Q What jobs do people go into after getting a Psychology honours degree?
About half of our students go on in Psychology after graduating. About half follow job paths that are unconnected with Psychology.
Since Psychology is about people and develops excellent transferrable skills such as critical thinking, it can be applied to most non-specialised areas of employment. It is also the first step in taking a postgraduate qualification to work in the main areas of psychology such as Clinical, Educational and Occupational. New areas such as Counselling, Sports Psychology, Health Psychology and Forensic Psychology are also possible. Many of ours students go into the Human Resources field and of course Research and Teaching (University or School) are important possibilities.

Q How do I become a Clinical, Forensic, Child, Educational, Occupational or Counselling Psychologist?
There are three steps.
Step 1. Get the very best undergraduate Psychology degree you can because everything is competitive.
Step 2. Use it to get onto a postgraduate course that trains and teaches in the area that you want to specialise in.
These courses are delivered through universities usually and offer a postgraduate degree such as a Masters Child Psychology or a Psy D (Psychology Doctorate) in Clinical psychology. Some courses offer diplomas. The courses are usually between 1 and 3 years study.
Step 3. With your postgraduate qualification, seek posts that are advertised regularly in the media.
And work your way up the ladder of opportunities.

The British Psychological Society website has a section dedicated to explaining this.

Q How do I become a University Psychologist?
There are 2 steps.
Step 1. Get the very best undergraduate Psychology degree you can because everything is competitive (3-4 years).
Step 2. Use it to acquire a PhD placement in an area you would like to study (3 years).
Step 3. Use your PhD to acquire a position as a postdoctoral Research Assistant/Associate, lecturer etc etc in a university.
And work your way up the ladder of opportunities.

Many Psychology graduates wish to undertake a career in research which involves obtaining a PhD. Students sometimes prefer to take up graduate training at a University different from where they took their first degree. However, at Glasgow, research training to PhD level is provided in a range of areas in Psychology, but especially Psycholinguistics, Perception and Visual Cognition, Cognitive Neuropsychology, and the application of brain imaging techniques.
Students are often attracted to careers in the main professional areas of Psychology, mainly Forensic, Educational, and Occupational psychology. Clinical Psychology is one of the more popular ambitions. The following excerpts from the BPS website gives some idea of what is involved in pursuing this and other professional careers:
   “What do clinical psychologists do?”
   What they do:
   Clinical Psychology aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being. A wide range of psychological difficulties may be dealt with, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, learning disabilities, child and family problems, and serious mental illness. To assess a client, a clinical psychologist may undertake a clinical assessment using a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour. Assessment may lead to therapy, counselling or advice.
   Where they work:
   Clinical Psychologists work largely in health and social care settings including hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health services and social services.
   Who they work with:
   They usually work as part of a team with, for example, social workers, medical practitioners and other health professionals. Most Clinical Psychologists work in the National Health Service (NHS), which has a clearly defined career structure, but some work in private practice. The work is often directly with people, either individually or in groups, assessing their needs and providing therapies based on psychological theories and research. Clinical Psychology is a rapidly developing field and contributing to the literature through research is very important. Some Clinical Psychologists work as trainers, teachers and researchers in universities.

Transferrable Skills

Skills and Other Attributes

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate the comparative advantages of different research methods in psychology.
  • Critically compare and evaluate different advanced techniques employed in research.
  • Evaluate and criticise the theories and empirical research in the area defined by their option choice.
  • Exercise critical judgement in the application and interpretation of statistical techniques in psychological investigation in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
  • Design and execute a research project to a standard at or near publication quality.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of theory and practice in the selective areas of psychology and in research methods.
  • Demonstrate initiative, self-reliance, and critical ability from a solid foundation of knowledge, understanding and critical awareness.
  • Give evidence of an enquiring, problem-oriented mind with sufficient awareness of the critical research and applications in psychology to enable successful pursuit of postgraduate work in psychology and related disciplines.

Subject specific skills

  • Summarise the main sources of psychological funding.
  • Summarise the range of professional careers open to psychologists.
  • Deliver an oral presentation of research findings to a professional audience.
  • Write a research paper based on a personal research project to a level suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Write a grant proposal to the standard of a professional research submission.

Transferable/key skills

  • Demonstrate initiative, self-reliance, and critical ability from a solid foundation of knowledge, understanding and critical awareness.

Subject specific content

Besides conceptual knowledge, psychology graduates have also acquired substantial knowledge and practice at applying empirical methods, particularly that of controlled experiments but also of designing and using questionnaires, and to a lesser extent interviews and other methods. Such practical methods can be and are used in a wide range of contexts, including applied contexts such as Human Computer Interaction, whether or not there is much theory for such problems. The application of these methods of investigation are an important area of practical knowledge, independently of the theoretical knowledge.
The statistics teaching, which is another topic applicable beyond the range of the theoretical topics taught, covers advanced analysis of variance, multivariate techniques, and the hands-on use of statistical computer packages.

