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Penny Furness

Dr Penny Furness PhD

Senior Lecturer in Psychology


I teach Social and Health Psychology, Qualitative Research Methods and Counselling Skills and Theory. I am the course lead for our MSc Psychology (Hong Kong) and Psychology liaison tutor for  BA (Hons) Education with Psychology and Counselling. I am involved in a range of health-focused research using qualitative and mixed methods. I trained and worked as a nurse for 14 years before undertaking my PhD and starting my career in academia. Current projects and papers lie in the areas of chronic illness, health applications of virtual reality, and critical approaches to Health Psychology. I am currently undertaking a Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy. 

  • About

    My main teaching interests lie in Social and Health Psychology, Qualitative Research Methods and Counselling Skills/theory. I am one of a group of Social Psychology lecturers who work together to develop and deliver a range of Social Psychology modules within the department, and I regularly supervise student research projects in the areas of Social and Health Psychology. I teach Qualitative Methods, especially about focus groups, interviews, diary methods of data collection, and in thematic analysis, grounded theory, and interpretative approaches to analysis. I have recently started teaching Counselling Skills and Theory lectures in the department.

    I am the course lead for our MSc Psychology in Hong Kong and fly out twice a year to lead the course, teach social psychology, meet students and attend Graduation. I also teach Social Psychology on a joint honours degree course at Sheffield Hallam University - BA (Hons) Education with Psychology and Counselling. I am the liaison tutor between the course teams at City and Collegiate campuses, encouraging closer collaboration between teams and supporting the students during their Psychology teaching.

    Prior to teaching and research posts, I worked in healthcare, having completed my nurse training and qualifications in 1994. I worked for some years as a staff nurse in the care of burns and re-constructive surgery patients. A strong interest in the psychology of health, illness and recovery led me to undertake a Masters' degree in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University and then between 2001 and 2005 a PhD at Nottingham University (medical school). I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and have recently undertaken the ASPIRE mentor development programme at Hallam. I am currently completing my Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy, with a view to both teaching and practising.

    My research activities have been very varied, although largely in health / health psychology / positive psychology areas, and often using qualitative or mixed method approaches. Topics have included health / nursing care in autism, unexplained medical symptoms, burns, facial injury and chronic illness (especially Fibromyalgia); virtual reality interventions for burn pain and injury rehabilitation in Children; interprofessional learning / working in the health sciences; maternal obesity (including critical approaches); the lived experience of / adaptation to disfiguring injury and chronic illness; risk taking in railway workers; community projects and well-being; and the meaning of happiness.

    My areas of interest are:

    • Chronic illness;
    • Traditional and critical approaches to Health Psychology;
    • Health applications of Virtual Reality;
    • Happiness and Wellbeing;
    • Social Relationships;
    • Self-presentation.

  • Teaching

    Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

    Social Sciences and Humanities


    • MSc Psychology (Hong Kong);
    • BA (Hons) Education with Psychology & Counselling;
    • BSc (Hons) Psychology.

    • Social Psychology & Individual Differences;
    • Psychology of Development and Social Behaviour;
    • Cognitive and Social Psychology;
    • Theoretical Approaches in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

  • Research

    • Psychology Research Group

    • Virtual Reality and Burn Injury Pain;
    • Virtual Reality and Rehabilitation in Children;
    • Experiences, Perceptions and Treatments for Fibromyalgia.


    • Colleagues in ACES,
    • Biomedical Sciences,
    • Clinical Practice at University of Sheffield.


    • MRC Confidence in Concept;
    • Polly Fogs Fibromyalgia Research UK.
  • Publications

  • Postgraduate supervision

    • Rachel Taylor;
    • Amanda Wilcox;
    • Simon Ashe;
    • Ben Partridge.

    • Julia Halpin;
    • Jan Smith.

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