Psychology students continue to go ‘beyond the headlines’ by Dr Alan J. Gow

Psychology students continue to go ‘beyond the headlines’
Psychology students continue to go ‘beyond the headlines’
For the second year, the work of some of our recent Psychology graduates has been showcased on “Research the Headlines”, a blog that “addresses the way in which research is discussed and portrayed in the media”. Alan Gow from the Department of Psychology tells us why he uses that approach as one of his assessments.

We often think about research-informed teaching, in which our own and others work might shape how we approach key topics and issues in our courses. There are different ways research-informed teaching can help students engage with a topic, especially in highlighting current trends or new questions being tackled. As well as research informing my teaching, there’s something I might call “engagement-informed” practice that I’ve been using in the 4th Year Psychology of Ageing course.

In any course, we want to ensure that our students not only get a firm grasp of their topic but that they develop a range of skills that might be relevant after they graduate. So one of the pieces of coursework is designed to help develop their abilities in communicating their specialised knowledge. The task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of that. At the end of June, Research the Headlines again showcased some of that work.

Research the Headlines is a blog from members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) which discusses research and the media to help the public understanding of research and the process that takes this from “lab to headline”. Many of the Research the Headlines contributors use the ideas in their teaching. In the Psychology of Ageing coursework, a key aim of the “brain blogs” was to explain the important concepts and take-home messages, and to highlight issues in interpretation either in the media report or the underlying research.

Over the course of a week, the Research the Headlines “brain blog” showcase included the work of three students, all recent graduates in Psychology at Heriot-Watt:

Does keeping active have the potential to protect the brain’s functioning? by Sophie McWhirter

Use it or lose it: Can intellectual engagement offset cognitive decline in older age? by Calum Anderson

Alcohol: A Leading Health Risk or Protective Factor against Dementia? by Jennifer Stephen

No study paces? Masuma has the info in the first of her blog series…

This is the first in a series of blog posts written by NMasuma Mukit a SoSS student. During a series of blog posts, Masuma will give you an insight into her life as a Business Strategy Leadership & Change student here at Heriot-Watt and why she loves it! we hope that you enjoy the read, get a coffee and settle in…

No study spaces?!
Around this time of year, with exams approaching and as many deadlines as possible crammed into the final few weeks of the semester, study spaces are rare and hard to come by. On Campus, Elements is often too noisy (and the tables are too unclean for my liking), the computer labs are in terribly obscure places or they’re full of engineering students, and let’s not even talk about study space availability in the library. Now with work going on in the library and the endless tunnels and mazes we have to endure (I can’t be the only one with a terrible sense of direction, right?) to find an unoccupied PC lab in the uni, we need alternatives. Plus, where we study makes a big difference. There have been countless studies showing a positive correlation between office design and employee productivity. So it’s definitely important to switch things up a bit because a) you will most likely get bored and b) the library staff are probably sick of seeing your face by now. Below I’ve listed some of my fave spots around the city where I like to study (and yes I drink a lot of coffee):

Now the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people is a good old Starbucks or Costa. These are great for individual studying – just plug in your earphones and go. The Starbucks on George Street, in particular, has a lovely view of the passers by outside. I personally prefer slightly more “moody” settings. For one with a real atmosphere, try Cult Espresso. An almost rustic coffee shop tucked away in Buccleuch Street, this place is a great place to study in a relaxing setting. Another excellent place to try if you’re in that neck of the woods is Natural Food Kafe. When I visited it was rather quiet, almost Pinterest-type setting with the lighting and the wooden tables, and (to me) really conducive to getting into study mode. They also have an interesting range of smoothies and other freshly made items on the menu, so a nice place to try with friends! Extra seating in the basement means you should have plenty of space for studying, whenever you go.

Starbucks Edinburgh
Starbucks Edinburgh

In the same vein, Brew Lab and Black Medicine are top spots for coffee and well recommended by students too. Another bonus is the proximity to other interesting, random charity shops and bargain stores which can provide a good break in between study periods. Peters Yard, just off Quartermile, is a beautiful little coffee shop with good cakes and some lunch options, too. I like coming here to study as I enjoy being amongst the hustle and bustle of people. It also offers nice views in a picturesque, green location, with indoor and outdoor seating – ideal for sunny days. This is also right next door to the Meadows, where I like to take breaks between study periods to stretch my legs.

