Your journey into psychology -

Your journey into psychology -
Your journey into psychology
Your journey into psychology -
A degree in psychology offers not only a pathway to
becoming a psychologist, but also the knowledge and skills
that you can apply in a wide range of careers.
Professor Ann Colley, CPsychol
Chief Executive, The British Psychological Society
Your journey into psychology -
Who we are and what we do

The British Psychological Society
is the representative body for
psychology and psychologists in
the United Kingdom and is a
registered charity.

The Society promotes excellence and
ethical practice in the science, education
and practical applications of psychology.

Our core purposes are to:
• be the Learned Society and
  Professional Body for the discipline
• make psychology accessible to all
• promote and advance the discipline
• be the authoritative and public voice
  of psychology
• determine and ensure the highest
  standards in all we do.

Your journey into psychology -
As applied psychologists we have a real opportunity, based on
        research, knowledge and experience, to help individuals or
        groups to develop positive solutions, to identify preferred futures
        or to work towards improved performance on a variety of issues.
        Richard Walsh, CPsychol AFBPsS

Your journey into psychology -
What is psychology and why do we need it?

Psychology is the scientific
study of the human mind
and behaviour.
We need psychology as it can give us a        • assisting athletes and sports people to   of behaviour. This includes observing,
clearer picture on how we think, act,           perform better                            measuring, testing and carrying out
react and communicate with others.            • helping people to overcome depression,    statistical analysis with individuals and
                                                stress, trauma or phobias                 groups to gain relevant information to
Psychology has a big impact on all areas                                                  support different situations. This enables
of life, particularly in education, health,   • easing the effects of parental divorce
                                                on children                               psychologists to find solutions to
the economy, industry and crime.
                                                                                          problems in various settings.
Psychologists work in many different          • speeding up recovery from brain injury
areas of society and are concerned with       • helping stop or prevent bullying at
problems such as:                               school or in the workplace
                                              • ensuring that school pupils and
• making sure that people are happy at
                                                students are being taught in the most
  work and perform to the best of
                                                effective way.
  their abilities
• supporting the police, courts and prison    Psychologists help by applying scientific
  service to perform more effectively         methods to obtain a better understanding

Your journey into psychology -
Where to start?

        Many schools and colleges
        now offer a variety of
        psychology courses.
        These include GCSE, the International
        Baccalaureate, AS and A2 Level or
        the Scottish NQ Intermediate 1,
        Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced
        Higher courses.

        GCSE psychology provides students with
        an introduction to the world of
        psychology. AS/A2 Level and Scottish
        Higher courses take this further and look
        at how ideas and theories are developed.

        Your local school or college will be able
        to provide you with more information.

Your journey into psychology -
I’m really glad I studied
Psychology Higher. It
was such an interesting
subject and I definitely
think it has helped me
better understand myself
and others, and my role
in society.
Juliette Berlsford, Winner of the
2007 Scottish Higher Award

Your journey into psychology -
Your journey into psychology -
What qualifications do I need to apply for a psychology degree?

Applicants to degree courses will normally
need to demonstrate good numeracy and
literacy skills and an ability to handle
scientific concepts.
Biology, mathematics, english, history,      The Society accredits undergraduate
economics and similar arts or social         degree courses that will give you eligibility
science subjects are all useful              for the Graduate Basis for Chartered
preparation for a degree course. Many        Membership (GBC). You will need to have
universities now require at least one        GBC if you want to apply for Society
science A Level.                             accredited postgraduate training courses
                                             and become a Chartered Psychologist.
A or AS Level Psychology is not normally
required to get onto a degree course but
taking an A Level or GCSE in psychology
can give you a head start in the subject.                                                    You can find a full list
For more information on specific entry
requirements please contact institutions
                                                                                             of Society accredited
or go to the University Central Admissions                                                   undergraduate degree
Service website:
                                                                                             courses on our website at

Your journey into psychology -
What should I expect from a psychology degree?

