From Undergrad to PhD; How Important are "Research Circles"?Watch
If anyone has had any experience related to this or who has any advice I would be really grateful for a response, thank you.
I don't think you have to stay at the university you did your undergraduate degree at but whether you stay or go somewhere else it will be important to build connections and try to do things that will make you standout from the next candidate
Unless you already "have an in" with a potential PhD supervisor at your current institution (e.g. you've done dissertation/summer research projects/other work etc with them already, and they're keen on taking you on for a PhD and are a good supervisor and are relevant in their field) I don't think it's particularly important. I'm inclined to believe as above, it is probably worthwhile to do some of your graduate work at least at another university (it's not necessarily uncommon to do your UG at one uni, masters elsewhere, then return to your alma mater for your PhD), which will help you see what things are universal (or at least common) in academia/the HE sector and which things are peculiarities of your institution (and whether those are in it's favour or not).
Of course, even if you aren't already set up with a given supervisor, if you like your current institution and the area you would be living in (this is important because it's another 3-4 years for the PhD minimum and you want to make sure you're happy to live there - and it's generally a lot harder to "transfer" in a PhD than as an undergrad), then by all means stick with it. I don't think you should specifically stay there for any other reason though and I don't think there is any reason to believe staying at one institution confers any real benefit in either the long or short run.
I would note, for some areas of research, they are relatively uncommon and there are only a few departments really active in those areas. Thus it tends to be researchers in that area often come from those one or two departments, and often they may well have started their undergraduate careers there and been exposed to that area in UG teaching which may not have been present in other universities. Thus your observation that people in your area often stick in the same university might be something of a self selection matter - that they were exposed to the area as an undegraduate, and the department was actively involved in research there and might be one of only a few that is, and thus they ended up only applying there and a couple other places and decided to stay where they are. Equally, those studying elsewhere may not have been exposed to that subject area, and then been less likely to apply to masters/PhD courses in that area.
I would not worry about it too much. Do a research project at your current uni, see what you thought of it - is that area for you, is it not for you, did you get on with the supervisor or rule things out. What did you learn from it etc.
If you go to another institution for a master's degree that gives you two perspectives as said above and two lots of circles. I can think of at least three PhD Psychology students who switched uni between the different levels.
The only person I know well that stayed at the same institution undergrad/DPhil/PhD/EngD regrets doing their doctorate there. They say they chose the wrong one (still all right and given them a career) and they should have applied for more than one elsewhere.
You'll have a lot of time to think about this as there's a lot to consider for a master's degree and a very hot debate about whether they are worth doing in Psychology. It will be the written blurb for the application for PhD funding that will require a lot of though later on.
Answer: it depends.