As the autumn term draws to a close it is good to take a moment to reflect on where a degree can take people and how it can be used. Psychology is a very broad discipline, encompassing all aspects of behaviour from individual to social perspectives. The breadth of the academic discipline can feel a little overwhelming at first with so many ways to focus on what we do as humans, and so many ways to explain those things we do. Once you have got past the initial rush of ideas, theories, and methods, then you need to focus in some areas and think about how psychology might be used and where it might be used. In the Department, we have an applied focus in what we do. We want our students to think about how they can use what they are learning in different settings, to try and support people and improve communities and lives. This can be seen in the placements offered in the degree, and then again in the MSc programmes with their strongly applied work and research emphasis.
What comes after a degree is important, and reflecting on a developing career can help us all to think about what we know of psychology, and what we think we might want to do with the subject that can inspire and frustrate us. Dan Lawrence graduated a few years back now, and since then has been steadily building his career, completing postgraduate training in forensic psychology with us. It has been brilliant to see how Dan has progressed over the years, and fascinating to read about his route into a career. It’s really useful to see this, and see how we can take opportunities that are in front of us.
Reflections on becoming a Forensic Psychologist
My first steps into the ‘world’ of psychology surprisingly stemmed from a keen interest in sports. Up until sixth form I had very little experience or understanding of psychology in its general sense. However, one of my A level choices was Physical Education (P.E.) and one of the modules within this was Sports Psychology which I found fascinating. When it came to choosing my university options I had no idea what to do and ended up picking Psychology at Cardiff Met (then UWIC) as my first choice. I guess my thinking was along the lines of “well I definitely want to play a high level of rugby in the future, UWIC can help with this and that psychology module I did was pretty interesting, so I’ll give it a go”.
The undergraduate degree was a peculiar experience for me. I remember initially being unenthused about much of the content, which I think related to the broadness of the topics that were being taught. However, my interest didn’t take long to grow and it wasn’t long before modules captured my attention in the same way that the Sports Psychology module had at A level. I noticed early on that it was the programme content which related to mental disorder or crime that I found most interesting (although I also thoroughly enjoyed the Animal Cognition module). This then led me to read about becoming a psychologist and what I needed to do to be one. One thing that was abundantly clear was that, as well as a psychology degree, work experience was paramount. As a result I contacted some people I knew working in one of the prisons in South Wales and I was eventually able to gain a voluntary placement there. I was also able to gain other relevant experience at the time. This along with the Forensic Psychology module in the third year led to my interest in this area to develop further and I knew that in the future I wanted to work in forensic services (either forensic psychiatric or correctional).
Next came the Forensic Psychology MSc at Cardiff Met. My aim initially was to (after gaining more experience) enrol onto the Clinical Psychology Doctorate course, and had not intended to enrol on this course as at the time . After consideration of the various possibilities I decided to do the masters part time whilst also gaining relevant work experience. I figured that having an MSc would only improve my chances. For me the MSc has been the most enjoyable part of my experience so far. I think this relates to it being focused on the areas of psychology that I find most interesting. I particularly liked the range of modules that related to the forensic application of psychology and the frequent guest lectures that were part of the programme. I found that the lecturers and staff that were involved in this degree were extremely supportive and passionate about the development of forensic psychology. Whilst still enrolled on the masters, I was fortunate enough to obtain an Assistant Psychologist role which would later prove to be invaluable experience.
I then applied for the Post Graduate Diploma in Practitioner Forensic Psychology (PGDip) and was fortunate to be accepted for this course. I found this course to be far more challenging (including emotionally challenging) than any of the others that I had completed, which I think was something that I was not fully expecting when I enrolled. I found it to be far less structured and guided than the other courses, which I guess should be expected from a practitioner course as opposed to an academic one, as this certainly encourages autonomy and independence. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the content of the jobs and tasks that I did as part of the PGDip because as I always have, I found the nature of the work that I was doing fascinating and at times, rewarding. There was also some great support available from those involved with the course and the university if needed, which was invaluable. I can honestly say that this course taught me the importance of determination, resilience and making the most of the support that is available, both personally and professionally. Having recently (November 2017) completed the PGDip this marks the end of a long but rewarding journey of studying at Cardiff Met. I am very much looking forward to this next stage in my career, working as a fully qualified Forensic Psychologist.
