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Read about our students' own experiences
Shannon Dickson, Northern Ireland (MA Psychology, Class of 2018)
What do you find most rewarding about your Psychology degree?
Psychology is one of the most diverse disciplines. It encompasses the study of people, both on the surface and behind the scenes (cognitive processes, the brain). It teaches me to be inquisitive and critical and in general a more motivated person. Going forward I get to work with people (in labs and research) and for people (in clinical and occupational settings). It is a highly relevant and ever-changing topic with something for everyone.
What has been your favourite course so far, and why?
I was appointed a place on a Geoscience Outreach and Engagement course. The project allows us to conceptualise and actually go through with an outreach project with an external client in Edinburgh. I am working with a clinical psychologist to create educational animated videos about autism and attachment disorders. Other students in psychology are working with Dynamic Earth, or in local schools. It is a great chance to develop some practical skills and make important connections once I have graduated. It is also a nice break from traditional lectures and assessments.
What do you like most about studying at Edinburgh?
The wide range of people I get to meet on a daily basis is very special to me. Edinburgh, and the University especially, is a very international community comprising many cultures, beliefs and opinions. I have learned a lot about these things, as well as about myself, and become much more tolerant and open to diversity. I never considered myself naïve to the world until I realised just how little of it I have seen.
The University place an emphasis on widening participation and because of this I have been able to take part in opportunities otherwise difficult to partake in. For example, Erasmus funding and the Principal's Go Abroad Fund funded my internship in the Netherlands, and I now have plans to move there once I graduate to take up a Masters programme.
How is your degree in Psychology equipping you for your future career?
I intend to continue studying for Masters and PhD, so I won't be leaving academia any time soon. The Psychology programme here has recently revolutionised its Research Methods and Statistics course to incorporate a wider set of skills which are becoming more relevant in many professions, such as coding, critical analyses, and ethical considerations. Psychology students can also become Voluntary Research Assistants from their 2nd year. This involves helping established researchers in the department on their own exciting projects, and gives a unique opportunity to gain research skills which are truthfully quite hard to find.
What advice would you give someone considering the Psychology programme here at Edinburgh?
I would say to keep an open mind and take advantage of the flexible course system in Years 1 and 2. I was able to take courses in Linguistics but also in Biology, Sociology, Criminology and Contemporary Cinema (outside the department). This is a great advantage Scottish university systems have over English and Northern Irish universities. It allows you to explore a wider range of interests, some of which are not available at high school, and you have time to figure out what you want to do with your degree.
I would also advise new students to get involved in as many things in their junior years as possible. Third and fourth year is quite busy (and important). But the university offers discounted language classes, volunteering opportunities, and there are many great student organisations (such as Prosper and FreshSight) that I wish I got involved in when my schedule allowed for it.
Generally speaking – don't be shy!
Read more about Shannon’s (and other PPLS students’) experiences on the PPLS Blog: