Study Psychology: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Embarking on a journey into the captivating realm of psychology in the United Kingdom offers an enriching experience like no other. As a prospective student, you are on the brink of unlocking the mysteries of the human mind while immersing yourself in a diverse and dynamic academic environment. Whether you’re driven by a passion for understanding human behaviour or seeking a fulfilling educational adventure, the UK beckons as an ideal destination for your psychology studies.

Study Psychology: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Table of Contents

What is Psychology?

Have you ever wondered why we feel the way we do, why we think certain thoughts, or why we behave in particular ways? Well, the answer lies in the captivating world of psychology. At its core, psychology is like a magnifying glass that zooms in on the intricate workings of our minds. It’s a discipline that seeks to unravel the mysteries of human behaviour, thoughts, and emotions.

In simple terms, psychology is the study of what makes us tick. It’s the science that explores the patterns and puzzles of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Whether we’re talking about understanding the causes of stress, the reasons behind our dreams, or how our childhood experiences shape our adult selves, psychology is at the heart of it all.

Why Study Psychology?

Studying psychology offers a multitude of compelling reasons, each of which can have a profound impact on your personal and professional life. Here are some key reasons why you might consider studying psychology:

  1. Self-Understanding: Psychology provides valuable insights into your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. By studying psychology, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your motivations, and your strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Understanding Others: Psychology equips you with tools to better understand and relate to the people around you. Whether in personal relationships, at work, or in your community, understanding human behaviour and motivations can be incredibly beneficial.

  3. Helping Others: Psychology offers a path to a rewarding career in helping people. Clinical psychologists, counsellors, and therapists, for example, work to improve the mental health and well-being of individuals and communities.

  4. Problem Solving: Psychology teaches critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are applicable in various fields. These skills are valuable in business, education, healthcare, and more.

  5. Versatile Career Options: A degree in psychology can open doors to diverse career opportunities. You can work in fields such as counselling, education, human resources, marketing, research, and healthcare.

  6. Contribution to Society: Psychologists contribute to society by addressing important social issues. They conduct research on topics like mental health, addiction, and social justice, leading to better policies and practices.

  7. Personal Growth: The study of psychology can promote personal growth and self-improvement. It can help you develop better communication skills, enhance your emotional intelligence, and manage stress more effectively.

  8. Fascination with the Mind: If you’re genuinely intrigued by the human mind and behaviour, psychology provides an opportunity to satisfy your curiosity and explore the complexities of consciousness, memory, perception, and more.

  9. Research and Innovation: Psychologists engage in research to advance our understanding of the mind and behaviour. This research can lead to innovative solutions and interventions that improve the quality of life for individuals and communities.

  10. Interdisciplinary Insights: Psychology often intersects with other fields like biology, sociology, and neuroscience. Studying psychology can provide you with a well-rounded education that draws from various disciplines.

In essence, studying psychology can enrich your life personally and professionally. It offers a deep and meaningful exploration of the human experience, and the knowledge and skills you gain can be applied in a wide range of contexts, making it a versatile and valuable field of study.

