Diary of a Postgrad student – Induction day

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OVERWHELMED

There are no other words for it.

Yesterday was a full day induction for my MSc in Psychological Research Methods. The schedule was from 9am until 5pm with a full day of activities. I had also, stupidly, organised to see a new client at 7pm. It was a long day.

So the good news to start. I found somewhere to park that is under 1km away from Uni. That is totally doable on a longer term basis. So I got in early and enjoyed a quiet moment in Starbucks

I make a rubbish student. I have always got places way too early. So at 8:30am I was sitting in the Scrymegour building and appeared to be the only one up. The Psychology department has one half of this building.

This is a lovely old building. They have just revamped a space downstairs for students to use. It looks amazing

Anyway, found my way to the room and was, amazingly, not the first person to arrive. By the time the induction started there were loads of us.

There are 5 different Masters in Psychology. There is a lot of overlap between us although we have different core modules.

The Psychology of Mental Health Msc had the most on it. This is clearly very popular and involves a clinical partnership with Ninewells. It sounds interesting.

There are a total of 4 of us on the Research Methods Masters.

The department is lovely. We got to meet all the lecturers and find out a bit about their interests and research areas. This allows us to pick the right supervisor for our dissertation. They were all incredibly open and enthusiastic. The postgrad experience is more about a partnership. I’m excited about all the possibilities of getting some high profile research done that might really be a game changer.

It was about half way through the morning that things started creeping up on me.

Firstly, I hadn’t seen/received the file where I had to rank the optional modules I wanted to take from 1 to 10. Luckily I wasn’t the only one. A bit of work from the amazing Dr Emese Nagy quickly sorted that out for us and she had printed copies in our hands within the hour.

It went on the list to do when I got home. 

Then, in the afternoon, we had our first lecture. We were given a bunch of topics to pick from to do a group presentation IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

How on earth can I pick a topic when I have no idea how to conduct research yet or construct a critical analysis? I’m not worried about the group presentation or group as I have 20+ years industry experience and am used to working with people. But I have no idea where to even start! Apparently there is a reading list on MyDundee.

It went on the list to look at when I got home. 

Then I found out I have to formulate the question for my dissertation and find a supervisor for it by the 27th September. Within 2 weeks I need to have worked out how to express my research topic and find someone who will work with me on it.

It went on the list to sort out when I got home. 

I discovered that as part of the course, it is required that I complete 90 hours of what they call Practicum. This is where you act as a research assistant on someone else’s project. You log your hours and write up a 2500 word paper on it at the end. You have to find a supervisor for this (a different one to your dissertation)

It went on the list to sort out when I got home. 

Then I went to the last lecture of the day. I discovered that of around 30 people in the room, only 2 of us had an undergraduate degree in a totally unrelated topic (mine was computers). 2 others didn’t have a direct Psychology undergraduate degree but it was in a related area. Everyone else had a background in Psychology including previous experience of a dissertation.

So then Nick started asking questions about different Psychological experimental approaches, what they meant and how you would use them.

I had no clue. Literally. Not a clue.

I had assumed that we would get some information to help us learn how to do this stuff. It appeared not. We were presented with the topic list for the semester including assessments and reading material.

It went on the list to sort out when I got home.  

So as I wandered back to my car at the end of the day I was just about losing it. I knew I had a client in a couple of hours so I needed to keep it together. But I wasn’t doing a very good job. I was tweeting and talking to friends on Facebook, who were trying to reassure me. When I feel overwhelmed I always try and connect to people outside of my head. Staying in my head just tends to fuel the fire.

I walked in the door and the hubby asked me what was up. I couldn’t answer. I just cried. I eventually managed to explain what was going on.

I went upstairs to get showered and changed. By the time I came down, the hubby had dug out his Psychology book from when he did A-Levels and found the page on experiments. I read that while I was waiting for my client. At least that was one less thing.

I saw my client, had dinner and then sat down at my computer.

I wrote up my dissertation proposal and mailed all the lecturers that I felt might have an interest in it to arrange a chat.

I chose my modules and mailed that back.

I chose a Practicum project and mailed the lead for it.

My next day of lectures is Wednesday next week. At that point I will have to do a presentation on myself: my background, my dissertation interest. Luckily, as a person who has done a TED talk in the past, that doesn’t really bother me.

It’s just everything else!

Today I am planning on doing a lot of reading, after popping into town to head to DUSA and grab a coffee with a friend.

The one thing that is clear is that I am very lucky to have a supportive network of friends and family who step up to provide emotional support, belief in me and practical help.

Once more I am reminded that success at anything is as much about the people around you as it is about your own capabilities

Written by: Dawn Walton

Hi, my name is Dawn Walton and I am a 44 year old therapist that lives in the Dundee area. I’m originally from Anglesey in North Wales, but I’ve lived here for 17 years. My first degree was in Computing at UMIST in Manchester. Now I’m studying a Masters in Psychological Research Methods with the aim of going on to do a Phd.


I love Starbucks and Pokemon Go. So they are likely to feature in my posts quite often!