Hi everyone, since you last heard from me, the situation in the UK has changed quite a bit. England are now in country-wide lockdown again and I am no longer allowed to visit my family in Scotland until restrictions ease. Looking back on how much has changed in the past few months, I realised how quickly time had passed and how much of my MSc has now flown by. I therefore thought that this month, it would be worth looking back on my experience of my MSc degree so far.
I knew that moving to a new university for my Masters would be a huge change, and it was, but I’m thankful that due to online learning this no longer includes getting lost on campus. Moodle is almost as confusing to navigate at first but the staff and admin team for my course ask for feedback constantly in order to make moodle as efficient and useful as possible. Once I wrapped my head around moodle and the various courses I was taking this semester, I was able to dive into learning.
Our course content was intense from the get-go with a lot to learn each week and plenty of reading to do for each lecture. Our lecture slides and a recorded lecture are posted in advance of a live Question and Answer session during which we can ask any questions we may have and the lecturer can encourage further conversation on important topics. When I first heard that UCL would be adopting an online learning approach, I did not think that it would be as engaging as this and I am pleasantly surprised. I find that lectures being uploaded in advance gives me enough time to go over the content and really take in the information provided. This is something I struggled to do in the more typical lecture format during my undergraduate degree. The opportunity to interact with the clinicians and lecturers teaching the course leaves more time for discussion and deeper learning and is something I think people have really found useful.
I’m lucky enough to have an hour or two of in-person teaching each week on campus at Queen Square. This takes place in the form of a journal club where we discuss recent research in various areas of neurodegenerative disease. I have massively enjoyed these sessions. They have provided an opportunity to meet my classmates in a safe manner and have provided networking opportunities with the faculty staff and PhD students who run the sessions. I have found that these sessions have really developed my ability to critique current research and that this has complimented my studying well. My first graded assignment is due at the beginning of December and involves critical appraisal of a published paper and this journal club session has given me the skills necessary for this assignment.
The workload can at times be quite intense and I spend a lot of my time studying on top of the teaching hours that we have been assigned, however this does not feel like a chore. The course content is extremely interesting and all of the material we have been given is really engaging. I am enjoying learning so much about the different types of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases that I did not know as much about before starting this degree.
I have assignments and exams coming up in the first few weeks of December, so the preparation for these has already begun. With the current online learning format, I feel much more prepared to begin studying for my exams than I ever have before. I plan to knuckle down and hit the books for the next few weeks before enjoying a well-deserved Christmas break.
Thanks for reading and listening, and please tune in next month,
Morgan Daniel is an MSc Student at University College London, studying the along the ‘Dementia: Causes, Treatments and Research (Neuroscience)’ track, Originally from Loch Lomond, Morgan completed her BSc in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow in 2019, and she hates all forms of potato! Morgan is sharing her MSc journey during 2020 / 2021 with NIHR Dementia Researcher.
Over the next 12 months, NIHR Dementia Researcher is following Morgan Daniel as she studies for her Dementia MSc at University College London. Morgan will be blogging, podcasting and occasionally taking over our twitter feed to share news from her studies and life, documenting the hi’s and lows’, with tips for others who are considering post-graduate studies.