes me is how students do much more than simply complete a placement to get a grade and gain something for a CV. Often they work with partners because they want to make a real difference to the lives of people, helping and improving communities by offering their time and support. It is this aspect of caring and helping that always impresses most.
With that in mind, I am pleased to introduce a new blog post from one of our final year students, talking about the STAR Society. We have heard from Wasim before and it is brilliant that the Society keeps going from strength to strength. The fact that STAR is on course for a Gold Tier award shows the levels of support and commitment from the society members.
STAR: Supporting social cohesion
STAR is a national charity made up of over 26,000 students coming together from different universities from all across the country with one aim in common, that is welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to the country. This is achieved in four ways: campaigning, volunteering (working directly with Refugees and Asylum seekers), educating (raising awareness) and fundraising.
A lot has changed since I was last asked to write a blog on behalf of the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) society- our society has grown and has had an impact on the lives of Refugees and Asylum seekers living in Cardiff. I will cover these in this blog.
Our proudest achievement to date has been the Equal Access (EA) campaign. This is a campaign from the STAR national organisation which helps give asylum seekers the same rights to bursaries and scholarships as home students. Having personally started the campaign petition in our university during Freshers week last year, the number of signatures grew and grew. Our university now allows two places for asylum seekers to attend with full fee waivered scholarships, a met rider card and a meal a day. It was a long road to get this, but worth it for the great outcome.
After this, we organised a bake sale in order to help STAR national with other projects across the country. In October, the volunteers and committee baked cakes and we sold these with the help of the Students’ Union. We raised awareness for the society in terms of engaging with staff and students who did not know the society existed, and also let people donate to the cause. In total, we raised £164, which was the highest any STAR group in the UK had raised for the bake sale. We received an award from STAR at their yearly Annual General Meeting.
Nearer the end of the academic year, we were nominated for a awards from the Students’ Union including best new society and society of the year. In the end we won the society of the year award for all our hard work, which I think is well deserved considering the effort and dedication that the committee and volunteers have put in throughout the year.
We have worked hard over the year to raise the profile of the society within the university, and as a result of this, the society has earned the bronze society tier, followed by our current status of being a silver tier society with the hope of becoming a gold tier society next year.
Throughout all of this, we ran our drop in English Conversation Clubs which help refugees and asylum seekers with their spoken English. The sessions are two hours long and are broken into two sections. The first part of the session consists of having a general chat with the Refugees and Asylum seekers, followed by a more structured hour where we use worksheets to guide conversations in important areas we believe they should know about, for example, telling the time and the weather.
It has been a great year for us at Cardiff Met Star having achieved a lot during the academic year and we hope to continue with the success from this year into next year and many years to come. If you would like to get involved as a volunteer or would like to be on the committee, please speak to the Students’ Union who will point you in the right direction.
The SU Tier Awards recognise the growth and community engagement of a society, and so to have achieved a silver award and be on track for a gold one shows the levels of commitment from all involved.
UPDATE: A further 250 pounds has been raised by the Society this week.
If you would like to get involved, please do check out the information here https://www.cardiffmetsu.co.uk/organisation/8350/
Given the impending American Presidential vote and the ongoing discussions around Brexit, we have felt it more important than ever to continue to maintain, develop and appreciate our relationships with international partners. Last year one of our final year student’s visited the University of Isik near Istanbul in Turkey. In November Stef wrote about her experience while in Turkey (https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/adventures-in-istanbul-erasmus-opportunities/), and now she has kindly written a follow up.
Can you summarise what you got up to in the term before Christmas?
I studied Psychology at a university just outside of Istanbul, Turkey. I also did some travelling around Turkey, and met lots of international people!
What was the highlight of your Erasmus visit?
The highlight of my Erasmus visit was all of the friendships I made. When I arrived all the Erasmus students were given an orientation and lots of activities were planned so that we would feel welcome and comfortable (the university was really good at this and the Turkish mentors were really friendly!). There was only a small group of us, around 20, and we did everything together for the first couple of weeks so we all quickly became very close. By the end of the trip I considered many of them my best friends, and have since gone to visit them in Spain, France, Italy, and next year I’m going to visit others in Mexico! So the people were definitely my highlight. We also went to a part of Turkey called Cappadocia, where we saw the sunrise from a hot air balloon! So that’s definitely up there with the other highlights of my trip.