My advice to others who aspire to work in the field of applied psychology would be to decide early on which area it is that you want to develop a career in. Then make every effort to gain relevant work experience as early as you can, the more the better (you can never pester people enough about offering you experience!). If you are able to gain experience whilst still studying then even better. The ‘world’ of psychology is a competitive place so you need to give yourself the best chance you can. Also I was always given the advice that at least a 2:1 in my under graduate degree would stand me in good stead for the future, so aim high and work hard! If you know that becoming a psychologist is something that you definitely want then go for it. Stay focused on your goal and don’t give up, even when things are challenging. If I can make it this far you guys can too.
Best wishes and good luck.
A couple of things stand down when reading Dan’s story. The first is that being interested, and finding that interest, is really important for starting off. The other thing is that hard work and determination are vital. Dr Nic Bowes, who runs the PGDip Forensic Practitioner Programme emphasises this in her comments:
Dan’s good grounding in Psychology was pivotal in his career progression to become a forensic psychologist. Gaining a good, deep foundation in psychological theory is essential if you want to go on to practice. He then completed his MSc whilst working full time in a forensic setting. This demonstrates both his drive and determination – bit also is very sensible. It allowed him to experience what it is like to work in a forensic setting and to test whether he thought this was the setting for him. It also provided some important contacts for him to progress on to supervised practice. Training in supervised practice is very tough. It requires students to develop their scientist-practitioner skills. Students critically reflect on everything they do and every aspect of their practice. Not just what they do, but how they do it. Working in forensic settings whilst training is challenging. Dan’s commitment to his studies and to applying the feedback he received in supervision has been obvious. He’s going to be a great contributor to forensic psychology practice in the UK and it has been great to be with him on that journey.
It’s good to see how a career can develop, especially one that will impact on people’s lives.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for Xmas, and look forward to greeting everyone again in 2018!
Nadolig Llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
Fel adran Seicoleg, sy’n falch o fod yn rhan o brifysgol yng Nghymru ym mhrifddinas Cymru, yr ydym wedi bod yn awyddus i adlewyrchu treftadaeth iaith llawer o’n myfyrwyr ers nifer o flynyddoedd. Rydyn ni wedi cyfieithu gwaith myfyrwyr, asesiadau a phob math o bethau, ond heb yr ymgysylltiad yr ydym yn ei wir ddymuno. Roedd yn weddol amlwg yr hyn oedd ar goll, sef staff a oedd yn ddigon hyderus i weithio ac addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Yn ystod y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, rydym wedi gwneud penodiadau staff sydd wedi ein galluogi i ddechrau adeiladu’r hyn yr oeddem yn ei ddymuno. Yn y flwyddyn gyntaf, mae gennym yn awr sesiynau tiwtorial a seminarau yn y Gymraeg, sy’n helpu myfyrwyr i weithio a meddwl mewn dwy iaith. Rydym yn cynnig lleoliadau gwaith yn Gymraeg yn yr ail a’r drydedd flwyddyn, gan gynnig cyfle i fyfyrwyr weithio yn y gymuned gyda siaradwyr Cymraeg.
Mae ychwanegu cyfleoedd yn y Gymraeg yn cryfhau ac yn galluogi cysylltiadau agosach â chymunedau ledled Cymru, ac mae’n ychwanegu at amrywiaeth a bywiogrwydd Seicoleg ym Met Caerdydd. Yn y darn canlynol, mae ein cydweithiwr, Dr Mirain Rhys, yn sôn am yr iaith Gymraeg, ei rôl a sut mae hi’n gweithio i adeiladu mwy o gynnwys Cymraeg i’n cwricwlwm.
