What is the Psychological Methods MRes actually like? – A student perspective

Robert Avery is a student in the MRes in Psychological Methods. A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Switzerland, Robert studied a BSc in Psychology at the University of Fribourg and is now planning to do a PhD. He is interested in the influence of gendered languages on adolescents’ gender construct and job aspirations. We asked Robert about his experience studying our MRes and how the course has helped him prepare for his next career step.

What I like the most about my MRes in Psychological Methods is that it does what it says on the box: most of our days are spent working on different statistical and research methods. The course includes several modules designed to broaden our methodological knowledge of specific areas of psychology, but the main focus is on general research methods. I particularly enjoy the quality of the teaching: the School of Psychology at Sussex is a research-intensive institution and many of its faculty members are highly regarded for their research. All this transpires in their teaching. Being part of such a deep pool of keen and important minds is definitely inspiring.

As expected, this Masters course demands high discipline. This particular MRes can be quite intense: the deadlines for the various assignments are spaced out, but the work each one of them requires comes on top of the course content. This can be hard to juggle and you need to stay focused the entire year.

The teaching is of high quality, but I think that a 1-year Masters (as is the custom in England) is not enough time for students to take modules that would help them cover psychology topics in more depth. In other words, this particular Masters is a route towards a career in research, and not towards a thorough understanding of psychological areas (e.g. social psychology, cognitive, neuro, etc.). It feels like the MRes course has replaced those taught psychology-focused modules with a year-long research internship; this is precisely the hands-on experience that first attracted me to the course. A valuable process for those like me who want to direct themselves towards academia.

The emphasis on research (that spans over both terms) required me to organise my time and be pro-active. It is well-known that we get what we put into things and this is no exception: the more invested in the projects you are, the more experience you get. Your own motivation combined with staff’s proficiency provides the potential to learn the required skills to conduct your own research. Time management is essential to complete the course, but the MRes does allow you to organise your time and there are always opportunities to take part in the various activities the University and Brighton have to offer.

So far, my time spent at Sussex studying Psychology has met my expectations. I have made the most of the well-trained staff’s knowledge, and the course has also enabled me to get to the forefront of current research methods (through the multiple statistics modules, for example). The MRes has also given me the confidence to write my own PhD grant application. Thanks to academic contacts facilitated by faculty, I was able to reach out to several universities and approach potential supervisors.  I have ended up writing a PhD project with one of them and submitting it to the Swiss national fund for research.

A course well worth it for those who have the drive to take their academic career into their own hands!

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