Meet Erica Boardman, a graduate and research assistant within our thriving psychology community at the University of Salford. 

Erica Boardman in a graduation cap and gown outside Salford Museum

In 2023, Erica completed her MSc in Media Psychology, delving into the captivating intersection of media and psychology.

Supported by our renowned team of researchers and lecturers and studying at our state-of-the-art campus situated in the heart of MediaCity – a hub for creative and media giants in the north – provided an enriching environment for her academic journey. 

We asked Erica about her experience studying Media Psychology at the University of Salford. Read her story below. 

What led you to study Media Psychology?

“I’m a mature student, and I had been working in communications for over 20 years. I originally did an English Literature and French undergraduate degree, but that was a long time ago. I’d been thinking about going back to university to study for quite a while and have always had an interest in psychology.

I think understanding why people feel and act the way they do is fascinating. When I was looking for potential courses, the MSc in Media Psychology really stood out because it combined my interest in psychology with my work experience in the media, so it seemed perfect for me!”

What made you choose the University of Salford?

“I knew the University of Salford a little from my work, as I was involved in the MediaCity project when it was being built. I knew the University had great links with industry, and I’ve always really liked the MediaCity campus with the Lowry theatre, shops, and restaurants there. The course is also the only one which combines Media and Psychology in the UK as far as I know, so it seemed fairly unique.

For me, Salford was the only university offering the mix of media and psychology in one course, so it really was unique in that sense. I think being so close to the BBC and other media organisations also helps and can offer more insights and links with work experience for undergraduate students.”

How has the University supported you?

“My course was a small group, so we were able to get to know our course tutors well. They encouraged us to pursue areas of particular interest to us, so we were able to explore lots of different areas of media psychology.

My supervisor was always available when I was doing my dissertation, which was really helpful as it was the first time I had done formal research, so I had lots of questions.”

What’s one memorable experience from the course?

“Just after our classes finished, we took a course trip to deepest Wales to learn about communications and climate change. It was really interesting and great to get away from the city and explore somewhere new.

The best part of the course for me, though, was my dissertation. I did qualitative research with eighteen participants, and I loved interviewing them about my topic. People were generous with their time, and I really enjoyed hearing their views and then writing them up into a dissertation.”

What resources and facilities enriched your learning experience?

“Access to the MediaCity campus. We also used the technical facilities over at the Frederick Road campus, including eye tracking, virtual reality, and sensory response testing, where you track someone’s physical response to particular kinds of media content.

That was interesting, even though I didn’t use it in my final dissertation; it was interesting to see and to try out the equipment.”

What advice would you offer to people interested in studying Media Psychology?

“I would try to chat with the course tutors to ask questions about the course and the content – they are really friendly, and I’m sure would love to answer your questions!”

How has your experience supported your career?

“I’m currently working part-time as a research assistant within the psychology department at the University, undertaking a thematic analysis of experiences of a particular phobia. I couldn’t have done that two years ago as I didn’t even know what thematic analysis was!

I’ve also gone back to Salford and lectured to this year’s students about digital parenting, which was my particular area of interest. That was brilliant and really enjoyable.”

What do you value the most about your time at the University of Salford? 

“The ability to take a step back from work and challenge myself to do something different for a while. It was also great to meet new people with different life experiences, and the ability to undertake research was a real highlight for me.”