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Psychology - Subject Guide

Gaining a bachelors degree in psychology opens up many employment opportunities; however, it is only when you graduate from a masters degree in the same field that you can be assured of better chances at the job entry level. In view of this, here we guide you through what enrolling for a masters degree in psychology involves.

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To be able to take a masters in psychology, you must first earn a degree in psychology or an associated field. Note however, you may have to meet some additional requirements based on the actual institution you wish to enrol in. The coursework covered at this level will typically encompass modules such as psychology and psychological disorders, psychotherapy, physiology, behavioural sciences, and psychotherapy. You will also be required to carry out extensive research in an area of your choice and defend your thesis. Before you choose a university in which to take your psychology masters, you should survey the programs of various institutions to see what areas they cover, and look into the costs as well. If the fees are not within your reach, you can search out for scholarships, grants, study loans and other types of financial aid.

For a student studying on full-time basis, a masters program in psychology will usually take one year, while part-time study tends to take two years. While there are many universities that offer this program in a traditional classroom, you can also enrol for an online course. The latter option can be more ideal if you are either too busy to attend class, or do not wish to move to a different region or country to complete the course.

Areas of specialisation

Psychology as a field has significantly grown over the past century and although it was more focused on healthcare in the past, it currently covers just about all industries. In line with this, there are dozens of subfields which learners can focus on while pursuing master degrees in psychology. Among other areas, these include criminal psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, and child psychology.  Masters in Psychology

Criminal Psychology: Criminal acts keep increasing day by day and to be able to deal with this, it is important to understand why they occur in the first place. Criminal psychology involves getting into the criminal’s mind and uncovering their thought process so as to be able to stop or catch them before they get the chance to act. This subfield can therefore be very useful in helping the police work efficiently.

Criminal psychology postgraduate degrees

Developmental Psychology: Development psychology concerns the assessment of transformations and transitions that occur from birth to old age. For instance, children are supposed to be socialised in a particular way in order to fit well into society. However, violence depicted on media may affect their development and make them act in an undesirable way as adults. Developmental psychology can help you learn why this happens.

Developmental psychology postgraduate degrees

Clinical Psychology: Clinical psychology is mainly centred on the evaluation of stress, abnormal behaviour, and mental illness. Clinical psychologists deal not just with individuals, but also with groups of people, organisations, and institutions, and this is where they differ from psychiatrists. Also, unlike psychiatrists, they do not use medication while helping patients. Despite the many subfields in the master degree in psychology programme, this subfield is very popular.

Clinical psychology postgraduate degrees

Child Psychology: Children go through various stages of development from infancy through to adolescence. The subfield of child psychology focuses on researching on the areas pertaining to this development process, though a large section of it concentrates on the emotional issues experienced by a child as they grow. The field also aims to uncover the occurrence of conditions such as ADHD and ADD.

Child psychology postgraduate degrees

Health Psychology: This is the study of psychological and behavioural processes in health and illness. A masters degree in Health Psychology will explore how psychological, behavioural and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness, and enable students to develop the essential practical skills and knowledge required for employment or research in this area.

Health psychology postgraduate degrees

Psychologist case studies

Here is what some practising psychologists have to say about why they chose psychology in their postgraduate studies.

1. "As a learner, I wanted to know the impact of video games and other technologies on the socialisation of young kids and adolescents. A focus on developmental psychology gave me a clear insight into this and now I feel contended guiding young minds through the right path every day." 
Maxine Smith, a counsellor in a local education complex.

2. Jonathan Thompson, who is a rehabilitation specialist, says he was driven into taking psychology while seeking to understand crowd irrationality...
"Coming from an area in which hooliganism was rampant, I couldn’t understand why people who were otherwise very level-headed seemed to act irrationally and irresponsibly in crowds. The course helped me gain better understanding of this behaviour deviation."

Career opportunities 

By taking a masters in psychology you will gain expertise on how to prevent and treat a wide range of psychological problems including depression, relationship difficulties, stress, anxiety, and drug abuse. Therefore it creates many opportunities after graduation.

Examples of the kind of work you can then undertake include an educational counsellor  where you will guide children on proper behaviour, and help them deal with issues such as bullying and drug abuse.

Another area in which you can seek employment is in a HR department where you will be involved in training and recruiting of personnel. Psychology will also allow you to work as a marriage counsellor, social worker, or psychologist depending on the area in which you specialised during the course of your studies.

Student case study

Glasgow Student Case Study Laura Pedersen, 22, is from the USA. She is currently a student on the MSc Psychological Studies at the University of Glasgow. 

  “I chose to attend the University of Glasgow for quite a few reasons, all of which proved to be useful. The ranking that Psychology at Glasgow has within the UK in both research and taught portions of their program was heavily influential. The University of Glasgow as a whole has ample resources for postgraduate research as well as specifically within both the Schools of Education and Psychology. As an individual with an undergraduate degree in psychology, the MSc was interesting to take in order to register for the British Psychological Society, as well as to understand the differences in the UK grading system without as much pressure as the MS or MA would require. This specific program made for a smooth transition. 

It's more than the formalised education that helped me to choose Scotland. As great as the University is, I was also able to use this year to travel abroad to mainland Europe, the Nordic regions, and of course throughout the UK and Ireland. From Glasgow it's quite easy to travel just about anywhere and there are so many available resources in order to understand other cultures and histories from all over the world. Furthermore, Glasgow has some of the best music venues and events of anywhere in the UK if Celtic music is your thing. The University of Glasgow helped me obtain those resources and with the course structure gave me the availability to travel and experience that side of the Atlantic Ocean while I was obtaining my masters degree. 

Like I have previously said, my bachelors degree is in Psychology, yet I chose the MSc. I chose this course because I wanted more practical research experience before I started my doctorate program. Upon interviewing for my Psy.D programs, all of my interviewers were impressed with my research and travelling experience gained throughout my year with the University of Glasgow, and I ended up being accepted to every program I had applied to. In the autumn, I will be starting my Psy.D in Clinical Psychology with a forensics concentration with confidence in my further research and career choice thanks to the University of Glasgow.”

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