Graduate journey – from Placement Mentor to Project Manager

Applied Social Science Graduate Shirl Tanner talks to us about how her degree helped prepare for her roles at Sussex Pathways, initially as a Placement Mentor, before eventually progressing to Project Manager.

What did you study?

I initially completed an Applied Social Science degree and then did a Msc in Social Work for the first year which meant that I came out with a Postgrad in Social Sciences from the University of Brighton.

Shirl Tanner Project Manager Sussex Pathways

How did you hear about your current role at Sussex Pathways?

When I was doing my first year of my Social Work Msc – it was my first placement.  This 70 day placement was part of the course and be within a Third Sector organisation.  The placement was doing the mentoring role.

What do Sussex Pathways do?

Sussex Pathways help by supporting people leaving prison to successfully resettle back into the community. They do this through the provision of their ‘Connecting Pathways’ volunteer based mentoring services for prison leavers, as well as rehabilitation support within prisons and a restorative justice service that works pre and post release with perpetrators and victims of crime.

How would you describe your role and what is involved.

I started over 8 years ago with Sussex Pathways, initially as a mentor on placement.  I then moved onto a Volunteer Coordinator role for 3 years, followed by a Restorative Justice coordinator role. A year ago, I then got promoted to Project Manager for the organisation.  As Project Manager I manage the projects, on the mentoring side and on the restorative justice.

How did you become interested in this type of work?

It was natural progression into the role.  However I was always interested in working with offenders with mental health issues for a long long time but never did anything about it until I went back to university.

What did you do before University?

It was completely different.  Before University I was a Dental Receptionist – a total change.

How had studying Applied Social Science at University of Brighton prepare you for this work? 

Definitely.  Before I went to university as I didn’t have the qualifications, I did a foundation course to get into university. That foundation year was a good taster and encouraged me to study and learn more.

Following this, the BA (Hons) in Social Science, opened my eyes to lots of different avenues as up until then I didn’t do much studying. However this set the foundation and after doing the Masters and the placement, it all fell into place.  There were things in the subjects I never even thought of in my life. Doing the course was really life changing and a real eye opener.

Did you feel that you were able to put into practice some of the things that you had learnt on your degree?

Absolutely! I can apply a lot of the theories and what I learnt in this role as a mentor, Project Manager and as a Practice Supervisor for Social Work students. I couldn’t do this if I hadn’t done the Applied Social Science degree.  I am really lucky to have done this.  In fact, I class myself as one of the luckiest people around!

If you were going to do it all again, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would say apply a lot more theory to practice.  Actually put it into your everyday life.  Even as a student then and looking back, I didn’t realise how much I learnt on the theory, and how relevant it is to my everyday life.

I would also say to absorb everything you can, and enjoy it. Half the problems with students, and when I was a student, is that I stressed over the work, instead of enjoying it, I stressed about it.  I definitely say that you should enjoy the journey and absorb what you possibly can.

Would you recommend University of Brighton as a place to study Applied Social Science? If so, why – what are the strengths of the course and of the teaching staff?

100% – because I got a 100% out of it!

It is a brilliant learning environment and the staff are brilliant and approachable. The campus and the classroom, everything about it has a nice feel about it.  Even now when I walk around, it has a nice feel about it.

I love the fact that I wake up in the morning I enjoy going to work. I have a real passion for the job I do.  Everyone who works in Sussex Pathway are so passionate and committed this, it is just a great place to work and I am very lucky.

Find out more about our social science courses and take your next step towards a challenging career that will offer boundless opportunities and exercise your mind.


Study proves that friendships really do matter


Until now, little research has been carried out into the role friends and, in particular, best friends play in building resilience to adversity – surviving and thriving in the face of difficult times.

The new preliminary study, by Dr Rebecca Graber, University of Brighton Senior Lecturer in Psychology, for the first time provides long-term statistical evidence of the enormous benefit these valued social relationships have on adults’ resilience.

Female Friends

Dr Graber, who carried out the research whilst at the University of Leeds, recruited 185 adults through online social networking sites, university events and community organisations supporting socially-isolated adults. Some 75 adults completed the questionnaire.

Participants completed assessments on psychological resilience, best friendship quality, coping behaviours and self-esteem. Participants then completed the same assessments one year later, to see how best friendship quality had impacted resilience processes over this period.