Best Universities for Psychology in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge1963.611008875100
2University of Oxford2063.629899.3
3London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London2104.413.6410098.8
4University of St Andrews2134.013.4397.8809395.8
5University of Bath1884.043.0398868694.8
6UCL (University College London)1903.953.5796.9668893.5
7Loughborough University1623.93.5397.8788692.5
8University of Glasgow2094.133.5196.5728392.4
9Cardiff University1673.763.5597.7758792.2
10University of Bristol1803.793.3396.9748191.9
11King's College London, University of London1744.043.594.8708691.8
12University of York1654.23.5398.6667691.7
13Durham University1743.723.2298.4758191.6
14University of Exeter1693.83.4497.8767691.6
15University of Warwick1564.053.3597.6748291
16University of Leeds1603.723.2898.1738490.5
17The University of Edinburgh1983.633.6498.1647390.5
18University of Surrey1414.063.3597787989.9
19Lancaster University1563.843.2399737389.7
20University of Southampton1523.93.3798687889.4
21Newcastle University1573.813.2196.8737889.4
22University of Sheffield1503.553.4598.8688289
23University of Birmingham1543.613.4897.8657988.6
24University of Nottingham1573.673.2998.2687288.6
25University of Manchester1613.573.3897.9647288.2
26Aston University, Birmingham1313.913.1898.3708688.2
27University of Strathclyde2023.973.4997557388.1
28Queen Mary University of London1493.793.2898618188
29Royal Holloway, University of London1513.833.4795.9647588
30University of East Anglia UEA1383.853.4597.6607386.8
31University of Liverpool1433.473.4697.8627786.7
32Bangor University1284.153.1796.7647286.3
33University of Aberdeen1694.23.2897.5497586
34University of Reading1393.573.3297597885.7
35City, University of London1413.92.8997.3607585.6
36University of Kent1363.363.1797.3687585.4
37University of Leicester1273.743.3297.1587985.2
38Northumbria University, Newcastle1433.872.8597596985
39Nottingham Trent University1303.923.0297.3567584.4
40University of Sussex1373.723.3896.9487284.3
41Glasgow Caledonian University1813.993.4198.1457384.3
42University of Plymouth1323.853.0597.1507684.1
43Queen's University Belfast1623.822.6495.7486784
44University of Stirling1654.043.1896.2476784
45Swansea University1383.62.995.7636783.9
46University of Portsmouth1294.072.9693.4597483.8
47University of Lincoln1293.763.0396.4557483.7
48Keele University1293.722.9795.1627683.7
49Ulster University1273.963.0394.8587183.6
50University of Essex1223.933.3293.9557283.4
51University of Hull1263.93.195.5517283.1
52Bristol, University of the West of England1314.032.9293.7567682.8
53Plymouth Marjon University1214.552.6493.382.6
54Liverpool John Moores University1383.892.4693.5587582.6
55University of Winchester1263.812.2892.3717482.2
56University of Dundee1703.83.0694.6437082.2
57University of Hertfordshire1153.812.8995.4617782.2
58Abertay University1563.992.6896.8576582.1
59University of Suffolk1034.12.6990.4747582
60Manchester Metropolitan University1343.853.0294.5516982
61Oxford Brookes University1114.032.9395.5537381.6
62Heriot-Watt University1703.72.4196.3546381.5
63Bournemouth University1183.782.7395.1576981.4
64Staffordshire University1213.932.7592.7557381.4
65Edinburgh Napier University1684.143.0891.8545781.3
66University of Westminster, London1113.812.7594.4617180.9
67Liverpool Hope University1253.612.9292.2586580.9
68University of Chester1293.932.3593.1616780.8
69Edge Hill University1313.92.4593.6526780.7
70University of Greenwich1203.852.9592.1616080.7
71University of Chichester1224.072.0891.3637280.5
72Birmingham City University1273.892.1993.5567880.5
73Sheffield Hallam University1193.742.6496.6527580.5
74University of Brighton1173.552.8394.9527780.4
75University of South Wales1243.912.7790.8626980.3
76University of Worcester1203.772.393.2578280.3
77Leeds Beckett University1213.792.5494.2527580.1
78University of Central Lancashire1243.892.7995446880.1
79Cardiff Metropolitan University1283.442.9690.9548080
80Kingston University1183.882.6592.6546879.8
81Brunel University London1193.572.5295.4556379.7
82Aberystwyth University1254.172.1795.6366979.3
83University of Roehampton1073.712.9292.3526979.2
84University of Salford1223.493.0190.9508179.2
85Canterbury Christ Church University1064.132.6391.8527279.2
86York St John University1214.112.6792.3466179.1
87University of Gloucestershire1213.851.5595576778.7
88University of Derby1164.082.3194486578.6
89Bath Spa University1173.72.0693.4567378.5
90Anglia Ruskin University1083.942.6887.9547578.5
91University of Bradford1173.672.0992.9586778.3
92University of the West of Scotland13342.2791.8567178
93Coventry University1283.842.9786.1447177.9
94London Metropolitan University1024.152.6784.1656377.9
95University of Cumbria1034.41287.86077.5
96De Montfort University1163.612.4391.7526777.5
97Goldsmiths, University of London1203.213.0190.6495877.3
98Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh1553.742.393.9445677.2
99Leeds Trinity University1153.981.7889.1578077.1
100University of Buckingham1313.9584.1728377
101University of Huddersfield1273.942.490.3306776.6
102St Mary's University, Twickenham1134.042.1785.4477876.6
103London South Bank University1103.542.4990.3486676.3
104University of Bedfordshire983.792.6385.8567976
105University of Bolton1174.151.6389.7556075.9
106University of Wales Trinity Saint David1263.991.3981.1627475.5
107Teesside University, Middlesbrough1153.882.1789.9417075.4
108Middlesex University1113.622.7483.7615275.3
109University of Northampton1103.642.0991.6356874.7
110University of East London1053.452.6191.4416874.7
111University of Sunderland1194.052.8780.1465674
112University of Wolverhampton1083.932.3787.5395873.9
113Solent University (Southampton)1223.6688.2488273.7
114University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)1594.24555073.7
115University of West London1074.071.491.2425473.3
116Newman University, Birmingham1044.031.1984.9576873
117Bishop Grosseteste University1063.361.82797469.9
118Buckinghamshire New University1034.1181.6383666.4

Entry Requirements for a Psychology Degree

Entry requirements for a psychology degree in the United Kingdom can vary depending on the university and the specific programme you are applying to. However, here are some general guidelines for undergraduate (bachelor’s) psychology programmes in the UK:

1. Academic Qualifications: Typically, you will need to have completed your secondary education with qualifications such as A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

2. A-levels or Equivalent Qualifications: Most universities in the UK require A-levels in specific subjects. Psychology A-level is not always a requirement, but it can be advantageous. Other relevant subjects might include biology, mathematics, sociology, or a combination of these. Some universities may also accept equivalent qualifications like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or BTEC qualifications.

