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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Psychology: The science of the mind

If you are also captivated by the human mind, specialising in psychology could be the right career for you.

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The human mind and its workings, possibly the most mysterious things in the world, have remained a fascinating topic attracting the attention of many scientists for centuries. If you are also captivated by the human mind, specialising in psychology could be the right field for you.


The science of the human mind has allowed scientists such as Sigmund Freud to develop theories which bring us closer to conclusions about our thinking and behavioural patterns. However, despite interesting developments in the subject, any final conclusion is still far away from our reach.


But how can we study something as complex and mysterious as the mind? We cannot read people’s thoughts, nor can we observe their emotions, or memories, or dreams. So how do psychologists come closer to any conclusion about the human mind?


Psychologists adopt a similar approach to scientists in other fields. Psychologists apply scientific methodology. They formulate theories, test hypotheses through observation and experiment, and analyse the findings with statistical techniques that help them identify important findings. These methods are applied in order to explain individuals’ behaviour, and this behaviour itself becomes data for scientists.


What about other disciplines?

Psychology lies at the intersection of many other different disciplines, including biology, medicine, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and artificial intelligence (AI).


That’s why any attempt to explain why humans think and behave in the way that they do will inevitably be linked to one or several different disciplines. Students aiming to pursue a postgraduate  degree in psychology could come from different disciplines and are encouraged to use their knowledge of other fields to expand the scope of what psychology studies.


However, specialisation through a postgraduate degree in psychology would require you to choose a path, even though the different disciplines of psychology can be extremely wide-ranging, here are a few examples:


Clinical psychology

Clinical psychologists advise people on their mental and physical health, helping to improve their lives and overall wellbeing. This profession also involves using different techniques to identify potential disorders, suggesting treatment and mindfulness practices. The types of issues that a clinical psychologist will usually deal with include addiction, depression, anxiety and other conditions. You will therefore need to be compassionate, empathetic, intuitive, and a self-motivator to be successful in the clinical psychology field.

(Data source: Prospects)


Forensic psychology

Want to study both psychology and law? Forensic psychology combines both. This profession involves using psychological theory and practice and then applying this to the criminal system. As a forensic psychologist, you will need to be resilient and compassionate due to the type of work you’ll be facing. A large part of this role will involve liaising with police, offenders and probation services.


(Data source: Prospects)


Occupational psychology

Occupational psychologists help organisations and their employees to improve performance and satisfaction in the workplace. You will apply methods of psychology to the professional context of business, training and recruitment, for example. To excel in this profession, you will need to be an excellent listener and communicator, have problem-solving skills and the ability to build trust and form relationships.

(Data source: Prospects)


Remember that there can be variation when it comes to salary, particularly depending on where your job is located. However, these averages should give you some idea of what to expect.

If you’re not tempted by any of the above job titles, there are still many other areas within psychology that you can look into:




Entry requirements

Generally, you will need to have good scores in your BA, at least to a second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology or a degree in which psychology comprises a good part of the programme of study; or in some cases a degree in a science or social science discipline.


You must be able to demonstrate good mathematical competence as you will need to handle loads of quantitative data and you will need to draw conclusions from them.


Applicants whose first language is not English, must meet the set language requirements. An IELTS score of 6.5 overall is the minimum required, but this varies according to the university you are applying to.


Related Content...

Check out our list of courses for postgraduate courses in psychology in various study destinations.


Read more about the basics of psychology by following the link.


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