To help counteract the lack of opportunity to physically attend open days and other on-campus activities, universities everywhere are laying on an explosion of new initiatives.
None more so than Aberystwyth, from where my Welsh correspondent has updated me with a list of mouth-watering webinars that kick-off next week and run through to late-March.
In my own opinion, this is one of the best possible ways for students to extend their super-curricular learning, which is the key to making a first class UCAS application and preparing for degree-level study.
There will be two strands of input:
“A Taste of …..”
giving a sample session based on academic disciplines, to help Year 12s get a feel for what subjects involve at degree level; and
providing guidance on aspects of student life that potential applicants might wish to take account of when conducting their research and making their choices, taking Aberystwyth as an example.
The current programme looks like this:
A Taste of Business:
- Tuesday 26th January, 14:15 to 15:00
- The Weird World of Value Added Tax (VAT) with Dr Sarah Lindop
- Exploring this key company reporting requirement in relation to the setting of financial objectives, analysing financial performance and financial decision making.
A Taste of Astrophysics:
- Tuesday 2nd February, 14:15 to 15:00
- Space Exploration with Dr Rachel Cross
- An interactive lecture where physicists from the uni will discuss how they’re working on current and future space exploration missions. Physicists are central to our understanding of the universe and our place in it, from our local environment on Earth to our Solar System and the understanding of our source of life (our star the Sun) all the way out to far reaching explorations of further systems.
A Taste of Criminal Psychology:
- Tuesday 9th February, 14:15 to 15:00
- Understanding Terrorism with Jen Phipps
- This session offers students the opportunity to see how psychology can help us to explain and understand a certain type of crime, so that we might better police and prevent it. The session will provide an overview of how terrorist organisations manipulate ‘fear’ for their own agenda. Students will be given an insight into the power of psychology and how it empowers and facilitates extremist and terrorist ideals, for their own agenda.
A Taste of Geography:
- Tuesday 23rd February 23rd, 14:15 to 15:00
- Antarctic Ice Shelves in a Warming World with Dr Tom Holt
- In this session, Dr Holt from the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences introduces Antarctica’s ice shelves, their significance and importance, and how they have responded to a warming world. At the end of the session students should be able to:
- Define the key characteristics of Antarctica’s ice shelves and name/locate several ice shelves (examined through case studies);
- Demonstrate understanding of the importance of ice shelf systems and their wider significance;
- Discuss the glaciological response of ice shelves in a warming world;
- Explain how projected environmental change will impact on ice-shelf systems.
A Taste of Biochemistry:
- Monday 1st March, 14:15 to 15:00
- Parasites and Proteins with Dr Russ Morphew
- More details to follow soon, but it should be really interesting. Dr Morphew changes parasites at a genetic level to make them harmless, such as the parasite that causes bilharzia which shortens the lives of 200 million people a year in South America, Africa and Asia.
A Taste of Mathematics & Statistics:
- Tuesday 2nd March, 14:15 to 15:00
- The Spread of Disease in a Population: Modelling & Testing with Professor Simon Cox & Dr Kim Kenobi
- This is a session of two parts: (I) developing a mathematical model and using graphs to analyse the solutions, (II) statistical interpretation – understanding conditional probabilities in a disease testing context.
- Students will see how differential equations can be used to model a real world scenario, in this case the spread of a disease within a population, and how features of the solution can be determined graphically without having to solve the equation directly.
- In the second part students will be given an opportunity to think critically about how to interpret the results of a biological test (for example the COVID-19 antibody test). Does a positive result always mean you have the disease? Are you definitely clear of the disease if you get a negative result?
A Taste of History:
- Tuesday 9th March, 14:15 to 15:00
- ‘Songs – a Weapon in the Battle’: Music in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr Steve Thompson
- This one has just been announced, so check the website for details.
A Taste of Developmental Psychology:
- Tuesday 16th March, 14:15 to 15:00
- I See What You Mean. I Mean, I See What You See Now! with Dr Catherine G. O’Hanlon
- This session will take you through a journey of 40 years of research in Developmental Psychology, which has led us to understand key aspects of infant cognitive development that were largely misunderstood until 2005.
- In 2005, key changes in the methods used to understand the development of Theory of Mind took place, particularly in “perspective taking”, which is fundamental in everyday communicative contexts for both adults and children. Before 2005, we had this all wrong! We believed that Theory of Mind develops around 4-5 years of age. Textbooks have been re-written since.
- The session will include footage of research conducted with children aged 3-5 years, which is not restricted, thus you’ll be able to access it again following attendance at this session; web links will be provided. The session will also include self-assessments in the form of answering simple research questions addressed at 3-5 year olds. So, get ready to put your child’s hat on, to enjoy the ride and learn just how smart we’re born!
A Taste of Law & Criminology:
- Tuesday 23rd March, 14:15 to 15:00
- Miscarriages of Justice with Dr Sam Poyser
- This session will look at: What a miscarriage of justice is; Causes of miscarriages of justice; Impacts of miscarriages of justice. Students will be asked to have short discussions relating to 1 and 3. At points within the session, discussion between students will be encouraged.
The HE Guidance: Student Insight sessions are running concurrently with the Taste of sessions as follows:
- Thursday 4th February, 17:15 to 18:00: Accommodation
- Thursday 11th February, 17:15 to 18:00: Sport
- Thursday 25th February, 17:15 to 18:00: Societies
- Thursday 4th March, 17:15 to 18:00: Location
Further details and booking forms for all Aber webinars can be found at:
By the way, the image is a photo that I took at a Welsh seaside university in 2019 – but not quite the same uni! However, given that most of my blogs are England-centric, I’m more than happy to give a plug to Welsh universities in general. Being half-Welsh myself, I have a soft spot for them all.