Getting involved with psychology research from year one

At the start of the academic year, students are often swamped with an incredible amount of information from the structure of certain modules to society joining fees to how to get 2-4-1 at the local takeaway.  For Psychology students,  the words ‘seps’ and ‘sona’ may have cropped up and some of you may still be trying to get your head around what they are and how they are relevant to your studies. Here to help with that is psychology student, Victoria Thomas, who has all the answers to your seps and sona questions…


During welcome week I remember hearing someone mention ‘Seps and Sona’ and wondering what on earth it was.  I had absolutely no idea what to do with the information they had given me about this and at a time when everything people had said was a foreign language, it was just a drop in the ocean but overwhelming nonetheless. It played on my mind and maybe it has played on yours too. Let me try to clarify some of the information surrounding Seps and Sona.

Sona is a system where students and staff advertise their research studies in the hope of finding other students to help them with it. For example, third-year students will go on Sona to look for first and second years to partake in their research for their dissertation. For the psychology course, you are obligated to collect a number of credits on Sona by completing such research and these are known as Seps credits. For every 15 minutes of research you partake in you will receive one Seps credit. You sign up to the research by clicking on an advertised slot on Sona.

You can opt-out of participating in research studies and do an essay instead but my advice would be to steer clear of this route. Although I didn’t do the essay so I can’t tell you what that is like, I do know that participating in research is fun and will allow you to gain ideas of the types of things you can do when you start your dissertation.


The university has been doing this for a long time, so they know what they’re doing. Ultimately, if this was a pointless exercise and the feedback was negative they would’ve stopped it before you even contemplated coming to Manchester so go into it with a positive outlook! Enjoy and embrace the opportunities you have and use this time of participation to figure out things that interest you and things that don’t. Figure out ways of collecting data that is valuable and will give you reliable results so when you hand in your dissertation the methodology is the best it can be. Use this as the time to see psychology in real life!

Importantly, whilst on Sona you need to check your eligibility to be able to complete said research, for example, some research requires you to wear glasses, be male, be a member of the LGBTQ+ community and much more but before signing up check these requirements. Do not sign up if you do not match these requirements. There will be plenty of experiments that do match your eligibility so don’t lie, it ruins your experience and can mess with the results of research.

Another tip I can give you is that if you can’t go to the research slot, cancel it, your wasting your time, the students time and you lose credits. When it’s nearing the deadline those credits will be precious, don’t jeopardise them! Secondly, the people running these experiments will be you one day, it would be infuriating to make time, set up the lab, come into university especially for a student that does not turn up because they forgot to cancel. And it will be infuriating as a first or second year to not pass this module because you lost three credits for not turning up to a two-credit study.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, start early, you will not under any circumstance have enough time to cram Seps credits. First and second year students are all trying to get them and all around the same deadline so research slots do go fast especially near the deadlines. If you do get them in early, you won’t have to miss lectures for a research study and the idea is to not do that – getting your credits is important but so is going to lectures! New studies go on daily so don’t panic if you can’t find any, there will always be new ones coming on. A lot of studies go on during semester two but keep a lookout still in semester one as there will still be some studies available.


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