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Curious about the human mind? Wonder why we think and behave in different ways? Want to affect positive behaviour change? Then psychology could be the subject for you.

Psychology is a diverse area of study with many specialisms and applications to health, business, sport, education, advertising and more.

Here’s what you need to know about studying psychology at university.


What is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind. It will help you better understand how and why we think, feel and act in certain ways. If you’re curious about human behaviour including communication, memory, and feelings then you should consider this subject.

What is psychology? And what does a psychologist do?



Why study psychology at university?

If you want to make a positive difference in the world, psychology will give you plenty of options. Whether you’re passionate about social issues, or you want to improve the lives of individuals, psychology will give you the knowledge and skills to design interventions, diagnose and treat disorders, and change behaviours.


What course options are there to study psychology?

Whether you’ve studied psychology before or not, there are a range of courses available including foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level.

  • The psychology foundation year covers the fundamental principles of Psychology and will prepare you for study on an undergraduate psychology course.
  • Undergraduate psychology courses are generally full-time for three years, or 4 years with study abroad. At the end you would have a Psychology BSc (Hons) degree. You could also specialise in areas such as health, clinical, business, forensic or experimental psychology.
  • Postgraduate psychology courses allow you to take your learning to the next level and to specialise in areas such as Sport and Exercise Psychology, and Health Psychology. If you do not already have an undergraduate psychology degree, you could choose a Psychology MSc or Occupational and Organisational Psychology master’s as a way to transition into this subject area.


What qualifications do you need to study psychology?

Entry requirements for undergraduate courses will vary by university, but to give you an example of what to expect, Northumbria University’s entry requirements for 2023 entry are below:

  • To enter the foundation degree, you need 80 UCAS tariff points (an example grade combination would be CDD).
  • If you want to enter directly onto an undergraduate level programme, you will need 128 UCAS tariff points (an example grade combination would be ABB).
  • For the postgraduate Master’s courses, you will usually need at least a 2:2 in any subject. Some programmes require an undergraduate psychology degree.

If you wish to study a Master’s degree in Psychology at Northumbria University, you would need at least a minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in any subject. For some of our specialist programmes, you would need a minimum of a 2:1 honours degree in Psychology (or MSc equivalent), or a minimum of a 2:1 in another subject including relevant work experience. Again, entry requirements will vary by institution but this should give you an idea of what to expect.

These entry requirements may vary year on year - please check the individual programme pages for the most up to date entry requirements for each course.



What is it like to study psychology at university?

As psychology is a science-based subject, you will have the opportunity to design, conduct and participate in your own projects and studies.

Alongside theoretical learning in the lecture theatre and seminars, you will have the opportunity to conduct research, through observations, interviews, surveys, and even virtual reality simulations. These studies can help identify new patterns of behaviour or discoveries about how we think, feel and act.


What topics are covered in a psychology degree?

There are many different areas of psychology including health, clinical, business, forensic or experimental psychology. Here are some of the topics that have been included on psychology courses at Northumbria University:

  • A Psychological Focus on Crime
  • Eating Disorders
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Sleep and Health
  • The Psychology of Leadership
  • Plants, Diet and the Brain
  • Hormones and Behaviour
  • Consumer Psychology
  • Mental Health Problems
  • Psychology of Intimacy



What career opportunities does psychology offer?

Once you’ve completed your degree, the most obvious career choice is a chartered psychologist.

However, many professions value the skills and knowledge that a psychology degree offers. Analytical thinking and an understanding of human behaviour are important in many fields including people management, human resources, counselling, marketing, nursing, law, teaching, user experience and interface design, and social work to name a few.

The average salary for a psychologist is £35,318 per year* in the United Kingdom (*July 2022, Indeed).



Why choose Northumbria for psychology?

  • Northumbria’s research in Psychology is ranked 15th in the UK for research power, Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
  • 90% of our psychology graduates achieved first class or upper second degree.
  • We offer significant placement opportunities for students in over 40 local organisations and businesses. We have excellent working partnerships with a diverse range of organisations including NeuroPartners, National Autistic Society, Tyneside Mind, Children North East.
  • We have excellent facilities including an immersive virtual reality suite and motion capture lab, machines to monitor cerebral blood flow, labs with touch screen computers for cognitive testing, and eye tracking software, interview cubicles and a child cognition lab.





What’s the difference between psychology and psychiatry?

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and considers why people think, feel and act in certain ways. Psychiatry is more specifically the study of mental health problems and their diagnosis, management and prevention.


Can I study psychology at university if I’ve never studied it before?

Yes. There are no specific subject requirements for studying psychology, however as it is a science based subject, it’s good if you enjoy maths and statistics.

If you’re interested in psychology, find out more about our courses and entry requirements.


Please Note

All content is accurate as of the time of writing, the information in this guide is subject to change and will be updated as required to reflect this.

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