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Student View - Explore, Research, Experiment!

by YPU Admin on June 4, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology medicine health, BMH, health sciences, psychology, and Research

Introduction

Psychology research isn’t just about dogs drooling when hearing a bell or rebellious student inmates going mad in a university basement. There’s so much more and this is what I am going to focus on in this blog. I want to tell you how I got into Psychology research and what it actually entails.

About Me

Before going into the more hardcore stuff, I would like to talk a bit about myself. I am a 20-year-old Romanian studying BSc Psychology at the University of Manchester. During high-school years, my studying profile was on hard sciences (i.e. Computer Science, Maths, Physics, Chemistry), and I only had one year when I was studying Psychology so it wasn’t intense at all. I did further studying alongside what we were taught in class and I took part in a county-level Olympiad where I achieved 4th place. In the last year of high school, I had grown an interest in Neuroscience so I decided to apply for the University of Manchester unique joint-honours programme – BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology. Eventually, I chose Manchester because it was a red-brick university and the overall living costs were cheaper than London (which, at the time, was my dream city). All summer before coming to university, I read a lot of Psychology-related books and articles (Freud, Jung, Eysenck, some basic research studies, etc.). I came to university, started my course, and after one month I have switched to the BSc Psychology course.

The first semester was hard. I didn’t exactly know what I was supposed to do - how to look up trustworthy sources, how to reference, how to write up an essay, what to study and read. The academic system I had just gotten out of was completely different from the British Higher Education system. Imagine changing the tap water from the goldfish’s bowl to distilled water and me being the goldfish. By working my way through the referencing guides provided by the university, paying attention to the feedback and discussing with my academic advisor about my insecurities, I was able to feel more confident in my studies.

My Journey into Research

At the end of the first year, I applied for a position as a Research Assistant for a study investigating whether religion and implicit attitudes play a part in gay men getting jobs. I had to write a cover letter saying why I was interested in that position and show that I had the skills needed. I had some experience in the HR field from my involvement in societies, so I wrote about that and about my interest in social psychology and recruitment. I also had to tailor my CV for the position by including my research skills developed throughout 1st year’s curriculum and my extracurricular activities. 

I was accepted, and over the summer I had to write a literature review analysing previous theories and evaluating research methods. I worked hard on it and gathered 9 pages of work - which has earned me the appreciation of the coordinator. We started the process of testing the participants in the second semester of the second year, as there were some problems with the ethics of the project. As the research assistants, we guided the participants through the research process. Unfortunately, we had to stop when the Coronavirus situation began.

The next research project I was about to undertake, as part of the Short Work Placement Unit, was aimed at investigating the sense of community experienced on the BSc Psychology course. I was supposed to do a literature review, spending some time looking at variables that might influence this effect, and decide accordingly how the project will look like in terms of the research methodology which thrilled me. Unfortunately, this project was put on hold due to lockdown reasons as well. On the bright side, The University of Manchester offers a variety of research programmes and internships which I could undertake in the future, so I am not panicking. 

Going Further...

My advice for you would be to always keep an open mind and let yourselves be submersed by whatever you find that interests you. Explore, research, experiment. See what appeals to you the most and pursue it passionately. Be conscientious with your work, and always keep an open mind.

For more information, please visit these websites:


 

Student View - The 'Personal Excellence Plan' at Manchester Medical School

by YPU Admin on June 2, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology, biology medicine health, BMH, medicine, Research, and student view

Introduction

My name is Minahil Qureshi and I am currently a third year medical student at the University of Manchester, and prior to this I hold a first class degree in BSc Clinical Sciences. It is a huge privilege to attend a Russell Group university that is so well known for its research, and through the Manchester Medical School, have been lucky to do my own research as part of the course. 

What is the Personal Excellence Plan?

During the five years of the medical course, we undertake a module called the ‘Personal Excellence Plan’ (PEP), which becomes more advanced as each year goes by. This is a module that we have the ability to really make our own and can tailor it to fit our future career goals and research interests.

