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Case Study

Lauren Arnison

Hartlepool, UK

BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology with Integrated Foundation Year

After leaving full time employment, Lauren Arnison decided to return to education and chose Sunderland because of the welcoming environment and support offered by tutors. Due to the applied nature of the BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology with Integrated Foundation Year course, she has been able to progress directly to her PhD at the University of Northumbria and is looking forward to a bright career.

When I was first considering leaving full time employment to go back to education, the University of Sunderland offered courses that were unavailable in other local universities. The inclusion of the integrated foundation year allowed me to go back to education, with a year to gain the necessary skills needed to complete a degree – especially as I had been out of education for such a long period of time. The university campus was vibrant and welcoming, and I was made to feel at home there right away.  Even though I was commuting, the University atmosphere was very inclusive, with both staff and students making the effort to make sure that relationships were built, and that learning was maximised, especially through the COVID pandemic.

Prior to starting at Sunderland, I had spent over a decade working in the telecommunications and insurance industries. Although at first these industries suited me well, redundancy sent me back to college. After completing courses in Counselling, I went back to work in the sector, but did not love it as much. This led to me considering going back to education and so I found the courses through Sunderland and applied. Although originally on the counselling route, after my foundation year, and a talk from the head of Forensic Psychology, I changed routes to begin the first year of my degree under Forensic Psychology instead.

My favourite part of the Forensic Psychology BSc is that it is embedded with real world training. Through the undergraduate course, I have completed parole reports, forensic case formulations, expert witness reports with oral evidence in a ‘court’ and a portfolio of professional practice. Many of these assignments are not offered as part of an undergraduate degree and their inclusion within the course gives you an advantage for what comes next within your career and education.

When I first started my degree, I had very low confidence and self-esteem. I was honest about this to my lecturers, and they helped me to build this confidence across my four years. When I started the degree, I had no future career aims – just the hope that I would find an enjoyable job once the undergraduate degree was finished. Through falling in love with Forensic Psychology, and through the support of my lecturers and seminar demonstrators, I discovered my ability to debate, to question and how to apply learned knowledge to relevant research and practice. This has helped me to gain acceptance onto a research PhD programme at Northumbria University, where I will continue to study Forensic Psychology. This will mean that the BSc has helped me to curate my knowledge to such a high standard that I can now continue my journey with psychology.

For anyone wanting to start their career in psychology, I would definitely study at Sunderland. The model of the curriculum helps to integrate all the knowledge you need, for both psychology, and specifically, forensics. I would recommend joining the Psychology Society and take part in any clubs that you will find enjoyable. If you integrate to university life, there will never be a more enjoyable three years in your life... well, as long as you start your assignments right away!

Overall, the experience I have had over the last four years has been life changing. The University of Sunderland has helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities, and this has led to a future that I never could have imagined. Hopefully, it will be life changing for its new students too!"

Published 9 November 2022

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