3. UCAS ApplicationIn the UK, university applications are typically made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You will need to complete a UCAS application and list the universities and programmes you want to apply to.

Jobs for Psychology Graduates

Psychology graduates possess a versatile skill set that can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities in various fields. Here are some jobs and career paths that psychology graduates often pursue:

  1. Clinical Psychologist: Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat mental health disorders, providing therapy and counselling to individuals and groups. They work in healthcare settings, private practice, or mental health organisations.

  2. Counsellor or Therapist: Counsellors and therapists provide emotional support and guidance to help clients cope with personal and emotional issues. They can specialise in areas like marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counselling, or school counselling.

  3. School Psychologist: School psychologists work in educational settings to support students’ academic and emotional well-being. They assess and address learning and behaviour problems, develop interventions, and collaborate with teachers and parents.

  4. Forensic Psychologist: Forensic psychologists apply psychology to the criminal justice system. They may work in prisons, courtrooms, or law enforcement agencies, helping to evaluate criminal suspects, witnesses, and offenders.

  5. Health Psychologist: Health psychologists study the relationship between psychological factors and physical health. They may work in healthcare settings, promoting behaviour change and helping patients cope with chronic illnesses.

  6. Neuropsychologist: Neuropsychologists examine the relationship between brain function and behaviour. They often work in clinical settings, conducting assessments and providing rehabilitation for individuals with brain injuries or neurological disorders.

  7. Human Resources Specialist: Psychology graduates with a focus on industrial-organisational psychology (I-O psychology) can pursue careers in human resources, where they help recruit, train, and manage employees, as well as develop workplace policies and programmes.

  8. Market Research Analyst: Market research analysts study consumer behaviour to help companies make informed marketing and business decisions. Their understanding of psychology is valuable in interpreting consumer trends and preferences.

  9. Research Assistant or Data Analyst: Psychology graduates with strong research and data analysis skills can work as research assistants or data analysts in academic institutions, research organisations, or government agencies.

Your choice of career may depend on your specialisation within psychology, your interests, and your level of education or training. Additionally, some roles may require further education, certification, or licensure.

Salary for Psychology Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £19,000

High-skilled: £23,000

Topics for Psychology Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Psychology and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

1. Positive PsychologyInvestigate the factors that contribute to well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction. Develop and test interventions aimed at enhancing positive emotions and resilience.

2. Cognitive NeuroscienceUtilise neuroimaging techniques to study the neural basis of cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and decision-making. 

3. Cross-Cultural PsychologyExamine cultural variations in psychological phenomena, such as perception, emotion, and social behaviour. Investigate the impact of globalisation on cultural identities and psychological well-being.

4. Environmental PsychologyExplore the relationship between people and their physical environments, including the effects of urban design on mental health.

5. Evolutionary PsychologyInvestigate how evolutionary processes have shaped human behaviour, cognition, and social interactions. Explore the evolutionary origins of psychological disorders and their implications for treatment.

6. Health PsychologyExamine the psychological factors influencing health behaviours, illness prevention, and treatment adherence. Investigate the biopsychosocial determinants of chronic diseases and ways to promote healthier lifestyles.

7. Forensic PsychologyStudy the psychology of criminal behaviour, including risk assessment, profiling, and criminal rehabilitation. Examine eyewitness testimony accuracy and the reliability of forensic evidence.

8. Industrial-Organisational PsychologyInvestigate workplace issues, such as employee motivation, job satisfaction, and leadership effectiveness. Develop interventions to enhance organisational performance and employee well-being.

9. Neuropsychology: Explore the cognitive and emotional consequences of brain lesions and neurological disorders. Study the neural mechanisms underlying conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

10. Social PsychologyInvestigate group dynamics, intergroup relations, and the psychology of social influence. Examine the impact of social media on behaviour, attitudes, and identity formation.

The Outcome of Psychology Graduates

According to HESA’s most recent Graduate Outcomes data, 77% of UK domiciled, first degree psychology graduates were in full (63%) or part-time (14%) employment 15 months after graduation, with a further 18% reporting that they were working alongside their studies. More than half (52%) were working in professional-level employment.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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