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If you're intrigued by the inner workings of the mind and how it influences behaviour, here's why you should consider a psychology degree

  • 15 October 2021
  • 6 min read

What might an accountant, a teacher and an HR manager have in common?

Each of these careers can begin by studying the same versatile subject. Psychology.

Why study psychology?

Psychology acts as a guide to why we think, feel and act the way we do. A knowledge of psychology research and theory is essential for clinical psychologists who work with patients to improve their lives, but it's useful within many other careers too.

Whether you're building rapport with investors, teaching a class, or managing interpersonal relationships within a team, psychology gives you the tools to gain an understanding of the personalities, motivations and behaviours of those around you.

Over 750,000 people in the UK work in an area that involves psychology as part of their role, and this is only set to rise. Life's ever-increasing pace and pressure have sustained a demand for psychological skills for many years, but the British Psychological Society (BPS) - which accredits many of our psychology courses - predicts a surge in this need as we continue to adjust to life post-Covid.

What's more, psychology can offer a route to lifelong self-reflection and personal growth. When you assess your own thoughts and actions with an understanding of psychology, you gain perspective that can enrich your life as much as the lives of others.

What can you do with a psychology degree?

A BSc Psychology is where to start your journey to becoming a psychologist, but there are also many other careers this degree can lead to. So, it's a great choice if the subject sparks your interest but you're unsure what you want to do next.

Our psychology degree includes modules that set you on the path to becoming a Chartered Psychologist, which is the officially-recognised standard for psychologists registered with the BPS and something you'll need if you want to practise psychology professionally. You'd be able to continue onto further education and training to become a Chartered Psychologist after graduation.

What else can you do with a psychology degree? Thanks to the transferable skills you'd develop - such as critical thinking and effective communication - you could pursue a career in marketing, social work, HR, law enforcement, or even teaching (with extra training), to name just a few.

A psychology degree arms its graduates with some of the most highly sought-after skills going, so you needn't worry about feeling boxed in when you embark on your career. 

Psychology is a fascinating discipline which shines a spotlight on issues such as, what motivates us, what creates emotion, what drives behaviour, as well as many other aspects of human (and, often, animal) life. Studying Psychology leads to well developed skills in conducting scientific research, meaning students can make their own exciting discoveries.

Dr Roger Moore, Principal Lecturer in Psychology

How do I choose a career in psychology?

So, a psychology degree is adaptable. But if you're sure about becoming a Chartered Psychologist, how do you pick a specialisation?

Psychologists become 'Chartered' in a specific field of psychology. These are a few of the main areas:

  • clinical psychology - working with people experiencing conditions such as depression, anxiety and addiction
  • sports psychology - helping athletes overcome personal struggles to achieve their goals
  • forensic psychology - applying psychology to legal issues, investigations and the behaviour and mindsets of those who commit crime

Thankfully there's no need to know which area you might want to opt for ahead of university. In fact, many students find that exploring these areas during their degree helps them plan their future careers.

Work experience can be invaluable in this sense too, so we offer various work placement opportunities as part of our psychology degree. As well as giving you experience to help you stand out to future employers, it's a chance to try out an area of psychology within a real role, such as assistant psychologist, student clinical psychologist or student researcher.

"The placement shaped my career plans and acts as a cornerstone in my aspiration to train as a clinical psychologist," explains BSc (Hons) Psychology student, Khudayja Datoo.

"As a result, I applied for a neuropsychology placement for my final year which I secured successfully; I cannot wait to start working with brain-injury patients and expanding my psychological experience on this side of the spectrum."

What skills do you need to be a psychologist?

While there's no set criteria for a good psychologist, there are certain skills and qualities that benefit those with psychology-related careers.

Firstly, it's vital to be curious about the subject. As the science evolves, psychologists and those who use psychology in their work should never stop exploring the latest research and theory.

It can also help to be open-minded, non-judgemental, patient and (as you might've guessed) a great listener.

At Portsmouth, we help our psychology students refine these and other employability skills as part of their personal development, so they're ready for the world of work, whatever they choose to do next.

As for Khudayja? "I hope to continue studying at the University of Portsmouth by pursuing MSc Health Psychology to work up to a clinical doctorate one day. I have high hopes for the future," she says.

If you think psychology could be part of your future too, why not get in touch or come along to an Open Day?

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