Mathematics graduate interested in psychology and cognitive science

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susanb1
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I'm a mathematics graduate who's interested in psychology and cognitive science. Although some of the Master's in these fields accept a variety of qualifications, I fear that my degree alone isn't going to make a very good application.

Given that I also don't have any relevant work experience, I've considered basing my application around personal reading. This includes a lot of books (around 40), several textbooks in psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and other related disciplines, and academic journals. This was, in part, simply due to interest, but also I had hoped it show commitment to the field and would least allow me to make an application and maybe get to prove myself at an interview.

My questions are 1) what do you think about my overall strategy? and 2) do you have any advice as to how I can get across all the reading I've done in the personal statement?
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Abbyc18
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I’m not sure if they would because they do require a background of experience so maybe ask to volunteer with mental health charities to show your supports as they do generally go on experience, I’m an undergraduate studying psychology but also looking into the master degrees in psychology. Don’t know if there is a big different between applying for undergraduate to post graduate, but all I can say is my personal statement was recognised the most because I shared my passion for psychology and how intrigued I was, hope this helps.
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sbaz18
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What programs are you considering?
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susanb1
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(Original post by sbaz18)
What programs are you considering?
Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc at UCL and Cognitive Science MSc at Edinburgh.
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iammichealjackson
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I think the main question is: what job do you want to do?

If its research, then i think a lot of PhD programs will see you having a maths degree as a real asset, and i know some neuroscience programs specifically try to recruit engineering students as they often have the skills to do a PhD which psych grads don't. In this case doing a cognitive science masters sounds like a good plan, especially to introduce you to the field more. I guess after this you have to think about what kind of PhD you'd like to apply for, which may be hard to think about before you've studied much of psychology.

(Original post by Abbyc18)
I’m not sure if they would because they do require a background of experience so maybe ask to volunteer with mental health charities to show your supports as they do generally go on experience, I’m an undergraduate studying psychology but also looking into the master degrees in psychology. Don’t know if there is a big different between applying for undergraduate to post graduate, but all I can say is my personal statement was recognised the most because I shared my passion for psychology and how intrigued I was, hope this helps.
Volunteering experience is not really that relevant for PhD research, but useful if the OP plans to do clinical/educational psychology afterwards! If you do want to become a professional applied psychologist (e.g. clinical), you need to do a psychology conversion masters degree which is BPS accredited.
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giella
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It really depends where you’re applying. If you’re considering a conversion course which is a feeder programme to a professional doctorate, there’s a fair degree of competition. If you’re applying to the local university that happens to run it, they’re just going to want to see that you’re capable of demonstrating your interest and your academic capability ie do you meet the minimum requirements and do you care enough to finish the sentence that starts with ‘I want to study psychology because...’ in an intelligent way.

They’re not really in much of a position to influence what happens to you after you graduate anyway so they don’t place too much emphasis on whether you’re halfway to becoming a clinical psychologist or if you deserve an MBE for community serves. They just want to know that you have the skills to survive and possibly thrive on the course ie. can you work well with others, can you read a paper and understand it, and will you read the paper and understand it! Just focus it around that and you’ll be fine.
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susanb1
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
I think the main question is: what job do you want to do?

If its research, then i think a lot of PhD programs will see you having a maths degree as a real asset, and i know some neuroscience programs specifically try to recruit engineering students as they often have the skills to do a PhD which psych grads don't. In this case doing a cognitive science masters sounds like a good plan, especially to introduce you to the field more. I guess after this you have to think about what kind of PhD you'd like to apply for, which may be hard to think about before you've studied much of psychology.



Volunteering experience is not really that relevant for PhD research, but useful if the OP plans to do clinical/educational psychology afterwards! If you do want to become a professional applied psychologist (e.g. clinical), you need to do a psychology conversion masters degree which is BPS accredited.
Thanks for your response. Yes, I am hoping to go into research. The MSc is an entry point into the field for me - to help me decide what kind of topics I want to work on afterwards as well as getting the qualifications required for a PhD (it most likely won't be clinical psychology though).

