The World of Psychology

The theme of the month for February is our course, so this blog is all about my course (Psychology) and the Psychology department at Edge Hill University. Before I go any further I just want to clear up the fact that some people think Psychology is about learning to read people’s minds. It’s not. Yes it is the scientific study of the human brain and behaviour, but it’s definitely not about finding out exactly what someone is thinking at anyone time.

Anyway now I’ve got that cleared up. There are a vast array of things taught on my Psychology course such as how memory works, what causes people to riot, what processes are involved in falling asleep/waking up and how a person develops over their lifespan to name but a few. My course also teaches people how to conduct studies, this is known as research methods and its an integral part of my course.

In order for students to learn these things, there needs to be psychology lecturers (tutors) who are well experienced in the different areas of psychology, and conduct their own research studies to add to existing literature on a range of topics. I have even stumbled across some articles when looking for literature for my dissertation, that my dissertation supervisor has been a part of (many articles have multiple authors to them). Not only that when I was in my first and second year I volunteered to be a research assistant for some of the projects my tutors were running. In first year this was a study by Dr. Helen Wall into the link between language use and personality (which is still on going) and in second year it was a study by Dr. Rebecca Monk and Professor Derek Heim into context effects and smoking behaviours. Both of these things will stand out on my CV when future employers look at it, and I highly recommend this to those of you who want some relevant experience in research psychology. Projects are advertised through emails sent out to psychology students, and if one or more catches your eye go for it.

I hope this blog has been insightful and if you want to learn more about the staff of Edge Hill’s Psychology department then the link to the lists of academic tutors and technicians is below 🙂

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/psychology/people/

Coming Up This Semester

I have now been back at Edge Hill full time almost a week and have had my first lectures and seminars of the semester. In these my tutors outlined the structure of my two new modules this semester (Research Technologies and Tools and Reflections and Future Directions) along with how they are assessed. In Tuesday’s dissertation lecture meanwhile we learnt about the different postgraduate degrees in Psychology that are available to those who want to peruse that route. (some are taught and some are research based) and what a PhD (doctorate of philosophy) in Psychology consists of. It was also explained to us that anyone who wants to do a PhD doesn’t need to gain a MSc beforehand. A MSc (master of science) is for those who want to become a practitioner in an area of psychology (health, sport, occupational, educational etc) whilst a PhD is better for those who want to enter into academia (i.e. their long term end goal is to become a lecturer at a university).

Anyway aside from that I have lots of coursework to crack on with (as so to speak) this semester (so between now and the end of my degree. Which believe me is a scary thought). My workload essentially consists of:

Research Technologies and Tools 

  1. Data collection on a single participant
  2. A group presentation
  3. 4 WBA’s (Web Based Assessments)
  4. A 2000 word lab report

Reflections and Future Directions 

  1. 1000 word essay
  2. 700 word presentation
  3. 300 word reflection

Not forgetting of course I also have my dissertation to do, which I’m pleased to say is coming together. I’ve been busy summarizing sources for my log book, have begun the write up and have started to get data back. Once all my data is back my next step is to analyse it all and continue my write up. In the meantime I’m due the last of my grades from last semester and have even bought my ticket for the graduation ball in May (which I can’t wait for!)

Other Courses and why Psychology was the right one for me.

With the UCAS deadline rapidly approaching (January 15th is the deadline for applications for the majority of courses) I thought I’d reflect on the other courses I considered when applying to university.

History

My 1st choice of degree course for a long time (right the way through high school) was history. I’ve always been a history buff and got an A in it at GCSE and C at A-level. So I looked at the history courses at a number of universities including UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire), York, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Bradford. But then I failed my AS history first time around and whilst my teacher let me re-sit, he did tell me I needed another choice (a plan b) of degree course when applying to university.

Archaeology 

This coincided with my love of History and I grew up watching the program Time Team (a group of archaeologists who go around the country digging up various sites of archaeological interest) so I looked at archaeology at UCLAN, York and both Manchester universities. However I decided it was not for me when I read the first few pages of an A-level textbook my dad bought me to help me decided whether it was really for me. Needless to say I wouldn’t have enjoyed being on my hands and knees digging up fields in all weathers.

