Looking Ahead. Psychology. A guide to studying this subject at university and your opportunities afterwards

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1 15 Subjects inside include: forensic psychology and psychology Looking Ahead A guide to studying this subject at university and your opportunities afterwards

2 Subject overview is the systematic study of the human mind and behaviour. It seeks to increase our knowledge of issues such as personality, decision making, how we remember information, how we learn, and how we interact socially. is widely taught in colleges and universities, and may lead to psychology careers relating to counselling, health, forensics, education, sport, neuropsychology and research. It is also a highly suitable degree for many other careers not related specifically to psychology, but where an understanding of people is necessary to be effective in the work environment. Due to its focus upon human behaviour, the opportunities are endless. There are many courses on offer around the country. Here are some examples of psychology courses at the University of Portsmouth: Forensic combined with other subjects Childhood and Youth Studies with Criminology with Early Childhood Studies with English with Human Resource Management with Marketing with Sociology with Please check for courses available across the UK and for up-to-date information on Portsmouth courses. Choosing a psychology course Look out for: Course accreditation if you wish to pursue a career as a Chartered Psychologist, it is crucial that the course you choose offers Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This means that it is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This information is usually referred to in each institution s course descriptions. Additional features of the course such as work placements, optional units, extended projects and enterprise opportunities. National Student Survey (NSS) statistics show whether students graduating from their course have been happy with the course, facilities and support provided during their studies. This can be found through your chosen university s website. Employment statistics for graduates, which can be found on your chosen university s website, via their careers service or at Subjects covered on the course every university will be different, so it s vital you find the right combination of topics for you. Whilst psychology degrees with GBC tend to offer specific subject areas, these are often supplemented by the research interests of the department s lecturers. Use university websites, prospectuses and open days to find out this information. 2 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead

3 The course What will you study? During your time at university, you will study your chosen subject in depth. Universities usually run a number of compulsory or core topics for each course, which everyone studies in order to gain understanding of the key areas. There will also be optional topics from which you select according to your interests and how you want to specialise within your course. Units vary depending on the university. Below are a few examples of core and optional units for psychology courses at the University of Portsmouth: Core units: depending on the course, you could study topics such as biological and cognitive psychology, social and developmental psychology, individual differences and psychometrics, key ideas in human and animal behaviour and the psychology of everyday life. Optional units: possible units include issues in clinical and health psychology, forensics, sport, language and communication, comparative and evolutionary psychology, self and subjectivity, and psychology of offending behaviour. How will you study? Lesson type For psychology courses teaching generally takes place via lectures, seminars and small tutorial groups. For students taking single honours courses, universities tend to also promote small-scale, practical research investigations throughout the course and always an in-depth research project in the final year. These give students the opportunity to develop their research skills. Students taking psychology as a minor pathway conduct less psychological research and will base their dissertation in their main subject area. Contact time For those taking single honours psychology courses, you are likely to spend 22 per cent of your week in lectures, seminars and laboratory sessions. For those whose minor pathway is psychology, hours spent in psychology lessons will be less and will depend on the course you are taking. Assessment methods A variety of assessment techniques are employed, including written examinations, practical reports, essays, poster presentations and oral presentations. Further information for the universities you are considering can be found via the university websites, Unistats at or Which? University at Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 3

4 Getting a place Key skills and qualities required for these subjects Skills Psychologists have excellent research skills and are very methodical. Much of the study of this subject is about debating different theories and seeing the pros and cons of each, therefore excellent communication skills and written ability are vital. Due to the level of group work and management of your own practical research, teamwork and self management skills are also key. You will never stop learning as theories and models are continually changing. Qualities Qualities relate more to your personality. As psychology deals primarily with the study of human behaviour, an interest in people is vital. You need an ability to solve problems and to be able to think logically and creatively. To be effective you must be non-judgemental and able to listen effectively to people with many different experiences. Qualifications As for all degree courses, you will usually need at least five GCSEs grade A* C including English and maths. You will also need Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB) or BTEC. Many psychology degrees require students to have a sciencebased A Level or equivalent. Some institutions will accept psychology as one of these. Research methods can make up a significant portion of psychology degrees, so a good standard of maths or statistics is needed. For students without the necessary science background, studying psychology as a minor subject in combination with another major subject at degree level is an ideal option. Top tips for a successful application Show an active and genuine interest in psychology refer to research and hot topics you have investigated. Refer to work experience or volunteering where you have interacted with people from various backgrounds; this will show your interest in people. Explain what you have gained from these experiences and how it has aided your understanding of behaviour and psychology. If you have completed a research project during your A Levels, discuss this in your application. Explain what you ve learnt about approaches to research that will help you in the future. Explain what you enjoy about psychology. Universities are looking for people with a passion for the subject, so it s important to get this message across. For the universities you are applying to, read the entry information included within the course information on the UCAS and university websites carefully. This will often show what sort of person they are looking for. Refer to hobbies/interests you hope to continue at university to show how you would become a member of the university community. 4 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead

