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Case Study

Hannah Trotter


BSc (Hons) Psychology

MSc Psychological Research Methods

Hannah Trotter found a community within the School of Psychology at Sunderland and studied both BSc (Hons) Psychology and MSc Psychological Research methods. Now, she works for Northumbria Police where she utilises the skills she learned every day.

I decided to study at Sunderland as I live in the area and didn’t want to move. I felt very at home and comfortable in my surroundings and I just knew Sunderland University was the place for me after visiting on the opening day. I really enjoyed the lectures which were conducted by the Psychology staff as it gave me a great idea of the course structure and topics. The staff were very friendly and welcoming which gave me a good impression of the university.

I decided that University was for me after finishing my A-Levels. I did not feel like I had reached my full potential in education and was eager to expand my knowledge within academia. After my undergraduate degree in BSc (Hons) Psychology, I was not sure if studying a Masters was for me, so I applied for numerous jobs and shadowing experiences within the NHS, to no avail. However, I built up a fantastic relationship with a few of the lecturers whilst at University and Dr Stephanie Wilkie reached out to me to ask if I would consider applying for the MSc Psychological Research Methods course she was running. She met up with me for a coffee in her own time and spoke about the programme and possibilities. I found statistics difficult in my undergraduate degree so it took a lot of persuasion from Stephanie to get me on board, but I’m so pleased she did as it was the best decision I could have made. I was determined to tackle my weaknesses head on to improve my skills in this area. I gained so much confidence in this area whilst gaining so many other skills in modules throughout the year. I received so much support from Stephanie, she really cared about all of the students and she really pushed me to reach my full potential. Thank you!

Whilst studying for my undergraduate degree, I really enjoyed Environmental Psychology, Dark Personalities and the Dark Triad, Psychology of Religion and Psychology of Art. The highlight for me in my MSc was the Research Module as I was able to research Environmental Psychology and how place preference, restoration, pro-environmental attitudes, and behaviours all contribute to an individual’s sense of place and attachment. I was able to combine a significant amount of literature, looking at alternate studies to present different methodologies and theories to help Stephanie design her new study. I was involved in conducting the study and recruiting participants from the University to gather data. This experience was invaluable, I gained so many skills and knowledge being involved in this process. The time and effort spent on this study, resulted in the findings being published with my name on the paper as co-author. The study was so extensive that a second study was designed and is in the process of being published too. I am extremely proud of this achievement, hard work and collaboration really does pay off.

For those who are looking to come to University, I would say that going to open days, speaking to the lecturers, and getting a feel for the right course is a must. First impressions are important. I was welcomed into the Psychology department, put at ease and felt comfortable around the students and staff almost straight away. Everyone was so friendly and I built up a such a great rapport with the lecturers and staff that I decided to come back to study my Masters at Sunderland the following year. The thought of a university education can be daunting but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way to advance.

Since University I signed up to an agency called Protocol Education as a Teaching Assistant, where I worked in primary and secondary SEN schools helping children with behavioural issues, mental health and learning and physical disabilities. I then managed to successfully get a position with Northumbria Police as a Data Analyst and Research Assistant in the Public Insight Team within Corporate Development. My role was so valuable as I was able to upskill in Excel by preparing the data for the victim satisfaction surveys for a variety of crime types and public perception surveys to better understand their feeling about crime and policing.

I was in this role for two and a half years and was then successfully promoted to a Performance Review Adviser. In this role, I produce reports for different aspects of Safeguarding, Harm Reduction and Prevention and Deterrence. I have been able to use both qualitative and quantitative research skills that I gained at university to analyse data accurately within the force. I knew how to design surveys, collect data and analyse successfully concluding my findings in reports. This was as a direct result of designing and running my own projects at university for both of my dissertations. Collating and critically analysing information has been invaluable to my current job role. The group tasks and teamwork ethic I gained whilst at university have helped mould me into a great team player, who is flexible, supportive, and reliable. I am also able to prioritise key areas of focus whilst under pressure to complete monthly tasks.

I think my experience at Sunderland has made me who I am today. The supportive friends gained along the way made the whole university experience even more special. I would also like to thank all the lecturers especially Dr Stephanie Wilkie and Dr Vanessa Parson for their continued support, encouragement and seeing my potential even when I didn’t always see it myself. You really made the difference."

Published 8 March 2023

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