Why Study Psychology? | A Prospective Guide for Psychology Students

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Date of Publication: 03 November 2020

Are you curious about how the human mind works? Do you want to know the science behind human behaviour?

If the answer to both those questions is ‘yes,’ then you may want to consider studying Psychology either at a summer school, as an A-Level or as an undergraduate at degree level. 

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide for prospective students. It answers some of the most commonly asked questions that students often have about the courses, including its entry requirements and the benefits of studying Psychology. Take a look at them below. 

 

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human brain and its functions, which seeks to understand behaviour in particular contexts. The subject is an applied science, which involves diagnosing issues with general principles, backed by case studies and research.

A professional working within the field of psychology is often referred to as a ‘psychologist,’ who attempts to understand the role of a person or animal’s mental functions and the way they behave in a particular social setting. 

psychology-is-the-study-of-human-behaviour

Why study Psychology?

Whether you want to gain professional experience for further study or simply develop a deeper understanding of the world around you, there are many reasons why you may want to consider studying psychology. 

Let’s take a look at 5 of the most obvious benefits that come from studying Psychology at a summer school, at sixth form, or at undergraduate level.

 

1..Prepare for a professional career in Psychology

It seems like a fairly obvious statement to make – if you want to pursue a career within the Psychology field, you should gain as much extra study experience as possible.

Participating in a range of extracurricular activities and academic training, including a summer school in Psychology, can be a great way to fast-track your career and develop a solid foundation of knowledge on the subject.

No matter your age, there’s never a right time to start preparing for your future. If you’re passionate about the subject, you should look into where that passion could take you. In fact, you can begin studying Psychology aged 13 with us in the city of Oxford. We also offer courses for students aged 16-17 preparing for university, as well as 18-24 year-olds who want to extend their knowledge ahead of further study and speciality. 

We also offer the same courses in Cambridge too, so you can study a subject you’re passionate about in a city you love! 

Gaining practical experience in this way can help you to understand the different branches of Psychology and decide which area you may want to specialise in; including clinical, legal, educational, as well as research-based roles. 

 

2. Develop your analytical skills

Psychology is a science. Because of this, the approach you have to take with it has to be objective, backed by research and data.

As such, in order to make such unbiased decisions, you need to tackle the subject matter with an analytical eye, applying research to learn about human behaviour and mental decisions. 

Therefore, by studying Psychology in detail, you have the opportunity to advance your analytical skills, using scientific research methods to base assumptions and form opinions on the human brain and its neural connections. 

This training will be invaluable throughout your further studies and career. Even if you choose not to pursue a career in Psychology, the critical analysis and research training you will receive can be applied to a whole range of pathways. 

 

3. Help you to understand the world around you

As a social science, Psychology is one of those subjects which can help you to grasp a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. 

By learning about aspects of human behaviour, you will be able to better understand your interactions with others, your learning capabilities, the way you cope with life stresses, as well as the logic behind some of your emotions. You’ll also be able to better understand the behaviour of those around you, including the way they interact with you and the way they address certain situations. All skills which are highly valuable, particularly in work environments. 

In fact, a recent study which looked into the most favourable skills for the workplace found that 93% of employers count soft skills as either ‘essential,’ or ‘very important’ when making recruitment decisions. Therefore, anything you can do to improve yours will help hugely when it comes to employability. 

 

4. Complement your other subjects

The great thing about Psychology is that it’s such a broad subject, training you in a variety of skills which can enhance your understanding of your other subjects.

For example, the study of language and communication can complement a range of humanities subjects, including Theatre Studies, Politics and Leadership. Meanwhile, the analytical side of the subject can complement other technical subjects like Mathematics, Medicine, Engineering, as well as a range of other STEM-related courses.

So, whether you want to study it in combination with another major at university, or want to get ahead in your high-school studies, Psychology can be applied to a whole range of subjects and enhance your overall academia. 

 

5. Grow your communication skills

Effective communication is vital for any modern workplace. Employers are placing increasing importance on their teams and their colleagues to share ideas, create strategies and work on group projects together. 

Fortunately, studying Psychology can grow your communication skills significantly, and most students develop theirs without even realising it. 

As an essay-based subject, it demands that students understand different viewpoints, can structure a balanced and considered argument, and then apply it to different topics and scenarios. 

If you can master this method of communication, you can then transfer these skills from the classroom straight to the office, helping you to excel in your future career. 

Ultimately, whatever path you choose for your future, psychology can supply you with a variety of skills which will enhance your employability and master your career.

psychology-develops-communication-skills

Applying to Study Psychology at University

Psychology remains one of the most popular subjects to study at university in the UK, with job opportunities expected to grow by 19% over the next 5 years.

Many degree programs available here are considered some of the best in the world, having been accredited by the British Psychological Society – a professional body and board of recognition for those looking to pursue a career with chartered status.