What was the most challenging aspect?
One of the most challenging aspects of studying in a different country is wondering how it is going to affect your grades. I was in the final year of university so these were some of my most important grades and I had no idea what the teaching or marking would be like. All of my teachers taught in English and the teaching was quite similar to that of the UK. The main difference was that most of the assessment was exam based (midterms and finals) and a lot of these were multiple choice and short answer based, rather than essays and reports. So, at first I was nervous but I quickly learnt that the teachers were all really approachable and willing to help, and that as long as I revised like I did in the UK it didn’t really matter how I was tested as long as I knew my stuff! I ended up with pretty good grades so although it was scary at first, it was really nothing to worry about at all.
What do you feel you have gained from your experiences in Istanbul?
I think I’ve become a lot more open-minded and less ignorant! I think British people in general can be quite unknowing of other cultures, and I’ll admit that before this trip I have never jumped at the idea of learning another language or integrated with people from different countries. So, above all I’ve learnt so much about not just Turkish culture but European culture. For the first time I’ve wanted to learn other languages, Spanish and Italian, and felt quite embarrassed that everyone around me could speak 2 or more, and I was the ignorant English girl that just expected everyone to speak in English!
I’ve also learnt that Turkey is not the big, scary country that every one warned me about before I left. My parents didn’t want me to go, and my friends thought it was strange that I had picked somewhere so close to war torn Syria. I’ve travelled before so, of course, I ignored everyone because I knew that once I got there it would be fine. I was right! My campus, which is where I spent most of the week, was in a small seaside town, where nothing much happened and I felt completely safe. We spent most weekends in Istanbul, which is my favourite city in the world. There are so many things going on, and the culture is nothing like you’ve ever seen before with a mixture of Europe and Asia! The other places that I travelled to in Turkey were also some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and the Turkish people and families that I met were so welcoming and kind to their guests! The main lesson I have learnt from this trip is that the Turkish stereotype is just that – a stereotype! Of course, to be safe and streetwise is always a priority, but if I didn’t go to a city or place through fear of every little danger then I’d never go anywhere with the world as it is at the moment. Lesson learnt – Turkey is amazing!
What advice would you give to other students who are considering taking part in the Erasmus programme?
My advice would be to think of all the things that are holding you back … And then forget about them! Sign up and don’t think about it until it gets to it. When you get there you’ll be so busy making friends and doing cool things that you’d never be doing in the UK that you’ll forget about all those worries anyway!
There’s been a lot of publicity about all the atrocities happening in Turkey at the moment and I can understand how this would put a lot of people off coming. All I can say is that you can’t hide away because anything could happen anywhere. My advice would be not to let fear hold you back but to be streetwise and stay away from large crowds of people and stay with people you know.
Final bit of advice – enjoy every moment because before you know it you’ll blink and it will all be over!
This was obviously a fantastic experience for Stef. She completed one term in Turkey, finishing the equivalent of four modules there. She had also to focus on what she needed to do for her degree, and had project work to do while there. She managed to go through two sets of ethics applications, from both universities, and then used the time there to collect data for her final year dissertation. Stef did really well overall, and managed to work hard and learn a great deal about how people can come together in the world. Stef is now travelling across Europe and the world, and we look forward to hearing what she does next.
If you are interested in Erasmus exchange opportunities, please do get in touch with Clare Glennan who will talk through the process and opportunities with you.
Last December Dr Jenny Mercer applied to the International Office for Short Term Mobility Funding, and was successful in receiving money to take 12 students (four from each year of the programme) to visit our partner, City Unity College (CUC), in Athens. CUC have been delivering our degree for two years now and so we saw the exchange as an opportunity to build stronger links with our European partner.
