SASS students and staff nominated for 7 BSU Union Awards!

Following the recent announcement by the Brighton Student Union (BSU) of the Union Awards for 2017, the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) are pleased to announce the following nominations:

Student Staff Member of the Year

Frances Sweeney – Psychology and Sociology

Campaigner of the Year

Pete Engelsen – Politics and Social Policy

Fundraiser of the Year

Nivethika Thayalacumar – Law and Criminology

Dr. Kepa Artaraz and The YMCA Sleep Easy Challenge students from Social Policy and Practice

Society Committee Member of the Year

Sam Palmer – Psychology

Jenny Terry – Psychology and Sociology

Best Feedback from a tutor

Dr. Julie Morgan

Inspirational Teaching

Dr. Carl Walker

School of the Year

School of Applied Social Science


Professor Kate Bullen, Head of the SASS school said, “This is such a tribute to our students, our staff and our school.  Well done to everyone for a fantastic collective effort, you are really making a difference and that difference is being noticed and appreciated.”

The Union Awards are a great part of the academic year in which we get to celebrate the achievements and hard work of staff across the University and the Union. Whether it’s an inspirational lecturer or a student volunteer –  every effort is made to celebrate the work of everybody across campuses.

BSU stated, “There was a phenomenal response, with 630 nominations submitted across all awards categories for amazing people at the University of Brighton. It’s simply brilliant that this many people have nominated somebody that they think are fantastic!”.

The winners will be announced on the 16th May at the award ceremony being held at Komedia, Brighton.

Well done and good luck everyone!!

Weird Psychology – how weird can it get?

Huxley 300 Lecture Theatre,

University of Brighton

Thursday 5th May 2017, 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Fancy going on a whistlestop tour of strange sight, weird beliefs and ‘missing body parts?’ If so why not join us for the free event, ‘Weird Psychology: The science of strange phenomena’!

Two of country’s top expert Psychologists Chris French and Roger Newport will be hosting the evening to look at the science of strange phenomena as part of the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) annual conference being hosted by the University of Brighton from the 3rd to 5th May.

For further information and to book your free place visit:

This will be the second public event of the week, with BPS President Professor Peter Kinderman also giving a free lecture ‘Our turbulent minds: Everybody’s crazy but nobody’s ill!’ on 2 May. For more details on this event go to:



A glimpse into our SASS Applicant Day!

You would have thought that going to an applicant day at university to have a closer look at the subject offerings would have been a serious affair – yet judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces the atmosphere was light hearted, and fun! If you didn’t make it – have look below to get a taste of what goes on at our SASS applicant day.

Useful student information on courses, funding and toasties!
School of Applied Sciences (SASS) student ambassadors were on hand to talk about their courses, placements, the site and maybe the practical aspects of student life! Such as the incredibly yummy ‘Cheese and Caramelised Onion’ toasties, (or a close second, Cinnamon and Nutella waffles), available from the Falmer on-site ‘Brighton Toast Company’ café.

There were talks on student finance, funding, tours of the Falmer student accommodation  and of course how easy it is to get the bus or train in order to soak up the chilled out atmosphere of our brilliant city – Brighton!

However, we like to think that it was more ‘attraction’, than ‘distraction’ that kept everyone amused! For those that weren’t deterred by the crime scenes laid out by our criminologists at the Checkland building, there were plenty going on with subject talks and mini lectures.  Students were given a flavour for both the subject area and were given a great introduction to the School of Applied Social Science’s experienced, enthusiastic and very passionate teaching staff.

Fabulous equipment
High in demand, and for those interested in the intricacies of how human decision making is influenced by what we see, Gemma Graham gave insightful talks on the University’s very own eye tracker equipment.

There was also the opportunity to get  ‘hands on’ with the Drunk Goggles. These fun goggles simulate what it’s like to have consumed alcohol up to 0.8% limit.

This is all very well until you try and walk in a straight line or touch your nose! It makes for very funny results! However this is a reminder that no matter how sober you think that you are – alcohol not only impair your vision but your judgment too!

The infamous Psych Labs Technician – Joe!
The school has a very well-liked and some would say almost infamous Psych Labs Technician –  Joe Rennie-Taylor, who is always on hand to offer his help and advice.  As one student put it, “Everyone knows Joe and asks for his help.  He is so friendly and is always happy to answer questions or help with any advice on technical help with anything the lab offers.”


How does the Psych Labs support the Students?

Psychology students use the labs for a wide range of purposes.  The space includes a  number of 2 person, 3-4 person soundproofed rooms and a lab space teaching area (including computers and whiteboard) all of which are available to 3rd year psychology students to use.  (Handy – when they need some quiet space to write up their dissertations!)

Interviews and focus groups can also be conducted here on a wide range of psychological issues ranging from phone addiction to mental health effects of student debt, as well as using the lab for experiments.