During my first year, I carried out a group project to create a scientific poster about the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the possible reversal of diabetes. I also wrote a solo report summarizing my main findings. Creating a scientific poster is very different from the kind you may create at school, but thankfully we had a very knowledgeable tutor who helped to facilitate our work and guide our research in the right direction. I really enjoyed this project, as it gave a good taste of how to create and present scientific work, and also how to collaborate with others on research, which is so important locally and globally.

For my second year PEP, I wrote a mini dissertation about my chosen topic: ‘The link between mental and physical health’. I am extremely passionate about highlighting this relationship, because knowledge of the many factors affecting the two forms of health can help us to combat the adverse effects on our wellbeing. My work was greatly commended by my tutor, and they asked for it to be showcased on the website for other medical students to look to as an example. This piece of research is definitely a noteworthy highlight for me thus far as a medical student!

This year, I was really excited to do my third year PEP, as I had transitioned into the clinical years of my degree, and thus the PEP was also set to be more clinical. The work from this project had the potential to directly impact treatments and patient care, and could have even been published in a scientific journal or presented at an international conference! These accolades would look brilliant on any doctor job applications in the future, and so really emphasises how useful this PEP module is at Manchester.

I had been lucky enough to secure my first choice research project, which was going to be based at Salford Royal Hospital in my current favourite specialty: neurology. Neurology is all about the brain and its function, and I truly find nothing else more fascinating, thrilling and impactful. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this dream research project was cancelled.

However, I was not distraught for long, due to the wonderful kindness of my research supervisor. Despite the fact that my supervisor is a senior neurologist on the frontline, they took the time out to email me about the possibility of writing a mini report that could get published! This is now something I am doing separately from the PEP module, but this has only been possible due to the professional networking that this module gave me the opportunity for.

I hope this report goes well so that I can repay a little bit of my supervisor’s kindness! At the University of Manchester, it is the eagerness to teach and generosity of talented academics that really makes the experience of being a student here one of a kind. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Going Further...

 

Student View – What is it Like to Study Mechanical Engineering?

by YPU Admin on May 27, 2020, Comments. Tags: careers, Engineering, mechanical engineering, Research, STEM, student view, and UoM

Introduction

Hi, my name is Abdullah. I am 21 years old and currently in my second year studying at the University of Manchester. I study Mechanical Engineering which I find exciting, inventive and fun! So, what is it like and what can you do with an engineering degree?

Why I Chose Mechanical Engineering

First, let’s see the many reasons for studying it. I chose the course so I could become an engineer primarily because I enjoy STEM subjects. Studying engineering has enabled me to use the topics I liked the most in one course: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Furthermore, being an engineer provides the opportunity to apply your knowledge to real-world situations and be creative every day, solving real-world problems. Additionally, the rapid and constant developments mean the subject will only become more interesting and engineers will be more and more sought after. There are always plenty of jobs and you will never be bored with what you do.

A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineering Student

On a typical day, I wake up at around 7.30 am and travel by bus to the university which starts at 9 am most of the time. With around 6 or 7 hours at university, the day is made up of a mix of lectures and tutorials spread over 2 campuses: Main Campus and North Campus (where engineers are mainly based). On North Campus, lectures are always in the Renold Building. Also, there is the George Begg Building with exceptional computer facilities. This is where I prefer to work with friends; 2-3 hours of study is required each day. Finally, to research for assignments, I go to North Campus’s Sackville Street Building library for books. 

In terms of work outside classes, this contains coursework, reports based on previous lab sessions or rewatching lectures once uploaded online to further grasp the concepts. In addition, there are tutorial sheets that I need to attempt before the tutorial class. These are questions based on lectures in the past week of that module then the class tutor goes through the solutions. While this seems like a lot, there is still plenty of free time if you chose to study Mechanical Engineering!

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Degree?

Using the Careers Service and career fairs at the university, I have learnt about options you have after you finish the course in lots of detail. The obvious one is to become a mechanical engineer which most students do. Mechanical engineers are mostly hired by the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. After the course, you can also do a Master’s degree which is another 1-year degree. With this, engineers are able to become chartered engineers in the future which means faster career progression and increased pay. 

