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andy cairns

andy cairns

Andy is reading for an MPhil in Psychology. His research thesis is about contemporary British attitudes to Black-White interracial relationships. 

What were you doing before coming to Wrexham Glyndwr University?

I’ve actually been here for a while now, as my full-time job is within the university marketing and recruitment team. Before that I did my undergraduate degree here and also completed a voluntary teaching placement in Ghana between 2008-9

What attracted you to Wrexham Glyndwr University?

I’d wanted to take the next step in my academic career for a while, but hadn’t found the right type of course for me. After doing a little bit of reading around the topic of Psychology, I realised that I had found the niche I was looking for and, as I was already an employee of the university, it made sense to approach the university’s Psychology team in the first instance. 

How did you find the change between undergraduate and postgraduate study?

As I’m a research student, it is quite a different experience to undergraduate study, or the type of experience that might be expected from a taught Masters course, where you are part of a cohort of students. As a result you can feel quite isolated at times, as it is literally just you and your research. However, the postgraduate research student community, and the wider academic community at WGU, are very supportive and it has never failed to amaze me just how fascinated colleagues are with other people’s research; even when it is in a completely different discipline to their own.

One of the highlights of this community is the Open House meetings that are held every few months. There are usually about 8-9 students and academics who each spend ten minutes talking about an aspect of their research – it is always a really fascinating and energising experience and is also a great networking opportunity! 

Is it a challenge to balance your work and family commitments alongside your study? 

Short answer – YES! I’m studying for my MPhil part-time, alongside a full-time job and I also have a family to support too, so can be quite a handful at times as you might expect.

However, with a lot of self-discipline and good time organisation it is more than possible – I’ve been able to complete two thirds of my literature review in the first 7 months of my course and still be up-to-date with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones! 

What has the support been like?

In postgraduate research, having a great supervisory team makes a huge difference and can make the whole study experience much easier. I’ve been extremely lucky in this regard and I consider my supervisors (all very experienced psychology academics) to be second to none!

They have a genuine interest in my research project and I feel appropriately challenged by the suggestions they make and the feedback that they give. I can honestly say that I’ve never been at a loss as to what I need to do next and they are always there when you need a bit of advice, or just an informal chat! 

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

Hopefully a lot more study! My MPhil research forms a pilot study for a more in-depth project that I would like to explore as part of a PhD.  After that I’ll have to see where life takes me, but ultimately I’m looking to emigrate with my family to Ghana (my wife’s country of origin) – hopefully my qualifications and experiences will help me into a teaching post at one of the country’s many universities. 

How do you think you have benefited from studying at Wrexham Glyndwr University?

I’m still in the middle of my masters programme, so it’s a little difficult to gauge. However, I have been surprised by the number of CPD and training opportunities that are available to post-grad research students, which would definitely benefit anyone looking to advance into academia or further research.

If you were to sum up your experience at Wrexham Glyndwr University in one word what would it be and why?

Supportive.

One of the benefits of being a relatively small institution is the personal touch that is possible when working with tutors and supervisors. You are not a faceless number and tutors actually get to know you very well – something that is particularly important for research students, as having a good working relationship with your supervisory team is often half the battle. The academic community here are active researchers and it still never fails to amaze me how fascinating their research interests are, as well as the fascination they have with research from other areas, even those from completely different disciplines. I personally think this is a great community for potential post-grad research students (and undergraduate students for that matter too!) and you would be well-supported here.

 

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