Tips for prospective conversion course students

By Emily Rayfield

Conversion courses, such the MSc in Experimental Psychology at Sussex, are unique experiences, and in lots of ways unlike both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. This is because you are covering diverse UG modules at lightning speed. Before starting at Sussex in September I wasn’t sure what to expect, so here are some tips that I hope are helpful!

  1. Use the library. I spent a looot of money on books before setting foot on campus and finding out that there are great resources, and that readings are often uploaded to StudyDirect too. It’s worth working out what books are going to be most useful before buying! 
  2. Don’t panic. In your first week, you will receive your reading list and then, when you find out your deadlines you will explode – mentally. But soon you will get into your rhythm and give birth to a huge, beautiful timetable you never knew you had in you.
  3. Read up on writing in Psychology (or the discipline of your course). This could make a huge difference to your grades. There is a simple but specific format to essay structure in Psychology that you need to get your head around. How to Write in Psychology was invaluable for me.
  4. Use office hours. Going to see your tutors with your essay plans is something very useful and very easy to feel too busy for. Especially if you are coming from courses where you haven’t had to write scientific essays. At the very least it will reassure you and could dramatically change your grade.
  5. Which leads me to my next point. For Arts students, or any non-science / non-maths buffs, the Statistics and Neuroscience modules could hit you hard. Which is how we all felt at the beginning of term, and we were all okay – and dare I say it more than okay – Statistics was our collective favourite by Christmas. Read up over summer if you can, or re-watch the lectures over term and you will be fine.
  6. Lean on each other. That special bond of being especially hungover with your friends is sort of what you will have with your course-mates. The bittersweet relationship where you really do feel each other’s pain. Because conversion courses are intense as much as they are interesting and engaging. You will support each other, feel like you have known each other for years, and drink a lot of coffee together. Set up a Facebook group too, you have no idea how useful it will be for questions / information / memes.

Finally, if you are thinking of making your application – do not be dissuaded! It is no secret that conversion courses are not easy – but it would definitely not just be your arduous means to BPS accreditation. The density of the course makes it great, too. You learn more in the first 6 weeks than (it feels like) you ever have in your life, and being pushed to your limits makes you realise how much you are capable of.

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2 comments on “Tips for prospective conversion course students
  1. Evan Hughes says:


    I enjoyed reading this blog! I’m Evan from Norfolk, 23, and planning on a Psychology conversion course in Sept 2020. I have previously studied a History degree. Your writing made me think that I could really benefit from reading about how to write in Psychology and so I have ordered that book you kindly linked. I have quite a lot of time before the course starts, can you recommend any other useful tips about what I can do to prepare for the course?

    I presume the more reading the better as is always the case!…

    Thanks very much,

    Evan 🙂

    • Maria Balboa Carbon says:

      Hi Evan,
      I’m glad you found the post useful. In addition to the tips that Emily gives in her post, you could also read a general introductory text like Glietman et al.(8th Edition) Psychology, which is included in the reading list of our MSc Experimental Psychology.
      Good luck with your studies,
      Mar (School of Psychology)

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