Psychology research isn’t just about dogs drooling when
hearing a bell or rebellious student inmates going mad in a university
basement. There’s so much more and this is what I am going to focus on in this
blog. I want to tell you how I got into Psychology research and what it
Before going into the more hardcore stuff, I would like to
talk a bit about myself. I am a 20-year-old Romanian studying BSc Psychology at
the University of Manchester. During high-school years, my studying profile was
on hard sciences (i.e. Computer Science, Maths, Physics, Chemistry), and I only
had one year when I was studying Psychology so it wasn’t intense at all. I did
further studying alongside what we were taught in class and I took part in a
county-level Olympiad where I achieved 4th place. In the last year
of high school, I had grown an interest in Neuroscience so I decided to apply
for the University of Manchester unique joint-honours programme – BSc Cognitive
Neuroscience and Psychology. Eventually, I chose Manchester because it was a
red-brick university and the overall living costs were cheaper than London
(which, at the time, was my dream city). All summer before coming to
university, I read a lot of Psychology-related books and articles (Freud, Jung,
Eysenck, some basic research studies, etc.). I came to university, started my
course, and after one month I have switched to the BSc Psychology course.
The first semester was hard. I didn’t exactly know what I was
supposed to do - how to look up trustworthy sources, how to reference, how to
write up an essay, what to study and read. The academic system I had just
gotten out of was completely different from the British Higher Education
system. Imagine changing the tap water from the goldfish’s bowl to distilled
water and me being the goldfish. By working my way through the referencing
guides provided by the university, paying attention to the feedback and discussing
with my academic advisor about my insecurities, I was able to feel more
confident in my studies.
My Journey into Research
At the end of the first year, I applied for a position as a
Research Assistant for a study investigating whether religion and implicit
attitudes play a part in gay men getting jobs. I had to write a cover
letter saying why I was interested in that position and show that I had the skills
needed. I had some experience in the HR field from my involvement
in societies, so I wrote about that and about my interest in social psychology
and recruitment. I also had to tailor my CV for the position by including my
research skills developed throughout 1st year’s curriculum and my
I was accepted, and over the summer I had to write
a literature review analysing previous theories and evaluating research
methods. I worked hard on it and gathered 9 pages of work - which has earned me
the appreciation of the coordinator. We started the process of testing the
participants in the second semester of the second year, as there were some
problems with the ethics of the project. As the research assistants, we guided
the participants through the research process. Unfortunately, we had to stop
when the Coronavirus situation began.
The next research project I was about to undertake, as part
of the Short Work Placement Unit, was aimed at investigating the sense of
community experienced on the BSc Psychology course. I was supposed to do a
literature review, spending some time looking at variables that might influence
this effect, and decide accordingly how the project will look like in terms of
the research methodology which thrilled me. Unfortunately, this project was put
on hold due to lockdown reasons as well. On the bright side, The University of Manchester offers a variety of research programmes and internships which I could undertake in the future, so I am not panicking.
My advice for you would be to always keep an open mind and
let yourselves be submersed by whatever you find that interests you. Explore,
research, experiment. See what appeals to you the most and pursue it
passionately. Be conscientious with your work, and always keep an open mind.
For more information, please visit these websites:
Hi, my name is Emma and I currently work as a graduate
intern at The University of Manchester. Before I was an intern, I was a student
here! I studied Psychology and graduated in Summer 2019. I chose Psychology as
it was my favourite subject at A-Level and I chose Manchester as I loved the
city and also the Psychology course allowed me to do a Study Abroad year. This
means that my third year of University was spent 3204 miles away from Manchester,
studying at The University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US!
What was it like to Study Abroad?
I won’t lie, the first two weeks that I spent in America
were super hard. I had so many questions running through my head…
Have I made the right decision? Will I ever get used to this new country? Will
all my friends still be my friends when I get back? But, just as with my first
two weeks starting in Manchester, all of the worries and fears disappeared as
soon as I got into the flow and got more used to my surroundings. Through fun
events put on by the International Programmes Office at UMass, like American
football games, quizzes and BBQs, I made friends with lots of other British and
Australian exchange students who were all going through the same culture-shock
All of my American friends were amazing and super supportive,
I even spent the Thanksgiving holidays with one of my friends and her family.