        The exact content of an
        undergraduate degree can vary
        from one university to another.
        Society accredited courses will include:    • Conceptual and historical issues – how
                                                      psychological explanations have
        • Biological psychology – how the brain       changed over time and key debates
          influences behaviour, the effects of        which shape its future
          hormones, how it can be affected
                                                    • Research methods – how to conduct
          by drugs
                                                      quantitative and qualitative methods,
        • Cognitive psychology – how we               research design, data collection,
          remember, learn, think, reason,             analysis and interpretation.
          perceive, speak and understand
        • Developmental psychology – how            Many degrees allow students to select
          humans develop physically, mentally       modules in addition to the core content.
          and socially during childhood and         All will include some form of
          adolescence and their life span           independent project and practical work.
        • Social psychology – how human             For information regarding specific course
          behaviour and experience are affected     content, contact universities directly.
          by the social context such as in groups
          and relationships
        • Individual differences – why people
          have different personalities, how we
          can measure intelligence, how we treat
          mental disorders

8   9
It feels a real privilege to
         work as a psychologist.
         The work is well paid
         and very varied. Skills
         learnt in previous
         occupations can often
         augment experience and
         understanding as a
         Professor Graham Towel,
         CPsychol FBPsS

What if I have a degree in another subject?

If you hold a degree that is not
accredited by the Society, you
have the option of undertaking
an accredited conversion course.
This is an alternative to completing an
undergraduate degree, which usually
takes 3 years full-time to complete.
An accredited conversion course can
take around half that time and will give
you eligibility for GBC.

There are different variations of
accredited conversion courses available
in the UK that will all meet the
necessary requirements for GBC.

For information on entry requirements,
fees, time scales and funding you will
need to contact universities directly.
You can find a full list of accredited
conversion courses on the Society website.

What skills do Psychologists need?

         Psychologists have a diverse range of
         skills, from effective communication to
         planning and project management.

         On completing an accredited psychology        to consider alternative approaches    Psychology is a versatile subject that can
         undergraduate or conversion programme,        and solutions                         give you skills needed in other areas such
         you would have the skills to:               • make critical judgements and          as humanities, science and statistics.
                                                       evaluations to gain different
         • comprehend and use data sufficiently                                              Studying psychology can help you pursue
                                                       perspectives on a variety of issues
           by understanding, analysing and                                                   postgraduate training as well as finding
           presenting complex ideas                  • be sensitive to contextual and        employment in a variety of sectors
                                                       interpersonal factors, including      including education, business, health
         • retrieve and organise information
                                                       behaviour and social interaction      and the media.
           successfully through various sources
                                                     • use personal planning and project
         • engage in effective team work
                                                       management skills to become more
         • problem solve and reason scientifically     independent and pragmatic.

         Applied psychologists combine knowledge
         with enthusiasm, flexibility, and resilience
         to bring about positive changes for both
         individuals and organisations.
         Dr Jennifer Unwin, CPsychol AFBPsS

12   13
Work experience is a win-win
         situation. The intern gets exposure to
         a workplace and an employer, tests
         out applying some concept or theory
         they’ve read about, develops new
         competencies and skills, and receives
         meaningful feedback from an
         experienced person. In return, the
         employer gets extra resources and
         possibly even new insights; also, their
         applicant pool is now broadened.
         Dr Gene Johnson, CPsychol AFBPsS

What work experience will I need?

Work experience is a great
way to gain a practical insight
into psychology.
It is also vital for progression to         Below are some ideas of where you can
postgraduate study, as well as finding      undertake work experience:
employment. Work experience can
demonstrate that you are a dedicated        • Hospitals
candidate with applied psychological        • Schools and colleges
knowledge and it will advance your          • Nursing homes
application to make you stand out from
                                            • Sports teams
the crowd.
                                            • Social services
It is a good idea to build up work          • Local authorities
experience as soon as you can. In most
                                            • Prison service
cases you will have to gain experience on
a voluntary basis before you can apply      • Probation service.
for a paid position.                        The type of work experience you will
                                            need depends on the area of psychology
                                            you want to go into. Many universities
                                            have specific requirements on work
                                            experience; therefore, it is best to
                                            contact course providers for their criteria.

What is a Chartered Psychologist?