What type of research goes on in the labs?

Some of the research that goes on includes:

  • Using eye tracking to explore the differences how having a view of nature compared to how the built environment, might affect somebody’s concentration in a library.
  • Asking people to play different video games, to explore whether violent games decrease prosocial behaviour, increase aggression and implicit biases against other groups.
  • Research that looks at whether just the mere presence of someone’s mobile phone is enough to improve their cognitive performance, as social facilitation theory predicts.

With over 100 studies on our recruitment system on a huge breadth of psychological subjects, these represent only a tiny example of what goes on here in the lab! Check out the  SASS Psych lab blog if you are interested to know more!

What do our Psychology students say?

“The applicant days are really helpful because it is an opportunity to hear honest feedback and insight from current students, which can be more reassuring for those applying to study at university. A lot of applicants want to know how they will adjust and manage in this new environment and it is comforting for them to hear real-life experiences from those who are currently studying at university. I would recommend the University of Brighton because no matter which part of the university you go to, all the staff and students are willing to support you through your experiences. It is comforting to know that you never feel like you are alone or unsupported, and any problems, whether academic or not, are dealt with effectively and professionally. ”
Louise Andrews, Year 2 Psychology Student

As an International student, I was worried about missing home and getting the most out of my course. However, plenty of events are hosted to encourage people to share their experiences and worries, as well as to provide learning support. Brighton provides an overall enriching and inclusive environment, that I was fortunate enough to experience! I would definitely recommend the University of Brighton because of the amazing support they provide, both in terms of academics and student life.
Kyriaki Tofarides, Year 2 Psychology Student

“At the applicant days potential students get a feel for the university and an understanding about the course they may be doing, not only from lectures but also from current students studying that specific course. I would recommend the University of Brighton because personally for me Brighton has always been my dream, but since being at University of Brighton since September, I have learnt that a wide range of help is available for students in order to do well alongside lectures and seminars. Brighton is a fun and outgoing place to live as a student as there is always something to do.”
Gemma Stone, Year 1 Psychology Student

If you are still thinking of applying for your course, or need to confirm your offer, what are you waiting for? Do it now and click here!

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to study in a fantastic city, be part of a close student community, study a challenging and interesting course, taught by a team of excellent, dedicated, and creative teaching staff!

Our turbulent minds: everybody’s crazy but nobody’s ill!

Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton, BN2 0JY

Tuesday 2 May 2017, 6:00pm – 7:00pm

A radical rethink is needed in how we understand mental health.  As part of The British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Brighton 3-5 May, join host of a BBC TV Horizon Special Professor Peter Kinderman for a lively discussion on the need to offer care rather than coercion, to fight for social justice and to establish a society that provides the basis for genuine mental health and wellbeing for all.

Peter Kinderman is a professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and an honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust.

For further information and to book your free place visit:


Imagine a world 50 years from now – that no longer consumes animals or their by-products…

This sounds like the start of a campaign to persuade you to give up your daily McDonald’s and to start growing your own veg!  However, not quite.

What’s being referred to, is the compelling concept put to us by a feature-length BBC film aptly named Carnage, which depicts a 2067 utopia where humans no longer raise animals for consumption.

Intrigued.. ? Yes, so was Dr. Matthew Adams, Principal Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Brighton.  Dr Adams has written the article on the idea for The Conversation.

It makes fascinating reading, as stated by Dr Adams,

” Most people who eat meat express concern in relation to animal welfare, and experience unease when the death or discomfort of animals is associated with the meat on their plate.  Psychologists refer to this tension between beliefs and behaviour as ‘cognitive dissonance’.  We want to reduce the discomfort of such dissonance, but human nature means we often seek the easiest ways of doing so. So rather than change our behaviour, we change our thinking..”

Read the full article here ‘Carnage imagines a vegan utopia where animals live as equals – could it happen?

Let us have your comments to let us know what you think? Do you think that this could ever happen?

Is it really just a ‘far fetched concept’, or a ‘possible reality that exists in the not so distance’ future?




Social Worker Barney Saoke talks about ‘life after graduation’

Having graduated from University of Brighton with a BSc in Social Work, Social Worker Barney Saoke talks to us about ‘life after graduation’ and his role at Brighton & Hove City Council.

I understand that you recently returned to the University to talk to us about your experiences? What did that include?

I spoke with final year students about the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) Programme for Newly Qualified Social Workers at Brighton & Hove City Council. In their first year of this programme they normally have a reduced workload of 80%, with the remainder of time doing additional training for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  At the end of the first year they submit a portfolio.

How did you hear about the role at Brighton & Hove City Council?

The Brighton & Hove City Council was one of employers who came to the University in April to recruit final year social work students. They thereafter advertised the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) programme.

What was the application process? How long did it take before you started in the role?

