If you want to know what its like studying Occupational Therapy at Brighton, Kevin Prince Stephen is one of our Occupational Therapy (Pre-registration) MSc graduates, and he has shared his experience with us…..
My experience as an MSc Occupational therapy student
‘Going to university is always a nerve-wrecking experience, regardless of it being your first time as an undergraduate or post-graduate. Making the right choice in what course you pursue is a big deal, and a lot of times will determine the path in which your future will head.
Coming to the University of Brighton was a long shot, I had never been to the south of England, nor did I know anyone here prior to moving. As soon as I applied, had the interview (over Skype as I was abroad) and my place was confirmed, I was put in touch with one of my tutors on the course. We corresponded through e-mail and phone, which helped me immensely. She was able to not only guide me through the ins and outs of the course structure, but also provided guidance and advice into life in Eastbourne in general. Stepping into deep, murky waters where you cant see the bottom is always a scary one, so having this correspondence and support from my tutor was vital in feeling assured about the move.
The course itself is run through the Problem-Based learning (PBL) style. This is a student centred approach to learning, where you will be given a trigger (problem, case study etc.) and collaboratively you and your group come up with a solution (e.g. a treatment/ intervention plan). Is is a very interactive form of learning.
I’ll be honest, it will feel a little weird at first as we are so used to learning from someone standing at the front of the class telling us what we should know; and we have had this all the way from nursery to university, so it might be a tough cookie to chew on at first, but you’ll get into the swing of it in no time.
During PBL sessions, it is very much peer-lead. As students we sit around the table (literally) and have discussions about the trigger, come up with questions of what knowledge we should have regarding the case/ problem, go away to do individual research and information gathering and then come back with our new knowledge and share it with the group. So we all learn from each other with the facilitation of the tutor present.
It does sound a bit daunting having these discussions and talking within the group every week, but as weeks go by you will get to know your peers so well, form a strong bond and familiarize with each others’ learning styles. PBL groups generally consist of 6-8 people, as well as a tutor; and you will be in the same PBL group for the first year, so trust me, you will get to know them very well and become confident in sharing your knowledge with them and gaining some of theirs too.
There are also Fixed resource sessions, which are more like lectures, but a bit more interactive and you are encouraged to ask questions. Attend these, as they are very useful.
In terms of placements (practical experience), you will be getting a lot of that. The course is structured in a way that allows you to gain the theoretical knowledge you need before an upcoming placement. A few months of theory at university and then 7-8 weeks of placement; that will be your life for two years, but don’t worry, it’s quite an extraordinary journey, in a good way.
Placements are great; they give you a glimpse of what it is like working in the real world. Over the many years of this course running, the university has built strong networks with OT’s in various settings ranging form hospitals, clinics, schools, rehab and community centres and the list goes on.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that you will not fall short of having diversity in your hands-on experience whilst on this course.
Placements can get tiring and stressful at first since it is like starting a new job every single time you do a placement (introducing yourself, getting to know your supervisors and the setting, patients/ clients, how the service functions etc.), but you will learn to get through it and really start to enjoy the experience.
As you may already know, there are no exams (YAY), but you will be marked on assignments (essays, presentations etc.) and a large chunk is weighed through your final dissertation, which you will start working on in your second academic year.
I have found this system of evaluation better as It allows me to actually absorb more material over a period of time while working on an assignment or such, instead of rushing to memorize or absorb information for an exam, which isn’t always a reliable measure of ones knowledge base.
If you already haven’t Googled it, Eastbourne is a beautiful little seaside town. There is lots to do and get involved in, yet still has the tranquility that most larger cities/ towns lack. Most places are accessible on foot or bike. I bought a bike to get to one of my placements and I haven’t stopped riding it since. There are plenty of shops in town and even some near the university in Meads Village, so you won’t fall short of food…or coffee. The people of Eastbourne are friendly too.
The professors, tutors and admin staff at the university are all very pleasant and approachable. If you any have questions or any concerns I have no doubt they will willingly help, all you have to do is ask.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, whatever they may be.’
Kevin Prince Stephen,
Occupational Therapy MSc student,
University of Brighton, 2018