School of Social and Political Science

SPS peer learning and support


There are several peer learning and support (PLS) projects in the School of Social and Political Science, providing academic and social support for Year 1 and some Year 2 students studying courses in SPS.

They are led by more than 50 trained student volunteers from different cohorts. The purpose of these initiatives is to support new students to settle into university life, provide a welcoming space for students of different years to meet, and improve their critical thinking skills with each other. Sessions are open to everyone and you can attend regularly or on a one-off basis. 

Peer-assisted learning scheme (PALS) model
Most of our groups follow the peer-assisted learning scheme (PALS) model, where students from years 2-4 plan and run regular learning sessions for students in the years below them, usually years 1 and 2. The higher-year students (PALS leaders) do not teach, but instead run activities that facilitate group reflection and discussions on study skills, essay and exam tips, and the main themes of compulsory courses. 

Peer support schemes
Peer support schemes focus more on providing pastoral support rather than academic focused events. This can be in the format of a 'family model', such as SD Families, which brings together students from all years or can be through events for specific year groups such as those run by the new Social Work Peer Support Scheme.

Why should you attend peer learning and support sessions?

  • Deepen your understanding of course content and advance your study skills by exchanging ideas, tips and questions with other students in your year and above.
  • Improve your critical thinking skills in interactive student-led discussions.  
  • Increase your confidence to ask questions and engage in academic debates. 
  • Get to know other students in your subject area in your year and above.  
  • Make learning more fun!    

How can you access peer learning and support sessions? 

All information about sessions can be found online via our SPS Peer Assisted Learning Scheme (PALS) Hub 23-24. This is a site on Learn where all students on courses targeted by PLS schemes are automatically enrolled and each peer learning and support scheme has a sub-section on the Peer Learning and Support Hub where they share content, schedule Collaborate sessions and facilitate discussion boards.

Information about sessions can be found on our social media (see also individual schemes, below):

You can also get in touch with the SPS Peer Learning and Support Coordinators (see contact details below), who can help you to access the peer learning and peer support available. 

PIRPALS (Politics and International Relations)

Sessions for this scheme are based on the content of the core pre-honours Politics and International Relations courses PIR1a (Semester 1) and PIR1b 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!

Our session times for 20234-24 will be updated soon! (Weekly sessions all cover the same content so you will have a choice of which session to attend.)

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.


Find PIRPALS on Facebook

Email the PIRPALS team

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).


Find SDPALS on Facebook and Instagram

Email the SDPALS team

Staff contact: Sue Renton (Student Adviser)

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). They are open to all students on the courses.


Find SOCPALS on Facebook

Email the SOCPALS team

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 1B. They are open to all students on the courses.


Find SocAnthPALS on Facebook

Email the SocAnthPALS team

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). They are open to all students on the courses.


Find PPALS on Facebook

Email PPALS team

Social Work Peer Support
This is our new peer-support scheme for students studying the Social Work degree programme. Sessions will focus on creating a supportive community across the year groups in Social Work to share advice. If you are in any year and want to get involved please get in touch!


Find Social Work Peer Support on Facebook

Email the Social Work Peer-Support team

Staff support for peer learning and support

SPS Peer Learning and Support Coordinators 
The SPS Peer Learning and Support Coordinators are here to provide local support for leaders. This can include questions about training, session planning, team coordination, staff support, leader wellbeing, online platforms and more.   

In 2023-24, they are:
Alina Paczesna
Gülçe Baskaya

General enquiries:

SPS Student Experience Officer – for general enquiries and feedback
If you have any broader questions about our peer learning and support provision at SPS, or would like to provide feedback on the work of the SPS Peer Learning and Support Coordinators, get in touch with the Student Experience Officer Sue Renton.   

Sue Renton:   

The EUSA Peer Learning and Support Team – for general enquiries and support
The Edinburgh University Students' Association Peer Learning and Support team can help with queries about  peer learning and peer support at the University. The team provides training and development opportunities (such as the Edinburgh Award) for student leaders across the University and can share advice and answer any general questions.   

EUSA Peer Learning and Support

Current EUSA contacts:  

Peer Support:  

Student category
Student support