It was also fun introducing our new American friends to all the finest things
about the UK… aka Love Island! I loved spending time with my American friends
and learning about their country but it was also super nice to have my UK and
Australian friends that were going through the same as me and to be able to
talk about our home comforts.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my Study Abroad year
was (funnily enough) the studying. The way University is structured in the US
is different to how we study in the UK. My timetable in the US ran so that
Monday, Wednesday and Friday were all the same and Tuesday and Thursday were
the same, whereas in the UK, each day is different. I actually liked the US way
better as it meant I had shorter lectures and was able to digest the
information better. In America, they also have mid-term exams (just like the
movies!!). This meant that instead of being tested just at the end of the
semester, like in the UK, you were tested more frequently throughout the year.
Again, I personally enjoyed this more as it felt like I was being tested on my
knowledge throughout and it meant I really did have to stay on top of my work!
What are the benefits of Studying Abroad?
The academic benefits of studying abroad are endless. I had
to adapt my learning style to fit in with the way University works in the US
and this meant that coming back to the UK for my final year, I was able to use
all of the new skills I had learnt and ways of working to help me achieve
higher grades. I was also able to take modules that aren’t available at
Manchester such as LGBTQ+ Psychology, Educational Psychology and The Psychology
As well as the academic benefits, there are so many personal
benefits to studying abroad. The most obvious personal benefit for me was
getting to travel. I’d never been outside of Europe before so getting to explore
cities like Boston, New York and Toronto was something I never thought I would
get the opportunity to do. Another personal benefit was gaining even more
independence and confidence. I feel like if I can just up and move to the other
side of the Atlantic on my own, there isn’t much I couldn’t do now. I’ve
also made friends for life – I’ve got friends up and down this country as well
as a best friend in Sydney and some of my closest friends dotted around the US.
If you can do a course that offers a year abroad or
semester abroad, I would say 100% go for it. The benefits are endless and you
will have the time of your life. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I
am so glad that I decided to go!
If you’re interested in finding out more about anything that
I have spoken about please head to these links for more info:
Hi everyone! I’m Ioana, a first year PhD student in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, at the University of Manchester. My PhD project focuses on the therapeutic side of ischemic stroke at preclinical level. I spend a lot of time working with animal models, as they offer information highly translatable to humans.
I was born and raised in Romania, but I moved to Manchester to do my undergraduate degree in Pharmacology with Industrial Experience. I loved the university and the city so much, that I decided to stay. The degree offered me the chance to learn various laboratory techniques and to experience working with animals in research. However, when I started it, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do after.
Between my first and second year, I wanted to get more experience in science as I was trying to figure out what I wanted my future career to be. It wasn’t easy to find any internships available for first years, but I emailed my CV, emphasising my willingness to learn to 46 different places that were not advertising any opportunities at that moment. I only received 6 replies, but I was lucky enough to secure 4 internships. One of those was with a research group based within the University of Manchester, where I learned several laboratory techniques that I am still using today. The other 3 were with the nearby hospital. There I had a chance to learn how to obtain ethical approvals for a cardiovascular trial, to manage patient data for a health economic analysis and to shadow a research nurse as she was administering trial treatment to patients with leukaemia. I was learning so much while working for all these places at the same time, as they accommodated a flexible schedule for me. I also did some work in the charity sector with Citywise. All these experiences gave me a broad insight into various paths my career could take.
As part of my degree, I did a placement year at Mayo Clinic in the United States, doing a neuroscience research project working with both cells and animal models. That is when I realised that I really love working in a laboratory setting, especially in Neuroscience. I liked the flexibility of thinking and applying the knowledge in experimental planning and then undertaking the study. I loved it so much that I was sure I wanted to continue with a career in neuroscience research, so I went straight from my undergraduate degree to do a PhD project. I knew it won’t be easy at all, so finding a project I liked with a very supportive group that felt like a community was really important!
