Case study

Katie's stepping stones to degree success

Katie Alberici's A-levels didn't go as well as she had hoped. But, driven by her passion for Psychology, she found a place on our BSc (Hons) Psychology with Foundation Year. And from that stepping stone she has successfully progressed through our undergraduate course - and a postgraduate research degree. 

Finding her place

It started for Katie with an Open Day at Derby. In fact, two Open Days - and a Taster Day. When Katie visited Derby she knew she would fit in: “I had visited other universities prior to coming to Derby and there was just something so different about the atmosphere. I felt like Derby had a real community feel and everyone was so welcoming, helpful, and supportive and I still believe we are that way now.

"The lecturers were especially great to talk to and I found the optional modules for second and third year really appealing. I knew I wanted to study Psychology because I am really passionate towards helping people and am fascinated by researching how we work and why we do what we do.  I always knew I wanted to go on to do further study after completing my undergraduate degree but I was never too sure what this would look like.”

Life-changing support

The academics at Derby had a positive impact on Katie and helped her progress to masters level. Katie explains “I found my personal tutors to be really supportive in making sure that I believed in myself when it came to being able to achieve good grades in my assessments. They always checked in on me, motivated me and, if there were any opportunities for me to get involved in, they would be sure to let me know.

"Overall, all the lecturers I encountered at Derby have always been supportive and helpful with any queries I may have had. I feel very lucky to have built the level of rapport I was able to with all the academics on the Psychology courses.

"During my masters my supervisor was my biggest support. They offered praise, support, advice, and encouragement towards all my academic commitments as well as the extra-curricular activities I have been involved in.”

Katie Alberici

Coming to the University of Derby has changed my life. The psychology team took a chance on me and, thanks to the amazing environment and community, it has increased my confidence and intellectual ability and offered me so much support and hope.

Katie Alberici
Psychology BSc (Hons), MRes

Developing vital research skills

Research is a big part of the Psychology degrees and studying ignited Katie’s passion for research. She says: “We started off conducting small studies in groups which would require teamwork to collect data and then we would write reports ourselves. This then helped prepare us to undertake our final year research project. My project was entitled 'Impulsivity, Depression and Loneliness as Predictors of Binge-Watching Behaviour', involving literature searching, collecting data, analyses and a discussion.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to research something that I was interested in and doing well in this assessment helped me realise that research is what I am passionate about. From this I then decided to do a Master of Research in Psychology.

"My MRes in Psychology completely revolved around conducting research and research skills. We had advanced qualitative and quantitative modules which built on our knowledge from the undergraduate and helped us prepare for our biggest research dissertation. The topics for assessments were left for us to choose, which was very exciting to be able to explore different interests and research what we wanted to know more about.

"Due to my growing interest in research, I became a research intern through the Careers and Employment Service on-campus internship scheme (OCIS). This gave me experience in using the research skills I have gained so far in a real-world project for the Student and Graduate Experience Team. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to put my research skills into use.”

Access to facilities

Katie used all the facilities available to her as a student. She says: “We were very lucky as a course to have our own space to study which we call The Psych Lab. It is a classroom with books, computers, and tables where any psychology student is welcome to go and work in. I always enjoyed studying in there as it meant we could talk to the cohorts below and above about topics and network with each other as well as give and get support with participants for our research projects.

"The library was a key space for group project meetings and utilising the physical resources such as journals and textbooks. I was also extremely grateful for the online resources that the library offered. Library Plus and the subsequent databases for articles were extremely helpful when conducting literature searches for my assessments.

"The Careers and Employment Service was something I utilised a lot during my time as a student as the opportunities available supported my decisions when it came to exploring employability options such as career fairs, sector specific events as well as support with developing my CV and opportunities to improve it (such as OCIS and the Futures Award). My experience with the team as a student is what lead to me wanting to apply to work with them as both a student and graduate.

"During my time at University, I have experienced my share of adversity in my home life and with my mental health. Knowing that the student wellbeing service would be there should I need any support was very comforting. I used their service on a few occasions and was always met with compassion and understanding. All members of the team that I encountered were reassuring and truly wanted to support me however I needed as well as the many other students here at the University."

Gaining valuable experience 

Katie is now supporting the new generation of students in the Careers and Employment Service as a Graduate and Communications Placement, before starting a permanent position as a Research Assistant.

She says: “I chose to stay and get my first graduate role here at the University of Derby because I wanted to support students the way I was supported. Additionally, from all the work experience I undertook, I thoroughly enjoy the education environment and the prospect of contributing towards a student and graduate’s journey.”

Katie had undertaken some work experience as a student as a Careers Associate for the Careers and Employment Service which helped her secure this role. She says: “I had engaged with them while a student so, when I saw the opportunity to support the service in events and trying to increase student engagement, I thought it would be a great opportunity. I certainly believe my involvement with the service placed me in good stead for gaining my first graduate role once I completed my masters.”