Peters Yard Edinburgh
Peters Yard Edinburgh

Then Spoon on Nicolson Street is a good place for group work. Up a set of narrow, cobbled steps, this small café/bistro has good menu choices whether you go at breakfast, brunch or lunch, lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options, and very bright and interesting décor. You can choose to sit on the couches or around tables, and again enjoy the view of the busy street below. Study appropriate and very Instagram-worthy!
So there you go – a very short list of some of my favourite study places. Where do you like to study?

Thanks, Masuma! very insightful, if you have any feedback or thoughts on this post; please share them in the comments; this Blog is for you all the SoSS students out there so if you have a topic you want covering, send it into us in the marketing team and we will add it to the melting pot!

Heriot-Watt Students Meet the World at VisitScotland Expo!

This year our Interpreting and Translating Undergraduate students had the opportunity to become a volunteer interpreter for International travel trade professionals courtesy of VisitScotland. VisitScotland is Scotlands national tourist board and holds events such as EXPO to provide a platform for the international travel trade to meet with the tourism operators and visitor attractions based here in Scotland. This year, EXPO was held in the SEC Glasgow on 10th and 11th April 2019. EXPO hosted over 550 international tour operators, meeting with 270 Scottish suppliers. Our students were invited to assist with the Chinese delegates many of which spoke limited English.

The Chinese delegates had scheduled one-to-one appointments during the two days, each appointment was 15 minutes. Our Heriot-Watt volunteer interpreting students supported the Chinese delegates – each assigned an individual travel trade professional to assist for the full two days. This opportunity was unique as it meant our interpreting students had to understand travel technical language and translate negotiation scenarios. The VisitScotland team ensured that our students were fully briefed on the topics and specifics of each appointment.

Jinnuo Pan at VisitScotland
Jinnuo Pan an interpreting student at VisitScotland EXPO 2019

One of our students Jinnuo Pan tells us about the experience;

“EXPO is an international event where I met travel buyers from all over the world. The event allowed them to gain a better understanding of travel business here in Scotland. There is no doubt to me that attending this event helped me a lot. Firstly, EXPO was a big and formal event, so I was exposed to the pressure this entails. It was good practice as an interpreter to have to deal with pressure like this frequently. Secondly, during the interpreting process, I faced challenges that had been discussed in the classroom environment but that I hadn’t faced before, so I could use the theoretical knowledge learnt to solve them. In addition, during the event, I worked for a new client, so I had to be mindful of my words and professionalism. This feeling is totally different from the simulated practice in class at Heriot-Watt. In conclusion, it is very helpful and I learnt a lot from it”.

Yingzhi Forsyth another of our students shared her feelings of EXPO:

“I feel that this event was very meaningful and interesting. I got to know so many places that I had never heard of before. The long history of Scotland and it’s spectacular heritage, such as the castles, the monuments, whisky, golf, food and entertainment, etc. and that doesn’t include everything! Expo not only brings great business opportunities to Scotland but also allows people from other countries to have a deeper understanding of Scotland’s culture. For myself, because I am studying Interpreting and Translating, I benefited immeasurably. I not only exercised oral English but also increased my vocabulary and expanded my Scottish knowledge. It was a precious opportunity from any perspective!

Yingzhi Forsyth at Expo
Yingzhi Forsyth at Expo

If this post has inspired you to study Interpreting and Translating with us and be given the opportunity to get involved with opportunities such as these then find out more about our Postgraduate Interpreting programmes here:
https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/uk/postgraduate/subject/translating-and-interpreting.htm

What is Logistics and Supply Chain Management? Our programme leader explores…

What is Logistics and Supply Chain Management and why does it matter?
A broad definition for Logistics and Supply Chain Management would be “Management of product, finance and information flow between the supply chain network”. The supply chain network comprises of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end-customers, so basically, it’s all about meeting demand with supply.

It matters now more than ever because businesses are going global and face increasing competition, so it has become vital to provide the best service to customers at minimum costs. Logistics and Supply chain is critical to achieving this and therefore to a business’s performance.

How does it affect everyday life?

Every product we use and service we consume is in some way associated with Logistics and Supply Chain Management. It looks at design, production, transport, storage and distribution activities which are all aspects of products and services that we experience on a day to day basis.

What are future trends in Logistics and Supply Chain Management?

Right now the field is being revolutionised by the use of disruptive innovations and brand new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, etc. These disruptive innovations are expected to have a significant influence on tomorrow’s businesses and all of our lives.

Finally, why should someone study Logistics and Supply Chain Management and why should they choose Heriot Watt University?

As I’ve said, every product and service depends on Logistics and Supply Chain in some way, and because of a current skills shortage, most of our graduates join tactical and managerial roles in Logistics and Supply chain management within 3 months of completing the MSc programme at Heriot Watt University.