We devised a set of activities for our students, and saw a range of benefits for staff and students in starting a student exchange, and in order that the cultural swap was not simply an opportunity to meet students in another country, we asked our students to complete some tasks during the week. Our final year students presented their final year research projects, and discussed the process ofcompleting a large dissertation with an audience of staff and students from CUC. Our first and second year students were required to give talks about their experience of being in Athens, and then to use these as the basis for blog posts when they got home. First years focussed on aspects of internationalisation, and the second years looked at culture.
Summaries of their blogs are below!
Studying Abroad in Athens, Greece.
Greece! Well what can I say… It was definitely an interesting experience. I learnt about their culture, however, I learnt a lot more about me as a person. This trip has allowed me to experience how life would be like travelling without my family and also how to adapt to a setting that is very unfamiliar, and out of my comfort zone. My aim in this blog is to tell you one of the main reasons why this trip was so captivating… THE PEOPLE.
During my time in Athens, I met some amazing people – both within the group and in Athens. Even though, the group was made up of students from all year groups, we all seemed to blend well as a team -we pretty much did most things together, and as for the students in Athens, well they were very welcoming, were full of personalities and were not afraid to ask a lot of questions, AND THERE WERE A LOT!
When I arrived, I learnt that the psychology course was new to City Unity College. However, I was very surprised how much knowledge the students in class had. They answered questions in full detail and were not shy to teach other students what the focal topic was about.
Finally, THE TEACHERS! As I am not good with names – it was their characters that I remembered the most. They were oh so lovely, funny and were amazing at telling stories (even when it has nothing to do with the subject). Yet, it was their passion for psychology that was refreshing.
Thanks for having us City Unity College and hopefully this is not the end, but the beginning of something great!
To quote one of the CUC students: “There’s always a good lesson in meeting new people, it’s enlarging your circle of friends. And though there are times you don’t match with their likes, there are some whom you just blend well.”
It is safe to say that there are major differences in the nightlife between Athens and Cardiff. Athens is a very busy city and there always seems to be traffic (even at 3 in the morning). Whether night or day, there always seems to be people in the streets, shops always open, buses always running and the hustle and bustle never seems to die down.
The bars and pubs in Athens are a lot different compared to home, too. Even though the streets are always full, every bar or pub we visited seemed a lot more laid back and relaxed.
Internationalisation is very important and going out and experiencing the nightlife in a different country and experiencing their culture is beneficial, not just for socialising but for understanding how different people do things.
After meeting new friends at the City College, we decided to socialise with them outside of the learning environment, at a local bar. This is when it really hit home that there are so many differences in the bar environments in our two countries. Even queuing for drinks is different. This can be linked to internationalisation as being introduced to Greece’s customs when it comes to socialising is beneficial to us as it would be less daunting if we ever return to Greece. These customs can be generalised to a lot of other countries in Europe, so will be very beneficial to us.
During our visit we didn’t just have a holiday, we had some tasks to complete whilst in Athens. We attended lectures just like any other student from the college. We attended lessons from the Greek lecturers which involved both level 4 and level 5 lessons on ‘Brain & Cognition’ and Forensic psychology respectively. Our Brain & Cognition lecture revolved around a lesson on brain damage and memory just how we would be taught here in Cardiff Met. This lecture lent a surprise to us with how knowledgeable the Greek students were, as there was an emphasis on questioning the students about previous lectures. The Forensic Psychology lecture had us all interacting heavily, with us trying to understand the science behind forensic psychology and how we could use it practically to assist police forces in their criminal profiling.
The final year students who came to Athens were just finishing their dissertations and had the job of presenting their research and findings to the level 5 students from Greece and ourselves. From these presentations we learnt about the effect of driving whilst trying to talk on a phone or listening to half a conversation (don’t try this at home!) , the opinions on eating disorders from those who take health science courses and those who don’t and finally we were shown how our happiness changes depending on our consumerist tendencies.
We were also treated to guest sessions from some of our own lecturers; Dan Heggs and Jenny Mercer. These sessions introduced us to things we need to prepare for when thinking about our final year dissertation research, and taught us about the effect of ‘Green care’ on our well-being.