So, what is my project about?
In ischemic stroke, when the blood clot is formed, a drug is used to burst the clot, trying to restore the blood flow and to limit the damage. There is increasing evidence that inflammation also plays a role in enhancing the brain damage after stroke. So, there is an anti-inflammatory drug currently in clinical trials for different types of stroke. My project aims to find the most suitable way to combine the anti-inflammatory approach with the clot busting drug in a safe and efficient manner. To do this, I need to replicate the stroke observed in humans, as closely as possible, in animal models of disease. Using these, I can observe the interaction between the two therapeutic approaches at cerebral, vascular, cellular and molecular levels. For example, I am using imaging to monitor blood flow (image attached) and running MRI scans to see the extent of brain damage.
Monitoring blood flow in a mouse brain using Laser Speckle Imaging.
The PhD experience is not all just science. I love being active and involved within the community, hence why I participate in outreach activities, teaching, learning to code, organising events as part of a doctoral society and trying to learn French. Your PhD experience can be whatever you want it to be, tailored to your preferences and interests.
- Undertake your own research project by doing an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), learn how and why?
- A list of undergraduate courses that would allow you to progress into a research career after:
- Learn more about stroke here:
- StrokeCasts - podcasts made by stroke survivors about their inspirational journey to recovery:
- Read about the research done by my supervisor and my colleagues here:
- Follow us on twitter:
Hey everyone! I’m Charlotte
and I’m a 1st year PhD student currently studying at Alliance
Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester. My current research
is focused on student mental health and help-seeking behaviours.
“Wait a minute”, I hear you say, “that doesn’t sound like business”.
And at first glance it
doesn’t. I’ve had many questioning looks when I tell people I’m a marketing
student studying student mental health, but that’s one of the best things about
my PhD. I get to combine my passion for understanding and improving mental
health with my interests in marketing and consumer behaviour.
So, sit back and I’ll tell
Before starting my PhD I studied
for my undergraduate degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Marketing.
At first you might think Psychology and Marketing don’t really go together, but
I’ve always been interested in why we think and behave in particular ways, and
that’s exactly what Marketers try to do.
After my master’s degree I
worked for 2 years at a digital marketing agency just outside of Manchester managing
the day-to-day marketing activities of my clients including; branding, design
for digital or print promotions, advertisements, copywriting and campaign
management. As much as I enjoyed working in marketing, after a couple of years
I could hear university calling my name once more. So, I applied for my PhD and
the rest, as they say, is history!
But what exactly do I do?
Mental health has been
studied extensively, with particular focus in areas such as health, psychology
and sociology. Approaching student mental health from a marketing perspective, my
research aims to better understand the motivations and decision making processes
that encourage individuals to seek help for their mental health problems - or
indeed why certain people avoid seeking help. By understanding these decisions
better, I hope that my research can have an impact in improving the provision
of university support services (and the promotion of these services) to
facilitate help-seeking behaviour.
As I’m only in my first year,
my work mainly involves developing my research skills and reading more about
the different perspectives and disciplines researching student mental health. As
a qualitative researcher, with an interest in behaviour, I’ve never been
convinced by statistics alone. I’m much more interested in how individual’s
create meaning as part of their experiences. Qualitative research allows me to
gain a richer interpretation of experiences and behaviours, and how people
interpret these behaviours. One of the best things about studying for my PhD is
that as I read and learn more about my topic, my research questions change and
At University, for both my
undergraduate and master’s degree, the biggest challenge for me was always
trying to work out what I wanted to do at the end of it. Now, studying for my
PhD I hope to continue researching and stay in academia to teach the marketers and
researchers of the future. It hasn’t been a straight road, but then your career
doesn’t have to be - find something you enjoy learning about and career ideas
start to fall into place (even if you don’t realise it at first)!