Seicoleg drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ym Met Caerdydd
Mae bob amser yn fy synnu fod rhaid i mi weithiau esbonio fy mod yn dod o gartref lle mai dim ond Cymraeg sy’n cael ei siarad, ac mai Saesneg yw fy ail iaith. Fe’m codwyd mewn tref lle mae dros 70% o’r boblogaeth yn rhugl yn y Gymraeg. Cefais fy addysg yn gyfangwbl trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg hyd nes fy mod i’n 18 oed. Rwy’n siarad Cymraeg bob dydd ac yr wyf yn ymfalchïo yn esbonio fy mod o gefndir iaith leiafrifol, ac mai fy angerdd am gynhaliaeth ac adfywiad ar gyfer iaith ein gwlad fu’n gyfrifol am fy arwain i’m gyrfa.
Ac nid dim ond fi sydd yn y sefyllfa yma! Addysgir bron i chwarter o’r boblogaeth yng Nghymru trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Maent yn dysgu terminoleg pwnc ac yn cael eu cyfarwyddo drwy’r iaith ac erbyn iddynt orffen addysg orfodol, dylai pob unigolyn fod yn ddwyieithog. Ar ôl i fyfyrwyr orffen yr ysgol, mae addysg yn dod yn ddewis. Mae yna lawer o ddewisiadau i’w gwneud wrth gwrs, a bydd rhai yn penderfynu eu bod am wneud cais i Brifysgol. Yng Nghymru, mae dewis arall yn dechrau ennill momentwm – a ydych chi’n astudio gradd trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ai peidio?
Mae’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol yn sefydliad sy’n gweithio ar draws holl Brifysgolion Cymru. Ei brif nod yw darparu addysg uwch cyfrwng Cymraeg mewn amrywiaeth o bynciau. Bu nifer o lwyddiannau amrywiol, a gall myfyrwyr ledled Cymru bellach astudio rhan, neu ei gradd gyfan yn y celfyddydau, gwyddorau, gwyddorau cymdeithasol neu gradd iechyd trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Mae’n gwneud llawer o synnwyr i barhau i astudio yn yr iaith y cynhaliwyd y rhan fwyaf o’ch addysg ynddi. Rydych eisoes yn ymwybodol o’r derminoleg sy’n gysylltiedig a byddwch mae’n debyg yn ddefnyddiwr cymwys o’r derminoleg honno yn Saesneg yn ogystal â’ch astudiaethau gradd. Mae dwyieithrwydd yn eich gwasanaethu’n dda fel myfyriwr graddedig mewn marchnad lafur gystadleuol gyson. Mae angen llawer o weithwyr Cymraeg eu hiaith i lawer o ddiwydiannau i gyflawni eu busnes, ac mae hyn yn arbennig o wir am raddedigion y Gwyddorau Iechyd; Mae seicoleg yn rhan bwysig o’r gwyddorau iechyd. Dychmygwch fod eisiau siarad â rhywun am bethau anodd yn eich bywyd, ond rhaid i chi wneud hynny gan ddefnyddio geiriau a thermau nad ydych chi’n teimlo’n gyfforddus â nhw.
Mirain yn yr Eisteddfod yn barod i siarad am y mythau am Seicoleg.
Rwyf bellach wedi bod yn aelod o staff yn yr adran Seicoleg Gymhwysol ers ychydig dros flwyddyn. Un o gyfrifoldebau fy swydd fel darlithydd Seicoleg sy’n siarad Cymraeg yw cefnogi myfyrwyr sydd wedi cwblhau’r rhan fwyaf o’u haddysg trwy’r Gymraeg a’u bod bellach yn trosglwyddo i brofiad ieithyddol gwahanol iawn.
Eleni, rydym wedi dechrau darparu darpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg. Y nod yw paratoi’r ffordd i’r myfyrwyr hynny a allai deimlo bod mynd o gael eu haddysgu yn yr ysgol neu’r coleg mewn un iaith i’w haddysgu ar lefel gradd mewn un arall, yn ogystal â’r holl bryderon eraill sy’n dod wrth ddechrau Prifysgol, yn llethol. Cynigir tiwtorial dwyieithog i fyfyrwyr blwyddyn gyntaf lle datblygir eu medrau astudio i gyd-fynd â’u darlithoedd cynnwys. Darperir yr un deunydd cyfrwng Saesneg i’r myfyrwyr â’r grwpiau eraill, ond mae gennym drafodaethau yn y Gymraeg sy’n ymwneud â’u sgiliau trawsieithu, un o’r manteision niferus o siarad mwy nag un iaith!