Heriot-Watt has close to 20 years of experience in running our flagship programme in Logistics and Supply Chain management and it’s exclusively run by members of our world-renowned Logistics Research Centre. The studies are research-led but practice-driven and this means our students are ready for the ever-evolving needs of today’s supply chains when they graduate.

Can New Activities Help an Ageing Brain?

Heriot-Watt University front entrance

Can taking up a new activity help our thinking skills as we age?

That’s a key question for researchers interested in cognitive ageing, the field that explores how thinking skills change over the life course, and what factors might be associated with those changes.

The Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Psychology have made it their mission to find out how new activities could affect our thinking skills as we age.

As we age, we are more likely to experience changes in our thinking and memory skills (these are referred to as our mental or cognitive abilities). Some people experience declines in their thinking and memory skills across their 60s and beyond, while others maintain their abilities into old age. This variation suggests that a number of factors influence the likelihood of mental decline. Keeping engaged in intellectual, social or physical activities have all been proposed as potentially beneficial.

In our major study in The Ageing Lab, we are asking people take up new and challenging activities to see how those might have benefits for their thinking skills, as well as their health and wellbeing more broadly. We’re on target to have over 300 people in that study, and the results will be reported later this year. But there’s still time for people to take part. To find out what that might involve, here are what some of our current participants think about their experiences.

Picture by Lesley Martin
7 June 2018
© Lesley Martin 2018

Continue reading Can New Activities Help an Ageing Brain?

A Masters Degree, Friendships and Travel: Project Manager Carman couldn’t have planned it better

Name
Chau Lok Man (Carman)

MSc Degree
MSc International Business Management with Project Management

Undergraduate degree/university
Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Management, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

Nationality
Chinese (Hong Kong, China)

1. What drove your decision to study a Masters degree in your subject? Did you have a specific end goal in mind?

I wanted to explore something new for my further study that could be related to my previous study. I thought a masters degree in project management would advance my level of study and be beneficial to my future career. Nowadays, project management is essential to all kinds of organisations, no matter in private and business industries, or in public services. I hoped that studying in project management could enhance my understanding and upgrade my skills of project planning, execution, controlling and evaluation.

2. What was it about Heriot-Watt and your programme that made you want to study here?

The critical reason for me to choose Heriot-Watt was my programme title “International Business Management (IBM)” with a specific field of study in Project Management. The broader sense of curriculum brought me flexibility to explore other elective subjects such as Digital Marketing, HR and Finance. This curriculum enriched my Project Management learning and widened my knowledge in other subject areas. I was particularly happy to continue my learning in marketing through the elective courses in digital marketing and Marketing for SMEs. They are the practical courses which are not limited to reading and writing only, but also real project execution to produce videos and develop a start-up to raise funds for charity.

3. Can you tell us about a course or part of your degree you’ve particularly enjoyed?

I really enjoyed working with my friends as a team for most of the project assignments because International Business Management at Heriot-Watt has a great variety of students from different nationalities. We can make friends from all over the world and work together towards a common goal to finish the assignments. We exchanged ideas, learnt from each other, and shared interesting things about cultural differences. It was really a fantastic moment when we were celebrating after all the work was done. Friendship is one of the precious thing that I gained here other than anything in academic.

4. Can you tell us about a lecturer or tutor that has made a positive impact on your studies? How have you found the personal tutor system at HWU?

Professor Kate Sang is a wonderful supervisor. Whenever I ran into any questions or challenges about my dissertation, Kate was always offering a helping hand to provide irreplaceable advice and suggestions for me. She consistently guided me to the right direction while ensuring my thesis was my own work. Without her supervision and constant help, my dissertation would not have been possible. Her comments were not just valuable for my thesis, but also inspired me for my future career path.

5. Beyond your studies, how would you describe your experience of being a Masters student in Edinburgh and at Heriot-Watt?

Edinburgh is such a beautiful and peaceful city that totally differs from the hustle and bustle in Hong Kong. As an international student, I enjoyed travelling around the highlands of Scotland and Edinburgh in my free time. The natural scenes in the highlands are amazing and gorgeous. Taking part in the annual festivals in Edinburgh, like the Military Tattoo, was an unforgettable experience, to know more about Scottish culture and be immersed in such an exciting atmosphere.