In April the local authority advertised for those social work students looking to go into Children Services.   I applied for this and had a 2 stage interview in early May.  One was by a panel of care leavers who were formerly accommodated in foster care by the Local Authority, and there was a main formal interview.  The care leavers were involved in a group interview, where each candidate picks a question at random and talk about a topic and address it in front of fellow candidates and interviewers.  The formal interview was a couple of days later before a panel of three interviewers, and it included a small written piece of work.

I was successful at the interview and was offered a job within a few days. The job offer was subject to successful completion of my course and registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). As you have to register with the HCPC before you can practice as a social worker, I had to wait until the University notified them that I had passed the course then I submitted my application for registration.  There was a 2 week turnaround with the HCPC, and 6 weeks for the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.  I got my DBS certificate within 4 weeks and thereafter I was ready to start work. I would have started at the beginning of August but had a holiday already booked, so I started in the middle of August.  There were 21 newly qualified social workers who were accepted by Brighton & Hove and the programme formally started in early September. The ASYE programme is conducted by social work employers all over England and I have found it really helpful. It is now March and I am still working in Children’s Services, and it is going really well.

How did you become interested in Social Work?

Originally I am from Kenya and my background is hospitality. While still in Kenya, my wife and I were informal foster carers. When I came to the UK, my interest in working with children and families developed. I wanted to do something to make life better for families with children. I must admit that the negative stories in the media about social work made me think that I should join the profession in order to help make things better. I would later realise that what appears in the media is really not representative of social work.

How has studying at University of Brighton prepared you for this work?

I love Brighton especially the teaching staff, the 1:1’s and the group tutorials.  These  were really helpful as this gave you the opportunity to discuss, talk and relate things in your professional and personal life. It was a way of getting support and the lecturers were always happy and ready to help.

Apart from that, I liked the resources such as student central and in particular the library (where I ended up working part-time during my time as a student). They provided advice and direction on where to get the materials that I needed. When I was writing my dissertation, my supervisor was very helpful with the support and direction that I received. I couldn’t have asked for more, and indeed I performed quite well as a result.

The knowledge that I got at university definitely prepared me for the job. I came sufficiently equipped with the knowledge to do my job and wasn’t out of my depth.

What placements were you involved in?

I had two placements. In the second year, it was with an independent fostering agency and the final year placement was with a forensic mental health hospital. Service users at the hospital were people with mental health issues who have come through the justice system.  That placement prepared me for working with families where there are parents with mental health problems and sometimes that may affect how they interact with their children. It gave me a good understanding of the complexities of mental health.

Admittedly I was not keen on the placement at the beginning as I had expressed a desire to work with children, so I did not immediately understand the link. It was explained to me that the placement would be good and that knowledge and experience gained would help me with working with children’s services – and they were right! I really didn’t see it at the beginning, but they were definitely right!

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

I would say to not be scared because something is hard. Just go for it and with dedication!

Some people have negative views about Social Work from the media and all the scare stories. However, the wonderful work that they do is not mentioned.  

I honestly believe that there is a lack of knowledge about social work, apart from the negative things people read in the media.  The media shouldn’t discourage them as this is a really wonderful career.  A lot of good work goes unreported.

What other advice would you give to students looking to study a career in Social Work?

It is a challenging but rewarding career in that you work with a family and help them bring about positive change – that is really rewarding. There are many families who are not aware that there is help available for them.  But when you can help them look after their children in a better way, it’s really rewarding.

Did you feel that you were able to put into practice some of the things that you have learnt on your course so far?

Yes, very much so.  You always learn something new especially with social work at Brighton & Hove City Council organised in different ways to most local authorities, where you get to do a bit of everything.  In other local authorities different teams look after assessment, children in need, child protection, looked after children, and court work.  However at Brighton & Hove City Council , once you pick up a case from assessment you stay working with the family until the case is closed.  You get the opportunity to get to know the children and the family.  You personally know them and I really like that. It is relationship based practice at its best.

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

Absolutely. I work with other people from other universities and I am proud to have come from University of Brighton.  I feel like it equipped me well in my social work career.  I would definitely recommend University of Brighton as a place to study, it’s really friendly, welcoming and the atmosphere is one where everyone is very polite and helpful.

If you are interested in a career in social work or simply want to find out more about our social work courses click here.

Book your Sociology and Politics Taster now!

Who is this for?

Students interested in studying Sociology or Politics at university.

What is the aim?

  • To learn more about what’s involved in the study of courses at degree level within Sociology and Politics.
  • To discover the exciting and wide variety of topics covered on this degree programme.

What will students do?

  • Delivered by our Social Science lecturers, this taster will give you the opportunity to explore relevant topics and learn more about the two disciplines.
  • The Politics session will whet your intellectual appetite and explore some of the current thinkers in this field.