Ein nod ar gyfer y dyfodol yw parhau i weithio’n agos gyda’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol i ddatblygu modiwlau a gredydir a fydd ar gael trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Rwyf ar hyn o bryd yn ymchwilio i ddichonoldeb datblygu darpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg ar gyfer yr ysgol gyfan gyda’r nod o ddarparu data craff i’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol ar yr heriau a’r cyfleoedd, o ymgorffori’r Gymraeg i mewn i lawer o adrannau parod. Bydd yr hyn yr ydym yn ei wneud yn yr adran Seicoleg yn helpu gyda’r datblygiadau hyn a bydd mwy o bostiadau blog yn dilyn y datblygiadau cyffrous hyn.
Wrth gwrs, nid pob myfyriwr all siarad Cymraeg, ac nid pawb sy’n gallu ei defnyddio o fewn eu haddysg. Ond bydd yr elfen o ddewis sy’n hollbwysig ym mhob sefyllfa ieithoedd lleiafrifol yn cael ei ymgorffori ymhellach i Seicoleg ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd fel y gall pob myfyriwr barhau â’u taith addysgol trwy’r naill neu’r llall o ieithoedd swyddogol Cymru.
Yn ystod haf 2017, mynychodd Mirain yr Eisteddfod gyda chydweithwyr o’r adran Seicoleg, a chafodd ei dal ar gamera gan S4C:
Rwy’n falch iawn o’r ffordd yr ydym yn cefnogi Cymraeg yn allanol yn awr, a gellir gweld hyn yn cael ei adlewyrchu mewn sylwadau gan ein cydweithiwr, Dr Delyth James:
Ymunais â’r Adran Seicoleg Gymhwysol ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd yn 2015, ar ôl gweithio ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd ers dros ddeng mlynedd. Yno yn yr Ysgol Fferylliaeth, datblygais y ddarpariaeth Gymraeg ar draws pob un o’r rhaglenni ôl-raddedig 4-blynedd ar gyfer y Radd mewn Fferylliaeth, gan ganolbwyntio’n bennaf ar ddatblygu sgiliau cyfathrebu ac ymgynghori myfyrwyr a fferyllfeydd ac ymarferwyr yn y Gymraeg (neu’n ddwyieithog).
Pan ymunais â Phrifysgol Met Caerdydd, roeddwn wrth fy modd dod o hyd i amgylchedd croesawgar a chefnogol i barhau â’r gwaith hwn ac ehangu’r ddarpariaeth Gymraeg i weithwyr gofal iechyd proffesiynol eraill a myfyrwyr seicoleg. Rydym yn cydweithio’n agos â chydweithwyr ar draws Prifysgolion eraill yng Nghymru a’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Er enghraifft, cyflwynodd Mirain a minnau yn ddiweddar weithdy Cymraeg ar gyfer myfyrwyr Meddygol a Fferylliaeth ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd ar y testun ‘Dibynniaeth’ (Addiction).
Rwy’n siŵr y byddai Mirain a Dan yn cytuno â mi fod yna brysurdeb gwirioneddol ac ymdeimlad o frwdfrydedd yn y Brifysgol ar gyfer meithrin a defnyddio ein sgiliau iaith Gymraeg o ddydd i ddydd yn y gweithle ac wrth baratoi ar gyfer cyfleoedd cyflogaeth myfyrwyr yng Nghymru ar ôl iddynt raddio.