6. What is your ambition for after you graduate? Do you think your Masters degree will help you achieve it?

I have not decided my future career path yet but I am sure that my Masters degree will be a meticulous preparation for any future job. I am interested in working on a range of projects, no matter in business or public services sectors. I value teamwork and look forward to working with a productive and supporting team. I believe that my master study in Project Management will definitely help me a lot and the experience of working with different people has boosted my interpersonal and communication skills.

During the Digital Marketing course in Semester 2, Carman and her classmates were set an assignment to create an authentic VLOG about their time at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. You can watch their video below.

Why Edinburgh sparkles in the darker months…

Edinburgh is an incredible city to study in.

Don’t just take our word for it; it regularly tops the polls for best place to live, work and study in Europe.
This week it reached the top spot of the Arcadis poll – read the full article here

This city knows how to put on a good show, we are constantly struck by the way both residents and visitors alike embrace a party, and this year’s holiday celebrations wont let us down. There’s so much to see and do, so if you are sticking around our campus this year, please get out into the city and take in some of the many fun filled events going on.

Here are some of our highlights:

The Edinburgh Torchlight Procession
Join in with the thousands of people that take to the streets on the 30th December to say goodbye to 2018; There will be Bagpipers, Drummers and its all to celebrate the end of the Year of Young People here in Scotland. The money raised goes goes to One City Trust, fighting inequality and exclusion in the City of Edinburgh. Buy your tickets here

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Torchlight Procession at Holyrood Park watch the fireworks display beyond an illuminated Palace of Holyrood House.

The Loony Dook
Its the first day of the year and one of our newer traditions here in Edinburgh is to start the year with a refreshing dip in the North sea..! Well why not, they started this in the 1980s and it seems to have stuck You can ‘dook’ in the safety of numbers both in South Queensferry under the Forth Rail Bridge or at Edinburgh’s beach resort Portabello – Portie to the locals. Or those of you less partial to freezing cold waters can just grab a hot chocolate and watch the rest of the fancy dressed brigade do it instead.

The Loony Dook on New Year’s Day in South Queensferry

The Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Ceilidh
Well who doesn’t love a Ceilidh right? We love them here at SoSS and have our own Postgraduate one in January to celebrate Burns Night, so if you want to practice your moves then go along and join this one in the street to see in the new year. This will be big and bold and has some of Scotlands leading Ceilidh bands at it too – Jimi Shandrix Experience, Hugh MacDiarmid’s Haircut, and Ceilidhdonia.

So that’s our faves from this years festive fun. We wish you all a very happy holiday, best wishes for the 2019. We put together a little festive message for you all to enjoy!
Heriot-Watt SoSS wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Business Interns – Carina Gerards tells us about life in Toronto!

SoSS met with Carina Gerards; 2018’s successful Array Marketing Intern
Carina had just completed her internship in the Toronto head office of Array. She was one of two students who successfully applied and took part in a dissertation project for the global cosmetic visual merchandiser. Carina is originally from Germany, and travelled to Edinburgh to study her MSc with us – she graduates this November.

How are you Carina, now that you have completed your Internship and your MSc with us?

“I am feeling relaxed, I love research so the dissertation part of my degree was fascinating for me. I hope to do a PhD in the future as research projects are where my interests lie. I am heading back to Germany where I hope to apply for a PhD.”

Carina popped into the SoSS Marketing office this summer to give us the low down on the Array internship. During our discussions she described Array as a ‘social and warm cosmetic company’. Carina had previously worked in for several cosmetic companies in Germany; with one in particular proving a negative experience. This made her question if she ever wanted to work in that specific industry again. Thankfully Array – and Honorary Professor Tom Hendren changed her mind. Her first encounter with Array was Professor Hendren’s pitch’ to the International Marketing Management masters cohort to invite them to apply for the once in a lifetime internship with his company.

“Professor Hendren’s presentation to my class was relaxed and open, I could tell from this that Array were a great company to work with. Tom had such a natural approach and seemed so rooted – this was incredibly important to me”.

How did you apply for the Array internship?

“I had to submit my CV, create a written cover letter in support of the opportunity and then interview. As I had worked in the beauty industry previously (for a German company which operates in 53 countries globally), I knew that my experience was relevant. I was not however taking it easy.”

Carina described how she was so nervous she went into the interview shaking with fear! Tom Hendren, Elaine Collinson (a leading academic on the Business Management programme) recognised this and tried their best to relax her. Carina, came armed with a wide range of industry questions which when they were answered, also helped to put her at ease.

Tell us about your experience of transitioning to Toronto.