A bit further...
If you’re interested in
finding out more about careers in Psychology, visit: https://www.bps.org.uk
For more information on
careers in Marketing, visit: https://www.cim.co.uk
If you’d like to find out
more about the courses on offer at the University of Manchester, you can visit
the links here:
Business and Marketing: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/03528/bsc-management-marketing/
The book that started to
bridge the gap between Psychology and Marketing for me was Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence:
The Psychology of Persuasion’ https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Influence.html?id=5dfv0HJ1TEoC
The Drum is a website
dedicated to looking at the latest trends and news in the Marketing industry. You
can take a look around the website here: https://www.thedrum.com
if you want to know more about the current research taking place across the UK
focussing on Student Mental Health, King’s College London (KCL) created a
research network called SMaRteN dedicated to improving understanding of student
mental health in higher education. You can visit the website here: https://www.smarten.org.uk
Hi, my name is Kim Petersen and I’m a second year PhD
student at the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE).
My PhD research focusses on primary school children’s mental
health and wellbeing. I am interested in looking at lots of different aspects
of children’s mental health and wellbeing (e.g. feeling sad, angry, happy,
enjoying life etc.) and finding common
patterns of mental health and wellbeing. I want to find out:
1) what causes the different
patterns of mental health
2) whether behaviour programmes
used in schools affect children’s mental health
I hope this information will help us to find ways to improve
children’s mental health and wellbeing in the future.
How did I get here?
After my A-levels I went to Glasgow University to do a
degree in Psychology. I went on to work for a charity, supporting children with
different neurological conditions, like autism spectrum disorder. Then, I did a
PGCE teacher training qualification and worked as a primary school teacher. While
working as a teacher I became really interested in children’s mental health and
wellbeing and what schools could do to try and improve it. So, I decided to go
back to university to do research in
this area. First, I did a Master’s degree in Psychology and Education and then I
applied to do a research PhD. I didn’t always know that I would end up doing
this, but my experiences and interests sort of led me here, and I really enjoy
what I am doing.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a term we have all heard of, but what does
it actually mean? Sometimes, when people talk about ‘mental health’, they are
only talking about mental health disorders, like depression or schizophrenia.
Today, many researchers, and others, think that mental health is more than
this. As well as mental health difficulties, there are also positive aspects of
mental health like feeling good and satisfied with your life. There is a widely
held statistic that ‘1 in 4 people have mental health problems’. However, 4 out of 4 people have mental health because 4 out of 4 people have brains! In other words
mental health is something we all have and we should focus on helping everyone
gain better mental health and wellbeing.
I am investigating mental health in this broad way, which
includes both mental health problems and positive aspects of mental wellbeing. We collected information about children’s
mental health and wellbeing by giving surveys to around 3000 primary school children
and their teachers. We also collected other information about the children,
like whether they were male or female, how they felt about their school, their
relationships with other children, their school grades, and whether they had
taken part in a school behaviour programme.
To make sense of all the information collected I use a
computer programme to help me to find patterns in the data. For example, I can
use the programme to see if there are some groups of children who show very
similar patterns of mental health. I can then look at what other characteristics
these children have. For example, if I found a group of children that had no
mental health problems but felt very happy and satisfied with life, I could
find out if those children were more likely to be male or female, have better relationships with their friends,
or have taken part in a school behaviour programme, compared to other
groups. The aim is to identify what might be important for good mental health
and wellbeing so that we can try to improve children’s mental health in the
Why is this kind of research important?
Improving children’s mental health has been highlighted as
an important issue in the UK. The government has said that schools have an
important role to play in doing this. Research is needed to show what schools
can do to try and improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Find out more about children’s mental health and wellbeing
on these charities’ webpages:
The Good Childhood Report provides information about what
children and young people say about their own mental health and wellbeing:
This is a summary of a recent government proposal for how to
improve children’s mental health and wellbeing:
Here is a link to the Manchester Institute of Education so
you can see what courses we offer and what research we do: