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Diana Bardsley, alumna, Sociology BSc (Hons)

Diana Bardsley is now using skills learnt through her studies at London South Bank University to connect evidence with policy and help those in need

During her A-levels Diana Bardsley enjoyed Sociology the most. Unsure about what she definitely wanted to study at degree level, she was browsing online and found LSBU’s Sociology course to be varied, with several sub-topics to explore.

As she was also interested in criminology, economics and politics, she made the decision to study Sociology. Four years after graduation, she is now a social researcher for the National Centre for Social Research, based in Edinburgh, designing and implementing social research projects for clients.

Taking a chance and proving her choice

“I was a little unsure about going to university and was the first in my family to do so. I left my application a little late as I didn’t know what to study, so applied to LSBU through clearing. I found one of the lecturer’s details on the course website, and spoke to Shaminder over the phone and via email during clearing and throughout my application. This was really useful and definitely helped confirm my decision to come to LSBU. I didn’t come along to look around LSBU prior to applying, but speaking with Shaminder and doing my own research gave me enough confidence to apply to LSBU.”

"The Guardian rankings for LSBU also had high student satisfaction, which was important as I wanted to be sure I’d be happy wherever I went. My experience at LSBU definitely reflected what the rankings said, and I’d have no doubt in recommending LSBU. The halls were great, making accommodation and affordability of living in central London a huge bonus at LSBU. I really made the most of living in central London; I have friends in social policy and so we would often go to events on feminism at the Royal Festival Hall, as well as visiting cultural venues such as the British library.

Inspiring and interesting

Diana says that the variety of different courses and getting to meet different people, alongside a really supportive atmosphere were her two favourite things about life at LSBU. She also says that the course itself proved to be a great grounding.

“Studying Introduction to Research Methods allowed me to really see what social research was in a practical way. The quantitative aspect of it is really relevant to my role now and so it’s great to see how LSBU lecturers make their teaching applicable and relevant. Dr Matthew Bond taught this module, and he was really engaging and helped me find my way in my career, as I’ve now completed a postgraduate Masters and work as a social researcher.”

"Other lecturers and academics were really inspiring and interesting too. Dr Ruth Van Dyke’s passion for her subject area inspired me to follow my interest in social research, while Dr Shaminder Takhar’s focus on race, ethnicity, gender, sexualities, education and social justice was an area of personal interest for me, so it was great to be taught by her too. The modules were very connected, so it helped me realise that social research was a career option. I needed a first degree to do a Masters, so the modules helped me gain knowledge of research methods and how it was actually done.”

Contributing to evidence-based decisions to help those in need

As a social researcher for the National Centre for Social Research, based in Edinburgh, most of Diana’s current work is for the Scottish government: “They’ll highlight an area which needs more research or focus, and needs to be supported due to issues within the country, then appoint us to carry out quantitative research to better inform policy making. One example is where I’m currently working on a national study for breast feeding to show what influences whether mothers feel comfortable to breast feed or not. Another project that I’ve been involved in is research for tobacco related policy.”

"My job is extremely varied due to the different projects that I work on, which is great. And using my knowledge and skills gained at university is also very rewarding. I produce surveys, collect data, through different methods, and then analyse the data to show findings that help better provide evidence for governments, so they can tailor their policy. I believe that evidenced-based government decisions are really important, and my role enables me to really contribute to this. I like the connection between evidence and policy; it really helps and benefits people who are in need the most. I’m a very social and friendly person, and so one aspect of my role that I find rewarding is that I get to interview charities and members of the public as a way of gathering this data and insight.”

Into the future

Diana hopes to continue working in research, become more senior and gain a bigger variety of skills, developing more in specialist areas of research. “I’d love to do a PhD but you need to be very sure about the area of research that you want to go into and at the moment I’m not 100% sure what that area is.”