入学当初の２年間、心理学の基礎をしっかり学んだのち、３年生（英国の学士課程は一般的に３年制ですが、スコットランドは４年制）になりやっと専門性高い心理学を学べると喜んだのもつかの間、Critical Analysis, Psychology in Action 、Statisticsと、まだ３つ必須の履修科目があることがわかりました。
As I was starting my third year as a psychology student at the university of Edinburgh, I thought - Finally! After two whole years of studying general psychology, I’m finally allowed to choose specific psychology classes and really dive into the areas I’m interested in. This is what I came to study. But when time came to choose my courses and receive my timetable, I realised that I also had three other compulsory courses - Critical Analysis, Psychology in Action and Statistics. What are these courses about, and why are they so important?
Critical Analysis was a course designed to analyse papers that have been written and published by academics, and to provide any recommendations for improvement. Despite my initial thoughts, I soon realised that Critical Analysis was a very interesting and important course that ultimately helped me perform better in my other psychology classes. It taught me how to properly analyse a psychology study, and how to form and present my own recommendations and advice.
At first I couldn’t even imagine criticising a paper written by someone much more educated and knowledgeable than I am. I thought, how am I supposed to give advice to academics who have years, maybe even decades worth of more experience than I do? But the first lesson of this class was that critical analysis isn’t only about criticizing other people’s work. It is about evaluating from a new perspective, and as an evaluation is somewhat subjective, there is no right or wrong answer. The most important thing is to justify our views by supporting it with evidence.
Through this class, we learned to evaluate studies by first looking into the design of the study, the variables and methods used, and how they analysed the data obtained. We then dove deeper into the evaluation by asking ourselves questions like - Is it interesting to the general public and is it relevant to the current state of the world? How did they reach their conclusions? Is it generalisable? Finally, if we identified any areas of improvement, we wrote up our advice by identifying the potential issue, how it would affect the outcome of the study and our recommendations to improve this. We of course included points we thought were particularly good and interesting too! :D
Overall, I loved this class. Even though this class was based on analysing other people’s work, I can confidently say that it has had a positive impact on the quality of my own work too. Not only has it strengthened my essay writing skills in general, but as an individual who lacked creativity, it also helped me think outside the box to come up with new ways of conducting studies and taking on new perspectives!