Being a Psychology Student at York: My Week!

Trying to describe a ‘typical’ week studying Psychology at York is quite tricky! Especially as, not only does my schedule vary from week-to-week, but it changes quite a lot over the years. As for lectures, everyone in Psychology attends the same lectures for the first two years which I’ll go into more detail about first.

There are five strands of Psychology that students are lectured and assessed on during their first two years at York. This is basically to ensure that all students have the same level of understanding of Psychology going into their third year, since undergraduates come from a wide range of backgrounds – some never studied Psychology at all before coming to university, and others (like myself) never studied Biology, for example. I’ve popped in a table below which details what a week in 1st and 2nd year might look like in terms of lectures.

 

Day Morning Afternoon
Monday 11:00-13:00 – Research Methods lecture
Tuesday 14:00-16:00 – Development & Language lecture
Wednesday 9:00-11:00 – Perception & Cognition lecture
Thursday 11:00-13:00 – Social, Personality & Abnormal lecture. 14:00-16:00 – Brain and Behaviour lecture
Friday

 

I’ll quickly explain what the names of each of these strands mean below but you’ll very quickly understand then…

  • Research Methods: probably the most important of the strands you’ll learn! Basically a lot of statistical testing and experimental design (How to run studies!)
  • Development & Language: how infants develop behaviourally, emotionally, cognitively, but also the psychology of language – how we develop language and how it functions ‘normally’ (or breaks down!).
  • Perception & Cognition: this strand is very varied but essentially involves understanding how we perceive the world around us as well as cognitive psychology (such as memory and executive control).
  • Brain and Behaviour: a lot of brain stuff! The more neuroscience-y of the strands and mainly deals with how emotional, perceptual, and cognitive processes are represented/processed in the brain!
  • Social, Personality, and Abnormal: what it says on the tin! How we interact with other individuals, but also personality types, intelligence, and – often a favourite, you’ll quickly realize why – abnormality, in other words different types of mental illness!

As well as having lectures, students in 1st and 2nd year have tutorials on each module at specific points in the term! These are 1-hour teaching sessions that are a lot more discussion-based and probably more similar to A-level classes. These are really useful for giving students the opportunity to ensure they understand the material! These don’t continue into 3rd year but lectures in 3rd year do become a lot smaller and interactive!

As students progress from 2nd to 3rd year, they choose what subjects they specifically want to be lectured and assessed on. Students are given lots of options and are asked to rank them. The number of hours spent in lecturers decreases quite significantly between 2nd and 3rd year – going from around 12-14 hours to no more than 4 hours, split between two lectures. In my week, for example, I now have a two-hour lecture on Damage to The Visual Brain on Mondays at 9am (not everyone has lectures at that time – don’t panic!) and Cyberpsychology at 2pm on Thursdays. This gives me plenty of time to work on my final year project, and other things I enjoy doing!

Some students, including myself, opt to get more involved in ongoing research in the department in their free time. After going to Dr Rueschemeyer at the end of second year and describing my interest in getting involved in her research, we conducted a research project over the summer together. Now, I’m in the lab around 2-to-4 hours a week testing participants. We’re currently investigating how individuals respond to the ambiguity of words alone, versus when in the company of another individual. I honestly love it and it’s allowed me to realize I want to conduct psychology research as a career!

If you think you’d be interested in running research too, it’s always worth emailing – or even going to visit – lecturers whose work you find interesting and telling them you’d like to get involved!

As well as this, I’m 3rd Year Psychology course rep. This position is open for all respective years (1st, 2nd) and takes up little of my time but is really rewarding! Some weeks this involves attending meetings with other course reps and staff in the department to pass on any concerns, or suggestions from students. Other weeks it can be quieter and will involve just answering the messages of one or two students on things like where to find deadline dates! This is part of my week, not most Psychology students, but I’d encourage anyone to be involved in feedback to the department as it’s been brilliant to see an open dialogue between staff and students!

The rest of my week involves some other fun activities including yoga for an hour and a half on Tuesdays, a meeting with members of a charity I’m involved in – York Nightline, a pub quiz on Mondays with friends at the local pub for a few hours (and a cider or two!) as well as services at a youth church in town – G2. Other less frequent activities have included attending sessions at the Debating Society, QI Society, and LGBTQ society.

When I’m not doing any of that stuff, I’m probably in the 24-hour library trying to catch up on university work! I love visiting York centre when I can to stroll down the Shambles or sip a nice warm cappuccino with a book at one of my favourite cafés in town (at the moment, FortyFive Café but Gatehouse Coffee is a very popular student café too!). York’s always got stuff to visit – in particular, the Jorvik Viking Centre, the Minster, and two central cinemas (especially the new one – the Everyman – which has couches!). As well as the various cafés, bars and restaurants on campus, you’ll never be stuck for something to do here!