As a mature student I jumped at the opportunity of joining this course, with much enthusiasm and perhaps little awareness of just how much things had advanced since the early '90s! Some initial trepidation did set in as I faced the prospect of now unfamiliar challenges such as written academic assignments and sitting exams. The support of family, staff and co-students helped me to overcome this and settle into enjoying the learning.
The variety of areas covered by the modules provided a broad view of the scope of health psychology, with many students finding along the way particular areas of interest to pursue.
A highlight was the opportunity to undertake a placement, which for me led on to both voluntary and consultancy work; a chance to build skills and confidence and, I hope, to give something back. The range of placements enjoyed by the students – in clinical, community and public health settings – reflected a holistic view of health as physical, mental and social wellbeing, which was evident also in the variety of research projects undertaken.
The involvement of both core staff and guest lecturers enhanced the taught sessions, as the material was supported by related experience and insight.
Flexibility was important and I chose to do the course part-time, leaving me more time for reflection and for participating in activities out with the programme which complemented my academic learning. The excellent organisation and administration of the course was an enabling factor for many students with other ongoing commitments.
It has been exciting to watch fellow students move on to pursue pathways in research or practice, including embarking on the stage 2 training to become chartered health psychologists. Regardless of future career routes, an increased understanding of research methods and development of critical thinking has affected my thinking about health and the way I listen to media reports, policy debates and people's lived experience.
It have found it enriching and would recommend this programme to anyone interested in psychology and health.