A Student’s Perspective on the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Kelly Scovell

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research highlights research done by undergraduates. The conference, which is held annually in the spring, lasts two days, and invites undergraduates to submit papers, posters, workshops, and performances. Students submit abstracts and those who are accepted receive invitations to the conference. BCUR held its first conference in 2011, and has since become the largest undergraduate research conference in all of the UK.

This year, the conference took place at the University of Sheffield. One element of the conference that I enjoyed was the freedom with which you can present your research. It means you can use your particular skillset to present in the most suitable way for you. For example, a fashion student was very creative; she created a large, colourful poster, with lots of coordinated props to draw attention to her research. In contrast, there were also timetabled talks where you could present in front of a room of individuals to explain your work in much more detail.

That might sound frightening at first; it certainly did to me. My research group and I decided to present our research using a poster. This was because we liked the creative aspect and it was my first experience in presenting. In the lunch hour, people could walk around viewing posters and have very friendly yet academically focused discussions about the work. This is absolutely perfect for building confidence! You can get used to presenting and explaining research without the pressure of being the main focus of the room. Everyone is friendly and genuinely interested in your contribution which typically reduces any nervousness.

Your research can be on any topic you want, within reason; a very exciting concept for those of you who are independently driven and excited about the future of Psychology. You might be working on a dissertation, or you may have developed your own topic for your assessments. If you are not certain that your topic is suitable, contact the BCUR or ask your lecturer or tutor.

If you are an undergraduate student, conferences like this are great opportunities to meet students from other universities and share the results you worked hard to produce.  These experiences are invaluable for improving confidence and will invite more excitement the more you engage with them. For me, I am now excited at the prospect of presenting and look forward to the next opportunity.