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Case Study

Sam McBride

Sunderland, UK

BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling

MSc Psychological Research Methods

Sam was working in a factory after finishing school as he wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue. After giving it some thought, he decided to undertake his undergraduate degree at Sunderland to study Psychology with Counselling followed by the University’s MSc Psychological Research Methods course. Upon graduation, Sam has been working as an Academic Tutor at the University.

I’d never given much thought to a career and after school I found myself working in a factory. My dislike of it forced me to think about what I really wanted to do, and counselling was the answer I came to. After looking into it I realised that I would need a degree and so I started looking for a university. I didn’t have any expectations about university, I saw it as a means to an end for my career, and now I can’t believe how much I ended up enjoying it. 

I wanted to stay at home while studying so I looked at my local universities when applying. The Psychology with Counselling pathway at Sunderland really appealed to me, as did the integrated way the course was taught. I also spoke to staff at Open Days and their attitudes and the friendly atmosphere of the University helped me make my decision. 

After being here for three years and feeling really involved and comfortable, I knew I wanted to continue studying. The MSc Psychological Research Methods appealed to me because the modules on the course would help me with a future PhD and would help me to address my weakest area in my undergraduate degree; the 20% alumni discount on course fees was also a good incentive!  

My favourite thing about the undergraduate course is how broad it is. At the beginning I was ignorant about what psychology was, and what I had thought the whole degree would be was covered in one module in first year! Covering topics that I didn’t expect to and linking them all together in an integrated approach was very interesting. The MSc has done a lot to prepare me for any sort of future job as I now understand the mechanics of research better. 

The best advice I could give to a prospective student is to be strict with your attendance and to not be scared to ask questions. It can be easy to start to slack if you decide to miss a lecture or two – you don’t realise how much easier you can make things for yourself by doing the simplest thing of just turning up. The academics are always happy to help, that’s what they’re there for. I’m not sure I would have ever gotten a grasp on statistics if I didn’t ask any questions. If you persist with it, it will come to you eventually. For your masters, I would advise picking a course that will address your weaknesses as it will make you more well-rounded for employers and further study. 

Since completing my masters I have started as an assistant teacher on the undergraduate psychology courses, and I am currently teaching on three modules across level four and five. Everything I’ve learned across my degrees has helped me with what I’m doing now. I hope to eventually be a lecturer in psychology.  

If I was to sum up my experience of studying at the University of Sunderland, I’d struggle not to be clichéd and on-brand by saying it’s been life changing. As well as my degree, I have been able to have other experiences such as being a Student Ambassador, becoming a Student Rep for my course and being part of the School of Psychology’s Athena SWAN team. Not only was studying at Sunderland my way out of a job that I thought I was stuck in, but it has also provided me with so many opportunities to develop professionally and personally."


Published 1 September 2020

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