School of Social and Political Science

SPS Peer Learning and Support

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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 (PALS)

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 students from years 2-4 plan and run regular, structured sessions on academic content for students in the years below them, usually years 1 and 2. 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 2020-2021

All of our Peer Learning and Support provision this year is run online via our SPS Peer Learning Hub.

This is a site on LEARN (ID: ls_PALS_SPS) where all students on courses targeted by PALS are automatically enrolled.

Each Peer Learning scheme has a sub-section on the Peer Learning Hub where they share content, schedule Collaborate sessions and facilitate discussion boards

PIRPALS (Politics and International Relations)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Politics and International Relations courses Introduction to Politics and International Relations (Semester 1) and Political Thinkers (Semester 2). 

These sessions are open to all students on the courses.

During our weekly sessions we go over lecture material from the previous week and hold speciality essay and exam sessions to go over all the content from the courses. Join us for a chance to ask questions, meet new people and find a new way to learn and study! 

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.

Contact

Find PIRPALS on Facebook

Staff contact: Natalie Stroud (Student Support Officer)

PIR Families (Politics and IR)

Find PIR Families on Facebook

Email the PALS Leader

Staff contact: Natalie Stroud (Student Support Officer)

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 1), International Development, Aid and Humanitarianism (Semester 1; essay and exam session only).

Online sessions: SPS Peer Learning Hub (LEARN)/Sustainable Development

Contact

Find SDPALS on Facebook and Instagram

Email the SDPALS Leader

Staff contact: Sue Renton (Student Support Officer)

SOCPALS (Sociology)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Sociology courses Sociology 1A (Semester 1) and Sociology 1B (Semester 2). Open to all students on the courses.

Online sessions: SPS Peer Learning Hub (LEARN)/Sociology

Contact

Find SOCPALS on Facebook

Email the SOCPALS Leader

Staff contact: Karen Dargo (Student Support Officer)

SocAnthPALS (Social Anthropology)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core first year Social Anthropology courses: Social Anthropology 1A and Social Anthropology 1N. Open to all students on the courses.

Online sessions: SPS Peer Learning Hub (LEARN)/Social Anthropology 

Contact

Email the SocAnthPALS Leader

Staff contact: Sahara Choudhury (Student Support Officer)

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 1) and Politics of the Welfare State (Semester 2). Open to all students on the courses.

Online sessions: SPS Peer Learning Hub (LEARN)/Social Policy 

Contact

Find PPALS on Facebook

Email PPALS Leader

Staff contact: Alex Dysart (Student Support Officer)

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 will focus on core skills and issues covered in Mathematics for Social Sciences in the first semester, and Introduction to Statistics for Social Science in the second.

Online sessions: SPS Peer Learning Hub (LEARN)/Quantitative Methods

Contact

Email the QMPALS Leader

Staff contact: Sue Renton (Student Support Officer)

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 Peer Learning and Support Coordinators Larissa Nenning and Hazel Harrop or speak to your Student Support Officer.

If you are looking for more information on other Peer Learning and Support schemes across the University, visit the Edinburgh University Students' Association website.

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