Did you know that catching someone else's yawn shows empathy? That good liars are best at detecting lies from others? That we unconsciously search for human faces in inanimate objects? If you're interested in the whys and hows to these questions, it sounds like a degree in psychology is right for you!
Examples of psychology can be found everywhere, from conforming to societal norms to the typing symbol on WhatsApp, intriguing us and ultimately keeping us online longer.
Psychology focuses on understanding a person's emotions, personality and mind through scientific studies, experiments, observation and research. Through describing the behaviour of humans, and other animals, we are better able to understand and sometimes manipulate outcomes!
The degree - what's included?!
A healthy dose of science
A psychology degree isn't just scintillating discussions about areas of the mind; it's a science, which means an understanding of biology is required, eek! Experiments, lab settings and neuro pathways all have one thing in common, science! Most universities require students to have at least one A-level in a scientific subject.
In psychology, we use statistics to make sense of and interpret a whole load of information. Psychologists are confronted with enormous amounts of data and they need to understand its relationship to other pieces of data, even if the links are minuscule. For example, how do changes in one variable affect other variables? And are there ways to measure those changes!
Some universities do require a B in GCSE Maths; this is purely to make sure that students don't fall behind on the heavier maths elements of the course, AKA stats. Don't worry though statistics are usually computer-based, using various statistics software. Most universities realise that stats is a tricky area so they usually offer extra classes in the form of 'help desks' where you can go along and consolidate your learning.
Course work heavy
If you get the sweats even hearing the word 'exam', a psychology degree might be right for you! You'll have some exams, but not many, as you'll mainly be assessed through coursework, essays and laboratory practicals.
Discovering how others think will give you an insight into your own mind and behavioural traits, which can be invaluable to your personal and working life. Even if you don't pursue a career directly relevant to your degree, chances are your new knowledge will lead you to be more in touch with what makes you happy! This self-awareness is invaluable and can ensure you enjoy whatever you end up doing!
Career routes in psychology
Having a degree in psychology means diverse career options, ultimately the more we learn about psychology, the more areas we can apply it to! A psychology degree will arm you with an understanding of human thought, behaviour, development, personality, emotion, motivation and more. With this understanding, the career door is wide open; you could work in education, marketing, HR, healthcare, policy, the list is endless!
You could even be at the forefront of issues that face society today, like mental and physical health issues or creating policies that lift people out of poverty. Broader still psychology can address humanitarian concerns, such as supporting those recovering from war trauma or assisting in guiding social sustainability programmes.
Business and beyond..!
We bet you didn't know that businesses use psychology to influence their customers' behaviour. Have you ever added something to your shopping basket while in the queue for the checkout, some gum, maybe? Shops call these products' impulse buys', as typically these items aren't on our shopping list but being placed by the checkouts means we act on impulse; their use of psychology has changed our behaviour.
A lot of people don't realise that doing a psychology degree doesn't mean you are a psychologist, for that you have to do further training. All in all, it takes a minimum of seven years to become a clinical psychologist. Here's what you'll need:
- At least a 2.1 or a first in your undergraduate degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS),
- One year of experience doing something clinically relevant.
- Once you have both of these in your back pocket, you can apply to a three-year doctorate programme. Doctorates are currently funded by the NHS and are pretty competitive as they pay you whilst working as a trainee clinical psychologist!