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Meet The Academic - Mark Moss

Learn more about our distance learning Psychology MSc from the Head of Department, Mark Moss.

Mark Moss Staffprofile Northumbriauniversity255

How did you come to work within the psychology field?

I’m a Chartered Psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). However, like most students on this programme, I did not start off in Psychology. I graduated in Applied Chemistry back in the 80s then spent ten years in manufacturing industry management before returning to education to study Psychology in 1992. There wasn’t a conversion course then, so I studied the full BSc (Hons) at Northumbria, followed by a PhD before joining the teaching team.

Over the years, I’ve held a number of roles in the department, and now head up a team of over 50 staff delivering undergraduate and postgraduate education to over 1,000 students. As Head of Department, I actually led on the development of the on campus Psychology MSc ten years ago, which provided the foundation for this distance learning programme.

Why are you passionate about psychology?

I see the value of psychology in all aspects of life, but especially from the viewpoint of enhancing quality of life rather than addressing problems. Modern society puts increasing pressures on individuals and communities, creating stress and ill health – both mental and physical. I believe psychology can improve the lived experience through prevention rather than cure.

What is your particular area of academic expertise?

I consider myself a ‘generalist’ – I’m passionate about all areas of psychology and have taught all core areas. My PhD was in the biological psychology domain, but much of my recent teaching has been in the practical research and data analysis arena. I also have an interest in addiction, particularly alcohol and gambling. In recent years, I have focussed on improving mental performance and mood through natural interventions, such as aromas of essential oils and plant extracts, and I have worked with a Japanese expert on the benefits of ‘couples massage’ on quality of life. I’m also currently supervising a PhD student who is working on a project investigating the impact of social media on gambling, funded by Gamble Aware.

Why should people choose this distance learning psychology programme?

As a conversion course, this masters is principally designed for people who want to change direction and follow a career in psychology (like I did many years ago). In the UK, a pre-requisite to any officially recognised psychology career is gaining an award that provides Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the BPS. Our course delivers this, even if individuals have previously gained degrees in another discipline. However, psychology can offer valuable lessons and insights that can be taken into any career. At Northumbria, we believe in life-long learning, and teaching students who possess a thirst for knowledge and want to engage with new challenges is a particular pleasure.

What can new students expect when they come to study at Northumbria University? 

Students can expect to be guided on a voyage of discovery. Higher education is founded in guided learning and self-directed study; it is not about being taught facts by an all-knowing guru. Our course will deliver interactive activities which are designed to whet the appetite for further self-investigation. Discussion is also a paramount aspect of the learning process, and online students can take part in these via the e-learning portal's discussion boards. We encourage students to be collegiate and supportive of one another, adopting the mantra: ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one’.

How will this course transform students’ lives and careers?

This distance learning masters provides the first step towards a career in psychology professions such as: clinical; forensic; occupational and organisational; health; sport and exercise; educational and counselling. Further study and supervised practice is required to gain chartership, and the permission to use protected titles, but you’ll be on your way. Psychology is the scientific study of human existence; it will transform the way you see the world, engage with others and make decisions about yourself. It will not provide you with all the answers, but will help you better understand the questions.

Aside from being able to meet the entry requirements, is there anything else that you would like to see in your students?

A thirst for knowledge and a strong work ethic are essential.  We fit the requirements for BPS accreditation into around two years, part time; there is a broad curriculum and much to do. However, you are able to ask for help and guidance when it is required. Learning is a collaborative activity not a transaction and, if we work together, you will succeed.

What excites you most about teaching Psychology?

I had my first taste of teaching during my PhD, and found the wonders of ‘seeing the light go on’ after successfully explaining something to a student who previously did not understand irresistible. This has not diminished – the opportunity to work with enthusiastic, enquiring minds is a privilege. In an era when everyone appears focused on data and league tables (mistakenly in my opinion), the ability to strip education back to what it really is – the generation and sharing of knowledge – is a wonderful thing.  Life is, after all, all about people.

Find out more about our distance learning Psychology MSc.


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