It's promising that universities look for engineering students for their neuroscience programs, and I plan to position my application to take advantage of this by explaining that my technical skills will be useful despite my lack of actual experience. Do you have any other advice for improving my chances of at least getting an interview, something that admissions look for? It still feels like I'm pretty thin on selling points. Like I said, I've done a fair bit of reading but I'd like something a bit more concrete in there.
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susanb1
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(Original post by giella)
It really depends where you’re applying. If you’re considering a conversion course which is a feeder programme to a professional doctorate, there’s a fair degree of competition. If you’re applying to the local university that happens to run it, they’re just going to want to see that you’re capable of demonstrating your interest and your academic capability ie do you meet the minimum requirements and do you care enough to finish the sentence that starts with ‘I want to study psychology because...’ in an intelligent way.

They’re not really in much of a position to influence what happens to you after you graduate anyway so they don’t place too much emphasis on whether you’re halfway to becoming a clinical psychologist or if you deserve an MBE for community serves. They just want to know that you have the skills to survive and possibly thrive on the course ie. can you work well with others, can you read a paper and understand it, and will you read the paper and understand it! Just focus it around that and you’ll be fine.
Hi, I appreciate the reply. As I mentioned above, I'm looking to do an MSc as a stepping stone to postgrad research, but not in clinical psychology. I think you have some good advice there regarding ability to read technical papers, handle the workload etc. - I'll be sure to convey this in my statement. My academic qualifications are quite good (first class honours from a top five university, whereas most of the courses I found required a 2:1) so I'm less worried about competition in that sense than I am about looking like a weak candidate on paper. This is why I'm asking what else there is that I can do to improve my chances.
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by susanb1)
Thanks for your response. Yes, I am hoping to go into research. The MSc is an entry point into the field for me - to help me decide what kind of topics I want to work on afterwards as well as getting the qualifications required for a PhD (it most likely won't be clinical psychology though).

It's promising that universities look for engineering students for their neuroscience programs, and I plan to position my application to take advantage of this by explaining that my technical skills will be useful despite my lack of actual experience. Do you have any other advice for improving my chances of at least getting an interview, something that admissions look for? It still feels like I'm pretty thin on selling points. Like I said, I've done a fair bit of reading but I'd like something a bit more concrete in there.
To be honest, for a lot of masters programs, they really are not very selective as they don't tend to be overbooked. Which ones were you thinking of?

If you can code in a common statistics/analysis language (R, python, matlab) that would be a plus for research masters, or have done statistics modules i'd highlight those in your degree. After your mastest in the summer i'd try to get research experience in a lab (unless you'll be doing that for your masters over the summer anyway!).
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susanb1
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
To be honest, for a lot of masters programs, they really are not very selective as they don't tend to be overbooked. Which ones were you thinking of?

If you can code in a common statistics/analysis language (R, python, matlab) that would be a plus for research masters, or have done statistics modules i'd highlight those in your degree. After your mastest in the summer i'd try to get research experience in a lab (unless you'll be doing that for your masters over the summer anyway!).
Great points! I'll have to brush up my programming but statistics skills will be quite easy to prove. As I said in the other post, I'm considering Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc at UCL and Cognitive Science MSc at Edinburgh. Alternatively a conversion MSc might actually be better for me, except I'm worried that it won't be very advantageous to have a conversion master's for postgraduate work... Hard for me to verify my suspicion because I don't have much data on some of these courses.
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by susanb1)
Great points! I'll have to brush up my programming but statistics skills will be quite easy to prove. As I said in the other post, I'm considering Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc at UCL and Cognitive Science MSc at Edinburgh. Alternatively a conversion MSc might actually be better for me, except I'm worried that it won't be very advantageous to have a conversion master's for postgraduate work... Hard for me to verify my suspicion because I don't have much data on some of these courses.
I get the impression that conversion courses try to cover a lot in a quite a rapid and superficial way. They're more suited for people who need a BPS accredited psychology degree to become or clinical or other applied psychologist, rather than a research career.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgr...08&r=site/view

Looking at the above entry requirements and modules, it doesn't sound like they're tailored JUST for psychology graduates, but they explicitly list that people with maths, computer science degrees are fine to do it. If you're unsure, i'd email the course organisers. A course like that sounds perfect, as if you're doing a course with a load of psychology graduates which focuses on things like essay writing you might be at a disadvantage, but from the sounds of it, that course is more tailored towards hard STEM people
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susanb1
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
I get the impression that conversion courses try to cover a lot in a quite a rapid and superficial way. They're more suited for people who need a BPS accredited psychology degree to become or clinical or other applied psychologist, rather than a research career.
I see, well thanks for your help your posts were very useful.
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