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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study

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SPS Peer Learning and Support

There are several peer support projects in SPS, providing extra academic and social support for students. These projects aim to foster students’ independent thinking and learning and contribute to a sense of community within the School and individual subject areas.

Forms of Peer Learning and Support

Most of the Peer Learning schemes in the School of Social and Political Science are PALS schemes, which stands for ‘Peer Assisted Learning’. PALS is a model where higher years students plan and run regular, structured sessions on academic content for first and second years. The higher year students (PALS Leaders) do not teach, but rather run activities which facilitate group reflection and discussions on the main themes of compulsory courses. The purpose of PALS schemes is to get new students settled into university life, provide a space where new students can meet people, develop relationships and improve their academic understanding. PALS sessions are open to everyone, whether you are feeling a little behind and need a little help or wish to make new friends to socialise and revise with.

Most PALS groups also occasionally run social activities which aim to provide pastoral support for students, besides their peer learning sessions. Not every peer support scheme follows the traditional PALS model: PIR Families, for example, has a focus on providing pastoral support only through a “family” model which brings together students from all years.

PALS Week 2020: 16 – 20 March 2020

SPS Peer Learning and Support are holding their first PALS Week, 16 – 20 March, with a series of workshop, events and an exhibition in the ground floor of the Chrystal Macmillan Building. 

Please visit the PALS Week exhibition, on display in the Chrystal Macmillan Building Foyer from Monday 16 to Friday 20 March.

If you have any questions, please contact PALS Coordinator Sophia Hoffinger or Larissa Nenning.

The PALS Week 2020 events timetable:

TIME

TITLE

LOCATION

WHO CAN ATTEND

Monday 16 

11am

Stats for Dummies

Learn about the value and use of Quantitative Methods (QM) from QMPALS

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

All SPS UG students

Tuesday 17

12pm – 1pm

Decolonizing knowledge workshop

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

All SPS UG students

Tuesday 17

3pm – 4pm

Exam Skills Session

with Wellbeing Officers and PALS Leaders

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

All SPS UG students

Tuesday 17

4pm – 5pm

Housing Advice Session 

with SDPALS and PIRPALS

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

All SPS UG students

Wednesday 18

4pm – 5pm

PALS Recruitment Info

Interested in being a PALS leader? Learn about the role here.

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

First, second and third year SPS UG students

Wednesday 18

5pm – 6pm 

PALS Creative Advertising

Learn to use Canva, prepare PALS storyboards, explore other methods of visual advertising

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

All PALS Leaders

Thursday 19

2pm – 3pm

Zine making workshop

Sign up on Eventbrite

Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB

PALS Leaders

Thursday 19

6pm

PALS Film Night

'What is Democracy?' (2018), director Astra Taylor

Sign up on Eventbrite

TBC

All SPS UG students

ALL WEEK

PALS Exhibition

CMB Foyer

Open to all

Peer Learning and Support offer 2019-2020

This page provides an overview of existing schemes. Sessions are usually advertised through lecture shout-outs, LEARN announcements, emails and Social Media. No sign-up is required, just come along!

PIRPALS (Politics and IR)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Politics and IR courses “Introduction to Politics and international Relations” (semester one) and Political Thinkers (Semester two).  These sessions are open to all students on the courses.  During our weekly sessions we go over lecture material from the previous week and we hold speciality essay and exam sessions to go over all the content from the courses. Stop by for a chance to ask questions, meet new people, and find a new way to learn and study! 

Our semester 2 session times for the PIR ‘Political Thinkers’ course are as follows: 

Monday 13.10-14.00, 2.07 Appleton Tower 

Tuesday 13.10-14.00, 2.07 Appleton Tower

Wednesday 14.10-15.00, G.05 Appleton Tower

Thursday 14.10-15.00, 2.3 Lister Learning Centre

Staff Contact: PIR Student Support Officer Natalie Stroud (natalie.stroud@ed.ac.uk)

Social Media: If you want to keep up to date with PIR PALs like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pirpalsuoe/

This scheme was shortlisted in 2016/2017 for the Students’ Association Impact Award for Best Peer Learning Scheme and was the winner of the Award in 2017/2018.

PIR Families (Politics and IR)

PIR Families group interested students of all years into ‘families’, which are all led by a trained Peer Support student leader. They organize various thematic social events within individual families as well as jointly with everyone. The focus of PIR families lies on providing a supportive community for all students in Politics and IR..

Want to get involved? Check out their events on their Facebook Page ‘PIR Families’ https://www.facebook.com/pirfamilies/

This scheme was shortlisted in 2016/2017 for the Students’ Association Impact Award for Best Peer Learning Scheme and was the winner of the Award in 2017/2018.

Staff Contact: PIR Student Support Officer Natalie Stroud (natalie.stroud@ed.ac.uk)

SDPALS (Sustainable Development)

Sessions for this scheme for semester 1 are based on the content of the core pre-honours Sustainable Development courses Sustainable Development 1a (Semester one), International Development, Humanitarianism and Aid (Semester one; essay and exam session only).

Staff Contact: SD Student Support Officer Sue Renton (Sue.Renton@ed.ac.uk)

Student committee contact: sdpals@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk

Social Media:  https://m.facebook.com/groups/701239083594906

SOCPALS (Sociology)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Sociology courses Sociology 1A (first semester) and Sociology 1B (second semester). Open to all students on the courses!

Semester 2  (19-20) sessionsTBC

Social Media: ‘SocPALS’ Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/2712006902189010/about/

Staff Contact: Sociology Student Support Officer Karen Dargo (Karen.Dargo@ed.ac.uk)

QMPALS (Quantitative Methods)

QMPALS is a peer-assisted learning scheme to help pre-honours SPS students in the Q-Step programme, as well as outside students taking the Quantitative Methods courses. Sessions take place on Mondays of the following weeks (see below) at 11am - 12pm in Meeting Room 5 (5.11), Chrystal Macmillan Building

Week 3 (27 Jan) - Data Exploration with SPSS (Slides for this session now available on the QMPALS Facebook group)
Week 5 (10 Feb) - Bivariate Analysis
Week 7 (2 Mar) - Multiple Linear Regression
Week 9 (16 Mar) - Dummy Variables and Interactions
Week 11 (30 Mar) - Logistic Regression and Final Assessment Prep
Join our Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2103068153329511/

Staff Contact: SD Student Support Officer Sue Renton (Sue.Renton@ed.ac.uk)

Student committee contact: qmpals@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk

SocAnthPALS (Social Anthropology)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Social Anthropology courses. Open to all students on the courses!

Staff Contact: Social Anthropology Student Support Officer Alex Solomon (alex.Solomon@ed.ac.uk)

PPALS (Social Policy)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Social Policy courses Social Policy and Society (Semester one), European Social Policy (Semester one; essay and exam sessions only) and Politics of the Welfare State (Semester two). Open to all students on the courses!

Social Media: PPALS Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ppalsedinburgh/

Staff Contact: Social Policy Student Support Officer Clay Young (clay.young@ed.ac.uk)

Got ideas for Peer Learning and Support?

We are continuously working on developing our support offer further and expanding into new subject areas. If you have any feedback or new ideas, please contact the School Student Leader Larissa Nenning lnenning@ed.ac.uk or speak to your subject area’s student support officer.

If you are looking for more information on other Peer Learning and Support schemes across the university, check out the website of the Students’ Association:  https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/support_and_advice/peer_learning_and_support/

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