Alicia and Katie, EDIT Lab PhD student and research assistant, discuss what it is like to undertake a Masters degree at the SGDP Centre, reflecting on their experiences of studying Genes, Environment and Development in Psychology and Psychiatry (or GED-PP as it is known).
Why did we choose this course?
We chose to study on the GED-PP because it really is the only course of its kind, covering a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and developmental risk factors for psychology and psychopathology. The first module of the course covers how these factors shape the development of normal and abnormal human behaviours. This is followed by a module on genetic methods, and then a module focusing on psychopathology. The final module on the course is the research project module, which runs for the last 6 months. Having so much time to focus on your own individual research project is a great trail-run for what it can be like to work in research or undertake a PhD. It gives plenty of time to fully develop clear aims and hypotheses for your research, learn new methods and complete a piece of high-quality work. Many of the projects offered involve working on real, current research that compliments other work taking place in the Centre. A lot of students go on to publish their dissertations highlighting the standard of the research projects!
What is the best thing about this course?
Adding to the appeal of this course is that it is taught by experts in the field. Almost every lecture is given by a different academic and covers the most recent findings, which are often from research groups at the SGDP! As well as this, the course is relatively small, approximately 20-30 students, meaning that you get to know the other students really well. This makes the lectures feel more relaxed, and made us feel much more comfortable about asking questions and engaging with the lectures.
“Taught by experts in the field.”
Why study at the SGDP?
As well as being on a smaller course, the collaborative feel at the SGDP makes it a great place to study and work. All the academics are really friendly and make an effort to get to know all the students. Every Thursday there is a seminar where a researcher from the Centre presents some of their current research. Staff and students from all levels attend, making it a great chance to learn about the types of research being carried out in the SGDP and to network with other academics. It is clear that everyone at the Centre really values the students and are always happy to talk to them about their own work and potential PhD or research opportunities.
What previous experience was needed?
Students on the GED-PP come from a range of backgrounds. Although in our year the majority of students had an undergraduate degree in psychology, there were also plenty of students whose background was in biomedical sciences, chemistry, genetics, mathematics and mental healthcare. You might be more familiar with some of the course content if you have an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related scientific discipline, but the lecturers are very understanding of this and spend the first few sessions making sure that everyone has the same basic understanding of the core concepts. Other clinical or research experience can also be valuable but isn’t essential for joining the course.
What key skills did we gain?
This course helped us to develop so many skills that are now central to our roles as researchers. A key aspect of the GED-PP is learning the basics of genetic methods including twin modelling and genome-wide association studies. However, studying and working at the SGDP also enabled us to develop research skills including formulating hypotheses, conducting independent analyses and writing-up research findings. Throughout our research projects, we also worked collaboratively with other students to manage large datasets and to practice presentation skills, and by the end of the year felt prepared to handle many aspects of working in an interdisciplinary research environment.
“Develop so many skills that are now central to our roles as researchers.”
If you have a passion for interdisciplinary psychiatric research then we highly recommend studying at the SGDP Centre. Full information about this course can be found here. As of this year there is also a new course being run at the SGDP, Developmental Psychology & Psychopathology (DEV-PP), enabling the Centre to open its doors to even more students!