Psychology is learning about the mind. If you have a passion for the mind and figuring out why the brain works the way it does, a path in psychology is for you.
Studying psychology is an opportunity to learn about human behaviour and open your mind to new perspectives and facts. As a broad subject, it can help lead you to various career paths.
Psychology is insightful, impactful and a degree choice which can help you develop personally and professionally.
What is psychology?
Psychology is the study of the mind, how it works and human behaviour. It involves learning about how individuals and groups think and behave, using case studies as evidence to diagnose thought processes and disorders.
A psychologist's role is to understand a person's cognitive functions and behaviours. You'll be taught through experiments and essays to understand the subject in-depth. As psychology is used in many industries from HR to medicine, it can be applied to multiple industry areas. A job in psychology is collaborative, working with clients and talking openly about how you can diagnose and find a solution.
For a psychology personal statement, it’s crucial to share your personal knowledge of the subject and relevant extra curricular activities.
The range of psychology courses is varied in universities, with some covering a general scope of psychology studies to other more specific courses. These are the most common types of psychology courses:
- Applied psychology
- Child psychology
- Clinical psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Educational psychology
- Experimental psychology
- Forensic psychology
- Social psychology
- Sport psychology
What are the modules for this course?
Psychology degrees can vary in their focus, depending on the course or university choice. Whether you’re studying general psychology degree or one more specific, these are some module examples:
- Behavioural psychology
- Biological psychology
- Cognitive processes in psychology
- Counselling techniques
- Developmental psychology
- Evolutionary psychology
- Issues in personality and individual differences
- Research methods in psychology
- Social psychology
When the course progresses, you will choose more specialised modules. And what you can pick depends on the specialisms your university offers. Some of the specialised modules you could choose are:
- Mental health
- Clinical psychology
What are the entry requirements?
The entry requirements for psychology can vary depending on the university and course. Most universities require between 104-156 UCAS points.
This could include the qualifications:
- A-levels: Most universities prefer one science A-level, including biology, maths, chemistry or physics. Psychology A-level isn’t necessary but desired. On average, expected grades range from A*A*A*-BCC, with BBB being most asked for commonly.
- BTECs: You will need to check with your chosen university if they accept BTEC qualifications as an entry requirement. On average for a psychology degree, grades DDD-MMM are required.
- Scottish Highers: In Scotland, the A-level equivalent is Highers and for this degree. Grades vary, at AAAA-CCCC, with most universities asking for BBBB. Some universities may also ask for Advanced Highers in addition to Highers at grades AAA.
- International Baccalaureate (IB): For students taking the international baccalaureate, the expected score can range from 42–30.
As part of the entry process, you may be invited to an interview or open day which can include a small group exercise where you will be asked to talk about a topic relevant to the course.
With the competitiveness of the course, experience is a great asset to your application. You can gain experience shadowing an occupation in the care sector such as elderly care or at a school. Independent reading and research are beneficial to your knowledge also.
How do I write my personal statement for this subject?
For a psychology personal statement, it’s crucial to share your personal knowledge of the subject and relevant extra curricular activities. It’s also important to ensure your statement is well structured and well written.
You should discuss specific interests or ambitions which are related to your course and future career. If you are taking a specific course rather than general psychology, such as sports psychology, this is where you would highlight your interests in this particular topic. You should also share where you have pursued this interest, which links to the course. For example, through volunteering or work placements.
Universities will also be keen to hear about your enthusiasm for psychological research and any extra reading or research you have undertaken.
It’s also valuable to provide examples of non-curricular activities in which you are involved to demonstrate your overall enthusiasm for the subject. You can work in the mental health sector, either fundraising for a charity or volunteering your time or working in a mental care facility. It’s also helpful to listen to talks by key mental health professionals and qualified psychologists.
Psychology degree jobs can vary. Whether it’s choosing to go down the psychology route and work as a psychologist in a specialist field or other jobs such as support worker or analyst.
Even if you don’t have any relevant work experience for the psychological field, you can use any experience and explain why skills you have learned are useful. For example, working in a supermarket job builds your communication and teamwork skills.
What books or equipment do I need?
With psychology degrees, universities will provide recommendations for a reading list based on your chosen course. However, to give yourself further insight and knowledge, there are many resources available. For example, The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, The Private Life of the Brain by Susan Greenfield and Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: Extraordinary Journeys into the Human Brain by Dr Allan Ropper and Brian David Burrell.
You can read books by qualified psychologists or counsellors to further your insight or read up on professional body journals such as the PsychHub.
For equipment, a good quality laptop and a range of stationery are beneficial to help you take notes and write up your assignments with ease.
How will I be assessed?
For psychology degrees, assessments vary by module and have a combination of the following:
- Case studies
- Computational tests
- Dissertation or research project (final year)
- Lab/research reports
- Reflective accounts
What are the career prospects?
Psychology degree jobs can vary. Whether it’s choosing to go down the psychology route and work as a psychologist in a specialist field or other jobs such as support worker or analyst. Psychologists usually require further training, including a postgraduate qualification before they are fully qualified to practice as a psychologist. Psychology specialisms you could have a career in include in clinical psychology, counselling psychology, child psychology, business psychology and many more options.
Psychology is the study of the mind, how it works and human behaviour.
If you're not interested in pursuing a career in psychology, you can use your skills and qualifications to move into other fields. These include finance, teaching, law, advertising, media, business, HR and many more. For some of these sectors, you may need to undertake further studying or training. Roles within the IT industry may also be an option, however you would need to take a conversion course (this course helps you train into another specialism).
What jobs can I get with this degree?
A psychology degree can open up a world of opportunities for many career paths. Whether you would like to stay in the psychology sector or move into other sectors, these are some of the job roles you can consider:
- Brand psychologist
- Counselling psychologist
- Consumer psychologist
- Clinical psychologist
- Digital analyst
- Drug and alcohol recovery practitioners
- Educational psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- High-intensity therapist
- Mental health support worker
- Occupational psychologist
- Psychological wellbeing practitioner
- Sports and exercise psychologist
How does psychology change at a postgraduate level?
Postgraduate training is vital to be a practising psychologist. Including many of the specialisms such as a master's in clinical psychology or a master's in counselling psychology. Postgraduate degrees can vary and some examples include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy PGCert/MSc, MSc Social Psychology and MA Advanced Counselling Theory and Research. A postgraduate degree allows you to develop your insight further and specialise in a certain topic.
A master's in psychology can take anywhere between one to two years, whilst an undergraduate takes three to four years and a doctorate takes four to six years.
What is the average grad salary in this area?
A psychology graduate’s salary is dependent on skill level, experience and location. The average salary ranges from £21,000-£23,000. With a few years of experience in the industry, you can earn around £32,500.