5 What to do next Unlike at school and college, university courses do not always have a set curriculum and can therefore vary widely in their content. Look carefully at the course content of the universities you are considering to make sure they cover the topics you are most interested in. Compare universities on a range of factors including employability, student satisfaction, assessment methods and lecturer contact time using the Key Information Sets (KIS) which can be found on each university s website or via Research hot topics in the industry find recent publications and journals in your library or online. A key publication will be The Psychologist (available from the British Psychological Society, Keep up-to-date with relevant news stories via the newspapers or online, such as BBC News 24. Whether it is changes to education or NHS services or current issues across the globe, these will all show your passion for your subject. Aim to hold a position of responsibility such as a prefect or house captain. Participate in award schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award to show you have teamwork, commitment and leadership qualities. Get involved in voluntary work in the community. Anything ranging from after school clubs, summer schools, respite care or elderly care homes, this will show your interest in people. Gain work experience in areas where you have to communicate with a variety of people. You can also often find work shadowing opportunities with psychologists and health and social care professionals to develop an understanding of the industry you hope to enter. Contact your local hospital or Psychological Services department to find out. Where to find out more BPS: British Psychological Society at Uni info: a site where students share academic and social knowledge at and a website that provides university and course reviews at UCAS: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for information about university courses and the application process at Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 5

6 Where could you work? Becoming an accredited psychologist requires a great deal of commitment and can take up to six years. Once you have completed your undergraduate studies, you will be required to choose an area of specialisation and enrol onto a Master s degree through which you gain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS). You could specialise in a number of areas of psychology such as developmental, occupational, counselling, educational, forensic, health or sport and exercise. You may also wish to work as an assistant psychologist, supporting clinical psychologists to deal with a wide range of mental and physical health problems. Being interested in and understanding people and their behaviour can be useful in virtually any work setting, so there are lots of possibilities. Common areas of work for psychology graduates include human resource officers developing, advising and implementing policies to support the effective use of employees within an organisation, as well as market research, which informs political, social and economic decisions made by organisations. Roles in care, education, advice and support are also often popular options. Transferable skills degrees tend to be broad in their content, but this does not impact upon the depth of knowledge you will gain. With the range of methodological approaches covered on these courses, they will also give you many desirable transferable skills. You will develop your teamwork, communication, problem solving, numeracy, self-motivation and time management skills, making you highly employable in a wide range of careers outside the psychology sector. These may include teaching, social work, (both of these would require further study after a psychology degree), police work, marketing, counsellor, careers adviser, retail management and many other areas. In fact, it is estimated that 60 per cent of employers looking to recruit a graduate (someone with a degree qualification) do not mind what your degree is in, just that you have that level of qualification. 6 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead

7 What do our psychology students go on to do? Each year we gather statistics to identify what our students are doing six months after graduating. Many find work, continue studying or even take time out to travel. Here are the statistics for our psychology students who graduated in 2013: Destination 65.6% Employed 17.2% Further study 2.5% Volunteering 4.9% Unemployed 9.8% Other Please note, these statistics (in line with national requirements) are gathered just six months after students graduate; employment prospects often change and improve greatly over the following few years. Find out more through the What do graduates do? publication at Here are a few examples of careers followed by our students: BSc (Hons) Behavioural Economics Analyst Speech and Language Therapy Assistant Sheltered Housing Support Officer BSc (Hons) Forensic Custody Care Manager BA (Hons) Marketing with Marketing Executive Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 7

8 Contact us Education Liaison and Outreach Team University of Portsmouth T: St Andrew s Court E: St Michael s Road W: Portsmouth PO1 2PR Disclaimer Please be aware, this is not a course leaflet, it is a guide for university. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication at the time of going to press (April 2015). However, you are advised that this information could be subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to and for University of Portsmouth courses, please refer to our website Accessibility If this document is in a format inaccessible to you, contact us and we will provide the information in a more suitable format. Please PDF versions of this leaflet and others in the series are also available on our website at Titles in the series 01. Accounting, Economics and Finance 02. Architecture, Property and Surveying 03. Art and Design 04. Biological Sciences 05. Business and Management 06. Computing and Creative Technologies 07. Engineering 08. English, Film, Journalism and Media 09. Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences 10. Health Sciences and Social Work 11. History, Politics and Social Studies 12. Law and Criminology 13. Mathematics and Physics 14. Modern Languages and Area Studies Sports Science MD

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