• Zoe Swithenbank


Zoe began her academic journey at LJMU back in 2001, completing a BA in Literature and American Studies. She then joined the Public Health Institute in 2016 to study for an MSc in Public Health: Addictions, and continued at PHI for her PhD in Public Health.

Despite prior study, my first experience of writing a dissertation was for my MSc in Public Health: Addictions. I remember being a little daunted by the prospect (especially of having to do a viva) and a little overwhelmed with choosing a topic. As the students featured in this edition of the journal demonstrate, there are so many fascinating areas within public health to choose from. After changing my mind several times, I went with a topic that I was most interested in, and believed was an important area for research. In the end, I went with the less ‘glamorous’ sounding topic of smoking cessation, but it’s a subject that I find interesting and care about, so I never got bored of it. In fact, it opened up opportunities for me for further work and study, and formed the basis for my PhD.

A dissertation is hard work and can be challenging at times, so having a topic you care about and find interesting certainly helps on those days when you wonder why you even considered doing an MSc! I was fortunate enough to have supportive and insightful supervisors who helped me to produce a dissertation that I was proud of, and I hope our students feel the same way. For me, supervising students is a rewarding activity and I enjoy passing on some of the skills and knowledge I have gained throughout my time studying and working at LJMU. It’s also a great opportunity to learn from and with our students as there are so many fascinating topics to cover. In a post-COVID landscape, it is reassuring to see how research and study have evolved and how these students have adapted to new ways of working.

The dissertations included in this journal cover a broad range of topics and methodologies, and are a testament to the hard work and dedication the students have demonstrated throughout their time at LJMU. They also give some insight into the public health issues we face today and provide hope that the next generation of researchers will have a positive impact on the many facets of public health. This journal offers a well-deserved platform to showcase the work of these students and to celebrate their successes, and I hope they continue to learn and succeed in whatever they do next.