         Becoming a Chartered Psychologist
         reflects the highest standard of
         psychological knowledge and expertise,
         allowing the use of the designated
         title ‘CPsychol’.
         It is the benchmark of professional     three years of Society accredited     • Health psychology
         recognition demonstrating a mark of     postgraduate training in one of the   • Occupational psychology
         experience, competence and reputation   following disciplines:
                                                                                       • Sport and exercise psychology
         for anyone looking to learn from,
         consult or employ a psychologist.       • Clinical psychology                 • Teaching and research psychology.
                                                 • Counselling psychology
         In order to become a Chartered
                                                 • Educational psychology
         Psychologist, you will need to gain
         GBC and then complete a further         • Forensic psychology

         More detailed information on the qualifications
         required to become a Chartered Psychologist
         is available on the Society’s website:

Chartered status has also affected how I’m perceived
and it has certainly helped my career development.
Dr Joanne Thatcher, CPsychol CSci

Clinical psychology                         Counselling psychology                     Educational psychology
         What is it?                                 What is it?                                What is it?

         Clinical psychology aims to reduce          Counselling psychologists focus on         Educational psychology is concerned
         psychological distress and to enhance       working with a tailored psychological      with children and young people in
         the promotion of psychological              formulation to improve psychological       educational and early years settings.
         well-being.                                 functioning and well-being, working
                                                     collaboratively with people across a       Educational psychologists tackle
         Clinical psychologists deal with a wide     diverse range of disciplines.              challenges such as learning difficulties,
         range of mental and physical health                                                    social and emotional problems, issues
         problems including addiction, anxiety,      Counselling psychologists deal with a      around disability as well as more
         depression, learning difficulties and       wide range of mental health problems       complex developmental disorders.
         relationship issues.                        concerning life issues including
                                                     bereavement, domestic violence, sexual     They work in a variety of ways including
         They may undertake a clinical               abuse, traumas and relationship issues.    observations, interviews and assessments
         assessment to investigate a clients’                                                   and offer consultation, advice and
         situation. There are a variety of methods   They understand diagnosis and the          support to teachers, parents, the wider
         available including psychometric tests,     medical context to mental health           community as well as the young people
         interviews and direct observation of        problems and work with the individual’s    concerned. They research innovative
         behaviour. Assessment may lead to           unique subjective psychological            ways of helping vulnerable young people
         advice, counselling or therapy.             experience to empower their recovery       and often train teachers, learning
                                                     and alleviate distress.                    support assistants and others working
         Where do they work?                                                                    with children.
                                                     Where do they work?
         Clinical psychologists work largely in                                                 Where do they work?
         health and social care settings such as     Counselling psychologists work in
         hospitals, health centres, community        hospitals (acute admissions, psychiatric   Local authorities (LAs) employ the
         mental health teams, child and              intensive care, rehabilitation), health    majority of educational psychologists
         adolescent mental health services           centres, Improving Access to               working in schools, colleges, nurseries
         (CAMHS) and social services. They often     Psychological Therapy Services,            and special units although increasing
         work in a team with other health            Community Mental Health Teams and          numbers are working directly in schools,
         professionals and practitioners. Most are   Child and Adolescent Mental Health         academies and other educational
         employed by the National Health Service     Services. They also work within private    settings. They regularly liaise with other
         (NHS), but some work in private practice.   hospitals, private practice, forensic      professionals from education, health and
                                                     settings, industry, education, research    social services. A growing number work
                                                     and corporate institutions.                as independent or private consultants.

Forensic psychology                         Health psychology                             Neuropsychology
What is it?                                 What is it?                                   What is it?

