I am a post-graduate taught (PGT) student at the University of Aberdeen, on the MSc Psychological Studies course… and boy did we get more than we bargained for this year! Starting in September 2019 induction was smooth and easy-going - a cheese and wine ‘meet and greet’ was certainly a different experience to my undergraduate freshers’ week! And far more refreshing!
My course is an excellent way to get into the field of psychology, and a real mix of entrants’ backgrounds makes the experience all the more interesting. My undergraduate degree was in marketing, so I had a bit of psychology knowledge already from ‘consumer behaviour’ but others had degrees in media, chemistry, accountancy, amongst others. Added to a diverse range of nationalities I quickly found myself with new friends from across the world.
After a successful first semester, we all returned in the new year, keen to continue in the same fashion - which we did…to begin with! As life on campus ticked along there was already talk of the novel coronavirus spreading elsewhere, mostly in Asia. To begin with none of us thought for a second that we would be affected here in the north of Scotland. One of the benefits of studying here is the amazing location in northern Europe, with stunning scenery, beautiful quiet beaches and the cleanest crispest air your lungs could ever hope to breathe.
But then the virus started in Italy, Spain and eventually England and we knew it wouldn’t be long until it reached us up in Scotland. As the number of cases increased, I was surprised at how quickly the University of Aberdeen responded to the situation - including its move to online teaching. We were, I believe, one of the very first universities in Scotland to move to online teaching. Although it was a bit of a shock, it did give students a feeling of security. We were regularly updated via email as to how teaching would continue online via recorded lectures, library e-resources, on-line coursework submissions and a two-week exam period due to start ten days from now (I should really get back to studying!!).
I have a relative currently studying at another Scottish university, so I have detailed knowledge of how her course has changed to online learning. It’s not as simple as it sounds - the universities have a range of options as to how this process will be conducted. But from firsthand experience I have to say that the University of Aberdeen has been the quickest, fairest and altogether best at making this transition manageable for its students. For example, I have a thesis due this summer and was just about ready to conduct my experiment before everything shut down -nightmare! However, my supervisor couldn’t have been better as he was able to create an online version of my experiment in a couple of weeks. This has allowed me to continue with my thesis and collect data with minimal disruption. If he wasn’t able to do this for me, I may have ended up having to use secondhand data from a previous year or change to some kind of literature review thesis as opposed to my own empirical study.
So yes, it’s a tough time for all students, but for me personally I am delighted with the way the University of Aberdeen has handled the disruption. At every step I feel they have gone out of their way to make sure that my degree has not been devalued, derailed or destructed in any way at all. So big thanks to the university staff from me!
Stuart is currently studying for an MSc is Psychological Studies and has a BA in Marketing Management