Mae yna lawer o frwdfrydedd dros gefnogi ac annog ein holl fyfyrwyr i ddatblygu sgiliau ar gyfer y dyfodol, ac rydym yn ymfalchïo yn y gwaith rhagorol y mae myfyrwyr yn ei wneud gyda’n holl bartneriaid lleoliadau. Rydym am ddarparu’r sgiliau angenrheidiol i’r myfyrwyr ar gyfer y dyfodol, ac un ffordd y gallwn ni wneud hynny yw cydnabod pwysigrwydd iaith wrth ymgysylltu â’r cymunedau o’n cwmpas. Mae’r mentrau Cymraeg yr ydym wedi’u dechrau yn cyfoethogi ein hadran, ac mae canlyniadau cyffredinol ehangach i ni i gyd y tu hwnt i’n gwaith bob dydd. Edrychaf ymlaen at ddangos mwy o waith iaith a lleoliadau’r adran!
As a Psychology department proudly part of a Welsh university in the capital of Wales, we have wanted to reflect the language heritage of many of our students for a number of years. We have translated student work, assessments and all sorts of things, but without the take up that we really desired. It was fairly obvious what was missing, staff who were confident enough to work and teach through Welsh. In the last two years, we have made staff appointments that have enabled us to start to build what we wanted. In the first year, we now have tutorials and seminars in Welsh, which help students work in and think in two languages. We offer service learning placements in Welsh in both the second and third years, offering students the chance to work in the community with Welsh speakers.
The addition of Welsh language opportunities strengthens and enables closer links with communities across Wales, and adds to the diversity and vibrancy of Psychology at Cardiff Met. In the following piece, our colleague Dr Mirain Rhys, talks about Welsh language, her role and how she is working to build more Welsh language content into our curriculum.
Welsh Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan
It always surprises me that sometimes I have to explain that I come from a home where only Welsh is spoken, and that English is my second language. I was raised in a town where over 70% of the population are fluent in Welsh. I was educated solely through the medium of Welsh until I was 18. I speak Welsh every day and I take pride explaining that I am from a minority language background, and that my passion for our country’s language maintenance and revitalisation led me to my career.
And it’s not just me! Almost a quarter of the population of Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh. They learn subject terminology and are instructed through the language and by the time they finish compulsory education, each individual should be bilingual. After students finish school, education becomes a choice. There are many choices to make of course, and some will find themselves deciding on and applying to a University. In Wales, another choice is beginning to gain momentum – do you study a degree through the medium of Welsh or not?
The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (Welsh national college) is an organisation that works across all Welsh Universities. Its main aim is to provide Welsh medium higher education in a variety of subjects. There have been various success stories, and students across Wales are now able to study part or all of their arts, sciences, social sciences or health degree through the medium of Welsh. It makes a lot of sense to continue studying in the language that most of your education was conducted in. You are already aware of the terminology involved and will most probably be a competent user of said terminology in English as well through your degree studies. Bilingualism serves you well as a graduate in an ever-competitive labour market. Many industries need Welsh speaking employees to carry out their business, and this is especially true of Health Sciences graduates. Psychology is an important part of health sciences. Imagine wanting to talk to someone about difficult things in your life, but having to do so using words and terms you don’t feel as comfortable with.
I have now been a member of staff at the department of Applied Psychology for just over a year. One remit of my position as a Welsh speaking Psychology lecturer is to support students who have completed most of their education through Welsh and are now transitioning to a very different linguistic experience.
This year, we have begun to provide Welsh medium provision. The aim is to pave the way for those students who might feel that going from being educated at school or college in one language to being educated at degree level though another, as well as all the other anxieties that come with starting at Uni, is overwhelming.First year students are offered a bilingual tutorial where their study skills are developed to aide with their content lectures. Students are provided with the same English medium material as the other groups, but we have discussions in Welsh which engages their translanguaging skills, one of the many benefits of speaking more than one language!
Our aim for the future is to continue to work closely with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to develop credited modules which will be available through the medium of Welsh. I am currently researching the feasibility of developing Welsh medium provision for the whole school with the aim of providing Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol with insightful data on the challenges, and the opportunities, of incorporating the Welsh language into many willing departments. What we’re doing within the Psychology department will help with these developments and there will be more blog posts to follow on these exciting developments.
Of course, not all students can speak Welsh, and not all that can want to use it within their education. But the element of choice which is vitally important in every minority language situation will be incorporated further into Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University so that each student can continue their educational journey through either of Wales’ official languages.
