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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


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.

Peer Learning and Support offer 2018-2019

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). Open to all students on the courses!

Semester 2 (18-19) Mondays 2-3pm – 1.17, Dugald Stewart Building; Tuesdays 2-3pm – Seminar Room 5, Chrystal MacMillan Building; Wednesdays 2-3pm – 2.05, Appleton Tower; Thursdays 2-3pm – 2.05, Appleton Tower. Extra essay and exam sessions will be announced in due course

Staff Contact: PIR Student Support Officer Natalie Stroud (

Social Media: Facebook Group ‘PIRPALS 2018-2019’

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’

Staff Contact: PIR Student Support Officer Natalie Stroud (

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). 

Please see below for Semester 2 scheduled sessions.   Open to all students on both courses!

Semester 2 (18-19) sessions:

Thursday 31st January 2019 (12:00-13:00)– Social Session: Housing Social

Thursday 7th February 2019 (14:00-16:00) – Science and Society 1b (Year 1) Essay Session

Monday 11the February2019 (13:00-14:00) – Social Session: Time Management and Stress

Thursday 14the February 2019 (14:00-16:00) – Sustainable Development 2a (Year 2) Essay Session

Exam Revision Sessions: TBC

Staff Contact: SD Student Support Officer Sue Renton (

Student committee contact:

Social Media:

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  (18-19) sessionsTBC

Social Media: ‘SocPALS’ Facebook Page

Staff Contact: Sociology Student Support Officer Karen Dargo (

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!

Semester 2 (18-19) sessions: Politics of the Welfare State Essay Sessions Wednesday 13th and 15th of February 10am-12pm, Practice Suite 1.12 CMB. Exam Sessions will be announced closer in time. 

This scheme won the Students’ Association Impact Award for Best New Scheme in 2016/17.

Social Media: PPALS Facebook Group

Staff Contact: Social Policy Student Support Officer Clay Young (

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 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:

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