Dr Graber said: “The study provides long-term statistical evidence, for the first time, of the vital role of these valued social relationships for developing resilience in a community-based adult sample, while posing open questions for just how best friendships facilitate resilience in this way.”

These findings support previous research by Dr Graber, published last year, revealing that best friends facilitate resilience processes in socio-economically vulnerable children.

Dr Graber, from the University of Brighton’s Social Science Policy and Research Centre, presented a paper ‘Do best friends promote psychological resilience in adults?’ at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference last month at the University of Brighton.

Find out more about on Dr Graber’s research into friendships and resilience or if you are thinking of whether a fascinating career in psychology, have a look at school, our courses and what we have to offer.  

Come visit us at our School of Applied Social Science ‘Open Day’ on 1st July

The School of Applied Social Sciences are based in Falmer, Brighton and we teach a number of inspirational and thought provoking Applied Social Science courses.

If you are interested in Criminology, Politics, Psychology, Social Policy and Practice, Social Science, Social Work, or Sociology we would love to talk to you about why you should ‘Choose University of Brighton’.

The Falmer open day will be held on the Saturday 1 July 2017, 9am to 5pm.
To find out more, see the timetable and book your place now!

Royal Pavillion


Will Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement backfire?

Air pollution Following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, School of Applied Social Science,  Principal Lecturer and Social Psychologist, Dr Matthew Adams shares his view in an article for The Conversation.

This time he gives his view on whether ‘Trump’s climate policy may backfire, as he unwittingly plays an old psychologists’ trick’.



SASS Head of School elected as President of the British Psychological Society

Professor Kate Bullen, Applied Social Science Head of School and Professor of Psychology, has been elected as President of the British Psychological Society (BPS).  The BPS is the second largest psychological association in the world, second only to the American Psychological Association.

Kate is a member and chair of several key committees including Chair of the Ethics Committee and the Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity Working Group.  She has been a member of the BPS for 25 years and was made a Fellow of the Society in 2016.

Kate will join the Presential team over a three year period; firstly as President Elect from 2017-2018, as President from May 2018 – May 2019, and then finally as Vice-President from May 2019 – 2020.

Kate Bullen BPS Presidential Elect Kate said “I really am delighted to have the opportunity to join the presidential team and become BPS President in 2019/20.  The fact that the annual conference is being held in Brighton this year makes this announcement particularly pleasing. The BPS Ethics Committee is also responsible for equality and, as chair, I proposed Social Justice as one of the conference themes and this was adopted. A very impressive number of our psychologists are presenting at the conference under this theme.

“I will continue to support the social justice agenda throughout my term as President. My intention is to carry on advocating the position that more women are needed in leadership roles in psychology, both in academia, and in professional practice.”

The great debate of denying climate change?

Iceland melting icecaps

You may recall a couple of months ago, we blogged about Dr Matthew Adams, Principal Lecturer in Psychology, view on BBC comedy documentary ‘Carnage‘  that appeared in The Conversation.  In the article he posed the question of whether a futuristic vegan utopian world where animals live as equals, could really happen?

We are now treated to another fascinating insight by Dr Adams;  “Extreme weather just might encourage us to get our act together on global warming”.  Here he talks about the whys and wherefores around climate change.

Read the full article here and let us know what you think!



Squatting – grass roots redistribution of space or theft?

Squatting – grass roots redistribution of space or theft? This is the subject that Dr. Deanna Dadusc, Lecturer in Criminology at University of Brighton, refers to in her recent article called ‘Squatting: the urban space as a common good’, written for Times Literary Supplement (TLS).

This offers a fascinating insight into her view on the potential impact of the recent criminalisation of squatting and how this change in law could alter public perceptions around the use of urban space and private property.

The article raises questions such as “Is there really is a housing crisis?”, and whether “Urban regeneration has contributed to a social inequality by making some urban spaces inaccessible to those who used to inhabit them?”.

With business investment increasing, ‘local’ people being unable to afford to live in the area, yet vacant properties potentially running into thousands, squatting appeared a viable option for some.  However the law has changed and squatting is now illegal.

Whether you are studying criminology or this area of law, this article debates an interesting, ethical angle on squatting.

Read Dr Dadusc’s article here and let us know what you think!


Research study looks at how prison architectural design impacts prisoner behaviour


Professor Yvonne Jewkes, Research Professor in Criminology, delivered her keynote speech on prison architecture, design and space and how this impacts on prisoner behaviour last Friday 2nd June.