Places and food
During our stay in Athens we experienced some fantastic cuisine one of the main dishes we experienced was the Greek Gyro which in fact is a type of kebab with a round pitta and usually meat and salad inside, this was mostly our typical dish of the day which was quick and simple. We experienced many restaurants which offered an array of food which ranged from great Greek salads to home cooked lamb in the oven to grilled BBQ chicken and lamb cooked over coal to Halal, our food choice was endless.
Being a tourist too!
During our stay in Athens, we had the opportunity to visit many places. Our hotel was located in a great central spot and so we were able to walk to a lot of places. First, we wanted to see the Acropolis, which is known to be the very symbol of the capital. Next to the acropolis, there is a Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, which is absolutely enormous. It’s amazing to think that these structures were constructed by men without modern day machines. One thing I had wanted to do was to sit on the steps and look down on the stage, and then walk on earth that was also part of the theatre, which we couldn’t do for security reasons.
Visiting the Acropolis was the highlight of our journey to Athens. The views were absolutely amazing and it was a masterpiece of white marble. The journey to the Acropolis didn’t take long, and it is located next to the flea market and Monastiraki, which is full of character and life. Walking for a whole day through the beautiful square with old alley ways and streets that stretch all the way to Plaka, was worth the effort. We all bought souvenirs and, even though we spent a whole day browsing in the flea market, it still seem to be not enough as it was so much to explore and to see. The atmosphere was really exciting and people were really friendly. Especially at night, it comes to live even more. There are shops and eateries all around. We got good souvlaki at really good price!
We also visited the metropolis cathedral, which has some beautiful paintings and the interior was richly decorated and was very detailed. We briefly visited the Orthodox Church, however, it was very spacious from inside and also quite impressive with its details. Another church which we visited was the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos which was next to the cathedral. It’s very tiny and there isn’t a lot to see inside, however its very unique as it is not made of out of bricks and stones (as most of the churches are) but out of slabs of marble.
All in all, it was a great week in Athens meeting students at the college and sampling the culture of the city.
Down the Cultural Rabbit Hole … or, Our Experience of Being Students in Athens for a Week
At the February UG conference, we all received an invitation regarding a trip to Athens to experience being a student there as well as share our experience as students in the UK. We were eager to apply. When we finally found out that we are going to be in Athens for a week we couldn’t believe it but started to get ready for our trip.
When we first met, as second years we only knew each other vaguely, and did not know anyone else on the trip. That all changed when we got there.
On our first day we all had a meal together and then went on to visit the Parthenon:
We were impressed by the fact that as students we had a free entry, except two of us that forgot our student cards (Oops!).
We have learnt that there are a few strict laws regarding claiming student tickets, for example on the tube we had to show our student badges when we arrived at our destination.
Athens is an amazing place, and besides visiting the Parthenon, we also walked (A LOT) around the city, trying the great food (everyone loved the gyros) as well as refreshing drinks (non-alcoholic of course! – cappuccino freddo was the first choice!).
We were excited to visit and experience the culture, and to meet student colleagues in Athens. By participating in a few of their lectures we learnt that they have smaller teaching rooms and interacting with the lecturers as well as other students is much easier. Here you can see Evan interacting with the others after our lecture:
During our cultural exchange, our third year students presented their projects. It was very inspiring both for our first and second year students as they also got some advice with regards to project deadlines and how to manage the entire project.
We also learnt that the student experience is different. In the UK we have the “fresher’s week” which is always a must for first years, while in Athens students confirmed that is not the case for them. The size of the lectures was also smaller compared to our huge lecture halls that can fit hundreds of students. In the UK we can opt for a gap year or move to a different town to study. In Athens, the students said that education is continuous and after they finish pre-university education, they just go on to higher education. They also mentioned that those with higher grades get accepted where they want and that the first form of higher education, such as studying at University is free for those that get accepted with higher grades.
Another thing that was different, was the fact that smoking in Athens was seen quite normal. People would even smoke inside restaurants or pubs, regardless of the laws. Staff said that they do so in order to keep their clients. Athens itself looks quite busy and a lot of people travel with motorbikes. It is quite difficult to cross the streets because you’re unsure when to go or stop as not many people follow the red and green pedestrian signs. We also noticed a lot of graffiti everywhere we walked.