As a result, there are a whole range of courses available, including specialist paths for those looking to narrow their study at undergraduate level. 

Before applying, there are some things you should be aware of, including the subjects most universities look for and the necessary entry requirements.

 

What do you need to study Psychology?

As Psychology is a social science, there isn’t a set list of subjects required to study it at university. 

According to the official UCAS website, ‘a combination of good, academic A-Level subjects is required. Psychology A level is desirable, but not usually required. Other preferred subjects include sociology, geography, anthropology, economics, politics, philosophy, and history.’

On top of this, literature-based subjects can also be helpful because of the essay-based nature of the course. Meanwhile, mathematics and other statistical-based subjects can be beneficial with the analytical components of the degree.

In summary, as long as you have a balance of A-levels with good performance throughout, you can apply for a Psychology degree with almost any subject. 

Note: Some universities may list specific subjects and grades which they require for their degrees, so remember to check individual entry requirements for each institution you are considering applying to. 

 

What are the entry requirements for Psychology?

With Psychology being one of the most popular courses for students to apply to, competition is often quite intense. As such, it’s not uncommon for university admission tutors to ask for high grades or UCAS Tariff points.

The UCAS website states that ‘entry requirements range from CCC to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBB.’

However, some universities will also ask for your GCSE grades (or equivalent), so you should always check each course provider’s entry requirements carefully to ensure that you are able to meet them when applying.

 

What to write in a personal statement for Psychology?

When you apply to a UK university to study Psychology, you will need to write a personal statement to support your application.

Universities will be looking for a coherent and well-written statement, with evidence that demonstrates your motivation and interest in studying the subject at a higher level.

For further detail and guidance on what to include when writing a personal statement for UCAS, please refer to our guide.

 

Is A-Level Psychology hard?

As mentioned above, an A-Level in Psychology can be desirable for those looking to study it at an undergraduate level. However, it’s also a popular choice for many students looking to take an A-Level which complements their other subjects.

At a glance, the general consensus is that A-Level Psychology isn’t too hard. But of course the difficulty of a subject is down to an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Despite popular opinion being that Psychology is one of the ‘easier’ sciences you can study in sixth form, it does involve a lot of research and essay writing, as well as some mathematics and data analysis. 

The exam also heavily relies on a good memory and the ability to recall lots of case studies. It tends to involve at least one long essay question, with which you need to memorise case studies, research, and statistics for. So, if you struggle with memory-based tasks, you should consider if A-Level Psychology is the right subject for you.

psychology-requires-a-lot-of-memory-based-learning

Are Psychology degrees hard?

If you are considering pursuing Psychology in higher education, then you need to assess whether the subject and its components are right for your learning style. 

According to university comparison sites, Psychology is considered to be quite a strenuous degree, involving lots of essay-based coursework, exams and lectures.

Of course, different universities will focus on different aspects of Psychology. For example, if you apply for a course which is quite hands-on, then you will probably do a lot more research work than if you were to study on a heavily lecture-based course. 

When looking for Psychology degrees, ensure that you read the course prospectus carefully. In order to excel in your studies and make your experience as satisfying as possible, you want to ensure the course is tailored to your learning style and interests.

 

What career opportunities are there with a Psychology degree?

The study of psychology at undergraduate level is broad and many individuals specialise in a particular niche after completing their initial degree, either with a masters or PhD. 

There are so many jobs available which are directly related a Psychology degree, including:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Educational psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Health psychologist
  • Psychology tutor (at secondary school or higher education)
  • Occupational psychologist
  • Psychological wellbeing practitioner
  • Psychotherapist
  • Sport psychologist
  • Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)

However, there are also so many related career paths you can choose from, all of which will draw on the transferable skills you develop during your degree.

Whether you choose to focus on a career which hones in on your research and analytical skills, or your understanding of emotion and human behaviour, there are so many so many different options for you to apply your training to. 

 

Conclusion 

Psychology is a hugely competitive field, but one which offers so many opportunities for students.

Whether you have dreams to work within a specific branch of Psychology, or are looking to extend your skill-base and better understand the world around you, Psychology is a subject which presents a whole range of transferable skills. 

As such, whether you choose to participate in a summer school, Psychology online course or pursue it as an A-Level with plans to advance onto an undergraduate degree, there are so many potential avenues for it to take you down.

 

Enhancing your knowledge with a Psychology summer course

As an award-winning short course provider, we are committed to delivering the very best education to our students. Drawing on teaching practices from the world-renowned educational systems of the University of Oxford and Cambridge, we work with some of the UK’s best tutors to provide a truly authentic and high-quality learning experience. 

If you’re thinking about pursuing Psychology in the future, or simply want to get a taste of what the subject has to offer, take a look at our available Psychology summer courses and see how you could fast-track your career this year.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a shorter, more intensive study option, take a look at one-week Psychology courses, running in the spring months for students aged 16-17 and 18-24.

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