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A bumper year for Psychology postgraduates

Date Released: Fri, 13 May 2011 14:12 +0200

In the Humanities Graduation ceremony this year, there were what the outgoing Head of the Psychology Department, Prof Catriona Macleod, calls an “unprecedented” number of Masters and Doctoral students receiving their parchments. 

Four PhDs were awarded, and there were 23 students receiving their Masters degrees. The Masters graduates can be broken down further into subsets: nine obtained their degree in Clinical Psychology, nine in Counselling Psychology and the remaining five obtained a Masters by thesis. Nine of these Masters degrees were awarded with distinction.

The increase in numbers at Masters level has partly to do with a new ruling by the Professional Board, which now requires the research element of the degree to be completed prior to the commencement of the internship. This has led to a substantial increase in pressure on the staff of the Department, who has worked extremely hard to supervise both students completing their research under the old system and helping the new intake of students to complete their research in sufficient time to begin their internships.

Prof Macleod paid tribute to her colleagues, saying that they “gave unstintingly of their time and managed extraordinarily well under difficult circumstances. The fact that nine of the 23 Masters degrees were awarded with distinction indicates that, despite the pressure, there was no compromise in terms of quality.”

Rhodes University has stated its intention to increase research output and postgraduate students. Its main objective is to compete with the world's top research institutions and retain its status as one of the top research-intensive institutions, regardless of its size compared to other higher education institutions. The graduation of Masters students by thesis as well as Doctoral students points to a growing research profile within the Psychology Department.

Prof Macleod explains that, through their work, these students have been contributing to major research projects within the Department. Thus, for example, PhD graduate Susan Clark joined a major Neuropsychology research project led by Prof Ann Edwards, and her research focused on the outcomes following the repeated concussions that occur amongst professional rugby players.

Anita Padmanabhan-Unni worked with Prof Dave Edwards in his research on trauma and cognitive behavioural therapy. For her PhD, she conducted psychological case studies of seven women who were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after having been raped.

Tracy Morison contributed to the research focus area of Critical Sexual and Reproductive Health Studies headed by Prof Macleod; her PhD concentrated on Afrikaans men’s and women’s narratives of their parenthood decisions, with particular emphasis on male involvement in this process. The fourth PhD student, Neal Barratt, conducted a phenomenological investigation of procrastinating behaviour, under the supervision of Prof Chris Stones, formerly of the Rhodes University Psychology Department and now working at the University of Johannesburg.

By Jeannie McKeown

Photo by: Sophie Smith. Photo Prof Catriona Macleod

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