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Lisa Swann

MRes Psychology

Where are you from?

Gateshead, United Kingdom

What undergraduate course did you study and where?

BSc (Hons) Psychology at Northumbria University

Why did you decide to study a masters?

I chose to study a masters because I always intended to pursue a career in psychology, specifically in research and academia.

Why did you choose Northumbria University? Why did you choose your specific course?

did my undergrad degree at Northumbria and the resources were perfect and the support I received from staff was immeasurable- I could never imagine going somewhere else. I knew I wanted to eventually apply for PhD at Northumbria and the MRes was by far the best option to get me there.

What makes your specific course challenging/inspiring/different? How would you sum up the difference between Undergraduate and Postgraduate study?

MRes is far more challenging than I initially expected it to be- but in a really good way! There's so much more freedom to explore your own research interests than at undergrad, which forces you to be far more independent. But the practical, hands-on skills you gain prepare you perfectly. I particularly benefitted from the feedback from assessed posters and oral presentations as I've since presented at a number of conferences as a result of the work I have done at Northumbria this year.

What was it like studying at Northumbria? What are the different ways that you learn on your course?

The first semester of study this year felt like a preparation for the remainder of the course- there were weekly workshops in practical skills such as the use of EEG, with guest lecturers who specialised in each technique. In the second semester, much of the assessed work was centred around thesis and so all feedback has helped to construct the final thesis in the third semester which is completed after all lectures end. Of course, there's a healthy dose of stats throughout as well!

How connected is your course with industry? Do you have the opportunity of placement, work on projects?

There was opportunity to work as an intern for a member of staff in the department and, as a result, the chance to co-author research projects with them. My experience has led to a number of conference presentations including funded travel to different locations around the UK, as well as a number of paper publications in the pipe line. I also started working at Northumbria as a psychology research assistant, largely as a result of a reference I was given for my research experience as part of the course.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

I really liked the fact that the range of expertise in the department is so diverse that, whatever your specific research interest, there will be somebody who can effectively support and supervise your work.

How accessible do you find our staff? Do you feel at ease?

When I decided to come to university I attended a number of open days and received a number of offers for places. Northumbria had by far the best open door policy and so I chose to come here. It really is the case that, however big or small the problem, there'll always be somebody happy and willing to help.

As a postgraduate student, what aspects of university life are important to you?

The facilities are the most important thing to me personally doing MRes, and Northumbria's facilities completely suit my needs.

What doors do you think this course will open for you? How will your course help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

The MRes is perfect for those wanting to apply for research or academia jobs, especially if you want to go on to study PhD. Because of it's heavily research and practical based content, it's a perfect demonstration to potential employers of your research capabilities.

Have you changed as a person?

I have definitely become more confident in my own abilities as I've become more independent over the course of the MRes. I also feel that I've greatly benefitted from the feedback I've had this year and my research strengths have been bolstered as a result.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words before coming to Northumbria? What are the 3 key skills and attributes you have gained since being here?

In 3 words before coming to Northumbria I would have described myself as enthusiastic, optimistic, and ambitious.  The 3 main skills and attributed I think I have gained since coming to Northumbria are confidence when public speaking, a refined academic writing style, and time management with self directed work.

How would you describe Northumbria in 3 words?

In 3 words I would describe Northumbria as welcoming, innovative, and supportive.

Do you feel that your course has been a worthwhile investment in your future?

I really believe that the MRes at Northumbria has been a pivotal point in my career, and will undoubtedly contribute greatly to my future in psychology.

For more information about me, visit:

Twitter- @lisa_swann1


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