“ Achieve your Bsc Honours in this undergraduate program at Newcastle upon Tyne University, England. „
As many of you know I am currently in my first year at Newcastle University, studying Speech and Language Sciences. As my first year is over and there are only the exams left I thought I would share my experiences of the course. I hope this helps you or someone you know decide whether this is the course and university for them. I have tried to keep this as brief as possible but I am writing it with the potential student in mind so it is a rather long review. (sorry)
== Speech and Language Sciences ==
When I tell people I am at university, they immediately ask what I am studying. When I say 'Speech and Language Sciences' some people say 'oh! So you can teach me to talk properly'. And others think I'm learning a foreign language. This really annoys me as there are so many more dimensions to this career. It also disappoints me that so many people are ill-informed. However, there are also lots of people who appreciate the type of course I am studying and know what an SLT is.
An SLT is a professional who works with lots of different clients in different settings. They assess and treat language, communication and swallowing difficulties in people of all ages. They work with a wide variety of clients, including people with speech problems, adults who've had a stroke, people with brain injuries, people who have swallowing difficulties and people with voice problems, to name but a few.
The course at Newcastle lasts four years and leads to a qualification to enable you to practice as an SLT once you've completed the course.
== The University ==
The University is located in the centre of Newcastle and the grades required for this particular course are ABB at A-Level.
When I was choosing a university to go to for this course, I chose Newcastle because it looked like the best one available.
The student union is located within easy access to most of the buildings and has some good facilities. Our lectures in first year have taken place quite a few different buildings, all of which have fairly good lecture theatres.
In all exams/assignments the pass mark is 40%. You have to pass everything in your first year but your first and second years do not count towards your final degree classification.
Newcastle is vibrant city with lots to do. All of the people I know from my course who have moved here from other areas of the UK are really enjoying living in Newcastle.
== Semester One ==
Psychology of Language and Communication
This module included the psychology behind the development of children, and more specifically, the development of their language and IQ. The main focus of the module was nature versus nurture and we had a written assignment to do at the end of the semester that also focused on this.
We learned about different statistical tests and why they are useful in speech and language therapy. The first half of the semester was lecture based and the second half was on the computers so we could practice inputting statistical data onto the computer. It was quite a boring lecture and nobody really liked turning up to it at 9am on a Tuesday morning! The exam was a written one but it was based in the computer room, as we had to use the spreadsheet to work out the answers. It was open book, and although this helped take the pressure off, we still had to do a lot of revision before we went into the exam.
Physiology of Speech and Language
This module focused on physiology of the human body. I had done a lot of it at a-level already so it was quite boring and the lecturer didn't make it very interesting. Some of the topics we learned about included, the circulatory system, respiratory system, physiology of the brain, hearing and language perception. We had a written exam, in which we had to write three essays.
Child Language and Development
I really enjoyed this module. The first half of the semester we learned about typical child language development and the second half we had a different lecturer who taught us about typical development. We then had to find a pre-school child to study for our assignment. We had to do this over the Christmas holidays and although we had no more lectures the assignment was handed in in April. I studied my friend's 3-year-old son. The assignment had to be 3500-4000 words and I enjoyed the observations with the child and the initial write up but by the time I was analysing the language sample I was starting to get a bit frustrated! I'm still waiting for my result from this module.
This module focuses on the International Phonetic Alphabet. We had to learn all the sounds that go with the consonant symbols (54) and also the vowels. I found it extremely difficult as it was like learning a new language. We had a written exam where we had to name the symbols/provide the symbols to go with the name, and analyse a sentence. I was very happy when I passed this exam.
We were also assigned an assignment, which we had to do in pairs. It was an accent study and we chose to study the Newcastle dialect versus the welsh one. It was quite interesting but a lot of hard work. We passed this assignment and this is 50% of our overall mark for our first year of phonetics.
This module was focused on semantics and pragmatics. Semantics is the meaning of language and pragmatics is the use of language for communication. There were lots of definitions to learn and although the lectures were good as the lecturer is brilliant, I unfortunately did not pass this exam. I am re-sitting it (with half the class) in august.
Anatomy of Speech and Language
This module was split into lectures and practical classes. The lectures covered the anatomy of the head and neck, including the bones of the skull, muscles of the face and structure of the larynx and pharynx. There were lots of new terms to learn but I found it really interesting. The practical classes were in the medical dissecting room and we looked at cadavers to demonstrate the anatomy we learned in lectures. I didn't know what to expect before my first time in the medical dissection room, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. When focussing on the anatomy it was easy to forget the cadavers were once living people and I didn't think of like that until after I came out. It was all very respectful and very educational.
We learned about issues relating to clinic and we looked at some of assessments that are used in clinic. We also had an observation in one of the university clinics. Half of us went to the adult clinic and the other half went to the paediatric clinic. I did my observation in the paediatric literacy clinic. I observed two children and it was really interesting. Second year students who are supervised by the clinic leader carry out the therapy. It's hard to believe that will be me in October!
== Semester Two ==
Introduction to Social Interactions and Contexts
A lot of this module seemed like common sense as we learned about how to work in groups and the different types of interactions people have. Some of it was new and we had to apply terms to some of the things we already know about from daily life. We had two written assignments to complete for this. I have passed one but am waiting for the other result.
Cases: Dysarthria and Articulation
These are the first cases in the case based learning approach that this course uses. Each one lasted 5 weeks and we worked in groups to work through a case, including the type of therapy we might provide for the client. These cases were really interesting although they were difficult as we felt like we hadn't learned enough to enable us to answer the cases effectively. This did make us do extra reading though so it was a good way to learn. Each student was randomly allocated one of the cases to complete a written assignment for.
This semester we learned about Syntax (the grammatical structure of sentences) and I found this more enjoyable than the first semester. I just had this exam on Wednesday so I don't know how I have done.
We learned about more of the sounds from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and we had two exams (which I did yesterday) for this part. The first part was a dictation, where we had to transcribe what the lecturer was saying, using the IPA symbols. The second exam was a case analysis where we were given some transcriptions from a child and we had to analyse it and suggest therapy.
This had a very similar structure to semester one but we did neuroanatomy so we were focusing on the brain. We had three practical classes in the dissection room but this time we just looked at brains.
We learned more about clinical practice and this time I had my observation in the aphasia clinic for adults. This was also very interesting and helped me remember why I am on the course.
== Support ==
There is a lot of support provided by the university. The lectures are informative and the lecturers do not mind being contacted to clarify anything etc. We each have an email address and we can email our lecturers any time we need any assistance. If it can't be resolved via email they are usually willing to agree a time to meet up. When we first started, we were each paired up with a second year to be our 'buddy'. I met up with mine in the first semester and have contacted her a couple of times when needing some advice etc.
There is a Staff-Student Committee, which has two representatives from each year. There are two meetings a year which is a chance for the students to tell the staff what they would like to change, what has gone well etc. I am one of the representatives for my year group and the meetings have been quite useful.
== Further Stages of the Course ==
In Second year, alongside the lectures there are also the placements in the university clinics. One semester is in the literacy clinic and the other is in the adult clinic.
In the third and fourth years the placements are outside of the university, in hospitals and clinics in the community.
== Overall ==
I am really enjoying this course; although it is extremely difficult I know it will be worth it in the end. I know there is a lot of competition to get onto this course and I am glad that I am on this course at this university! I would recommend this course to anyone interested in pursuing a career in Speech and Language Therapy.
Thanks for reading! Sorry it's so long!