Planning for success in your postgraduate programme

During Welcome Week, we will (twice) be holding a workshop for PGT students that will help you get off to the right start this year. You’ll learn about the resources that are available during your degree and acquire skills you’ll need to manage your workload.  You can sign up by following these links:

Sept 13 (10:00-14:00)
Sept 16 (12:30-16:30)

We’ll start by introducing people from the School of PPLS and the Institute for Academic Development who are there to help you succeed.  Next comes a look at how to use academic software to organise your notes and papers.  After that, we’ll use modified Gantt charts to budget your allocated learning and teaching hours so that you won’t run into trouble at the end of the semester.  Finally, we will split into smaller groups by subject area for discussions with PhD tutors. 

Speakers include Dr Alistair Isaac (School PG Director), Abby Pooley (Senior Student Leader; Psychology PhD student), Dr Jenna Mann (IAD Academic Developer), Dr Lucia Michielin (EFI Digital Skills Training Manager), Dr James Donaldson (PPLS Skills Centre Manager), and members of the PPLS Postgraduate Office.

Lunch (and a snack) will be provided.

PPLS Writing Centre Quantitative Workshops

The PPLS Writing Centre is holding its annual workshop series for MSc dissertation writers. These workshops are aimed at students who are doing quantitative research and are not sure how to write it up or visualise it effectively.

These workshops have both been held in two prior years, but have been newly adapted to online delivery by their creators, Fang Jackson-Yang and Andres Karjus. Because the “live” sections of these workshops are preceded by asynchronous online activities, you must sign up well in advance, so please pay careful attention to the dates. In past years, these workshops have filled up quickly, so sign up now if you’re interested by clicking on the date/time you want to book. Even if a workshop is full, sign up anyways: doing so will put you on a waiting list and will also let us gauge interest in a third round of workshops.

Writing in Quantitative Research (Fang Jackson-Yang)

This series of workshops is designed to show you how to write longer psychology essays with introduction, methods, results and discussion sections.  This workshop was developed with the guidance of psychology teaching staff and tutors, and will include activities throughout. Each round is preceded by videos and a forum activity.

Make sure to sign up for all THREE sessions in the round you choose unless you specifically want to attend fewer.

Round 1 (sign-up deadline: June 30)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 1 for completion by Jul 3. Videos to be sent on Jul 6.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 8 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 9 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 10 11:00-13:00

Round 2 (sign-up deadline: July 14 July 19)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 15 for completion by Jul 17. Videos to be sent on Jul 20.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 22 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 23 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 24 11:00-13:00

Explore and visualise your data in R (Andres Karjus)

In this workshop, you will learn how to use R to produce informative, beautiful, and reproducible graphs from your data. No prior knowledge is assumed, all the software is free, and installation instructions will be provided. The introduction, online video, and exercises will start two days before each Q&A session.

Live Q&A session (sign-up deadlines: Jul 5 and Jul 26)
Jul 8th 14:00-15:00
Jul 29th 14:00-15:00

Finding new books to read

We all know that people have been stocking up on groceries, but there hasn’t been as much news about stocking up on books.  But that’s just what happened in late March: book sales jumped (see and  Lots of people are catching up on the reading that they’d been meaning to get around to.

So what are we to do in PPLS?  The main library might be locked up, but our e-resources are still available.  There are hundreds of books available in each of our disciplines.  All we need to do is get some coffee and click on the titles that sound interesting.  But that raises another question: what to choose?

I’ve tried to help you answer that question. I went digging through all the PPLS reading lists on Leganto for books that have been assigned in our courses.  Then, I checked each title in DiscoverEd to see if electronic copies were available, and assembled the results in three large spreadsheets.  You can access these spreadsheets as PDFs by visiting our Learning Resources site ( and choosing either “DiscoverEd lists” from the top menu or  “Learning more about your field” from the panels in the centre.  Browse through the titles and see if anything jumps out.  There might be a book that was recommended in one of your earlier courses that you never got around to reading.  You could also try looking ahead to topics you’re thinking about taking in future semesters.  Or what about exploring another part of PPLS?  I’m in Linguistics, but I can see that there are three titles on “Sentence Comprehension” just waiting for me in Psychology.

Not all of us have time on our hands right now, of course, but many of those who do have a lot of it.  If you’re in the latter category, I hope you’ll have a look.

Learning in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has radically changed the way we all study.  I’ve created a new site to help you adjust to some of those changes: (EASE required)

This new site has information on how to continue to engage with our academic community, learn from the resources you have access to at home, and improve your computing and personal skills.

At this point it’s very much a work in progress.  Still to come are external resources, programming, statistics, philosophy skills, research support and more.  These will take longer to coordinate, but you can expect updates soon.

Three appointments per month

The School of PPLS has reduced the amount of assessment for some courses. That means that we will probably have more to spend on supporting students writing UG and PG dissertations. We will therefore temporarily allow students to book three appointments per month. It doesn’t matter what the topic is; these can be used for your coursework OR your dissertation. This increase will last from March until August. You can take advantage of it immediately.

The situation, of course, changes all the time, so we may update our eligibility constraints again. If you want updates from the PPLS Writing Centre, follow us on Twitter (

We’re going online

For the last week, tutors at the PPLS Writing Centre have been meeting students online instead of face-to-face. Today, that arrangement has become our new official policy. We are still open, but we have moved all of our services online.

Every student taking a PPLS course or writing a PPLS dissertation can continue to book two appointments per month with our tutors. You can book these appointments in the usual way. They will be held through Microsoft Teams ( You should already have access to Teams with your student account.

This is a volatile period, so we may need to cancel appointments with very little notice. If this happens to you, we will attempt to find a replacement as soon as possible.

You can find a brief set of guidelines in our booking portal. Please make sure to read them carefully so that this transition can be as smooth as possible.

Learn reference management and practise programming

Later this week, Andrew Kirk from Digital Skills will be holding a workshop on how to use Mendeley, a popular reference manager. Learning how to use referencing software is a good use of your time; writing becomes so much easier when you don’t have to worry about tracking your citations and updating your bibliography. If you’re interested, consider booking a spot for Oct 25th (12:10-14:00). The workshop will take place in Lecture Theatre 2 in Appleton Tower.

And in early November, Alisdair Tullo will be running a Coding Dojo. This is a 3-hour event for programmers of all abilities. Participants will bring problems to work on, and then teams made up of both beginning and expert programmers will work on solutions. At the end, you’ll discuss the various ideas you came up with and share some tea and cake. Interested parties should complete the registration form for Nov 8th (14:10-17:00). The location for this one is Room 2.14 in the Lister Learning and Teaching Centre.