Carina described how she feels culturally open-minded; her partner is not German, she grew up many nationalities in her family and she studies in Scotland; multicultural is completely normal to Carina. She is very open and relaxed about cultural differences and found the transition to Canada relatively smooth. She discussed how the lack of additional language barrier was a major bonus! Carina did prepare for life in Canada’s capital, spending loads of time reading up about the culture of Canadians (magazines, corporate journals and cultural references on social media) and city life in Toronto but stressed that her 10 months here in Edinburgh helped as the transition to Scotland had been an easy one too.
How long were you there for?

“We completed our final exam packed our bags and headed out! Nora Holmen (the other SoSS intern) was already there (she headed out a day ahead of Carina) and knowing that she would be there was a blessing.”

The two student colleagues had a few days to explore the locality – Scarborough, the eastern part of the city a young and vibrant district. Fortunately, members of the Array Research and Development team also lived in the area, and offered helpful advice and a welcoming tour of the area to socialise.

What’s Array like to work for?

Carina noted that Array was a really busy work place, where the culture is supportive but hard working. Carina said the culture was one of

“striving to do your very best but you are not worked to the grind; you won’t end up ill working there”

The Array project entailed working with several different departments across the Array business, holding interviews with key staff and getting to know several different functions of the business. As Carina had a damaged view of the corporate world due to her negative previous experience she was keen to work with a company that had heart and passion; not creating robots – this is what she found at Array.

What was the hardest thing you did during the internship?

The board presentation; Carina and Nora Holmen had to present their project to the full board and the HR department. Carina described how this was such a challenge, after working so hard over the 5 weeks for it, they were understandably extremely nervous.

“We went overboard and were delighted when Elaine Collinson arrived in the presentation/grading week and helped us trim the presentation; down from 140 slides to 40! We had got tangled up in the perspective, and had forgotten to view ourselves as consultants providing Array with a business prospect, rather than an essay!”

After the presentation, there was a Q & A session, where several members of the board asked about specifics and how Array could implement the suggestions into the business. Carina felt that the project gave Array something tangible,

“We had the customer insights and raw data tied up in some useable solutions, which if implemented could give Array a technological edge.”

Carina, whilst she found the end pitch challenging, also found it extremely inspiring, delivering data and insights to key staff members who could appreciate the value of their work. It was very rewarding for her.

What was the best thing about the Internship for you Carina?

Carina was keen to make her parents proud; confirm to them that she had left her highly paid and skilled job in Germany for something worthwhile.

“I wanted to prove to them (parents) that my MSc was taking me somewhere worthwhile. Studying at Heriot-Watt has allowed me to show them this; choosing this programme and being successfully chosen to do the Array internship has done this. I am super proud of this experience and I loved the challenge.”

“Working with Array has given me the confidence to work for large corporates again in the future. I loved it, it was a brilliantly refreshing experience. The culture in the office was enlightening and vibrant, welcoming and friendly, everyone knew everyone’s names, and you were allowed to be you in the workplace – there were people with tattoos and colourful hair, this is not what I expected from a corporate.”

Carina is passionate about technology with a specific interest in AI and her potential PhD is based around this. Carina also spoke at length about how the culture of Array greatly impressed her.

For any students thinking about applying for the Array Internship or an MSc with Heriot Watt – do you have any advice?

“Go for it, you should never stop learning. I really think that’s very important. It’s hard but so worth it. This internship allowed me to travel and to work at the same time, getting paid, food and a home in Toronto, it’s a benefit from every point of view. Heriot Watt University is such a great place to study, and this internship is a practical experience – you are not just making the coffee. It’s your own project so be and show who you are throughout it; as an authentic presentation is incredibly valuable”.

Thanks Carina!
Carina Gerards will graduate with a Distinction in the MSc in International Marketing Management with Consumer Psychology last week. She is now working back home in Germany in a company operating in the same field as Array; and they are supporting her through her PhD.

Carina Gerards
Carina – One of our recently Graduated Masters Students

Penguins, beer and economic development…

Professor Paul Hare from our Accountancy, Economics & Finance Department spent two weeks in July in the Falkland Islands, working on a project for the EU concerned with evaluating the last two aid programmes in the Falklands funded by the EU. He writes for us below about his time there.

Continue reading Penguins, beer and economic development…

Climbing the learning ladder

Though you might come to Heriot-Watt as an undergrad, the journey doesn’t have to stop there. Several of our undergrad and masters students go on to further study or research with the University, and even begin a career here!

Gordon Jack is currently working within the Pre-Sessional English Admissions team in SoSS. Indeed, he is no stranger to the university, having studied at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level here.

Continue reading Climbing the learning ladder