Forensic psychology is devoted to           Health psychology is concerned with           Neuropsychology is concerned with the
psychological aspects of legal processes    people’s experiences of health and illness.   assessment and rehabilitation of people
in courts. The term is also often used to                                                 with brain injury or other neurological
refer to investigative and criminological   Health psychologists use their knowledge      disease. They work with people of all
psychology: applying psychological          of psychology and health to promote           ages dealing with patients who have had
theory to criminal investigation,           general well-being and understand             traumatic brain injury, strokes, toxic and
understanding psychological problems        physical illness. They are specially          metabolic disorders, tumours and neuro-
associated with criminal behaviour, and     trained to help people deal with the          degenerative diseases.
the treatment of those who have             psychological and emotional aspects of
committed offences.                         health and illness as well as supporting      Neuropsychologists require not only
                                            people who are chronically ill. Health        general clinical skills and knowledge
Daily key tasks can include piloting and    psychologists promote healthier lifestyles    of the broad range of mental health
implementing treatment programmes;          and try to find ways to encourage people      problems, but also a substantial degree
modifying offender behaviour; responding    to improve their health. For example,         of specialist knowledge in the
to the changing needs of staff and          they may help people to lose weight or        neurosciences.
prisoners as well as reducing stress for    stop smoking. Health psychologists also
staff and prisoners. Forensic               use their skills to try to improve the        Neuropsychology is a post qualification
psychologists also provide hard research    healthcare system. For example, they          discipline, in which you first need to be
evidence to support practice including      may advise doctors about better ways to       a Chartered Psychologist within the field
undertaking statistical analysis for        communicate with their patients.              of clinical or educational psychology.
prisoner profiling, giving evidence in
                                            Where do they work?                           Where do they work?
courts, plus advising parole boards and
mental health tribunals.                                                                  Neuropsychologists most commonly work
                                            Health psychologists are represented in a
                                            number of settings, such as hospitals,        in acute settings, usually in regional
Where do they work?
                                            academic health research units, health        neuroscience centres where their main
The largest employer in the UK is           authorities, university departments and       focus is on the early effects of trauma,
the HM Prison Service. Forensic             also in consultancy practice. They may        neurosurgery and neurological diseases.
psychologists are also employed by          deal with problems identified by health       They also work in rehabilitation centres
rehabilitation units, secure hospitals;     care agencies, including NHS Trusts and       providing post-acute assessment,
social services and in university           health authorities. This is in addition to    training and support for people who have
departments or private consultancy.         also working alongside other medical          sustained brain injury, or who have other
                                            professionals such as GP’s, nurses and        neurological problems.
                                            rehabilitation therapists. Health
                                            psychologists may also deal with
                                            organisations and employees outside the
                                            health care system.

Occupational psychology                      Research and Academic                        Sport and Exercise psychology
         What is it?                                                                               What is it?
                                                      What is it?
         Occupational psychology delivers                                                          Sport psychology’s predominant aim is to
         tangible benefits by enhancing the           Research in psychology requires the          help athletes prepare psychologically for
         effectiveness of organisations and           application of skills and knowledge to       the demands of competition and
         developing the performance, motivation       scientifically hypothesise about an aspect   training. Examples of the work sport
         and well-being of people in the workplace.   of human behaviour, then to test it,         psychologists carry out include
                                                      analyse it and communicate the results.      counselling referees to deal with the
         Occupational psychologists apply the                                                      stressful and demanding aspects of their
         science of psychology to work. They          Research underpins much of the teaching      role, advising coaches on how to build
         develop and apply a range of tools and       and practice of psychology as it provides    cohesion within their squad of athletes,
         interventions, including psychometrics       the evidence-base for psychological          and helping athletes with personal
         and assessment, learning and                 theory and the effectiveness of              development and the psychological
         development, stress-management,              treatments, interventions, tests and         consequences of sustaining an injury.
         organisational change, coaching and          teaching methods.
         job design.                                                                               Exercise psychology is primarily
                                                      Typically academics or researchers in        concerned with the application of
         Where do they work?                          higher education undertake both research     psychology to increase exercise
                                                      and teaching and lecturing.                  participation and motivational levels in
         Occupational psychologists work with
                                                                                                   the general public. Examples of the work
         organisations and businesses of all sizes    Where do they work?
                                                                                                   they do include optimising the benefits
         across the private, public and third
                                                      Most researchers are employed in higher      that can be derived from exercise
         sectors. You will find Occupational
                                                      education institutions or specialist         participation and helping individual
         psychologists working in government and
                                                      research units; however, others are          clients with the implementation of goal-
         public services, in leadership
                                                      employed in a wide variety of contexts -     setting strategies.
         development centres and consultancies.
         They work alongside other professionals      including the food and drink industries,
                                                                                                   Practitioners typically specialise in either
         such as managers, HR, union                  pharmaceutical industries, marketing,
                                                                                                   the sport or exercise branches, though
         representatives, training advisors and       government departments (such as the
                                                                                                   some work equally in both fields.
         specialist staff within client               Ministry of Defence) and the NHS.
         organisations.                                                                            Where do they work?

