This section also appears in 'The Book', which is given to all new students as they arrive for their first year. Copies are available from the Association General Office while stocks last, and it is also available online here.
Last year the University of St Andrews postgraduate (PG) community included almost 1700 taught and research students from across the World. Each year the PG community contributes to, and takes part in, the range of services, activities and societies that are detailed elsewhere in the pages of The Book. In addition to this, there are elements of the Students’ Association, the University and the broader academic community dedicated to promoting specific postgraduate activities and ensuring postgraduate representation. On this page, we’ll give you a brief introduction to the bodies and services that will work with you, as you’re working for your postgraduate degree, and some advice on living, learning and loving your time at St Andrews..
Although the Students Association is discussed throughout The Book, it’s important that all postgraduates know that the Students Association represents and organises activities for the entire student population at St Andrews- including all postgraduate students. Postgraduates are represented at the two main committees which oversee the day-to-day activities of the Students Association, the Students Representative Council and the Union (Student Services) Council, through the Postgraduate President and members of the Postgraduate Committee. The Association President, Patrick O’Hare, and the Students Representative Council act as advocates on behalf of postgraduate students, and make their case to University authorities. For more information on how the Students Association committees run and how they represent postgraduates, please head to the Association web pages.
All matriculated postgraduate students are automatically members of the Postgraduate Society, the society within the Students Association and affiliated to St Leonards College which is completely focussed on postgraduates. The Postgraduate Society (PGSoc) is chaired by the Postgraduate President, Holly Patrick, and is charged with two main activities- representing postgraduates across the Students Association and the University, and arranging events for the postgraduate community. This means PGSoc builds and maintains links with all sorts of bodies across the University (from Estates to the Townsend Society to School class reps) to identify issues of current or potential interest to postgraduates, and make sure that postgraduates have a voice in processes that will affect them. It also means that they throw all sorts of events with financial support from the Students Association, from casual BBQs to formal wine receptions and, naturally, the premier event of the PG social calendar- The PG Ball! The PG President is elected each summer and the range of officers who make up the PG committee are elected in the October Annual General Meeting of the society.. PGSoc have a brand new webpage which you can reach from the St Leonards webpage, which contains lots of information on settling into St Andrews as a PG, local knowledge on where to go for your first meals in St Andrews and links to our events for the year!
You can email Holly at email@example.com and you can find out more about PGSoc here.
Postgraduates, whilst being represented at the University level by the Association and Postgraduate Presidents, are also represented at course level through the election of class reps. Class reps are usually elected in late October or early November, once the course cohort have had a chance to get to know one another. These course reps then represent their colleagues through participating in Staff-Student Consultative Committees (SSCCs), which are organised and chaired by the respective School President. All undergraduate and postgraduates have the chance to vote for their School Presidents and the Postgraduate Committee are currently working on a system of Postgraduate Vice-Presidents which should be in place by the year 2011-12 academic year onwards. These School Vice-Presidents would be responsible for representing postgraduate issues and views at the SSCC, but would also sit on a forum chaired by the Postgraduate President. Speaking to your class rep or School President/Vice President is the first step you can make is you wish to raise an issue relevant to your course of study or issues such as study space provision- So make sure you get involved with the elections and know who they are! You can find out more information on running for and voting for different positions on the PGSoc website.
St Leonards College is one of the mediaeval colleges of the University of St Andrews, and was revived in 1972 as a postgraduate institute. Today it acts as the body which unites all postgraduate students within one community and is led by the Provost, Professor Dina Iordonova. Professor Iordanova is the Dean of Graduate Studies, and the University official responsible for all postgraduates. Professor Iordanova is tasked with making the PG student experience here the best it can be, and shaping the university’s strategic policy for PG recruitment and resources. St Leonards college is more’ virtual’ than United College or St Mary’s College, because it does not have a building in which all of its students study. As it caters to all postgraduates across the University, the St Leonards College website (which also hosts the new PGSoc site) should be your first ‘bookmark’ on your browser for PG news, events and information.
