Learning support to help you achieve your full potential
We want you to succeed in your chosen course, so we offer a range of learning support to help you along your way.
- All students on our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees have a personal tutor who is one of our academic team.
- The role of the personal tutor is primarily to provide a forum in which students may discuss their overall progress and plans for the future. However, personal tutors may also direct students to the wealth of support available within the department and across the College (including, for example, the learning support officers within the department; workshops run by the library; and elsewhere within the College; careers services; finance and housing services; health, well-being, disability and counselling services etc.). Personal tutors write references for students when they graduate.
- It is the student who decides how often they see their personal tutor, but we advise all students to see him/her in their first year and then at least once a year thereafter.
Dedicated learning support within the department
- We have two dedicated learning support staff whose role is to work with anyone who feels they would benefit from additional support or advice about how to get the most from their degree and reach their full potential whilst studying at Birkbeck. For example, they provide support if you:
- find you are stuck getting similar marks all the time
- want to make best use of feedback you’ve been given in order to push your marks up
- are not sure how to write an essay in psychology
- want some help with your lab reports
- want to get a first class degree
- are feeling stressed or anxious
- experience a change in circumstances that impacts on your studies.
Workshops for psychology students
- As well as providing online resources and offering one-to-one meetings, our learning support officers run workshops specifically for psychology students, with a particular emphasis on the needs of first year students. For example:
- Getting Organised - tips on how to organise yourself as you study (including info on useful apps - for example, Pocket.)
- Psychological Study Skills - workshops on essay and report writing for psychology
- Dealing with Anxiety - techniques on how to feel calmer, and manage your studies when suffering from stress/anxiety
- Making Statistics Manageable - workshop for students who are starting research methods and are feeling nervous about doing stats.
- and many more over the year, including Exam Revision workshops.
Developing the skills to excel
- Birkbeck offers a range of workshops, classes, activities and tutorials (in person and online) to help you fulfill your academic potential. These include:
- Online modules: For example, Birkbeck has an online module that introduces students to learning development and academic skills. All students are automatically enrolled on the module.
- Workshops: There are a wide variety of academic development workshops available to students across the College. Some workshops are available to all enrolled students while others are specifically for undergraduates or postgraduates. There is normally no charge for these workshops.
- Academic writing days: Once a term the College holds an all-day event to help you develop your academic writing skills. Some sessions are offered to all students in lecture style presentations, while others are smaller workshop-based events.
- Individual tutorials: During term time the College offers students one-to-one advice sessions to assist with academic skills such as planning workloads, writing, reading, exam preparation. Sessions last for 45 minutes.
- English language drop-in help sessions: During term time the College offers English language drop-in assistance for students who need to improve their academic English language skills. These sessions are for all students, including for English as a first language speakers.
- Maths and statistics drop-in help sessions: During term time the College offers drop-in sessions for basic maths and statistics help. These one-to-one sessions are to help students apply numerical, algebraic or simple statistical techniques to problems in their own subject area.
- Interactive online tutorials: You can access a range of online tutorials to help you with all types of academic skills and personal and professional development skills. Normally the tutorials take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete and should help students diagnose their issues and improve their skills.
Support with maths
- The teaching team are on hand to answer questions: Throughout each of our undergraduate research methods course classes, a team of demonstrators and teaching assistants are on hand to answer students’ questions. After class, any student who has further questions can book one-to-one sessions with our psychology learning support team to clarify anything they are unsure about.
- Drop-in help sessions for maths and stats are offered by the College: During term time the College also offers drop-in sessions for basic maths and statistics help.
- We have small-group teaching on the BSc for students who lack confidence: Students who lack confidence in maths may opt to join a small, tutorial-style class for their first research methods course on the BSc Psychology. Our second-year research methods course has a similarly small-class option for students who need additional support. Places on both courses are limited to 25, so students are not guaranteed a place.
- There is a pathway through the first year of the BSc for students who don’t have GCSE maths: Students who do not have the necessary qualifications in maths but who demonstrate the potential to successfully complete the degree may be offered a place on a pathway through the first year of the 4-year BSc (Hons) Psychology called ‘Route 1A’. Courses on this pathway are taught in small, interactive classes designed to ensure students develop the necessary skills in basic maths to successfully complete the degree. Once they successfully complete their first year, they move on to the second year of the four-year BSc Psychology with all the other BSc students.
