Why study psychology?

Natasha Albanese, Editor
November, 2015

There is a plethora of challenging and stimulating roles in psychology, with further study providing you with the perfect foundation for specialised careers in the field

A Masters in the subject is a popular choice for those looking to broaden their career horizons. Specialist programmes are available in different areas of psychology, including clinical, counselling, educational, occupational, sport and forensic.

Why choose psychology?

'As well as opening the door to an academic career, a postgraduate qualification in psychology is increasingly valuable in a crowded graduate marketplace,' says Leslie Hallam, course director of Lancaster University's MSc Psychology of Advertising - one of many specialist degrees on offer that apply research skills and psychological knowledge to practical domains.

'In particular, a part-taught Masters acts as a mark of differentiation, while demonstrating a commitment and level of proficiency across a range of skills carefully curated to accelerate progress within a chosen commercial arena.'

It's also important to note that postgraduate study is essential if you want to become a chartered psychologist or register as a practitioner psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

What do courses involve?

There are numerous postgraduate courses available to students who wish to pursue an academic career, follow a particular commercial path or specialise in a higher level of psychology.

One example is the University of Wolverhampton’s MSc Occupational Psychology, which is designed to equip students with psychological perspectives on workplace issues. Typical modules include human resource management, counselling in organisations and human factors in the workplace.

Kingston University's MSc Psychology, meanwhile, covers all of the key sub-disciplines and provides extensive training in subject-specific research skills. Core modules include cognition and biological psychology, and the person in psychology.

Joe Harris gained his undergraduate degree from Lancaster University and stayed on to study MSc Psychology of Advertising. He claims that the programme is 'expertly couples theory with real-world practice'. 'The course applies psychological theory to advertising strategy and explores the fascinating ways of influencing people,' he adds.

What do psychology graduates do?

A postgraduate degree in psychology opens many doors for graduates looking to enter a range of sectors. Many students go on to become counsellors, social workers or clinical psychologists, while others complete a PhD in order to pursue an academic career.

'In addition to the well-trodden vocational pathways in psychology - such as social, clinical, forensic, occupational and educational - the discipline provides an extremely solid platform for a wide range of jobs within commerce,' adds Leslie.

'MSc Psychology of Advertising at Lancaster is unique in that it is based within a postgraduate psychology department, explores the basic processes involved, and equips graduates to understand the architecture of advertising from this perspective and take this knowledge directly into the industry.

'Since this applied route is relatively new, our graduates are finding a ready home in brand management, qualitative research, new product development and, of course, advertising.'

Joe, who is now working as a junior marketer, says that being encouraged to find a work placement during the programme has helped him to find employment.

'One module sees you work directly for a client company on a project, providing the essential experience required for job applications,' he adds. 'The unique nature of this course and the experience that I gained was, without doubt, instrumental in securing me the job.'