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Can I teach a subject chemistry if I have a psychology degree?

Hiya,

I am a student in year 12, studying biology, chemistry and psychology. Recently, I've been thinking about my future, and career/degree options.
I've always wanted to be a psychologist, but I'm not so sure anymore, and secondary teaching seems to appeal to me more.
However, I'm still very much interested in psychology, and would like to study it a university, but I think I'd rather teach chemistry in a secondary school.
I've read that you can teach a subject you don't have a degree in, as long as it's 50% related to your degree? So, I was just wondering if psychology and chemistry as 50% or so related, and whether I'd be able to teach chemistry with a degree in psychology (hopefully)?

Thank you so much for any replies :smile: xx
Original post by lanababe78
Hiya,

I am a student in year 12, studying biology, chemistry and psychology. Recently, I've been thinking about my future, and career/degree options.
I've always wanted to be a psychologist, but I'm not so sure anymore, and secondary teaching seems to appeal to me more.
However, I'm still very much interested in psychology, and would like to study it a university, but I think I'd rather teach chemistry in a secondary school.
I've read that you can teach a subject you don't have a degree in, as long as it's 50% related to your degree? So, I was just wondering if psychology and chemistry as 50% or so related, and whether I'd be able to teach chemistry with a degree in psychology (hopefully)?

Thank you so much for any replies :smile: xx

Honestly, probably not, as psychology is considered a "social science", whereas chemistry is a "pure science". Doing a PGCE wouldn't be much help without a chemistry degree (in case you were wondering), as it teaches you how to teach without focusing on a particular subject. Unfortunately, chemistry and psychology are quite different subjects (though they are both technically science subjects), as psychology is essay-based and chemistry is more practical. The vast majority of schools would need you to have a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a PGCE.
My understanding is to teach a given subject at secondary level, you need to have done a degree with at least 50% of that subject making up the course, for example in a joint honours course, or some courses such as engineering or physics where maths might make up half the course content by default. Since you are presumably doing a single honours course in psychology, and there is no chemistry content otherwise in a psychology degree, I think you would not be able to do a PGCE in Chemistry and teach that subject directly.

However, if your course has less than half of it's content being a given subject you might be able to do an Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) to bridge the gap. I'm not sure how plausible that is as an option if your first degree has no subject relevant content in it though (this seems more common for, as the above example, engineering or physics where half the course is not maths, but they still do a lot of it and they just need to bridge a smaller gap to prepare for teaching mathematics at secondary school level).

As it is, I do not think that degree would be a suitable background if you wanted to teach chemistry at secondary school level. A chemistry degree would obviously be most relevant. However something else with a lot of chemistry content plus an SKE, such as a degree in biochemistry, or at a stretch perhaps pharmacology or chemical engineering, may suffice.

@04MR17 might know some more about the format of qualifying for secondary school teaching?
(edited 5 years ago)
Probably not because you need to teach a subject that you are highly qualified at secondary level.
Technically, if you have QTS from a PGCE you are 'qualified' to teach at secondary level. You will have to prove to your employer you have the knowledge to do this. This is usually by having a degree in the subject. However, it is not limited to this. I know a qualified chemistry teacher who also teaches psychology. They can do this because they have the psychology knowledge. A lot of secondary teachers dip in and out of other subjects as and when the school requires.

If you want to take a psychology degree, and teach chemistry at secondary it won't be easy but not impossible. You could apply to a PGCE in secondary biology, which has cross over from psychology. This would then qualify you to teach science. Once you have a job you are very likely to be given physics and chemistry classes to teach. It will also help if you have a very good a-level grade in chemistry.

E.g. https://www.exeter.ac.uk/teachertraining/secondary/science/biologywithpsychology/
Reply 5
Original post by kazzykat95
Honestly, probably not, as psychology is considered a "social science", whereas chemistry is a "pure science". Doing a PGCE wouldn't be much help without a chemistry degree (in case you were wondering), as it teaches you how to teach without focusing on a particular subject. Unfortunately, chemistry and psychology are quite different subjects (though they are both technically science subjects), as psychology is essay-based and chemistry is more practical. The vast majority of schools would need you to have a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a PGCE.

this makes a lot of sense- thank you so much for answering my question xxx
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
My understanding is to teach a given subject at secondary level, you need to have done a degree with at least 50% of that subject making up the course, for example in a joint honours course, or some courses such as engineering or physics where maths might make up half the course content by default. Since you are presumably doing a single honours course in psychology, and there is no chemistry content otherwise in a psychology degree, I think you would not be able to do a PGCE in Chemistry and teach that subject directly.

However, if your course has less than half of it's content being a given subject you might be able to do an Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) to bridge the gap. I'm not sure how plausible that is as an option if your first degree has no subject relevant content in it though (this seems more common for, as the above example, engineering or physics where half the course is not maths, but they still do a lot of it and they just need to bridge a smaller gap to prepare for teaching mathematics at secondary school level).