‘Prison Architecture and Design in the Context of Reform’, was held at the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) London headquarters, and follows a major, international ESRC funded research study into prison architecture, design and technology by the universities of Brighton and Birmingham.

Professor Jewkes led the three-year study, with co-investigator Dominique Moran from the University of Birmingham. The study called for new prisons to provide conditions similar to living conditions in society.

For more information on Professor Jewkes and her research visit

3rd year students showcase ideas and inspiration at BUDS

The annual Brighton Undergraduate Dissertation Showcase Conference (BUDS) took place on 17th May SASS (School of Applied Social Science), and was an excellent opportunity for all our third-year students studying in the School of Applied Social Sciences to showcase their dissertation work to fellow students and staff.

As part of the conference, students had the opportunity to present their dissertation as part of a short presentation with the audience given the opportunity to ask questions at the end. Supported by the course academic team, students were able to choose topics that reflected a wide range of interests developed throughout their 3 year course.

Busy session at BUDS


With over 20 presentations delivered, topics covered included ‘the violent video game debate, female offending, and mortality salience and identity on sympathy for terrorism’ to name a few.


In addition to the presentations, prizes were also awarded for:

Best oral presentation
Jenny Terry (Applied Psychology and Sociology) for her presentation, ‘Is the student-as-consumer attitude detrimental to student wellbeing?’

Best poster presentation
Tauhid Choudhury (Applied Psychology and Sociology) for his presentation, ‘The violent video-game debate: A quantitative analysis of violent video game content on aggression, prosocial behaviour and implicit inter-group biases.’

Credit achievements
Students who had gained the most credits over the year for their participation in research studies were also recognised:

For Level 4, First place – Josephine Green (Psychology), Anne-Louise Kent (Psychology and Criminology), Leanne Evan-Williams (Psychology and Sociology) and Emma Pierce (Psychology and Sociology).
For Level 4, Outstanding effort – Tal Brown (Psychology).
For Level 5, First place – Narria Forester (Applied Psychology), Grace Boswell (Psychology and Criminology) and Alice Kearns (Psychology and Sociology)

Dr. Hannah Frith, Principal Lecturer in Psychology said, “The dissertation conference is a fitting end to students’ three years in the School.  The students have worked incredibly hard and this is an ideal event to share ideas, inspiration and for second year students to learn from their experience.  It is a great opportunity to celebrate their achievements”

Outstanding performance by SASS who scooped 8 awards at the Brighton Student Union Awards ceremony!!

What a fantastic event it was at the Brighton Student Union (BSU) Awards 2017 ceremony at Komedia last night! Not only did the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) receive a number of nominations beforehand, but on the night they scooped up a total of 8 awards, including ‘School of the Year’ award!!BSU Student Union 2017 Award SASS  A big congratulations to all the winners:

School of the Year

School of Applied Social Science won ‘School of the Year’ award for helping all of their students and improving their university experience!

Inspirational Teaching

Dr. Carl Walker (Psychology) won ‘Inspirational Teaching’ for his ability to help students and make maths fun!

Wellbeing Volunteer of the Year

Sophia Clarke (Applied Psychology and Criminology) won ‘Wellbeing Volunteer of the Year’ for being an outstanding volunteer for the union and helping deliver a number of wellbeing services and opportunities for our students!

New Society of the Year (Group)

Student Mental Health Society won ‘New Society of the Year (Group).  Although only  just established this academic year – already it has created an outstanding offering for our students!

Student Staff Member of the Year

Frances Sweeney (Psychology and Sociology) won ‘Student Staff Member of the Year’ for her brilliant work at !

Campaigner of the Year

Pete Engelsen (Politics and Social Policy) won ‘Campaigner of the Year’ for his work on the Sugar Tax campaign!

Society Committee Member of the Year

Sam Palmer (Psychology) won ‘Society Committee Member of the Year’ for his tireless work for the  – organising LGBT+ History Month!

Best Feedback from a Tutor

Dr. Julie Morgan (Psychology) won ‘Best Feedback from a Tutor’ for her fantastic feedback, with students praising her for helping their grades improve!


Professor Kate Bullen, Head of the SASS school said, “This is fantastic news.  What a wonderful tribute to SASS students, staff and our school. Many congratulations and well done everyone!”

Congratulations to all the University of Brighton nominees and the winners! You make us very proud!

Nominees and winners pic - BSU Awards 2017