- You can take the first year of your degree through the Certificate programme: Students who lack confidence in maths may also choose to take the first year of their degree through our Certificate programme which is equivalent to the first year of the four year part-time degree. Students choose how many courses they take each term and the order in which they take them. Classes on the Certificate are small (a maximum of 25 students) and are designed to offer additional support to help students who lack formal qualifications and/or confidence.
Support with English
- Support is provided by the Psychology Learning Support staff: Our Psychology Learning Support staff run workshops and also offer one-to-one sessions to support students with their reading of academic material, note-taking and written work.
- There is a pathway through the first year of the BSc to support students’ written English: Students who do not have the necessary qualifications in English but who demonstrate the potential to successfully complete the degree may be offered a place on a pathway through the first year of the 4-year BSc (Hons) Psychology called ‘Route 1A’. Courses on this pathway are taught in small, interactive classes designed to ensure students develop the necessary skills in academic English to successfully complete the degree. Once they successfully complete their first year, they move on to the second year of the four-year BSc Psychology with all the other BSc students.
- Or you can take the first year of your degree through the Certificate programme: Alternatively, students who lack confidence in their written work may choose to take the first year of their degree through our Certificate programme which is equivalent to the first year of the four year, part-time degree. Students choose how many courses they take each term and the order in which they take them. Classes on the Certificate are small (a maximum of 25 students) and are designed to offer additional support to help students who lack formal qualifications and/or confidence.
- Academic writing days: Once a term the College holds an all-day event to help you develop your academic writing skills. Some sessions are offered to all students in lecture style, while others are smaller workshop-based events.
- English language drop-in help sessions: During term time the College offers English language drop-in assistance for students who need to improve their academic English language skills.These sessions are for all students, including English as a first language speaker.
English for Academic Purposes course - for postgraduate students. This course is designed for students whose first language is not English. It aims to improve your English skills in the areas of academic reading, writing, listening and speaking, and to develop strategies for improving these skills in an academic environment.
Support if you haven’t studied for some time
- Four-year BSc (Hons) Psychology: Students who have not studied for some time are welcome to apply to both our three-year and four-year BSc Psychology programmes, although the 4-year degree programme may be more suitable. This allows more time to take the various workshops offered by the department and College to develop the skills needed to get the best degree possible. For example, there are workshops on how to make best use of the library facilities; how to make best use of the time they have for reading; how to evaluate theory in psychology; how to develop and present an argument when faced with competing research findings and so on. The four-year programme also allows more time for independent study, coursework and revision. It also makes it easier to take paid work if needed and time with friends and family.
- You can also take the first year of your degree through the Certificate programme. If you haven’t studied for some time and don’t have formal qualifications, our Certificates of Higher Education might be the best way for you to complete the first year of your degree. This is because our Certificates are the equivalent to the first year of a full-time degree but have no entry requirements (apart from sufficient spoken and written English to study at university level). Once you have successfully completed the necessary courses on the Certificate of Higher Education in Psychology you may progress onto the second year of our 4-year BSc Psychology. You can also apply to join the second year of our FD Psychology for Educational Professionals.
- You don’t have to sign up for a whole Certificate, just for one or two courses each term. It’s worth noting that the fees for Certificate courses are lower than those for the degree and you can get a loan to cover the fees, and a maintenance loan.
- Teaching on our Certificate courses is very different to the teaching on our degree programmes. These courses assume no previous knowledge. Classes are small (up to 25 people) and teaching includes lots of discussion, demonstrations, exercises and group work. Assessments on these courses are designed to help students learn the skills needed for successful study at undergraduate level. Usually the assessments are some form of coursework completed at home, with lots of support and feedback from the lecturer. Occasionally a course has one or two essays that are written in class (again with lots of support and feedback). These help prepare students for more formal exams if they decide they like psychology and want to complete a degree. We fully recognise that for those returning to study completing coursework can be anxiety provoking but it is possible to learn the skills required and we see it as a key part of our job to support students to develop these skills. Study skills are incorporated into most courses and students are encouraged to discuss their study skills needs with their course lecturer. Students may also enrol on one of the following one-day study skills courses run by the Psychology Team free of charge:
- Study Skills for Psychology Students
- Essay Writing for Psychology Students
- Maths for the Terrified
- Taking Timed Tasks for Research Methods.