As it is, I do not think that degree would be a suitable background if you wanted to teach chemistry at secondary school level. A chemistry degree would obviously be most relevant. However something else with a lot of chemistry content plus an SKE, such as a degree in biochemistry, or at a stretch perhaps pharmacology or chemical engineering, may suffice.

@04MR17 might know some more about the format of qualifying for secondary school teaching?

this has honestly been SO helpful - thank you so so much for taking the time out to reply and answer my question! xxx
Reply 7
Original post by bwilliams
Technically, if you have QTS from a PGCE you are 'qualified' to teach at secondary level. You will have to prove to your employer you have the knowledge to do this. This is usually by having a degree in the subject. However, it is not limited to this. I know a qualified chemistry teacher who also teaches psychology. They can do this because they have the psychology knowledge. A lot of secondary teachers dip in and out of other subjects as and when the school requires.

If you want to take a psychology degree, and teach chemistry at secondary it won't be easy but not impossible. You could apply to a PGCE in secondary biology, which has cross over from psychology. This would then qualify you to teach science. Once you have a job you are very likely to be given physics and chemistry classes to teach. It will also help if you have a very good a-level grade in chemistry.

E.g. https://www.exeter.ac.uk/teachertraining/secondary/science/biologywithpsychology/

thank you so so much for taking the time out to reply, and answer my question- this has been most helpful! thank you, also, for the advice- very much appreciated xxx
Reply 8
Original post by Rumaysaa_18
Probably not because you need to teach a subject that you are highly qualified at secondary level.

that makes sense- thank you so much for replying xxx
Reply 9
Original post by lanababe78
Hiya,

I am a student in year 12, studying biology, chemistry and psychology. Recently, I've been thinking about my future, and career/degree options.
I've always wanted to be a psychologist, but I'm not so sure anymore, and secondary teaching seems to appeal to me more.
However, I'm still very much interested in psychology, and would like to study it a university, but I think I'd rather teach chemistry in a secondary school.
I've read that you can teach a subject you don't have a degree in, as long as it's 50% related to your degree? So, I was just wondering if psychology and chemistry as 50% or so related, and whether I'd be able to teach chemistry with a degree in psychology (hopefully)?

Thank you so much for any replies :smile: xx


As someone doing a secondary PGCE in September, I would say no. They are two completely different subjects. I mean if you had an A* at A-Level you could argue your point. Try to take some chemistry modules at uni if you have some flexibility like i did in first year. :smile: That might be a way in.
I am taking a pgce in secondary maths. One of the others has first degree in psychology. He had to do a SKE in maths first.
If you become a chemistry teacher you will probably be expected to cover biology and physics too (so a chemistry pgce student told me).
Hi! Don’t know if this thread is still active but I just wanted to share my opinions.

I graduated with a degree in psychology and decided to teach science. I’m specialising in Biology but will also be expected to complete and SKE covering biology, chemistry and physics. I will be teaching biology to A-Level but chemistry and physics to GCSE alone. In answer to your question, it is feasible to teach chemistry with a psychology degree however you probably wouldn’t be able to go beyond GCSE, but could teach biology further.

Hope this helps :smile:
hi!

thank you so so much for taking the time out to reply- i really appreciate it!
this has given me the biggest sense of relief - i really needed to read something like this, thank you so much!

would you mind if i asked a few questions about the SKE and how you're finding things in general?

thank you so much, again! x
Original post by ABGrifter
Hi! Don’t know if this thread is still active but I just wanted to share my opinions.

I graduated with a degree in psychology and decided to teach science. I’m specialising in Biology but will also be expected to complete and SKE covering biology, chemistry and physics. I will be teaching biology to A-Level but chemistry and physics to GCSE alone. In answer to your question, it is feasible to teach chemistry with a psychology degree however you probably wouldn’t be able to go beyond GCSE, but could teach biology further.

Hope this helps :smile:
Original post by lanababe78
hi!

thank you so so much for taking the time out to reply- i really appreciate it!
this has given me the biggest sense of relief - i really needed to read something like this, thank you so much!

would you mind if i asked a few questions about the SKE and how you're finding things in general?

thank you so much, again! x


No problem!

Go ahead! I haven’t started the SKE yet so I can’t comment much on it but I’ll try answer your questions from what I know so far!
Original post by ABGrifter
Hi! Don’t know if this thread is still active but I just wanted to share my opinions.
I graduated with a degree in psychology and decided to teach science. I’m specialising in Biology but will also be expected to complete and SKE covering biology, chemistry and physics. I will be teaching biology to A-Level but chemistry and physics to GCSE alone. In answer to your question, it is feasible to teach chemistry with a psychology degree however you probably wouldn’t be able to go beyond GCSE, but could teach biology further.
Hope this helps :smile:

That's amazing! This is quite late but how did it go? I am currently doing an SKE in physics

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