Because two of us had birthdays exactly in that week, students from our Psychology course in Athens decided to take us out for the night and show us a great place in Athens. At midnight, they even sang to our UK students and wished them “Happy Birthday”.
We also had a great time writing the blogs and thinking about our cultural experience!
Nevertheless, if such little things are so different between the Western – UK culture and Eastern – Greek culture from what we observed on our little trip, we can see the relevance and importance of the cross-cultural research, as some findings could apply to a certain culture, however it can be quite different and difficult to apply it to a different culture, regardless of the placement on the map.
Finally, we have met so many people and received so much as well. It was a great week!
Every day when we see news about the financial situation in Greece we think about our partners and the students at CUC. While things can be presented in such dire terms, we are aware of how welcomed we felt and how enthusiastically they embraced opportunities to develop with Cardiff Metropolitan University.
We’d like to thank Evan Hadyikoumi and Alex Dumitru for getting the blogs together for us, and also to thank all of our students for making us proud in Athens, and especially we’d like to thank staff and students at CUC for making us feel so welcome.
We look forward to more exchanges and to working with CUC in the future.
In today’s guest post we hear from Dr Caroline Limbert. Caroline is the Programme Director for the Health Psychology MSc and a few weeks about Caroline and some of the MSc Health Psychology students ran the Merthyr Tydfil half marathon. In this post Caroline recounts the ups and downs of the journey to the finishing line:
In early December when some of the MSc Health Psychology students first mentioned that they were planning to do the Merthyr half marathon on 22nd March and asked me if I would join them, I had no hesitation in firmly declining their invitation. I am not a runner, never have been and had no intention of starting at this stage in my life. However, as I heard more of their enthusiastic plans and training schedules and realised that they had built the whole idea around the ethos of health psychology I was impressed by their initiative and dedication to the challenge.
The choice of Merthyr Tydfil as the location for completing the half marathon emanated from the reports of low levels of healthy life expectancy in certain parts of the town, which are largely attributable to the lifestyle behaviours and attitudes that health psychologists are trained to understand and endeavour to change. The students also decided to use the half marathon as a vehicle to raise money for Diabetes UK, a charity which supports and campaigns for people with the chronic and potentially life threatening condition that gave the organisation its name and again has links to the lifestyle choices that are increasingly common in the UK today. As a third prong to the health psychology focus, training for and completing the half marathon was seen as a motivation for the students themselves to take more exercise and develop healthier habits, including losing weight and giving up smoking.
I’m still not quite sure how I became persuaded to take part in the half marathon myself but having made the decision I downloaded an 8 week training programme in January. It was great to listen to all the advice and comments from the students: how to hold your hands when you run; what to eat when you are training; what to wear etc. Also they were very forthcoming with their encouragement, which was fantastic. However when I looked up advice on the internet on how to train for your first half marathon in middle age I found lots of sites designed for people in their mid-thirties! Since I have children who are that age, that was rather dispiriting, as were the in depth descriptions of what happens to the heart, lungs and arteries of ‘older’ people which prevents them from running so well or recovering so effectively. I started towonder if I was suffering from some form of delusion to even imagine I could embark on this venture. What had I been thinking? Had I forgotten that most of the students are less than half my age?
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for running and my resentment at having to devote so much time to monotonously planting one foot in front of the other for increasingly long periods of time as the training progressed, the fact that I live close to the sea and so was able to run along the coastal path made it a lot more bearable. After a day of sitting in front of a computer the prospect of getting home and setting off in the fresh air among the sights and sounds of the beach front became something I even looked forward to on occasion – at least while the runs were still at the level of 2 or 3 miles.
I experienced a lot of ups and downs throughout my 9 week training period, achieving further distances and faster speeds were important to build confidence, but then there would be off days or periods of total exhaustion when I struggled to complete just a few miles and so found it impossible to imagine ever completing over 13 miles. Fortunately on the day of the half marathon I felt rather more positive about the whole experience that was to come. To some extent I was demob happy already, enjoying the anticipation of lounging around and feeling self-congratulatory once the event was over.