In the summer of 2017, Mirain attended the Eisteddfod with colleagues from Psychology, and was caught on camera by S4C:
I am very pleased with the way that we are outwardly supporting Welsh now, and this can be seen reflected in comments from our colleague Dr Delyth James:
I joined the Applied Psychology Department at Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015, having worked at Cardiff University for over ten years. There at the School of Pharmacy, I developed the Welsh language provision across all 4-years of the Pharmacy Degree plus postgraduate programmes, focusing mainly on developing pharmacy students’ and practitioners’ communication and consultation skills in Welsh (or bilingually).
When I joined Cardiff Met Uni, I was delighted to find a welcoming and supportive environment to continue with this work and expanding Welsh language provision to other healthcare professionals and psychology students. We work closely with colleagues across other Universities in Wales and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. For example, Mirain and I recently delivered a Welsh language workshop for Medical and Pharmacy students at Cardiff University on the topic of ‘Addiction’.
I’m sure Mirain and Dan would agree with me that there is a real buzz and sense of enthusiasm in the University for nurturing and using our Welsh language skills on a day to day basis in the workplace and in preparation for students’ employment opportunities in Wales after they graduate.
There is a lot of enthusiasm for supporting and encouraging all our students to develop skills for the future, and we take pride in the excellent work students do with all our placement partners. We want to provide students with the necessary skills for the future, and one way we can do that is in recognising the importance of language in engaging with the communities around us. The Welsh initiatives we have started enrich our department, and have broad consequences for us all beyond are everyday work. I look forward to showcasing more of the language and placement work of the department!
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/
One of our recent graduates recently completed writing a blog for us. Owayne worked really hard as a student, and took the opportunities that the programme offered. It is great to see how he engaged with the programme and to know what he plans to do now.
I recently graduated with a 1st class degree in Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan University, something that from the outset I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams. My University experience began in August 2012, when I decided almost on a whim to visit the UCAS website and see if I could access higher education through the ‘clearing’ process. I was uncertain as to whether such access was possible, because I had achieved very little in college academically. I had studied Maths (grade E) and Design Technology (grade U) three years prior, evidently and my motivation was poor. After college I focused on working with children with additional learning needs, and these experiences taught me the significant role that Psychologists play in understanding developmental conditions. Owing to this, despite it being completely new to me, I decided to apply for Psychology as a subject – without having any other real plan or direction in life. I was accepted onto the Foundation in Social Sciences, which had a pathway leading to Psychology.
So there I was, ready to begin university a few weeks later in September, with a history of poor grades, and little or no understanding of the subject I was about to pursue. Therefore, it would be fair to say that when compared to many of the other people starting on the course I was not in the best of positions. However, like everyone else, I quickly realised how interesting Psychology is. When I went to the effort of reading around the various modules I had assignments for, I found it was a tolerable and even rewarding way to spend my time. One of my favourite things about Psychology is how the information you learn can relate to and be applied to real life. This is especially true of when attempting to understand the behaviours and opinions of other people. I also found that other people tend to view Psychology as a particularly interesting subject, and this increases when the matter of conversation involves the research that is conducted.
As I progressed through my first year at University, I learned that, despite past shortcomings, anyone is able to succeed so long as they choose to take an interest. Psychology is fantastic in teaching people this idea from the very outset, that is how humans learn. I feel students should be taught this much earlier in their education. Theories on how humans remember information (great for exams), how they are motivated, and perhaps most importantly, how belief that learning is always happening helps us to develop and grow our brains further (it causes us to be more effortful) is helpful to understand how we learn. I found this to be of particular importance, because I attribute my success in university to the effort and time I put into the work I handed in. However, we came to understand that putting our best into our assignments not only improved the grades we attained, but also advanced the skills and writing techniques we needed if we were to get 70+ (a first) in the long run.
To summarise, thanks to Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University I have a goal for my future that before I could never have even dreamed of. This year I will be gaining experience as an Educational Psychologist Assistant whilst I apply to a doctorate course in Educational Psychology. Not only is this career path very well paid, but I will also be able to continue to work with people with Additional Learning Needs, and even support them on a much larger scale, which is something I always thoroughly enjoyed. By accessing the support that is available from the tutors and various other services, my career path was offered something I had not previously thought possible – a fresh start.
