Susan O'Neill


  • Room 01.505 - David Keir Building

    United Kingdom


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Personal profile


I am a Lecturer (Education) in the School of Psychology, Queen’s University, Belfast; an Associate Fellow and Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society; a Member of the Division of Sport and Exercise Division of the BPS; a member of the Division of Academic, Research and Teaching Division of the BPS; a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; and an Affiliate Member of the British Dyslexic Association. 


I teach the following topics to first year students: an introduction to qualitative research, eating disorders and choking under pressure.  In year two I organise and teach on the Psychology for Employability module that is intended to begin preparing students for the process of choosing a career while giving them some insight into what psychological research tells us about one of the most important choices in their lives. In third year, I assist in co-ordinating School's Insight Placement Programme that provides students with placement experiences in a range of local businesses and organisations.  I am also the Co-ordinator of the PSY3115 Sport and Exercise module available to year three students. At Master level, I teach an introduction to qualitative research.

I am also a Level 1 and Level 2 Personal Tutor, Level 3 Thesis Supervisor, and I have supervisor experience at Master’s level. 

In 2012, I compiled and taught a module on the University of Ulster’s Master’s MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology.  The module title was ‘Social Perspectives on Health, Sport, and Exercise Psychology’.  The aim of the course was to provide a recognised level of training for aspiring professionals in the field of applied sport and exercise psychology.  The course provided opportunities for students to achieve and demonstrate a number of key learning outcomes, and provide them with a range of intellectual qualities, professional/practical, and transferable skills.

In both 2013 and 2014, I was invited as a ‘visiting lecturer’ on the Queen’s University, Belfast, School of Psychology’s Masters Course entitled  ‘Psychology of Performance Enhancement in Sport and Health’.  My two areas of teaching focus were: ‘The Role of Identity and Social Norms in Sport’, and ‘The Role of Identity and Social Norms in Health’.

As Project Support Officer at Stranmillis University College (2013 and 2014), I contributed to seminars as part of the SEN CPD Masters Module.  The focus of these seminars was on literacy, specifically requiring an understanding of the psychological theories underpinning dyslexia, reading, writing, and spelling, as well as the effect on the psychological well-being of children with dyslexic-type difficulties.  

Research Interests

My main research interest is exercise and health, especially the link with mental health. As a result of my thesis research, I am now interested in exploring the social constructions of identity, health, and exercise for other groups, especially disadvantaged and minority groups.   



My PhD research was entitled “Self-perceptions and well-being of women exercisers: A grounded theory approach”, and focused on understanding the meanings women give to their exercise experience (supervised by Dr John Kremer and awarded by Queen’s University, Belfast).  Detailed literature reviews on participation motivation, identity, social comparisons, well-being, and the historical, social, and political underpinnings of women and physical activity was undertaken as part of this research.

I worked at University of Ulster as a Research Assistant with the Profit Project.  This project was EU Interreg IVb funded and a joint venture between Sheffield Hallum University, Sheffield City Council, and eight other European partners from the cities of Delft, Eindhoven, Kortjik, and Belfast.  The Profit Project’s aims and objectives were to establish what was known as ‘field-labs’ that aimed to increase physical activity levels, promote social interaction, and generally improve the health of the local population/users.  In terms of the research on the Profit Project, I was responsible for designing and implementing the research initiative. 

Following this, I worked as a Project Support Officer at Stranmillis University College, where my role was to contribute to the successful completion of the Special Educational Needs and Continued Professional Development (SEN CPD) Literacy Project. The aims of this project were to develop teachers’ confidence and competence to identify and implement interventions for children with dyslexic-type difficulties.  My role was wide-ranging including undertaking literature and policy reviews (e.g. causal theories of dyslexia, models of reading, writing, and spelling), teaching teachers how to use standardised tests, quantitative and qualitative data collection from children, teachers, and principals, contributing to the design of qualitative data collection methods, supervising a team of researchers for school data collection, and contributing to seminars/teaching as part of the SEN CPD Masters Module.

Expertise related to UN SDGs

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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