BPS Conference

On Wednesday, May the 3rd, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the British Psychological Society`s annual conference in Brighton. Here follows a short account of the experience. *For a quick table of my PROS and CONS of this conference skip to the bottom of the post*

The conference was held in a hotel near the Brighton pier (I hope that counts as sightseeing). Our small group collected the nametags and goodie bags in the lobby and “poof”- we were gone, lost inside the labyrinth of conference halls and staircases. The talks and presentations run in 6 halls simultaneously and were grouped into 4 blocks of 40 minutes to 2 hours. The blocks were intercepted by 30-minute coffee breaks (which were much needed as I came to appreciate early on).

As the themes of the conference were wellbeing, looking forward and social justice, I found it more than appropriate to start off with attending a talk on the importance of eating breakfast (yes, the Oscar Wilde pun was intended…after all , we were in Brighton). I was very pleased that, despite the small early-session-and-conference-hall-tucked-away-in-some-random-corner audience, the talk was flowed by quite a lively Q-and-A session and I left the conference hall mentally refreshed. However, my physical shell was still damaged from the torturous ride and I welcomed the prospect of a steaming cup of fresh coffee.

The hall with refreshments was buzzing with life as people greeted each other excitedly, chatted unconventionally about their latest research and new trends in brain imaging techniques and took turns at the coffee stations. There were a lot of humans out there. I managed to take my share of the bitter goodness and went on to inspect the first few posters that were already on display. *NERD ALERT: I seem to have a thing for posters, so I will keep on coming back to these*

I was so excited to finally see an academic poster in real life. I mean, you do hear about them, you might catch one out of the corner of your eye as you walk down the corridor in the School of Psychology, but seeing it there in flesh… paper was a whole new world to me. Among the many things I found intriguing about the posters, the different ways in which people graphically display their data was my personal top.

Before I knew it another session started and I encountered the only downside of the conference: too many interesting things were happening at the same time, or at very close temporal proximity (now, that`s a fancy way to put it), and with a considerable distance to cover between the conference halls.

Right after lunch break, which I spent in the refreshing company of a few other attendees, the keynote speaker presentation started off the longest block. Professor Martin E.P. Seligman, a pioneer of positive psychology, gave one of the most professional and enjoyable talks I have attended so far! (If details were to be mentioned, another blog post would have to be written). A few more presentations and guess what- another coffee break! And even more awesome- poster presentations!

Just imagine it: a hall full of people cruising the room with cups of hot coffee or tea in their hands, checking out one, three or even all forty six posters, stopping occasionally to chat to the students whose posters were on display. The periodic movement of the cups up and down, indicating who is talking and who is listening, the buzz of the brainstorming, the discussions and questions….don`t these people ever get tired? As the first day of the conference was dedicated to students, all the posters presented in this session were (to my knowledge) the works of either graduate or final year students. I found it inspirational and motivational when I engaged in a conversation with a human not much older than myself, yet felt positively intimidated by the broadness of her knowledge and quick responses to questions.

And before I knew it we were in the bus speeding through the narrow streets of Brighton into the sunset. After the poster session I remember attending a bit of the final talk of the day, given by the current president of the BPS, but I believe by that time my fragile brain was at its limits and didn’t even mind having to leave in the middle of it to catch our bus.

So that`s it. That was our day sneaking a peek into the “adult life” of academics and professionals in psychology… and I can’t wait for next year to come.

BPS Student Conference 03.05.2017
It was for free– the School of Psychology generously provided the registration fee for  Plymouth students. We were only asked to pay 40£ refundable coach deposit Timetabling– too many interesting things were happening at the same time. I know this is inevitable, but it still!
Lanyard and name tag– to make you feel important Venue– the place was huge and easy to get lost in. This meant that if you wished to move between halls to catch different talks in the same block, you ether had to leave early or arrive late which, although normally without an effect on the flow of the presentation, did make you conspicuous…and rude.
Coffee breaks– great opportunity to either unload your brain while doing some unconventional networking Those bits that weren`t essential to your existence, but would have made it easier on you– in my case these were the long travel and the absence of a manned cloak room. But, al good stuff has it`s pice
Free refreshments and lunch– so no need for heavy bags stuffed with 2 weeks’ worth of snacks and water bottles or stressing about skipping out on lunch so that you can make it back before that talk you wanted to go to (or worrying about spending money for eating out for that matter)  
Presentations– on most occasions the content was understandable and undergrad student friendly and t was a good way to broaden one`s horizons of a particular knowledge  
Speakers– again, on most occasions the speakers were experienced speakers presenting a subject there are passionate about. What was there not to enjoy  
Posters– an easy read of the newest project and provided the opportunity to talk to the scientist in person. More networking!  
Sponsor sales– as most sponsors were big sharks in academic publication, you could get your hands on books fresh off the print with as much as 30­% discount (and if you are as much of a textbook lover as I am you can understand the temptation that haunted me for the whole day)  


One- word summary? –  Inspirational

Would I recommend it? – To those who are passionate about psychology, like engaging in informal psychology-related conversations, those who see their future in the academia and even those who are maybe struggling with their academic identity- definitely *Y.E.S*.


Bianka Kolevska


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