Date and time: Thursday 23 March 2017, 9.30am – 1.30pm

Location: Falmer Campus, University of Brighton

For more information and to book your place, please contact:


Students sleep rough so others don’t have to!

Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to sleep rough.

The first things that come to mind are the cold, uncomfortable sleeping conditions; in a doorway, under a bridge, in a derelict building, in a makeshift shelter, on a bench, in a bus stop, or elsewhere.

Imagine trying to go to sleep knowing that the few possessions you have might be stolen or vandalised.  Add that to the constant fear and feeling of vulnerability that you may be woken by someone spitting, urinating, kicking or punching you.

For most of us, thankfully we will not experience that feeling.  We know it happens, yet some people prefer to turn a blind eye, and hope that the problem will go away. Yet, try telling that to the young people that have ended up on the streets through no fault of their own.  The reasons are varied and can include breakdown of family relationships, abuse or simply an abdication of parental responsibility.

People as young as 16 are on the streets alone and vulnerable with no support?

Can we really turn a blind eye?

Well for the 12 social policy students, from the university’s School of Applied Social Science, and their principal lecturer Dr Kepa Artaraz, turning a blind eye isn’t an option.

On March 24th, as part of the YMCA Downslink Group ‘Sleep Easy’ challenge they will be joining 100 volunteers to sleep rough on the street for a night, to raise money for the homeless.

Dr Kepa Artaraz and his social policy students

The ‘Sleep Easy challenge’ is aimed at helping more young people to move into safe accommodation. Serving the local community since 1919, the charity helps support over 10,000 children, young people and families across Sussex and Surrey each year.  Last year the YMCA Downslink Group campaign raised £24,000 and this year they hope to reach £50,000.

They have warned the volunteers: “It won’t be warm and it won’t be comfortable, but we know that the money we raise will make a huge difference to many young people.”

Dr Kepa Artaraz, said: “The theme of the challenge is ‘Sleep rough so that others don’t have to’. It is a great cause and my students are passionate about taking part and helping the homeless. I hope others will feel the same and donate.”

The team have created a JustGiving page so please dig deep and support them with your donation and help more young people to move into safe accommodation.


For further information and to learn a little more about what social policy is please read more here.




Can technology provide ‘care’ for older people?

In the past, to a much older generation, it could be said that technology was perceived as ‘something to keep up with’ and that is more ‘inconvenient’ than convenient.

“What is the benefit?”                

“I don’t need it”

“I don’t have time for gadgets”


Can technology be embraced if its purpose is shunted, and the subject closed off before the conversation has even begun?  Never mind the question of whether technology can provide ‘care’ for older people?

What about technology that could be potentially life-saving?

With an ageing population, inevitably, there is an increase of people who live alone, some live far from their families and in many ways many feel incredibly isolated.

You may have heard of Telecare already; a range of remote care technologies and services developed to accommodate an ageing population whilst helping people to stay in their homes.  It can be worn as an alarm around the neck or the wrist and connects to a hub and telephone line to a remote monitoring telephone centre.

If the user is in a situation where they may need help, they can press the alarm and an alert is registered.  The telephone operator makes contact and organises help if required.  In the event of an emergency they can get in touch with the emergency services, alternatively if this isn’t necessary, they can contact the nominated registered person.  This person, usually a specific family member or friend, can then take the call and will often then go round to the house to check that they are ok.

Can this form of technology be considered ‘care’?

PHD Researcher, Gigliola Brintazzoli, at the School of Applied Social Science, has conducted research into this and how care in person, and care at a distance, both interconnect with how older people perceive themselves in their own home.

Click here to find out more the results of Gigliola’s research outlined in The Conversation, and let us know what your thoughts are on this technology and Gigliola’s findings.


Heather’s long drive for politics

A University of Brighton student drove more than 3,000 miles to inject some “fun” into politics.

Heather Pontin travelled the 400-mile round trip from Brighton to her old school in Great Yarmouth no less than eight times to run an inter-school politics debating contest – and she’s planning to do the same again next year.

Heather, studying BA(Hons) Politics and with ambitions to become an MP, said: “I’m happy to do it because I remember when I was at high school not many students were interested in politics, so I wanted to show them the fun side.”

Heather organised the debates and conducted workshops for the students on a range of political topics: “I was trying to get more young people involved in politics. I think there’s a lot of apathy so it’s good to get more young people involved.

“I was surprised how interested the pupils were. They all undertook independent research and they all got into the subject. It was really good seeing their enthusiasm.”

The finals of the inaugural inter-school Great Yarmouth Youth Debate took place in the borough council’s debating chamber at the town hall.

Among guests was Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis who praised the students’ skills. He told the Great Yarmouth Mercury: “They’d give us a run for our money.”

For information on politics-related courses at the University of Brighton click here.