                                                                                                   Sport and exercise psychologists work in a
                                                                                                   wide range of settings with a diverse range
                                                                                                   of clients participating in recreational,
                                                                                                   amateur, and elite levels of competition.

Teaching psychology                         Health Professions Council
                                                                                       (HPC) and the Regulation
                                           What is it?
                                                                                       of Psychologists
Some sport psychologists work as private   Teachers of psychology work across a
consultants or hold full-time positions    variety of academic levels to deliver a     The Health Professions Council (HPC)
with professional sports teams or          psychological education to their students   is the regulator for Practitioner
national governing bodies of sport.        in order for them to gain skills,           Psychologists in the UK.
Most combine their consultancy work        knowledge and qualifications.
                                                                                       In order to use the following titles,
with teaching and research or also work
                                           Teachers within schools teach psychology    psychologists must have their
in other areas such as the clinical and
                                           at GCSE, A Level, Scottish Higher or as     qualifications approved by the HPC
occupational domains.
                                           part of the International Baccalaureate;    and be listed on their register:
Exercise psychologists combine             teachers or lecturers within higher
                                                                                       • Clinical psychologist
consultancy with teaching and research     education are mainly engaged in
careers. The work of exercise              teaching psychology on undergraduate        • Counselling psychologist
psychologists might involve GP exercise    and postgraduate programmes.                • Educational psychologist
referral and setting up and evaluating                                                 • Forensic psychologist
exercise programmes in employment,         Teachers often combine a career in
                                           teaching with research.                     • Health psychologist
prison and psychiatric contexts.
                                                                                       • Occupational psychologist
                                           Where do they do it?
                                                                                       • Sport and Exercise psychologist
                                           Teachers mainly work in schools,            • Registered psychologist
                                           colleges and higher educational             • Practitioner psychologist.
                                           institutions. Students include diverse
                                           cohorts from 14-19 year olds at             Please contact the HPC for more
                                           secondary schools to adult learning and     information on the regulation of
                                           CPD training for professionals.             psychologists and details on their
                                                                                       approval process.

Join the Society

         Joining the Society is an
         important part of becoming
         a psychologist.
         It provides recognition of professional     • Psychologist Appointments – job           • Library membership – access Europe’s
         status and reflects your aspiration to        vacancies and careers advice                largest psychology library at Senate
         represent the highest possible              • Journals – free online access to the        House in London
         professional standards.                       Society’s academic journals and           • A range of high street discounts
                                                       selected Wiley-Blackwell journals           and offers.
         Collectively, our membership has a
         powerful voice in raising the profile of    • The Psychologist – free subscription to
         psychology, developing standards and          the Society’s monthly magazine
         advancing the discipline. Our members       • Books – discount of 30% on books
         matters to us, and we continue to look at     from BPS Blackwell and 20% discount
         adding value to Society membership            on selected books from Oxford
         through additional member benefits            University Press
         such as:

         For more information on joining the Society,
         please contact our membership team:
         t: +44 (0)116 252 9911

Membership of the British Psychological Society and
CPsychol are strong indicators that a psychologist
has the experience and knowledge to hold positions
of responsibility in what is a very challenging field.
Professor Ray Bull, CPsychol HonFBPsS

If you would like more information on careers in
psychology and postgraduate study, call our
careers information line or email:
t: +44 (0)116 252 9534
How useful was this booklet? We would be interested to hear any suggestions
or comments you may have. Please email
For further information on the work of
the Society please visit our website or
contact us at:
t: +44 (0)116 254 9568

The British Psychological Society
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
You can also read
NEXT SLIDES ... Cancel