My time as a psychology student
Considering studying for a PhD in Psychology? Read about Samantha Reeves' experience.
I became interested in studying Psychology in College and got a place to study Psychology and Law at another University. But after the first year I decided to change course. I have dyslexia and get really anxious about exams. I hadn’t done as well in my A levels as I’d hoped, because of exam panic, so I was worried about how many exams my course had.
When I was looking for a new course, I wanted to stay near my home town, and the Psychology course really attracted me – it was unique, interesting and local. Starting again wasn’t so daunting – I’d already done the ‘meeting people’ thing, and because I grew up near here I had a lot of friends locally already.
"I really enjoyed the course, and got a lot of support."
I really enjoyed the course, and got a lot of support. I’d always been stubborn about coping with dyslexia on my own – and went through my first year without using any of the support available. But in my second year, one of my tutors encouraged me to think differently. It made a real difference. I got extra time for exams, and it was taken into account with my assignments. One of the good things was that I was able to speak to the same person all the way through – they don’t just use a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but develop a plan just for you.
I didn’t really expect to go into research, but in the third year I was encouraged to do a personal study. My project, on subliminal messaging in animation, got some really interesting results. My aim was to show how subliminal messaging could improve performance in maths – using a different technique to most research. I was surprised when I was encourage to do a research degree, because I thought you needed a First (I got a 2:1) but because my tutor told me my project was so interesting, I applied. My work, because it was a third year project, wasn’t really publishable at that stage (you learn more about robust research methodology when you do a research degree), but I was really pleased to be offered the opportunity to do three more years’ research.
"As well as my research I’ve discovered I also enjoy teaching undergraduates."
I’m in my fourth year now – and as well as my research I’ve discovered I also enjoy teaching undergraduates. As a postgraduate research student you have to do about fifty hours a year – you get training! But, really, nothing prepares you for the first time you stand in front of a class of students. It’s something I really enjoy now, particularly when I get a chance to lecture in my own area. I used some subliminal messaging in one of my lectures – my students were quite surprised at how it worked when I debriefed them at the end!
When I finish I’d really like to do post-doc research for a couple of years. There’s a specialist centre for my area of interest – I’m thinking about putting together a proposal for some funding to take to them. You have to be quite proactive, I think.
Canterbury is a really great place to be a student. With three Universities here, it’s pretty diverse. I also love the architecture and style of the place – there are plenty of places to get away and relax. It doesn’t feel like a big city centre, either. It’s busy, vibrant but not claustrophobic. It’s such a lovely place to live – I’m hoping I can continue my research career without having to move away.