Surprisingly, there is considerable demand for engineering students in investment banking too. Generally, it is working as an analyst to predict market trends because students are taught the numerical and analytical skills applicable to the role. Alternatively, I learnt at a university career fair that there is also scientific research in engineering as an option but this requires an extra degree.

Overall, I would conclude that studying Mechanical Engineering has a lot of benefits and an extensive range of excellent career prospects that it leads to. To learn more, details can be found on the university website in the links below:


 

Young People’s Activism in Times of Austerity

Introduction

Hi my name’s Liz and I’m a second year PhD student in the Geography department, where my work focuses on young people’s activism in times of economic and political change. My research is done in collaboration with the young engagement organisation RECLAIM, and explores the following questions: Why might young people get involved in activism, and what kind of campaigning work are young people doing? How does learning about politics from a young age impact young people’s lives? And how are small charities managing after a decade of cuts to public services?

In depth…

RECLAIM is a Greater Manchester-based youth leadership and social change organisation committed to supporting working class young people to have their voices heard. Young people (aged 11 and up) working with RECLAIM campaign against a number of issues including young people’s exclusion from political decision making, a lack of representation within politics, and negative class stereotypes. 

We know that economic cuts, also described as austerity measures, in the UK and across parts of Europe over the last decade have had devastating impacts on public services, and, affecting young people in particular, youth services. These austerity measures are experienced differently across social groups and places around the UK, and we know that working class communities and charities have been disproportionately affected by cuts to services and the changing funding landscape. In this context it’s important to explore the ongoing marginalisation of young working class people in political decision making, and how young people are campaigning and engaging in activism in times of economic, social and political change.

Picture of three boys on a bridge in London, one is wearing a t-shirt that says “working class young people being seen, being heard and leading change. RECLAIM.”

My research involves working with staff and young people at RECLAIM over a year to explore the kind of activism and campaigning young people are doing and why, how young people feel about gaining a political education at an early age, and what impact austerity measures have had on RECLAIM. Each day is a bit different, but mainly the research involves going along to events and workshops run by or for young people, going to team meetings, hanging out in the office and doing some interviews and workshops with staff and young people at RECLAIM. In the current global pandemic all face to face fieldwork has stopped, and instead I am following team meetings and other activities online and delaying some of the research with young people until the social distancing measures are lifted and it is safe to continue with face to face research. 

I hope this research will provide some important information about how young people are pushing for social change, what supports young people’s activism and what acts as a barrier, and what small charities are doing to manage a difficult funding situation.

Picture of a group of young people and RECLAIM staff and volunteers outside Rochdale town hall holding placards. 

My Route into Geography

I’ve done quite a few different things over the last 10 years and I never imagined at 18 that 10 years later I would end up doing a PhD in Geography – as you’ll see I took quite an unusual route to get here…

I really loved languages and reading in school and I was interested in learning about the cultures and histories of different countries so after trawling through university prospectuses and getting advice from teachers I decided to apply for a languages undergraduate degree. I went to Exeter University to study French and Italian, which included a year abroad. Doing a languages degree was great because alongside the language classes (French and Italian grammar, speaking and translation), I also got to study French art, Italian novels, and the history of both these countries. But the real highlight was doing a year abroad teaching English in Rome, I made lots of friends, visited some beautiful places, and ate A LOT of delicious pizza and ice cream!

I also did some modules outside of my degree in politics and international relations and for the three years that I was in Exeter I was very involved with Amnesty International and did a lot of campaigning against human rights abuses across the world, including a lot of work on gender equality and women’s rights, which is something I’m still passionate about.

When I left Exeter I was fortunate to get a paid internship with a small project in London called the MsUnderstood Project, working on young people’s experiences of gender inequality. Following this I worked briefly as a teaching assistant in a year 1 class, and in a bookshop as a Christmas Temp, and then got a job as a research assistant at the University of Bedfordshire where I stayed for two and a half years. My job there involved working with young people to think about the best ways of protecting children from harm, and how to improve services to make sure they listen to children and work in the best way to support children and young people.