The Advice and Support Centre, or ASC, is available to all students for information regarding all aspects of University life, from academic problems to detailed assistance with VISA enquiries. ASC is the best place to go if you have a question that is not within the remit of your course director, that you can’t find the answer to in your Student Handbook or that is of a personal nature. In addition to dropping in and speaking to the friendly advisors at 79 North Street (between St Salvators Quad and the Library), the ASC website is a great first stop in getting information about specific dimensions of student life – from dealing with illness during term time to getting advice on securing your room/flat while you’re not at home.
Quick Accommodation Tip - Be sure to check carefully the ‘start’ and ‘finish’ dates on contact with your lease, wherever you rent, as many contracts may not provide accommodation over certain periods during the summer
Some postgraduates will choose to live in University accommodation when they arrive, whilst others will rent privately- But all postgraduates have access to the Wardennial provision of Student Services and the centralised team of professional advisers through the ASC (The Advice and Support Centre) at 79 North St (Tel. 01334 462020). The postgraduate wardennial team can offer pastoral support and advice to students on a range of issues, but they also organise some great events like the St Leonards College Dinners! You can learn more about the Wardennial system here.
In addition, many postgraduates choose to live somewhere other than St Andrews. If you’re living outside of St Andrews this year then it’s important for you to know that there are services designed to make life easier for commuting students. The Townsend Society, for example, offers all commuting students at the University (living over 3 miles away) who become members a common room with lockers and showers in a central location in the town. If you’re a commuting student you might like to visit the PGSoc webpages which offer advice and links to helpful services such as the Townsend Society.
As a postgraduate, a lot of your learning time will be spent within your own School. However, there are also many learning opportunities to complement your skills development or career ambitions within CAPOD and the Careers Centre respectively. CAPOD, the University’s Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development has recently been formed by amalgamating the functions and development opportunities previously offered by SALTIRE (incorporating the Evening Degree Programme) , Staff Development and GRADskills. As well as giving you more opportunities for personal development, taking courses with CAPOD or attending events at the Careers Centre can be a great way to broaden your horizons and meet your postgraduate colleagues from other areas of the University.
If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the University website’s section on postgraduates, in particular the “Rules & Regulations” section. This sounds rather bureaucratic, but it’s important to read and understand the important codes of practice which will govern the working relationship between you and your lecturers and tutors, and those between you and your supervisor (if you’re a research student). And, if you take the opportunity to do some teaching, there will be other guidelines to bear in mind.
You should also dip into the Student Handbook (in the same section), which contains most of the information you’ll need concerning academics, employment, financial information, health, the library, services and support.
Quick Teaching Tip - Look into the accredited teaching modules offered by CAPOD, they’re a great way of improving your teaching and they count towards professional accreditation that lecturers at many Universities need to have!
As your research progresses and you become more confident in your field, it is very likely that you will be presented with the opportunity to do some teaching at undergraduate level within your School. Bear in mind that as soon as you become involved in teaching, there will be demands on your time over and above those taken up leading tutorials or lecturing: hours spent preparing, marking, and offering feedback will all add up. It is crucial, then, to clarify with the Head of School the number of hours for which you will be paid- when you receive your offer of employment, you should determine what, and how much work, you will be expected to undertake. Also, students may turn to you for advice, so make sure you’re familiar with the appropriate ways to deal with academic and pastoral issues. (You’ll get this kind of guidance from the preparatory lecturing and tutoring courses that all postgraduate tutors are required to take before they begin teaching.) Make sure that you are comfortable with the commitment you are making, and that you have a clear sense of how it will affect your own studies: your teaching should not be to the detriment of your research. You should discuss your workload and schedule with your supervisor, who is best placed to advise you on how to manage things and how to get the most of the opportunity and talk to your colleagues to get their insights and tips.
And lastly, doing a postgraduate degree isabout studying hard but it’s also about being a student, and enjoying the student experience. Everyone is busy with classes, but try to find time to indulge in other areas of student life- whether it’s taking part in a yoga
class at the Sports Centre, getting involved in the latest Mermaids production or even just coming along to PGSoc socials. Keep up to date with all the fabulous St Andrews events through the Students Association, St Leonards College news and the regular emails you’ll
receive from across the University.
Get involved with the PG St Andrews Experience- Stand for election at the PGSoc AGM in October and take an active role in improving the PG community for yourself and your colleagues.