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Studying Experimental Psychology at Oxford

Are you wondering what Experimental Psychology (EP) is like at Oxford? Anna is here to tell you about her experience of EP at Oxford!

I've now finished my first year of studying Experimental Psychology (EP) at Oxford, meaning I've finished my first round of exams (which thankfully don’t count towards the final degree) and have started the first part of my final honour schools!

When going through the university application process I mostly applied to do Psychology, with the exception of one neuroscience course, and, in hindsight, I’m glad that I was prepared to take on a very ‘science’ course. This is because during the first two terms my course was divided into three sections: psychology, neurophysiology, and statistics with probability theory (note: EP only requires you do one science subject at A-level and tutors are always happy to help if you’re struggling, so don’t be put off).

When I first started, I almost felt overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility of lectures and reading covering such vast and new topics. There’s no denying the need for a brief adjustment period while you get your bearings in higher education. My advice would be to make an effort to befriend the people on your course, because they’re dealing with the same things as you - and having that sense of shared experience with a group is pretty invaluable at Oxford (it’s also reassuring when others can share in your struggles, it’s a nice solid reminder that you’re not always going to get it right away).

Despite the initial bumps, the weekly rounds of lectures and tutorials became a steady routine around which I could plan my time effectively, and I came to appreciate regularly submitting and discussing my essays with tutors, as it was a chance to consolidate what I’d been learning.

Now that I’ve done my prelims (our first year exams at Oxford), the structure of my course has changed significantly. Previously, I had a few tutorials each week within my college which would cover any submissions (essays or presentations) that we had given in or to discuss any questions from lectures. Now, however, I have tutorials in other colleges, with new tutors (who are also my lecturers) and different tutorial partners. I’ve really enjoyed travelling out and meeting new people as it’s an opportunity to hear some fresh viewpoints and seeing how tutorials run in other colleges has been really interesting. Beyond these changes, EP students have also started core practicals which include spending a few hours in various laboratories – so far, we’ve had neuroanatomy (which was really cool) and a chance to try out some of the software in the computer labs.

Also, I’ve almost finished getting all of my credits for the research participation scheme (students are required to do a minimum amount of participating in studies run by university researchers, which might sound like work but it’s interesting to see ‘behind the scenes’ of studies), which will draw to a close another aspect of first year EP.

I’m looking forward to continuing with EP, especially as the course becomes more specialised and in-depth as we move through the years!

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