Something to do while we’re waiting

Eager for the semester to start? There are plenty of ways to build up your skills and knowledge in preparation for the upcoming year.  You could watch a recorded workshop on how to write an essay in philosophy, read about the different ways of conducting psychology experiments online, or learn how to use your computer to keep track of your notes and references. 

All of this and more is available to UoE students at the PPLS Learning Resources site.

Get organised

Do you spend a lot of your time worried about all the things you have to do?  The PPLS Skills Centre has collected a set of video courses on getting organised.   You might want to try “Getting Things Done”, a 30-minute course that presents a systematic way to get your to-do list out of your head so you have mental space to concentrate on actually doing your work.  You’ll get that time back and more. For this collection and others, visit the “Developing your skills” section at the PPLS Learning Resources site on SharePoint. If you need to get access to LinkedIn Learning, visit “The Fundamentals“.

Training for online experiments

Social distancing will probably be in place for a while, so it’s important to think about how to carry out experiments in a way that doesn’t put anyone at risk. If you’re an MSc student, you’ll have already heard about the various options that are available to you from the PPLS Postgrad Hub on Learn. But these options are also important for PhD students who are working on long-term projects. And third-year undergraduates might want to start thinking about getting ready for next year.

That’s why our SharePoint site has a section dedicated to ways of recruiting participants and carrying out appointments online. Have a look and see if the work you want to do can still be carried out.

PPLS Reading Clubs

Students near McEwan Hall
[photo by Laurence Winram]

Did you find something new to read in our PPLS DiscoverEd lists last week? Did you go through the first chapter of a book, get excited about continuing, and then… forget to return to it? Try making a reading club so that you can stay motivated and talk about what you learn with others in PPLS. If you’re not sure who to invite, let us ask around for you. Just pick out a book, create a discussion area, and tell us about it so that we can advertise it to everyone else. Instructions and tips are available at

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.

Learning RStudio and SPSS

The University of Edinburgh has a staff and student subscription to, a site with many video courses on how to use software more effectively and acquire new skills.  It’s well worth linking your EASE account and having a look around.

With dissertation deadlines drawing closer, there are many MSc students who are approaching software like RStudio or SPSS for the first time.   For these students, the following courses might be of interest. They cover program installation, data entry and manipulation, basic statistical analysis and chart production. Continue reading “Learning RStudio and SPSS”

Upcoming courses for international students

International students should have a look at the courses that English Language Education will be holding early next year.

Some of these are on topics of particular interest to PhD students, such as annual reports, literature reviews, and the actual writing up of your dissertation. There are others that would be suitable for both undergraduates and postgraduates. These are on topics such as seminar discussions, pronunciation, presentations, academic writing, and social speaking.