Graduation Ceremonies

Student diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis graduates with distinction


Liz Sheils focused her masters project on understanding the effects of 'positive psychology' on people living with progressive forms MS


A postgraduate student from the Department of Psychology graduated with distinction at the University’s winter award ceremonies on Wednesday 9 December, having completed her masters in Health Psychology in spite of multiple chronic health conditions.

Liz Sheils, who also completed a First Class Honours psychology degree at Bath, was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 2014 soon after starting her studies and has had to manage time in hospital and debilitating symptoms to complete her masters.

The impact of the condition, combined with side effects of treatment aimed at reducing the number of relapses, meant that Liz was forced to suspend her studies, but she was finally able to complete her degree in September.

She said: “When I walked away from the final assessment, a poster presentation for my dissertation, I felt relieved and proud that I did not give up.

“I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was a child so I had already spent many months of my undergraduate studies in hospital. Alongside that I was coping with family health problems and bereavements.

“When I discovered that I had received a distinction for my MSc I couldn’t quite believe that I had managed to achieve this with everything that happened.

“There were many times when I felt exhausted by the enduring barriers but I lived what I was learning in my degree – to adjust, accept and adapt. Living with various chronic health conditions does not mean I have to stop my goals and dreams rather I have to find ways to continue with my health in mind.”

For her masters project Liz chose to investigate MS, analysing whether self-compassion, acceptance and self-efficacy could help us understand the differences in depression and anxiety amongst people living with progressive forms of MS.

She said: “I am exceptionally grateful for the support I have received at the University, from the flexibility provided by the Department of Psychology, to all the professional and student services that have helped me with my mental health, and my specific accommodation and learning needs.”

For the past year Liz has been working as a research assistant in the University’s Clinical Psychology group and hopes to pursue her career in a health or charity setting where she can draw on her experiences of living with chronic health problems.

Dr Julie Turner-Cobb, Liz’s personal tutor and Director of Studies during her masters, said: “It’s been both a pleasure and an inspiration to have taught Liz on the MSc in Health Psychology. I am delighted that she has received the award at distinction level, this is well deserved and reflects a consistent high level of achievement. Liz is a stand out student for both her ability and her determination. I have no doubt she will go on to achieve in her future career and be an excellent ambassador for health psychology. The Department of Psychology wish her all the very best.”

Liz now uses a wheelchair or walking aid to improve her mobility and help her manage her symptoms and is fundraising for mobility equipment to help her navigate Bath’s many hills and cobbles! If you would like to support Liz please see:

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Alison Jones
University Press Office
44 (0) 1225 386986
44 (0) 7966 341322

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