There are many questions asked over and again about psychology degrees. Below we try to answer a few of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I really want to do Psychology, but I heard you have to be good at Maths, is this true? I hate Maths.
Statistics is an important part of a Psychology degree, and a knowledge of Mathematics is helpful. Normally, a University will look at GCSE grades, and a B in Maths will usually suffice in their minds that you are capable. Remember that the University will give a lot of help usually to those struggling, and some institutions offer extra classes and guidance when teaching statistics. If you have achieved good A-levels, its very likely you'll be quite capable to fend off a little mathematics! Also it should be noted that a lot of the stats during Psychology A-level involves using computer software (e.g. Minitab, SPSS). If you're already quite technologically savvy, you shouldn't find things too difficult.
- I also heard it’s really science-y, and I hate Science too. Where did Freud go?
Freud never actually studied Psychology as a degree, and since his days Psychology has progressed far to become a scientific discipline. Nearly all undergraduate degree courses in Psychology are now BSc as opposed to Ba, reflecting the scientific weight of the subject. Almost 50% of work in the first year of a Psychology course can be in a laboratory environment and writing up results and conclusions to studies. The workload is very heavy on science, but lectures on other areas such as Social Psychology for instance do balance it out with more theory-based stuff. Ultimately, if you have researched or studied Psychology and are genuinely intrigued by the subject as a whole, it is probably a suitable course for you. The science is difficult, but if you enjoy the topic, you will most likely succeed.
- I'm predicted Bs and Cs for A-Level, will any of the good Universities accept me?
This depends on what one would define as "good". In terms of those scoring highly on the league tables for Psychology, you may be at a disadvantage as a large number of applicants nowadays can offer top grades. However, a lot of emphasis is equally placed on the personal statement and experiences, so try to focus on this strength and produce a statement that really sells your interest in Psychology. The worst thing that can happen is one rejection out of five choices on UCAS if you aim "too high", so its always worth a shot!
- I want to be a Clinical Psychologist but I’ve heard it’s really competitive – do I have a chance?
Many jobs are competitive, not just in Psychology, but Clinical Psychology is admittedly a tough area to secure education. Normally, candidates graduating a BSc in Psychology will find that they must seek work experience before they will be seriously considered for a Clinical course. Thus it is extremely important for candidates to try and secure work experience as soon as they can. Assistant Psychologist positions are seen as very prestigious, and as they come with a salary, useful to students. However, most candidates will have to resort to voluntary work due to the highly competitive jobs. Furthermore, a good 1st or 2:1 degree is really quite mandatory to set candidates apart when it comes to Clinical course admissions. Candidates with a 2:2 or 3rd will find it extremely difficult on the whole to secure a place on a good Clinical course.
- I’ve never done Psychology before, but it sounds interesting; would it be okay for me to apply for a Psychology course?
Of course, but one should consider researching the subject first. A personal statement is looking at how adept you would be and how and why you are interested in Psychology. To say that you've had a look and it seems interesting is not a good position to come from. You should express that you have done a lot of research and have found what you have discovered fascinating. You should also try to convey an active interest by mentioning any work experience you have done or intend to do to further your first-hand knowledge of the subject.
- Psychology is often viewed upon in the media as a "soft subject", with so many people choosing to study it. Will potential employers still be impressed by a Psychology honours?
Psychology has felt a lot of bad press, largely due to the stigma of its historic past as a non-scientific discipline, and the fact that it is a relatively new course (which always tarnishes fields as "popular" and "soft" as opposed to things like Maths or History). The subject is extremely popular, but graduates will always head towards a surprisingly diverse range of jobs due to a Psychology degree's versatility. It equips students with mathematical and statistical knowledge, critical thinking, logic, academic rigour, and many other very coveted qualities to an employer. There is in reality no disadvantage in having a good degree in Psychology, with employers more interested in the candidates themselves. Though it may sound a little crass, an employer with a rigid elitist view on Psychology might not be the perfect person to work for in any case.
Where can I find work experience?
You may find it difficult to find placements working directly with Psychologists until you have a completed a psychology degree; however, you can try contacting those working in your area by searching http://www.bps.org.uk/e-services/find-a-psychologist/psychoindex$.cfm . Consider what type of people you want to work with and contact local organisations and charities that are relevant. For example, if you want to work with children, get in touch with your Local Education Authority, children’s charity or the children’s unit at your local hospital.