INTERVIEW with Hope Christie, MRes Psychology (distinction)

By Press Office

Hope Christie (24) from Edinburgh, achieved an MRes Psychology distinction in 2014, having already completed a BSc (Hons) Psychology from QMU.

 Hope enrolled on the MRes to help kick start her career in academic research, and with the goal of moving onto a PhD.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Hope volunteered as a research assistant at QMU, which allowed her to work further on her dissertation project. The additional work paid off. Hope was able to submit an abstract to an international psychology conference in Portugal. The abstract was accepted and she presented findings from her dissertation in April 2014.

Hope’s MRes research project investigated intrusive re-experiencing, a symptom cluster of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), within a laboratory setting.

After completing her MRes at QMU, Hope was appointed as an interim psychology technician at QMU. Alongside this, and through volunteering work, Hope was able to present her postgraduate research at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Psychology conference in May 2015.

Hope also presented her postgraduate research at the PsyPAG postgraduate conference in July 2015. She was cited in the conference report, which was published in The Psychologist.

During the summer, while continuing to work as a psychology technician at QMU, Hope also helped develop a ‘ fourth year survival guide’, to assist third year Psychology and Sociology students at QMU make an easier transition from third year into the final year of their undergraduate degree. The guide is currently being trialled at QMU this year, and has since been presented at the Higher Education Academy’s Annual Social Sciences conference (December, 2015), with universities across the UK expressing an interest in implementing the guide within their own establishment.

Hope has now secured a PhD position at the University of Bath following a successful funding application to the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC).

  • Why did you choose QMU to study?

I chose QMU because I loved the feel of it when I arrived on induction day. I liked the fact it was a friendlier environment compared to the universities I’d received offers from.

The Psychology department induction day at QMU had a big part to play in helping make my decision on where to study. The induction day talk was captivating.

  • How did your QMU degree help you kick start your academic career?

I decided to continue with my studies and enroll on the MRes programme, because, for the most part, I really enjoyed my undergraduate dissertation, including conducting research and analysing the results.

I knew after my dissertation project at undergraduate level that I wanted to aim for a PhD. I knew that holding an MRes degree and the research experience I would gain while carrying out my Masters research would aid my application for a PhD position.

I’m now a first year PhD student at the University of Bath. My hope is that I will successfully complete my PhD and go on to a postdoc position, or perhaps an academic lecturer’s post. However, I have three years of my PhD to get through first!

  • How did you find the workload?

The workload was manageable. It was all very self-directed. You needed to be the one to keep on top of what you were doing. Your supervisor was not going to chase you up, or keep you on track. Support was always available if I needed it.

My supervisor, as well as the programme leader for the MRes, were a fantastic support to me. They listened to everyone’s concerns on the MRes course, and always kept us in the loop with any updates on issues that we’d raised.

  • What advice would you give to future QMU postgraduate students?

Be sure it is what you want to do. A year doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you’re up against the wall with deadlines or you have a mountain of reading to get through before you can start writing your thesis, you need all the motivation you can get, which only comes if you love what you’re doing. You won’t love it all the time, that’s perfectly natural, but for the most part you will, or you should.

Also, use the people around you, and that includes academic staff. The fact the Psychology and Sociology department within QMU is relatively small works to its advantage - people get to know you and are always happy to help you out or support you if you need it.

  • What obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Gaining ethical approval for my project was not an easy process, which was due to some of the content of the videos that I wanted to show participants. It was a very eye-opening experience, and I cannot thank my supervisor enough for their unwavering support throughout the whole process.

After a lot of back and forth with the University Ethics Committee, I was granted ethical approval and was able to carry out my research. I learned a lot, and hope to use that knowledge at some point in the future.

Notes to Editor

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