With face to face teaching moved onto the world wide web, and all the psychology labs standing still, planning things for next semester might be the farthest thing from your mind at the minute. However, if you’re a psychology student, this might be a good time to consider the RAS.
Okay, so, what on earth is the RAS ?
Psychology is full of loads and loads of acronyms, so this is yet another one to wrap your head around – RAS stands for Research Apprenticeship Scheme, and it’s an ace opportunity to actually get involved in research at the university and get some good experience (and a certificate!) along the way.
What does it involve ?
You work under a researcher who you apply to and spend approximately four hours a week over one semester doing a variety of tasks – For mine, this was mainly familiarising myself with the literature at first, checking up on participant flow, and helping with ethics amendments. I also got to design the posters you might see around campus with my name on – as I’m still sticking with my RAS tutor to carry through the research.
So… you can carry on ?
This is on a case to case basis, I was absolutely ecstatic about being able to follow the study through as I had already invested so much time in it – but I have to disclaim that this may not be offered to every student, and even if it is, you don’t have to say yes.
Is it paid ?
In the least stereotypical way, you’re paid in experience. The RAS doesn’t pay students for the tasks they do under their researcher, but these are usually easy to get your head around.
What if I’m too busy ?
If this is a consideration beforehand, keep in mind that you can discuss times and responsibilities at ANYTIME with your RAS tutor – They’ll understand and know when you’re busy, such as during exam season, so the work should ease off around these times. In my experience, I also had a weekly meeting with my RAS tutor in order to catch up on everything and set up what needed to be done for the week ahead, and this was only half an hour once a week.
If this is during the scheme, the same still applies – remember to stay in contact and don’t be afraid to talk to them! The general timing for this is 4 hours a week, though this varies dependent on how you work and what needs to be done. This time also doesn’t have to be in one massive chunk, so you can spread it out as much as needs be.
What do I need ? Excellent grades ? A dynamic personality ? An obnoxious amount of knowledge about the subject beforehand?
The only thing you need is to be an undergraduate or postgraduate taught psychology student here ! I entered the RAS in the first semester, weeks before we even got our first grades back, so that’s not a deciding factor – though previous grades might be used to inform if you can juggle this with everything else. Further to this, I was working on research regarding body image, which, although I adore the subject area, is not where I eventually want to specialise. This meant that I had my A-Level ‘Eating Behaviour’ module which helped understanding how body image can affect, and be affected by, psychopathology, and little else beyond a niche knowledge of what ‘thinspiration’ is.
If this is what’s putting you off, I would honestly say to brush it aside. The key things to consider are if you can commit the time, and if you actually want to be on the scheme – otherwise it may sadly become like anything else you force yourself to do when you don’t want to do it (insert groaning and general hatred of even the mention of it here)
Want to sign up ?
There’s a dedicated moodle page for it ! This should be on your front page, clearly labelled, and there will be a web link for an application form.
You simply fill out the online application form, including which projects you’re interested in, and they’ll get back to you.
Any more questions about the scheme ? Then ask ahead, or email the scheme heads at email@example.com