A feeling of confidence coupled with a healthy dose of denial meant that I was almost looking forward to the event by the time I arrived to register on Sunday morning and it was amazing to feel part of something exciting and challenging alongside the students. The novelty of the experience made it really interesting and with the range of ages, abilities, experience and aspirations among the students it was fantastic to see how they supported each other, and in some cases even sacrificed their own, all important finishing time in order to ensure their friends were okay and not left on their own.
We were very lucky with the weather, the sun was shining and there was no significant wind or rain. The cheers and shouts of encouragement from people lining the route was really uplifting, especially a young child of about 10 calling forcefully to tell runners ‘you’re doing really well, not far to go now.’ The momentum of the other runners, almost pulling me along in the throng, made the run easier than I could ever have anticipated. I was dreading the final few yards as they involved two circuits of the car park, apparently in order to provide photo opportunities! However it was great to hear the cries of those gathered at the carpark to welcome the survivors back to where they had started. I was delighted to be close to the end of the run and the word ‘FINISH’ was the most welcome word I have ever read.
I was disappointed to find that the organisers of the half marathon had run out of medals by the time I finished, as apparently only half of those they ordered had been delivered. But at least I had the t-shirt and have been promised that a medal will be sent to me in the post. Most importantly I had succeeded in a challenge that I had on many occasions thought would be beyond my capability; gone from being unable to run a mile to running almost all of a 13.1 mile half marathon after just 9 weeks of training; become fitter than I would ever otherwise have done; and developed a habit of regular health promoting and health sustaining exercise that I will continue for the long term. When people ask me if I enjoyed the experience, I almost think the answer to that may be ‘yes’, but did I enjoy it enough to want to ever do it again? I’m afraid the answer is a very clear and immediate ‘no’. But I’m incredibly pleased to have done it once and to have been able to share the experience with the students, many of whom are already looking forward to the Cardiff half marathon in October and benefiting from the free places provided for staff and students by Cardiff Metropolitan University.
If you would like to find out more about the Health Psychology MSc Programme then please take a look at the following website:
Or follow their Twitter Feed:
The Department of Applied Psychology thrives at the start of the new academic year as we welcome new and returning students across our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. In this post we hear from our Programme Directors about how well the start of the new academic year has gone and what developments are happening across our teaching portfolio. If you are interested in finding out any more about the programmes mentioned then please do get in contact with the Programme Director!
“We are looking forward to working with our Masters of Research (MRes) students who have research interests in diverse topics. MRes students will be studying alongside our MSc Forensic and Health Psychology students as well as with the School of Health Science PhD students. This is the first year that MRes students can study forensic psychology as well as health psychology options. This is an exciting development and can only enhance our psychology research profile.”
Dr Debbie Clayton, Programme Director for the MRes Programme
“The MSc Health Psychology programme is off to a great start with some really interesting and motivated students from a broad range of backgrounds, all with something interesting to contribute as well as to take away, we hope.
We have lots of placement style dissertations lined up, so students can complete research in collaboration with external organisations and help to explore some real world issues. We are also looking forward to talks from a number of external speakers, including some of our own graduates who are now forging ahead with their own careers.
Plans for the coming academic year include developing an exchange programme so that MSc students can spend some of the course in Athens, if they choose to do so; and seeing a few more of our dissertations appear as publications in peer reviewed journals. To keep up to date with MSc Issues and relevant research please follow us on Twitter: @cardiffhealthps”
Dr Caroline Limbert, Programme Director for the MSc Health Programme
“It’s the end of a busy first week, and what an exciting week it has been. Induction has gone really well, with excellent feedback from staff about how new students have thrown themselves into things. It has been fantastic to see second and third years back on campus too, and so it’s always great to welcome new and old faces into the department and feel the excitement and possibility that the new academic year brings.
It’s going to be a busy year for the Psychology BSc. We have started to use extensive electronic feedback, which will support students submitting work quickly and easily, then getting prompt and clear feedback from staff. Our work and volunteering placements continue to expand, offering second and third year students opportunities to work in varied settings, develop skills and think about the application of psychology to real world contexts. We’ve also started to plan this year’s undergraduate conference, building on the success of what we did last March (https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/psychology-undergraduate-conference/) It’s also very pleasing to see how we have such a strong social network presence, using Facebook and now Twitter. I wasn’t so impressed, though, when my colleague Leanne made the most of mobile technologies on Tuesday at the programme welcome (https://twitter.com/PsychCardiffMet/status/514403354165125120).
