What role can be played by improved understanding of consent?
Over the past few years, unwanted sexual experiences (USE’s) at Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have become a major topic of conversation among student activists, researchers, media outlets and HEI (Sabri, et al., 2019). USE’s can have a range of negative impacts on both an individual’s mental and physical health (de Visser, 2007). Most of the research on the prevalence rates of USE’s has and continues to be conducted in the United States of America (USA). However, research has been emerging from the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. The main reports include Hidden Marks (2010), Stand Together Report (2016), Say Something (2013) and The Sexual Experiences Survey (2020), respectively. While such reports are helpful in providing essential data on USE’s reported by student in the UK and Ireland. However, there is a dearth of literature from a Northern Ireland (NI) perspective, as university students in NI are often not included in such reports. Hence, this PhD aims to investigate the prevalence rates of USE’s and the impacts of such among university students in NI. In addition, the PhD will explore students understanding of sexual consent, particularly in the context of alcohol use.
My project is funded by Department for Economy (DfE) Studentship
What is your ideal Research outcome?
My ideal research outcome from this PhD is to address the current gap within the literature by highlighting the current prevalence rates of USE’s and the impacts of such on NI university students, in order to provide recommendations to NI universities in addressing this issue on their campuses and how they can support students. I also hope to contribute to our knowledge base in NI on what university students understanding of sexual consent is and that this data can be used practically to demonstrate what education young people in NI need on sexual consent.
Professor Cherie Armour and Dr Aine Aventin
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
I moved to England in 2014 to start my undergraduate degree in Psychology at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and developed an interest in Forensic Psychology, which led me to undertake a Master’s degree in this area. My research interests in university students experiences sexual harassment and violence within intimate relationships led me to apply for my current PhD project in Queen’s investigating unwanted sexual experiences and its associated impacts among NI university students.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
I have been supported by my supervisors throughout my PhD. I have had the opportunity to present my research at numerous conferences, including international conferences, and I have attended seminars in the area of USE’s at universities. I have also undertaken several training courses that have assisted with my research and writing of my thesis.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
I have been able to further develop my skillset and knowledge base through the training that is offered at Queen’s. The skills that I have acquired will be essential for pursuing a career in academia.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
The Postgraduate Researchers in the School of Psychology are very supportive and helpful to each other and this positive environment is very important, as you can make friends with other students who understand how difficult a PhD can be at times. The support of your fellow PhD colleagues is essential when pursuing a PhD and beyond into a career in research and/or academia.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
I hope I will be able to conduct further research within this area by completing a Postdoctoral Research position.
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