Zara Roddis graduated from BSc (Hons) Psychology in 2017. She is currently studying MSc Psychological Research Methods at Plymouth.
This is Zara's story
Plymouth has allowed me to explore my options. I initially enrolled on a different course – with the benefit of hindsight, I could have gone straight onto the psychology course but, at least this way, I knew for definite that psychology was the course for me.
My advice would be to really take some time out and research each of the modules that are available on a course, to make sure they align with your interests. It will also really help if you are able to do a little bit of background research about the topics, to make sure that you know a little about the subject before starting the degree. This knowledge will really help solidify learning before you even step into the lecture hall.
The thing that I have found the most challenging about university life is juggling assignments and free time. I love to be fully engaged in my work, which means that my social life can take a step back and I have less time to spend on my hobbies. Striking up a balance is difficult but crucial if you’re going to make it through those three or four years.
The most exciting thing that I have done at university is getting to plan, work on, and see the end of a project and using the data for real world applications which, hopefully, may change the world. It’s the real world benefits that make studying a degree so important and which makes studying at Plymouth so instructive.
I have continued my studies to gain more information and practical skills within different research settings. I have learnt a wide range of skills since my BSc and plan to continue learning!
I would definitely recommend studying at Plymouth because it’s based in such a beautiful area, it is a green university and it has a really good research base. I used a lot of support services that helped me learn the balance between home and study life. The staff members in services such as The Hub and the Writing Cafe are lovely, and the lecturers are to go above and beyond to help you succeed.
Plymouth really enabled me to be an independent learner, but not to be stuck on the same problem for weeks at a time. Asking for help is not a bad thing, and it helps me overcome most of my challenges.
The University had a great programme for placements and it is really crucial that you get practical experience. I chose the course mainly due to the placement year, which is why I kick myself I did not take it – the work experience gained from that really would have been useful.
For my degree, I had the ability to undertake practical modules, including computer programming and sustainability: both of which have great applications for personal development. It has allowed me to explore different options going forward in psychology which, again, is very important as I now have a better understanding of what I can accomplish and how to get there.
I have really learnt and developed my practical skills and been able to undertake a proper piece of research.
This has many benefits in a multiple of fields, like cognitive and even sustainability research.
Electroencephalography is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. With Plymouth, I have been able to work with my own idea to create an EEG study to investigate visual mental imagery processes in students.
I was given a module at university whereby I could analyse output data from the EEG machine (which is a load of lines on a screen), and know what to look for to answer my research question. This means going forward to my project I could not only undertake the data collection, I could analyse it too!
The hope is to take this further at PhD level and work with a particular group of people who report no visual mental imagery and use brain imagery methods to address their own experience with mental imagery.
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