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Don't panic: Organisation

The Psyc/Soc Student's Guide to Fourth Year by Hope Christie and Karl Johnson

Time, skills & organisation

This seems like an obvious thing to say, but everything will take much longer than you think it will, and we really do mean everything. Accepting this fate is almost half the battle as it means you won’t beat yourself up too much when you don’t hit a deadline you’ve set yourself. Be realistic, make a schedule, and try to stick to it. You will get this done, and you will make it to graduation. Don’t panic.

Be realistic, make a schedule, and try to stick to it.

Writing essays for other modules

Don't assume that in fourth year you can still get away with leaving an essay (and all the reading and lateral thinking that goes along with it) to the weekend before deadline. That's not gonna fly. Identify essay topics, etc. and some (but not necessarily all) reading in plenty of time, because to produce a fourth-year-level piece of work, in amongst all your other assessments, means you have to keep planning ahead and be aware of the next due date.

Referencing

The bane of your life, yes? Referencing is one of the areas that will be considered when your essays and dissertation are being marked; if it’s all done correctly you could gain yourself a couple of extra marks. If you think you can bear it, get into the habit of adding to your reference list after roughly every one thousand words. Leaving all your referencing until the very end means you'll spend a day of your life putting commas and italics in the right place.

And that's a day of your life you'll never get back.

I’m sure you’re all aware of RefWorks as well. If you’re a bit of an oddball like Hope and enjoy (and find it relaxing) typing out your all references, then you are more than free to do that. If you would rather use RefWorks, then you can that too. Be aware there is still typing involved with RefWorks, just less typing.

Psychologists, the APA guide will become your best friend in terms of referencing, and citing in-text tables and figures correctly. PURDUE OWL  is a good website for showing you how to reference correctly, plus it explains everything really clearly with examples. You couldn’t ask for better!
Do yourself a favour and get the hang of referencing in the Harvard style for Sociology. Write and Cite, the QMU guide to this (online), is pretty straightforward.

Timetables and Modules

Your timetables are forged in the fires of Mount Doom, so you're going to have to try to use them to your advantage, structuring your day with clear spaces to read/write/eat in between lectures and tutorials.

Sociologists; if you decide to take a module like Gender Justice and Violence; this kind of discipline is especially important, as this module can take up most of a day, sometimes two.
Psychologists, be aware that your modules do not have to be split evenly across the two semesters, you do have the ability to “front load” your modules; or in plain English, you can take more modules in semester one and less in semester two. I wasn’t aware of this when I was an undergrad, so I can’t offer you any personal experience. I managed fine with my modules being split down the middle, but if you do fancy “front loading” then you go for it. Just think about Christmas time when you have an extra essay to submit or an exam to sit, it’s all about what you think will work best for you.

If you find working from home more productive than being in uni, that is absolutely fine; however, try and stick to the same structure as you would if you were in uni or attending lectures. It’s easy to ‘treat’ yourself to an hour of TV that quickly spirals into you binge watching your favourite TV show on Netflix. Quickly followed by feelings of mass guilt for not doing anything productive all day.

Your time is valuable

Be careful not to take on too many outside commitments; a part-time job and a volunteering post (if you already have one or are taking on one through the Volunteering and Community Engagement module) is suitable. Anything more than that and there just isn’t enough hours in the day!

Plan

We hint at this elsewhere too, but it’s important to be clear: plan time off for yourself…

…and try to stick to that plan.

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Links

Print copies of the guide can be purchased from the LRC Service Desk for £2.00.
Print copies of the guide can be purchased from the LRC Service Desk for £2.00.