It is hard to believe that it has been four years since Owayne joined our Foundation leading to BSc/BA in Social Sciences course, and three since he transferred to the BSc (hons) Psychology course here at Cardiff Met – my memory is so fresh that it seems like only yesterday!
Owayne’s determination, to work to the best of his ability in his studies, was obvious from the start. A testimony to this dedication is the fact that he won the British Psychological Society prize for Best Performing Student at his Graduation. This prize was very well deserved, along with his first class BSc (Hons) Psychology degree.
His innovative approach to his work often revealed an ability to integrate his learning effectively across different psychological perspectives. Owayne’s motivation and intellectual capacity demonstrate the potential for successful research in a postgraduate study – I look forward to hearing from him when he gains his PhD in Educational Psychology!
However not only has he been outstanding in his commitment to his own studies over the last four years, but I also know that he played an integral role in encouraging and supporting his peers throughout this time.
Owayne is a credit to this university and I have no doubt that he will succeed in his future career. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to have been his personal tutor during this time.
We have been offering volunteering opportunities within the BSc (Hons) Psychology programme for a number of years, and have rapidly expanded the number of organisations that we work with in the last four years. The placement opportunities offered in the second and third year provide students with work experience and helps them develop other practical skills that supplement and support the academic side of the programme. Hannah Rowlands recently published a guest blog (http://studentblogs.cardiffmet.ac.uk/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-third-year-psychology-student/ ) about her routines at Cardiff Met, which made us think it would be interesting to ask if she would write something more specific for us. Here is her blog about volunteering:
I chose to study psychology at Cardiff Met primarily because of it is applied nature. This course stood out to me as it allows its undergrads to develop a range of important employability skills. These skills are developed through the vast range of placement partners on offer!
Hence I chose to do the second year option Work, Volunteering and Placement module. Through this module I could apply for a range of placements Cardiff Met offers, such as placements in clinical settings to charity based community projects. There were so many to choose from and I was really unsure of which direction to head in but eventually I applied for Safer Wales Inclusive Service. This involved one-to-one and group sessions with a focus of encouraging positive lifestyle choices to the service users at risk of sexual exploitation. During the course of this placement I was given the opportunity to complete mentoring training. This consisted of a day’s workshop going thorough all aspects of mentoring, and afterwards we were expected to complete a booklet to evidence our understanding. These were then marked by our supervisors at Safer Wales and we were informed if we had passed the course. This helped me a lot on my placement when advising and mentoring the service users, and will aid me in the future on other projects.
The placement supervision consisted of the placement provider completing an assessment grid evaluating my personal employability skills. Additionally, I had to complete a placement incident report. The focus of this was to evaluate my response to an incident of my choice that occurred during the course of my placement. I had to justify the reasons for my behaviour and what I would do differently in future to respond to a similar situation.
Due to the rewarding nature of this placement I also applied for extra volunteering at Whitchurch Hospital through a charity called Student Volunteering Cardiff. Throughout the volunteering I worked with adults who had an acquired brain injury. This was a really interesting experience as working in a clinical setting allowed me to see the difficulties the patient’s face when having mental health issues.
As you can imagine both of these volunteering programmes helped me to develop many key skills, like working in a confidential manner in professional settings, understanding appropriate ways to communicate with both professionals and service users and my confidence and ability to lead activities with service users. These skills will prove important in my later career in psychology. With this in mind I would definitely recommended anyone to get involved in the amazing number of placement partners Cardiff Met has to offer. Not only will it help you develop important skills and be great experience for your CV, but most importantly it is really rewarding and helps you see psychology applied in the real world!
We think it is great that Hannah recognises how she is developing and building skills. The Module Leader, Alison Walker, added this:
Community based placements offer students the opportunity to apply their learning in a range of contexts and gain valuable experience for their CV, whilst at the same time learning about the issues that impact on the local community. The model used by the department means that students are supported through the application process and are provided with 1:1 support for their individualised assessments. It’s great to see how Hannah recognises how she has developed skills in professional contexts.