Student Profiles

Department of Sociology

Anna Norton

Associate Lecturer 

"I won the John Sunley masters dissertation prize that is awarded by the Howard League for Penal Reform. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of the staff at Man Met."
What is your current role and what are your main responsibilities?

I am a full-time postgraduate student at Manchester Met. My doctoral research builds upon some of the key themes raised in my masters’ dissertation including a deeper exploration of new psychoactive substances and the affect these substances have on an individual’s health and wellbeing and offending behaviour. My research will also explore the challenges these substances pose to service provision, commissioners and policy makers. 

In addition to my academic studies, I am also engaged in a research project commissioned by Manchester City Council, which looks at the extent and nature of NPS use in the community amongst subpopulations such as the homeless. This ongoing study also centres on identifying what support and education is needed around NPS use and what improvements can be made to service delivery.Recently, I have co-published an article entitled ‘Adding Spice to the Porridge: The development of a synthetic cannabinoid market in an English prison’ published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Finally, I am an associate lecturer at the University teaching on criminology and methods units.

What did you enjoy most about your degree and why?

I have studied at Manchester Met for both my undergraduate and master’s degree and although each degree provided me with a difference experience, they were equally enjoyable.

Whilst completing my BA(Hons) degree the thing I enjoyed most was the diversity of the students on my course. I was able to meet and hear the opinions of a wide variety of people generated through class debates and discussions. This broadened my understanding of certain topics and got me questioning my own opinions.

Throughout my MA degree I really benefitted from being taught by real experts who were research active and at the forefront of their respective field. It made the course much more interesting and their feedback and support was really invaluable.

Both degrees were engaging and at times challenging but I feel my time at Man Met has prepared me well for my PhD and future career. 

What key skills did your degree help you gain?

During my time at Man Met I feel I have gained a variety of different skills, these include increased confidence and the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines. I have also developed the skill to think and write critically and have learnt how to conduct and produce original research. Through attending various Man Met events, I have also improved my ability to network and to practise good leadership qualities.

Recently, I won the John Sunley masters dissertation prize that is awarded by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Through winning this competition I was able to have my masters’ dissertation published. I feel that the skills I gained from my time at Man Met prepared me to enter and win the competition. This achievement would also not have been possible without the support of the staff at Man Met, especially my supervisor who went above and beyond to ensure I produced the best piece of work I could.


Did you do a placement? If so, who was it with and how important do you think it is that students undertake a placement?

Although I did not do a placement, we did have the opportunity on one of my modules to visit a local prison. As part of the trip I was able to see firsthand what prisons were like and talk to prison officers. This was an experience that really enhanced my understanding of prisons as it provided me with both a practical and academic perspective.

What is your top tip for other students looking to study your degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University?

Where possible engage in some volunteer work throughout your degree in the field you are hoping to gain employment in. This will provide you with practical experience and will no doubt facilitate your academic studies. It could also result in a job at the end of your studies and if not, you will be able to draw upon this experience when interviewing for other jobs. It also demonstrates that you are forward thinking and are passionate about your chosen topic. 

Please complete this sentence: ‘I’m inspired by…’

…people who are ambitious, hardworking and who help others achieve success. 

In one sentence, please describe what you loved most about Man Met:

The thing I love most about Manchester Met is the sense of community you feel. There is always someone who is willing to help you, support you and ensure you are having the best experience!

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