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Case Study

Sam McBride

Sunderland, UK

BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling


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 realised that counselling was the route he wanted to take, so started to research local universities. He decided upon Sunderland as he found the Psychology with Counselling pathway appealing and liked the integrated approach to teaching. Recently graduated, he has chosen to enrol onto the University’s MSc Psychological Research Methods course.

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.

My favourite thing about the 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.

Since graduating I am enrolling onto the MSc Psychological Research Methods course at Sunderland, as this is an area that I feel will give me experience and a strong qualification to put towards my future career in psychology. I’m not yet sure what career path I will take but studying this masters course feels like a positive move, giving me options of where to go next instead of being forced down one route.

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. Some people struggle with statistics in the first and second year and personally I’m not sure I would have ever got a grasp on it if I didn’t ask any questions. If you persist with it, it will come to you eventually.

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, it has provided me with so many opportunities to develop professionally and personally.”

Published 1 September 2020

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