"You study Psychology? Does this mean that you know what I’m thinking?"
This is a common response when I tell people what I do. The general public seem to be fascinated by Psychology. Concepts from Psychology are part of our everyday language and form the basis of many television programmes. Yet as Psychology is a very diverse field, many people only have a vague idea of what a Psychology researcher, student, or professional might actually be doing with their time.
What is Psychology?
Psychology is a vast field of study that can basically be summarised as the study of the mind and behaviour. This captures a number of related but varied disciplines. The School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester offer degrees in Psychology, Audiology and Speech and language therapy. Researchers in the school are working on projects that can span from the development of hearing aids, to the factors which influence somebody’s preferences for particular products.
Studying Psychology as an undergraduate involves a three year programme which offers a broad introduction to the field. As students progress through the course they can choose modules which allow them to follow their developing interests. Psychology students gain scientific research skills throughout the course and complete their own research project in the final year.
What can I do with a degree in Psychology?
15-20% of students who study Psychology as an undergraduate will go on to continue studying for a postgraduate qualification. Examples of postgraduate training courses include Clinical Psychology, Educational Psychology and Occupational Psychology. Alternatively, students may consider completing further research training such as a PhD, in which they focus on a specific research project over several years.
Students who do not decide to continue training in Psychology may pursue opportunities such as training as an occupational therapist, working for the police or in human resources. The skills in critical thinking, communication and problem solving that students develop over the course of their Psychology degree are valued by many employers.
There are further benefits to studying Psychology beyond enhancing your career prospects. For example, Psychology can teach you a great deal about yourself and how you interact with people and the world around you. A degree in Psychology can help you understand the limits of how much you can remember, why your eyes plays tricks on you, or why you are drawn to particular options in the supermarket. You may not finish the three years with mind reading abilities, but you will have an improved understanding of how we navigate our world.
The School of Psychological Sciences website provides information about studying Psychology at the University of Manchester http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/
The British Psychological Society’s website provides information about degrees and careers in Psychology, including further information about Clinical Psychology, Educational Psychology and Occupational Psychology http://www.bps.org.uk/careers-in-psychology
The following website offers synopses of interesting developments in Psychology research: http://mindhacks.com/
A series of videos in which lecturers from the University of Manchester discuss common misconceptions about Psychology can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNGSLqZab4TkgY8cnJQxgtA