All these experiences instilled in me a real desire to work to support young people to have their voices heard in a variety of settings, to make sure policies and systems work for young people, based on their expertise, and to work to challenge wider structural systems that typically exclude children and young people from power and decision making. When the opportunity came up to do a PhD in collaboration with RECLAIM, who are doing brilliant work on these issues, I thought this be a fantastic research project to work on, and so far it definitely has!

Going further...

  • For more information about Geography at MAnchester, visit the website: https://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/geography
  • Amnesty International UK is the organisation I first started working with when I was a student, to find out more about their work to protect human rights across the world you can check out their website here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk
  • The MsUnderstood Project was set up to improve local and national responses to young people’s experiences of inequality. The project has now finished but you can find information about the project and a number of resources on their website: http://www.msunderstood.org.uk
  • The University of Bedfordshire have a number of resources, many created in collaboration with young people, aimed at improving support for young people who have experienced harm. You can find out more about their work here: https://www.beds.ac.uk/ic
  • You can find out more about RECLAIM and the brilliant campaigning work they are doing here: https://www.reclaim.org.uk 
  • A recent campaign run by young people at RECLAIM was the #IfWeDidThis campaign, you can watch the video here: https://www.reclaim.org.uk/ifwedidthis
  • Kids of Colour is a Manchester-based organisation which provides a platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. Their website has loads of brilliant videos and information about upcoming events (when these are back on): http://kidsofcolour.com
  • If you are interested in campaigning work Campaign Bootcamp have interesting and informative blogs, along with other resources to help you get started: https://campaignbootcamp.org
  • To keep up with me, check ut my Univerisity of Manchester page: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/elizabeth.ackerley-2.html




 

It Matters That It Matters

by YPU Admin on April 3, 2020, Comments. Tags: bioethics, Health, Humanities, Law, patient safety, PhD, Philosophy, and Research

Introduction

Hi, I'm Vicki. I'm a second year PhD student in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence here at the University of Manchester. I'm also part of the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre - yes, it's a very long name! The 'translational' bit means that we are developing and testing new ideas and approaches to patient safety. My research aims to understand how effective our healthcare regulation system is at keeping patients safe when they leave hospital.


In Depth…

Before starting my PhD I studied for my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, and a master's degree in Healthcare Ethics and Law. I had no idea when I graduated with my Philosophy degree that I’d end up where I am now. I worked for a charity as a Fundraising Manager and studied for my master’s degree via distance-learning. My master’s was helpful for me in switching job roles – after graduating I spent a few years working for the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors in the UK. This really sparked my passion for healthcare ethics, regulation, and patient safety!

After that I applied for my PhD, which is funded by the National Institute of Health Research. Unlike a traditional PhD, my PhD is 'by publication'. This means that rather than writing one huge piece of writing, I produce a series of shorter articles to be published in academic journals. But these articles still need to relate to each other under a common theme! At the end, they will form the middle chapter of my PhD, sandwiched between an introduction and a conclusion.

One of the main aims of healthcare regulation is to keep patients safe. This is done by several different regulators in the UK. Some regulate healthcare professionals (like doctors and nurses), whilst others regulate healthcare providers (such as hospitals). The common theme of my research is how do all of these regulators make sure patients are kept safe when they leave hospitals? You might be surprised to learn that leaving hospital can be a really dangerous time for patients, especially the elderly! I’m nearly halfway through my research but I already have several ideas for how regulators could be doing more to keep patients safe.

A friend once said to me that when choosing her career 'it matters that it matters'.  She meant it was important that her work made a real difference to people's lives. It’s an odd quote but it sums up how I feel about my research! I hope that it will be useful in improving safety for patients at a time when they should be going safely home.

Going Further…

  • For a useful introduction to the variety of topics that philosophy examines, see here.
  • Visit this blog by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, to learn more about the field of bioethics.
  • You can read about my research centre here.
  • Find out more about the exciting work Greater Manchester are doing to improve patient safety.
  • For more information on distance-learning see here