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Experience of Implementing Change - 1st year Class Rep

Fri 18 Nov 2016

On the 17th of October, I attended a very engaging tutorial rep meeting. Not only was I provided the opportunity to discuss relevant issues and suggest appropriate solutions, but I also got to meet other tutorial reps from my course. Engaging with them and finding similar issues in our tutorials helped me realize the sense of community that we are all working to create along with a high level of education. This thus paved way for my fellow reps and me feeling more comfortable with discussing both the benefits and hindrances that occurred in the past few weeks’ tutorials, which all the more provided incentive to make positive changes and enhance the student experience.


One issue that I shared concerns about during the meeting is the broadness of the questions usually asked in the beginning that often results in silence and prolonged responses on the behalf of students. I therefore proposed a number of solutions including rewording the questions to make them more specific as well as eliminating the question technique and replacing it with an activity. Although only one other tutorial rep stated that she was dealing with similar issues, the action taken by the staff was immediately effective. In the week that followed the meeting, I witnessed a change in both the style of the question as well as the student response. I soon realized that the more narrowly framed questions were positively correlated with the students’ engagement and strongly opinionated responses. In addition, the activity of asking the students to draw their idea of a house rather than asking it as a question during the tutorial reading on Bahloul’s ‘Telling Placed: The House as Social Architecture’ proved to be effective to a great extent.


After the positive changes were in place, the students themselves commented on the improvements and their efficiency before I even had the chance to ask about it. Still, after the tutorial meetings I further clarified the changes that were implemented and asked about how they think it impacted them, which they believed to be extremely advantageous. I found the face to face communication technique to be very beneficial on my behalf, as it was less time consuming and helped me study their genuine responses. The positive feedback given by both the staff and students there contributed to the positive atmosphere of the school as a whole, hence adding to my urge to further enhance the student learning experience.



Welcome to the School of Social and Political Sciences Representation page.

Here you will find useful information about your School’s student representation system.

First of all, let us introduce you to your School Representatives. Each School has two School Reps whose role is to listen to you and bring any issues you raise to the relevant staff and committee meetings, such as the Student-Staff Liaison Committee or your School Council. In SPS, the Undergraduate School Representative is Fatima Seck and the Postgraduate School Representative is Justin Ho. Feel free to get in touch with them if you feel that you have something important to say to the School! Your School also contains Class Representatives who work very closely with the School Representatives, the Students' Association and the staff to ensure you make the most out of your courses. Potential areas Class Reps may engage with are issues with feedback, course content, and suitability of assessment.


The SPS School Council is a democratic structure and forum that enables you to take a proactive approach to your student life. It is a way for you and your coursemates to voice your opinions about what is going on in your School, and you are entitled to bring up issues and ideas that you consider relevant to the student experience in these meetings. You can ask your School Representatives to talk on behalf of you, or you can speak for yourself and count on their help to bring these issues forward and support you. They take place at least once a semester, so keep an eye out for updates from your Reps and don’t forget to attend – the more students that show up, the better! Last year’s School Council was active and regular, and the Reps ensured a close liaison with the staff to bring their projects forward. They focused on reforming the ELMA grading system, improving the academic community, and held Q&As with the Head of School.

Another important thing to look out for in your School is Peer Learning. The Peer Learning programmes are student-led initiatives that offer academic guidance for newer students by more experienced students. PIRPALS (Peer Assisted Leaning Scheme) is for any first year Political and International Relations students, as well as any student taking Introduction to Politics and International Relations. Student volunteers from 2nd, 3rd and 4th year run study sessions every fortnight and can also offer more general advice about university life at Edinburgh.


Also on offer is Sustainable Development PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Scheme). This is run by 3rd and 4th year students and is open to any student taking Sustainable Development 1a and 2a. Q-step PALS is also available for those taking a quantitative methods course. SocPALS and SocPolPALS are also new peer-assisted learning schemes starting up in 2016/17 for first year sociology and social policy students. All of these Schemes are run by trained Student Leaders and provide a great chance to improve your academic performance, get support and create lasting friendships.

Further information here:


In addition to Peer Support opportunities, you can make use of a number of Academic Societies implemented in your School. Whether you are looking for support in your studies, meeting like-minded students, networking or keeping up-to-date with your field of study’s latest news, they are the place to be! In the School of Social and Political Sciences you can find the Political Union. This is the official academic society for Politics and International Relations. It’s the ideal place for networking, career-orientated events and development opportunities, and even runs an academic journal, Leviathan. The European Union Society is the society about Europe and the EU and hold academic and social events for everyone interested in the EU, Europe, its states and peoples. The Sociology Society (SocSoc) runs a variety of events, including cultural and creative activities and meet-ups for drinks and meals. Postgraduate students in the society also run a seminar series throughout the year. Meanwhile, the Edinburgh University International Development Society (EUID) runs fortnightly events on a Monday, which include evening lectures, documentary showings and informal debates. SPS also contains the Social Anthropology Society, which holds weekly meetings, socials, and events including film screenings, lectures and field trips, and the Edinburgh University Sustainable Development Association (EUSDA), which offers networking opportunities and events for interested students from any degree.


If you believe something is missing from this page, please contact