Psychology is the most popular science subject in higher education in the UK. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds and entrance qualifications study it. Applications are welcomed from overseas students.

A degree course in Psychology (usually three years, four years in Scotland) has an emphasis on science, developing the understanding of the human mind, brain, behaviour, social contexts and experience through teaching and research. A degree will include acquiring knowledge and experience of a wide range of research skills and methods. Throughout there is an emphasis on the real life applications of the subject, which has a growing impact on popular culture.

Degrees cover very much the same area, as the British Psychological Society governs and continually reviews the core curriculum; in general a degree will initially introduce the discipline and possibly cover allied subjects such as biology and sociology, providing introductory practicals, statistics and research methods. This will be followed by detailed core coverage of the whole discipline, from the biological basis of behaviour and neuroscience through to social psychology, covering cognition (perception, memory, learning, attention), human development, individual differences (including personality, intelligence, psychological testing), conceptual and historical aspects and further practicals, research methods and statistical work. The final year will normally involve an individual research project, and studying a series of specialist options which will be different from institution to institution, reflecting the expertise and research of the staff. So these may vary from options that relate to career pathways such as forensic psychology to detailed specialist studies such as applied cognitive psychology. Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the developing of skills for subsequent employment, including presentations, group work and critical thinking. Assessment will be by a wide variety of methods, ranging from conventional examinations to case study and portfolio presentations.

student studying at desk

So institutions will differ within this framework; some will have world famous people who are very much specialists, and all will have people who are dedicated and enthusiastic about their subject and their research. What will be on offer will thus vary from place to place depending on staff interests. Some will have a greater emphasis on teaching, whilst others will try to develop the skills of independent learning, All will have good basic laboratory and IT facilities, whilst a few will have facilities for detailed work on such areas as brain and perceptual functioning. Some will be small, others large, some will be campus based, some will be out in the country, others will be in city centres, some may be in buildings scattered in an urban environment. Some may be in small towns, others in large cities. Some will be in brand new purpose built buildings, others will be historic settings. Some will provide large lectures, others individual tutorials.

Completion of the degree is the first step if graduates wish to become a professional psychologist; normally it will be followed by further study and supervised practice, which will last a further three years before becoming an independent professional psychologist. The degree is of course very suitable for a whole variety of other professions, including teaching, marketing, human resources, media and social work.

So a degree in psychology is not only intrinsically interesting but also it offers a whole variety of routes into employment.