Case study

GradDip Psychology student — Ruth Thomas

Ruth Thomas studied the Graduate Diploma (GradDip) in Psychology at Birmingham City University (BCU)

Why did you decide to pursue a conversion course?

After working as a primary school teacher for five years, I wanted to pursue a career that focused on solving problems with individual children's learning.

My undergraduate degree was BSc Mathematics, meaning that I needed to study a conversion course accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming an educational psychologist.

Why did you choose this institution and course?

I was required to complete an online Graduate Certificate (GradCert) in Psychology before enrolling onto the full GradDip.

BCU offered both of these courses, and was easily commutable. While I funded the course using money left to me when my Nan passed away, and partially covered my living costs by working as a self-employed tutor for several hours each week, I didn't want the additional expense of relocating.

What did the programme involve?

The course provided me with greater knowledge of the core areas of psychology. There were six modules, with each having at least one assignment component; some also had exams. I attended the university twice a week for lectures and seminars.

My undergraduate degree involved minimal essay writing, so the conversion course also taught me how to construct a coherent graduate-level essay. The dissertation module, meanwhile, helped me to understand how to write a dissertation.

How did postgraduate life differ to undergraduate life?

Having the goal of becoming an educational psychologist helped me to engage more with each module; I had greater motivation to perform well in all of my assignments and exams. I was also able to relate learning points to practical issues that I might encounter in my future career.

What were the advantages and disadvantages of the conversion course?

The conversion course has opened the door for further study in a psychology-based field, such as forensic psychology, clinical psychology, health psychology, or my preferred route of educational psychology.

While it's great that lecturers treat you more like peers than students, their expectations are consequently higher. In addition, after previously having a well-paid career, going back to a limited budget was difficult.

What advice would you give to those considering a conversion course?

Find out how many hours or days a week you're required to be on campus, calculate how much it will cost to commute, and ensure that the course will lead you to your desired career.

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