Psychology at Essex - conversation with Dawn Liu

Dawn Liu

About Dawn

Name: Dawn Liu Xiaodan
Name of institution: University of Essex (Psychology Department)
Course of study: MSc Psychology (Conversion) - 2016 / PhD Psychology - 2019

Dawn's journey into the world of psychology wasn't typical. Her first degree was in accountancy and Business, and she was also a national sailor representing Singapore (SEA Games Gold & Asian Games Bronze medalist!). But soon after graduating from SMU, she had a different calling - that of psychology.

Essex offered a British Psychological Society (BPS)-accredited MSc Psychology programme that offers advanced fast-track conversion for students with an undergraduate degree in a subject other than psychology, or for those whose undergraduate Psychology degree was not accredited by the British Psychological Society. This was exactly what Dawn needed - a year of studies in psychology to bring her up to speed with the fundamentals of psychology and to allow her to explore the various disciplines within psychology.

Within a year, she had obtained her master's qualification and secured a place to pursue her PhD at Essex. Fast forward 3 years, she has now obtained her doctorate qualification, and has published and presented over 10 research papers. Her research on our brain's intuitive and analytical processing abilities has now allowed us to better understand consumer's perception of food level of healthiness and decision on food purchasse based on how food labels are presented.

More about Dawn's research:

What did you enjoy most about your studies?

I was particularly fascinated by the optional module, Special Topics in Social Psychology. This module gave us the chance to lead seminars and created an excellent environment for discussion of the current directions in the social psychology field. It was in doing this module as well that I encountered and developed the framework for my current PhD studies.

What further employability/further study skills did studying at Essex give you?

I gained most from the mentorship and guidance of staff at Essex. I had the opportunity to volunteer as a research assistant and experience the sort of work I would undertake if I headed into a research career.

Did you use the Employability and Careers Centre while at Essex?

I did not have any formal internships (the RES had not been formalised for masters students at the time), but was offered opportunities through staff in the department, who were (and are) approachable, encouraging, and supportive.

What have you done since graduating from Essex?

I have spent the last three years as a PhD student at Essex, having secured a scholarship immediately following my MSc. I expect to complete my PhD this year (2019).

How did your time studying at the University of Essex help your career?

The supportive and encouraging environment in the Department of Psychology, and especially support from my current supervisor, Dr Marie Juanchich, gave me the confidence to pursue my PhD and future academic career. I would not have this success without her, or the encouragement of the staff in the department.


About Essex Psychology

Essex University  has been name University of the Year by the Times Higher Education Awards 2018. Its Psychology department centers around the state-of-the art Centre for Brain Science (CBS) which was opened in 2009 and the ESRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centre houses the most advanced facilities available for psychology research.

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