Why Psychology?

This then brings me onto the course I of course ended up studying at degree level. Psychology. Psychology was the right course for me. I’ve widened my knowledge of psychology in terms of theory and research methodologies since starting at Edge Hill 2 1/2 years ago (almost) and more importantly my career choices are so much wider than if I’d done History or Archaeology because I’ve picked up skills like research skills, data analysis as well as enhanced my oral and written communication, time management, team work and organisation skills. All of which are prized by employers and if all goes according to plan I should be working full time this time next year 🙂

Anyway this is my last blog as a twenty year old (I turn twenty one on wednesday!) but in the meantime make sure the course your applying for is the right one for you. You don’t want to end up picking a course only to regret it later on.

Busy Busy Busy

Like a lot of third years at this time of year I am busy..very busy. Aside from preparations for Christmas (which will be upon us before we know it) I have the following to complete and submit before going home for two weeks

Applying Psychology to Lifestyle Behaviors Presentation

This is an poster presentation based on a health behavior that someone we know, wants to or needs to change in order to improve their overall health. I chose to interview my dad and ask him questions in relation to his weight as this is a topic that is relevant to me and I’m very interested in. For the assignment so far I have interviewed him, wrote up the interview findings and analysed them. I now need to design an intervention and critically discuss it and the theoretical model it’s based off as well as make sure the poster looks good and rehearse it before the 15th December.

Personality and Individual Differences Presentation/2000 word reflection 

Another presentation I have to do soon is for my personality and individual differences module. This is a group based presentation we have five made up candidates who are applying to the role of a sales manager. We each have to talk about who we’ve picked and why in relation to different theories of personality. In addition this there’s also a 2000 word reflection of the process and the presentation to be written and handed in by the same deadline of the 16th December.

Aside from the above I also have to gather data for my dissertation because I have now had the ethical clearance to do so but collecting data is proving a big challenge because I have to use sports coaches and their athletes and only one sports coach has said they’re interested so far. As well as these things I also need to start looking for literature (research papers) for the second substance misuse essay that is due at the beginning of January. I definitely have a lot to do!

 

Types of Psychology

Before I came to Edge Hill  I had already studied Psychology at A-level, so I had some prior knowledge of the classic theories, studies, famous psychologists and types of psychology. However, some people begin a university course having never studied it before. So here is a brief guide into some of the different types of psychology that exist.

Cognitive Psychology 

Cognitive Psychology is essentially the study of mental processes like: memory, language, visual processing/perception, attention, behaviorism (how we learn behaviours), face recognition, problem solving, emotion and consciousness to name but a few. Whilst cognitive psychology frequently overlaps with Biological Psychology, it focuses more on the processes themselves, rather than the biology behind them.

Biological Psychology 

Biological Psychology is very much focused on the brain and the body. Topics covered in biological psychology frequently include things such as: how neurons/brain cells work, vision, audition, hormones, substance use, psychological disorders/mental illnesses and brain damage.

Social Psychology 

Social Psychology is the study of how we interact with others and they have an influence on our behaviour. Some topics I have covered in my social psychology module this year include: stereotypes, schemas and heuristics, social influence, attractiveness, inter-group relations and attribution.

Developmental Psychology 

As this suggests this looks at the psychology of how we develop throughout out lives. Topics  I have covered in my degree so far within developmental psychology include: social development, cognitive development, emotional development, debates and approaches, play, motor development and development of personality.

Research Psychology

As you may or may not already know, Psychology is a science. Whilst it hasn’t been around as long as sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, psychologists come up with a theory/theories about something and then set out to prove or disprove it/them through research. Research in psychology takes on many forms such as lab experiments, observations, questionnaires and interviews. However these tend to fall into one of two categories

  1. Quantitative-This is numerical data
  2. Qualitative data-Data that is made up of words rather than number

I hope you have found this blog entry useful and if you would like anything answering then feel free to leave me a comment 🙂