Psychology is a people based science – the science of mind and behaviour. It is one of the most challenging of professional careers and offers a wide variety of specialities and types of practise.
Psychology is one of the most popular university degree subjects, and the critical thinking and scientific analysis skills it provides means that a university graduate with a psychology degree can apply their skills to, and find employment in a wide range of non psychology related jobs.
Psychology Degree Entry Requirements
If you are looking to complete a university degree in psychology it is essential you check that the relevant body – Health Professions Council and/or British Psychological Society, accept it as an accredited qualification.
This usually means a starting with single honours degree in psychology, completion of which confers eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society.
Places on psychology undergraduate degree courses are sought after and the A level grades / points needed for entry are usually quite high. Although an A Level in psychology is not always required, you should check with the university to which you are applying – most will specify at least one science A Level since the content of a psychology degree is highly science oriented and an ability to grasp the scientific method and the underpinning mathematical and statistical concepts is essential.
Completing an A Level in psychology is, however, a good way to show that you have some understanding of, exposure to and affection for the subject. Consequently your choice of psychology degree will be better informed.
When you come to apply for a Masters degree / Professional Doctorate in your chosen area, a 2.1 in your psychology degree will be the likely minimum requirement – even a first class honours degree for very popular courses. Again, competition for places on postgraduate psychology degree courses can be intense s0 some relevant work experience is almost compulsory.
You should also keep checking that the university route you choose will ultimately confer eligibility for entry onto the Health Professions Council HPC register. A Post graduate PhD degree, for instance, will not, as it is a research rather than a practitioner degree.
Legal Regulation of Psychologists in the UK
On 1 July 2009 the Health Professions Council (HPC) became the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists and opened the psychology section of their Register. The Health Professions Council provides a code of conduct which members of the register must abide by.
There are numerous other prefixes which psychologists may use which are not legally recognised or protected such as business psychologist, child psychologist, criminal psychologist, social psychologist, cognitive psychologist, consumer psychologist or animal psychologist, but these terms are not legally protected and there is nothing illegal in a person using one these titles.
The advantage of using a psychologist who appears on the register is that you can have faith in their qualifications and standards of professional conduct. If using a psychologist, it is wise to check the nature of their professional qualifications and status.
Practitioner Psychologists treat, practise or deal with members of the public and are regulated under the Health Professions Council. Non-practitioner Psychologists do not have to be Health Professions Council registered, and so cannot use one of the HPC Protected titles.
Entry onto the appropriate section of Health Professions Council (HPC) register allows you to use one of the following legally protected titles –
- Clinical psychologist
- Counselling psychologist
- Educational psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- Health psychologist
- Occupational psychologist
- Sport and Exercise psychologist
It is necessary to be registered with the HPC to practise in the UK under any of these titles. All psychologists who are on the HPC register may additionally use the titles Practitioner Psychologist and Registered Psychologist.
Teaching and Research in Psychology
In theory, you don’t need any qualifications in psychology to teach it! One does not need to be a Registered Psychologist with the Health Professions Council to teach psychology, since teaching psychology is not actually the same as practising psychology. This can be quite common at A Level where the tutor may be a qualified teacher rather than a qualified psychologist.
However, at university degree level this would be a rare situation and many university psychology lecturers are at a minimum Chartered Psychologists, even though they may not be qualified to use one of the protected titles as their work is is essentially academic in nature and they do not practise with members of the public.
At university, teachers at psychology degree level not only teach, but also have an ac