Starting University: Finding and choosing your readings

A couple of weeks before the start of the course, we were mailed an offer for purchasing the books we will need. In my case, four books for psychology at a discounted cost of £220 (see Picture 1). That’s a lot of money for only four books! At the time I couldn’t afford all of them, so I only bought two.

picture 1

Picture 1: Offer for purchase of books (click to enlarge)

One of the questions after the interview for the SAGE bursary was which books did I choose and why. I have chosen Brain and Behavior, which covers my fourth module (since I am doing Psychology with Neuroscience) and Discovering Statistics Using SPSS. I expected statistics to be difficult, because I have heard that it is the hardest module in psychology. Graham Hole’s (module lecturer) first PowerPoint slide sums it up:

 Picture 2

Picture 2: Lecturer’s first PowerPoint slide (Graham Hole)

If your course requires you to write essays or reports of some kind, you will need to reference your findings along the way. In order for you to reference your sources, you have to find them first. Talking to other students showed that the easiest way to find them is a web search. Some of the sites which provide free web resources are Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. If you can’t find anything there, then you simply Google it. It’s easy to understand why libraries aren’t students’ first choice: it’s easier to do it from home with your computer, plus there are no late return fines.

If you are writing about a specific topic here’s another idea how to find what to read about it. When you Google it, the first hit is usually Wikipedia. Some say it’s unprofessional to quote Wikipedia, so just go to the end of the article, see its references and bibliography (every Wikipedia article has it) and then find these books or articles either in the library or via online resources.

Another thing I like to do is go to a library’s online catalogue and search key words for my essay. Usually there are many hits so I find the first five books and check their table of contents. If there’s anything related to my topic (in 99 % of cases there is), I borrow it and read related chapters at home.

There are many different ways to find your reading material. I hope some of these suggestions help you. Please feel free to comment if you agree/disagree or if you have your own ways of finding your readings. If there are any prospective Sussex (psychology) students reading this, I would suggest you wait with your book purchases since there are so many online and library resources available to you. Also, statistics isn’t hard at all!





One thought on “Starting University: Finding and choosing your readings

  1. Hiya, I am also a 1st year psych student and I could not afford the books. I placed an ad on the sussex uni page and I bough all 5 textbooks from a 3rd year for £50! I would encourage next years students to do the same, £220 is ludicrous

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