Dr Sarah Ashworth graduated in 2017 and started work as a Chartered and Registered Forensic Psychologist for Partnerships in Care, where she has worked since graduating from her undergraduate degree in 2009. She completes independent psychological assessments, and provides training and consultancy to a specialist autism charity (Derbyshire Autism Services). She also teaches on a variety of masters programmes across the country.
“Working with people who had completed various different routes to qualifying gave me good insight into the potential benefits and negatives of each route. I chose the Nottingham Doctorate because of the structure it provided. I felt the deadlines and organisation the course provided matched my style and hoped I’d be motivated by the concept of a final date which I could work towards. The fact that I’d lived in Nottingham since my undergraduate degree and having lived here ever since was a big part in my decision. I knew the University, loved the city, and had built a life in Nottingham so it made sense to start looking there (although I wouldn’t have been against moving elsewhere if it wasn’t suitable). I explored other masters degree opportunities but the fact that you could to progress through to the Doctorate component was a big selling point.
The financial aspect of doing the doctorate is a really big barrier for some people (me included!) so I spent a long time trying to work out the most cost effective way of completing it. I balanced the benefits of doing the course part time (spreading out the cost over more years, reduced workload, opportunity to work part time getting more money and experience) with the negatives (pressure of completing studies and working, demoralising seeing my cohort of trainees progress from masters to the doctorate component whilst I did my second year of masters). I decided to complete the Masters part time whilst working as an Assistant Psychologist and as I moved into the final two years I was able to complete the doctorate component full time, using my work as a placement.
I loved completing my masters as being out of academic education for three years working full-time I liked returning to theory and its application to practice. The breadth of modules together with the variety of guest lecturers provided a strong theoretical basis to working clinically. There’s a big focus on getting this research published which did feel stressful at times but was actually a real positive and I got a lot of support in getting my research ready for publishable standards.
The doctorate component focuses on supervised practice in forensic settings, returning to the University for only two block weeks of teaching. I think that one of the strengths of the course is the push to develop a breadth of experience, allowing for skill transfer between different settings and the opportunity to adapt to different environments. I tried to make sure I got a breadth of experience including different settings (community, medium and low secure), diverse client groups (learning disability, mental illness, adults and children) and varied organisations (NHS, private hospitals and charitable organisations). Any concerns I had about the academic evidenced based approach of the course were negated by the clinical experience I already had.
I believe the course’s structure provides a combination of clinical experience (across a range of settings/client groups etc.) and academic rigour (with a complete, potentially published, academic thesis in tow!). This, in addition to personal clinical experience has placed me in a competitive position within job applications and prepared me for life as a Forensic Psychologist!”