Psychology Degree Advice

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
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Buxey
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Psychology Degree Advice

Post by Buxey » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:06 pm

Hello Everyone,

I have just started my Degree in Psychology with the Open University.

I would like some tips and tricks that I can do to assure that I leave University with the highest grade possible!

Many Thanks

Jack

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maven
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by maven » Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:12 am

Pay close attention to how things are marked, discuss as much as possible with supervisors, read widely, and don't try to juggle too many extra curricular things as well as your academic work.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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workingmama
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by workingmama » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:24 pm

Buy Dixon's 'How to Get a First'. 95% utterly obvious stuff (in my opinion). The opening paragraphs were what took me from being a lacklustre mediocre student who didn't really believe I could achieve to a (mostly) straight A all the way through my undergrad and subsequent studies. So well worth that, I think.
Fail, fail again, fail better.

graduateak
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by graduateak » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:04 pm

Best thing I did was tell my dissertation supervisor I wanted to get a first, he obviously remembered it because at graduation he said I saw you got your first.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ― Albert Einstein.

Prosopon
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by Prosopon » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:39 pm

My advice would be to read primary sources extensively outside of the course materials when working on assignments, synthesise information and think critically about everything. Also, try to use contemporary research in assignments as much as possible. Mention classic studies if necessary, but go into more detail about contemporary research and think about how it is applied to the real world. Doing these things helped me to get distinctions/firsts in all but two assignments during my conversion degree.

Good luck!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Victoriomantic
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by Victoriomantic » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:05 pm

Prosopon wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:39 pm
My advice would be to read primary sources extensively outside of the course materials when working on assignments, synthesise information and think critically about everything. Also, try to use contemporary research in assignments as much as possible. Mention classic studies if necessary, but go into more detail about contemporary research and think about how it is applied to the real world.
I agree!

I always tried to read at least one or two papers for each lecture / topic, and write a short summary after each one to remind myself of key points. Only took about 10 minutes after each paper because I'd type it up while fresh in my memory straight after reading the paper. But it was an absolute godsend for exams and assignments. Good practice for synthesizing information and being able to quickly summarise your thoughts on a paper including good points, bad points, and how you feel it might have real-world applications.

Another thing I did that was really useful was keeping an up-to-date Glossary of terms in a word document after each lecture and journal paper. Highlighting key terms in my notes in a specific colour* meant I could easily find them and just slot them into an alphabetized list. Again if you get into the habit of doing this it only takes 10 minutes to update each day and gives you a really solid personalised dictionary to go back to -- great for revision and I find it helps me to remember things more generally as well. Especially if you include key references / reference where you read the term next to it too.

*Colour-coding everything (and keeping to the same code) made learning and revision so much easier.

I still do all of these things now in my HI training and it's doing me really well.

Most of all -- have fun and enjoy! You're not expected to love or understand every topic you cover, but for me I find when I get stressed it's useful to try and put the anxiety aside and feel grateful for the chance to study something I enjoy, and that allows me to find at least *something* interesting in each lecture / article etc.

Buxey
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by Buxey » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:23 am

Thanks for all the replies, everybody!

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workingmama
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by workingmama » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:47 pm

Oh I agree with the person who said tell your tutors you are working for a first. I think they push you harder and put more into telling you what else you could be/should be doing.
Fail, fail again, fail better.

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mungle
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by mungle » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:19 pm

Tips for getting a good grade at University:

- Enjoy the subject and material, follow your interests and read around the subject

- think about your learning style(s)/how you learn best and use them - record audio for yourself, use youtube, make mindmaps, condense notes, discuss etc.

- learn to think critically - use books, classes, reflection etc.

- work on your writing style, including grammar and spelling. Use resources and academic skills tutors at your University.

- learn how to write an essay (developing an argument throughout it, signposting key argument at the start of each paragraph, giving balance whilst also leading the reader to agree with your conclusion)

- spend extra effort on writing a strong argument in the conclusion of an essay

- learn the referencing system in the first term. It will lose or gain you marks across your degree. If it's APA then get the APA Made Easy book

- You can seek out lecturers and use the office hours, feedback sessions etc.

- Get ahead with your dissertation in summer before final year - you can always speak to dissertation supervisors before the official date

- find out exactly how grades are awarded with splits between years, coursework and exams etc. and plan your time accordingly. For instance, if 50%+ is for exams, then you need to out effort into revision and practice from the start f each semester, not just a few weeks before the exam.

- Suss out (through speaking to third years and meeting tutors) who would be a good dissertation supervisor

- Spend time getting ot grips with the marking criteria and ensure you really understand it. Each time, check your assignment against the mrking criteria and self-score. Then think about what you need to do to improve your mark further

- Make good use of feedback on your assignments and ask the lecturer if you don't understand it

- Find friends on your course and form a regular study group. Encourage each other, swap articles and revise together etc.

- Set a study timetable. Be realistic about what is really studying and what is procrastination. Then make sure you do 30 hours of actual study a week.

- Complete work with a few days to spare. Put aside coursework and then review with fresh eyes a few days later

- Don't be afraid of research methods. Put in the extra effort to get to grips with statistics in years 1 and 2.

- Speak to lecturers and ask about opportunities - placements, places to publish (e.g. the psychologist, BPS student conference, BPS local branch newsletter etc.), events you can volunteer for etc. Look at the BPS research studentships for summer of penultimate year

- Keep your mind and body healthy Eat well, exercsie, have relaxing time and time with people you care about. Have interests outside of psychology.

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ell
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by ell » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:33 pm

... And this is why I got a low 2:1 undergrad degree. Wish I'd followed this advice way back when. Nowhere in mungle's list is "Play lots of computer games into the night" or "Chase after the chess club boys". Probably for a good reason.

Good luck with it all!

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maven
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by maven » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:47 pm

Except that your low 2:1 would probably still have got you a first now, depending how long ago you graduated, because of the rampant grade inflation taking place.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

JB99
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Re: Psychology Degree Advice

Post by JB99 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:46 pm

For me, falling short of a first was almost completely down to motivation and my approach to academic work.
Right the way through my undergraduate studies I saw an essay as an annoying obstacle that I needed to get out of the way. I saw an essay as a piece of work that involves creating "two points for, one against" and nothing more. With this attitude, I was lucky to get the mid 2.1 that I did.

When I did my master's, I grew up a bit and realised that the high performers engage deeply with the literature and try to reach the current limits of understanding. They engage with exciting and recent developments in the subject area and try to explore current gaps in knowledge. It's all about interest in the subject area and hard work. I adopted this in my master's and went from averaging 63% per essay to at least 75%, with many scoring within the 80%+ range.

If I compare a typical undergraduate essay that I wrote to a post-grad essay, they are in a completely different league. Lecturers can see the effort that is put into the work and they certainly saw through my mediocre undergraduate efforts. One essay is banal and outlines foundational research, while the other tries to really look into the unanswered questions. My biggest regret from my undergrad years was not making the most of the opportunity to really engage with the material and feel knowledgeable within the subject. Intellectually I do not think I am anything special, and yet through modifying my academic approach I was able to consistently achieve high firsts in my masters coursework.

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