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Graduate returns to his psychology roots

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Published on 25 August 2020

Ben Morrison
Ben Morrison

When Ben Morrison graduated from his psychology degree at the University of Sunderland five years ago he had one goal in mind – to be back on campus one day teaching the subject he loves. 

This summer that opportunity came up and Ben has now joined the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing as a Lecturer in the School of Psychology. 

Having completed a Master's degree in Clinical and Health Psychology at Newcastle University, followed by a PhD at Northumbria University, Ben brings with him knowledge and experience in a number of subjects that will benefit students about to begin their degree course in September. 

When asked what drew him back to Sunderland, Ben explained: “Sunderland was a fantastic experience for me during my undergraduate degree, I loved every minute. Because of that experience, I knew I wanted to return to at some point in the future as a Lecturer. In order to do this, I needed to complete a PhD and wait for the right opportunity to come along. When it did, I leapt at the chance and I’m thrilled to be back.” 

He added: “Sunderland’s School of Psychology is amazing in the way they deliver teaching, there’s a large pastoral aspect and a genuine care for the students. I hope I can emulate the people who taught me, they were an incredible team. Many of those who did are still with the department and I'm looking forward to learning from them once again in an academic setting.” 

One of Ben’s main areas of research, and the basis of his PhD, is looking at older adults’ cybersecurity vulnerability, and the psychological factors which influence this, as they transition into retirement.

It's an area he believes has become even more important since the country entered lockdown due to Covid-19, forcing many older adults into isolation as they shielded from the virus:

“As we entered lockdown, this group needed technology more than ever to communicate with family and friends.” Ben says “However, some were likely to be accessing technology in a way that might leave them unprotected and vulnerable to certain types of attacks. So  actually Covid has raised a number of cybersecurity challenges to those who are potentially most vulnerable, and we have to look at how to resolve these issues.” 

What does Ben, a Mackem by birth, think he will be able to bring to his new role?  

“From my own personal experience, a lot of the best lecturers I had were fun. If learning is a slog and boring it becomes difficult, but I’m hoping that I can deliver some fun lectures that engage the students,” he says. “When teaching is engaging, it’s much more satisfying to deliver, and more fun for the students to learn.” 

Although there will be some teaching online initially as the university community adjusts to the impact of the coronavirus and maintaining social distancing, Ben sees a possible advantage for students going into the future workforce and a potential technological revolution.  

He explained: “I think organisations will see the benefits of having people work from home and although the circumstances are not ideal, our students may well end up benefiting down the line. These students will be the first to  experience online blended learning approaches, giving them the required online skills and flexibility that may represent the workplace of the future.” 

And what is his advice for those students thinking about a degree in psychology? 

“A psychology degree opens so many doors to a variety of great careers that you might not know exist. When I discovered my PhD, looking at the psychology of digital threats and what factors make people more trusting and more vulnerable online, I thought ‘Wow, I can’t believe I can study human factors in cybersecurity – it sounds so interesting'.” 

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