MSc Health Psychology student, Michele Mulqueen, graduated from the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree with the University of Derby Online Learning in 2017. Here she tells us about her experience in attending the Psychology in Practice residential week in 2015.
What is Psychology in Practice (PiP) Residential Week?
It is a residential week that is part of the module by the same name. This module and its residential week are a compulsory requirement for any student studying the online BSc (Hon) Psychology degree that wants to graduate with a BPS accredited degree and be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
This module and its residential week were part of the reason I chose to study a BSc in Psychology with the University of Derby Online Learning. As an Irishwoman currently living in Luxembourg it was important for me to find an English language degree that offered me the flexibility to study wherever I was, and that the degree was a recognised qualification.
When doubt sets in
However, I almost decided not to take the module and attend the residential week. As a mature student, whilst I initially had been very excited about the prospect of being on campus and being in a university environment for the week, the closer it came to the module the more anxious I became. Whilst I am generally quite talkative and friendly, I experience a lot of social anxiety and having so many unknowns (not knowing the city, university campus, or people) meant that I began to consider the prospect of graduating without an accredited degree.
Thankfully, a discussion area was also set up within the module where we could begin to introduce ourselves and say where we were travelling from and staying whilst in Derby. One thing I started to notice on the discussion boards was that others were also nervous. Many voiced the same concerns I had, and I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it wasn’t just me!
The week itself
The residential week was based at the University of Derby’s Kedleston road campus and ran from Monday to Friday. However, the Sunday evening before it all began, the University of Derby Online Learning staff held a Barbeque so we could start to meet each other. This was a great ice-breaker and a chance to get to know faces and names before the week started. The week consisted of a mixture of talks and workshops about research methods, areas within psychology, and staff research. There were also practical sessions where we had a chance to see equipment in use. We also had the opportunity to use the week to recruit participants and take part in data collection for our assessments.
It wasn’t all work though. There were plenty of opportunities to socialise with students and staff with events such as a Pub Quiz and a meal at a popular Derby restaurant.
What have been the advantages?
For me, the biggest advantage of the PiP week was the formation and strengthening of relationships with students and staff. Getting to meet some of the people that I had known by name and their words on a discussion board, and finally having the opportunity to put faces, characteristics, and personalities to these names and words changed the study experience for me greatly. We started connecting more via social media, and as a result, when the autumn trimester began, reading messages on the discussion boards was a vastly different experience. When reading posts by those I had met during that week, I could hear their voices as I read. Group work also became a much easier and more enjoyable experience to carry out online. Having met staff at PiP week also made it easier for me to reach out to tutors with any concerns or queries, and I believe my studies improved because of this.
Life after PiP week and the BSc
When I eventually graduated, there were four of us who had been on the PiP week together and it was lovely to see these people again. Social media has made it that, despite us being located in different places (and parts of the world) and all going different ways with our study, we have been able to stay in touch.
It also helped me decide on where to study my MSc. Whilst there were three options for me to do my Health Psychology MSc online, I decided to stay with the University of Derby Online Learning because of having met some of the staff already. This meant the transition from BSc to MSc was a much smoother journey for me.
Last words of advice:
- If you have the chance to attend, then go. The PiP week was a great experience and one that gave me many wonderful friends.
- If you’re nervous about attending or have some concerns – talk to a staff member. As the saying goes ‘’A problem shared is a problem halved’’. The staff will possibly have heard the same concerns from others and will be able to help you.
- Ask to speak with a student who has been there