We are all now looking forward to Monday, where we get to start the year properly. It’ll great to feel the bustle of a busy campus, with all three years of psychology students back. It feels like it’s going to be another positive year.”
Dr Dan Heggs, Programme Director for the Psychology BSc Programme
“The Foundation Welcome day last Friday was a success with over 70 students now enrolled on the course, and planning to progress onto one of the following courses next September:
HND/BSc(Hons) Health and social Care
BA(Hons) Youth and Community Work
The Welcome Day included a game of Human Bingo, a Campus Scavenger Hunt and Tutorial Introductions with an element of TV’s Would I lie to you thrown in for good measure. Mentors, degree students who had completed the Foundation Programme in earlier years, took part in the games, joining in with tutorial groups and leading them around campus for the scavenger hunt. Prizes, in the form of sweets and mugs, were awarded for the first people to complete the bingo, the tutorial group with the highest score on the scavenger hunt and for those tutorial groups who correctly identified their peer’s bogus information. The day finished with short talks form the pathway leaders of the degree courses onto which the programme leads and the opportunity for all new students to ask questions of staff.
The teaching team are very pleased to welcome so many engaged and engaging students on to the course and are looking forward to the year ahead.”
Dr Lalage Sanders, Acting Programme Director for the Foundation in Social Sciences Programme
“We are delighted to welcome four students from universities in Spain, Turkey and Italy who will be taking some of our Level 6 modules. The department has agreements with a number of institutions abroad as part of the Erasmus study exchange programme. If any of our own students are interested in taking part of their degree in a different country watch out for talks about how to make this happen later in the year, or alternatively contact Jenny Mercer who is our departmental Erasmus co-ordinator.”
Dr Jenny Mercer, Erasmus Co-Ordinator
This summer the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PSYPAG) held its annual conference at Cardiff Met. Conferences are an integral part of academic life, and offer a chance to meet people and present work and ideas. One of our final year PhD students attended and presented at the conference. Here is what she had to say:
My name is Iva and I am a PhD student from Cardiff Met. My research focuses on offenders’ rehabilitation. In particular I am interested in offenders’ motivation to engage in custodial activities such as education classes.
I was very pleased to learn that the conference this year was to be held at Cardiff Met, especially as the dissemination of research findings is important as it contributes to knowledge and treatment in forensic psychology. What is even more exciting is that PsyPAG concentrates a wide array of research, presented by those who are developing new ideas.
PsyPAG is a distinctive conference as it allows post-grad students to share their research at any point of their PhD, and I love conferences like PsyPAG where so much can be learned from colleagues with the same interest but also from others. I have learned loads from this year’s PsyPAG, especially health psychology. The health psychology presentations helped me widen my horizons and think critically about my research. For instance, I was able to relate some of the issues of effective treatment of patients to offenders’ interventions based in the community.
It was not all hard work however! There were two social events. The first was a BBQ on the River Taff at the local rowing club. We were able to enjoy a summer evening eating by the side of the river. Great fun! The other social event was the conference dinner at Cardiff City Hall. What an impressive building! There was only one complaint: not enough sauce on the sticky toffee pudding! Both the BBQ and the dinner were great opportunities to chat to different new researchers from universities across the UK.
Overall, I cannot recommend the PsyPAG conference enough. It is a unique opportunity for every researcher, including Master’s students and PhD students, to present their research at whatever stage they had reached. The PsyPAG conference at Cardiff Met was thought-provoking, educational, interesting, with lots of stimulating discussion, and with lots of fun during the social events. It must have been a huge effort to organise, so I’d like to thank everyone for making it happen.
If you are interested in finding out more about PsyPAG or submitting an abstract for next year’s PsyPAG conference in Glasgow please consult the PsyPAG website: http://www.psypag.co.uk/.