General intellectual training

The nature of psychology as a discipline
Every academic subject carries with it a particular approach to understanding -- the discipline -- which varies widely from subject to subject, but which a graduate often tends to carry over in approaching other areas of work. T.K. Landauer, a psychologist who spent much of his career working with those from quite other disciplines, suggested that the essence of what a psychologist brings can be boiled down as follows: "There are two very elementary but fundamental methodological facts that are taken for granted by all experimental psychologists, but astonishingly often fail to be appreciated by others. The first is that behavior is always quite variable between people and between occasions. The second is that it is feasible to obtain objective data on behavior." In other words, psychologists are trained to appreciate that it is a mistake when dealing with people, as opposed say to a bit of technology, to take a deterministic approach that assumes that what it does once is what it will always do and that considering one example (e.g. themselves) is enough; but equally that the opposite notion of free will and hence complete unpredictability is generally mistaken, and that useful predictions about behaviour and its degree of variability can nevertheless be developed. Anyone with even informal experience of personnel, politics, management, and so on will recognise the importance of understanding that useful work can be done in the middle ground between determinism and free will.

This view of the general intellectual character of psychology also points to its distinctive features as a discipline. One pervasive aspect is its application of some form of experimental method to problems (this tends to distinguish it from the other social sciences), despite the problems of experiments with beings whose understanding of the experiment and experimenter frequently has large effects. Perhaps more important for its value as a general education, however, is that psychology frequently forces us to deal simultaneously with fundamentally different kinds of evidence (whatever the preferences of individual research specialists). For instance, a theory of emotion must cope with physiological data (blushing, adrenalin surges that can be measured chemically), individual cognitive data (how individuals' thoughts and decisions change with emotion, what they report about their experience), and social data (someone experiencing joy due to a success such as a strike in bowling is about ten times more likely to smile if they are with companions, suggesting that emotions are an evolutionarily ancient social coordination mechanism). This need somehow to relate quite different kinds of evidence of varying but not negligible value bearing on a single issue is a widespread feature of professional life of most kinds, but is relatively unusual in an academic subject.

Critical thinking
A highly desirable general intellectual skill for any graduate is what is now often called "critical thinking": the ability not just to reproduce and explain concepts learned from others, but to decide how much weight should be given them, by discerning and evaluating the extent to which they are consistent with and supported by evidence and other ideas, (or conversely, how much they are undermined by being inconsistent with other evidence and opinions). This is directly built into some basic areas of the discipline, where even introductory teaching in, for instance, social psychology, typically consists of presenting, not a single dominant theory or "law", but the relative abilities of alternative theories to explain the facts observed so far. On the other hand, in other areas (e.g. those related to physiology) it behaves more like a natural science: after a flurry of scrutiny and perhaps debate when new theory or phenomena are published, general consensus is established in the field, and findings become treated as "facts" or even "laws". Just as it is unwise to accept all assertions uncritically, so it is unproductive to apply scepticism to everything; useful critical thinking requires decisions about the weight to be given each item. Most disciplines give far more practice at one or the other, but psychology exposes its students to considerable amounts of both because of its unusually wide range of types of subject matter. In this department, critical thinking is further directly fostered by a series of three "critical review" exercises requiring the student not just to summarise a set of recently published papers, but to critique them. The aim is to develop ability at independent assessment and comparison, even of peer-reviewed published work. (Our graduates may be able to offer copies of one of their critical reviews on request.)

Research-led teaching
The school is very active in research, and this leads to a substantial amount of research-led teaching. There are advantages from this for instance in making the teaching content up to the minute, and from the enthusiasm of researchers talking about their central interests. A deeper advantage is that the teachers are equally learners, demonstrating by personal example: a researcher is attempting to learn things no-one yet knows, both for themselves and for the community as a whole. This is an important endpoint in the types of learning an individual may do: from a child acquiring its first language exactly from the people around it, to the independent learning of a researcher seeking knowledge no-one else yet has. This is also important for professionals and for organisations of all kinds. Finally, research-led teaching introduces another important element: an apprenticeship mode of learning. When students do their research project with a personal supervisor they are in effect doing an apprenticeship in research, where they learn partly by personal instruction, partly by their own practice, and partly by imitation. While the research skills themselves will only be directly used by a small subset of our graduates, this mode of learning is probably more relevant than is usually acknowledged in many jobs. Even though formal training courses are increasingly numerous in many workplaces, it remains true that much learning on the job is by the implicit apprenticeship methods of imitation, personal instruction, and trying it out with occasional supervision. Our graduates have already successfully performed in that mode of learning.

Personal and professional transferable skills
Besides the general intellectual skills mentioned, our graduates are equipped with a grounding in the following skills:

Writing competence
Our graduates accumulate considerable practice at planning and executing the writing of substantial pieces. These pieces of work are produced in circumstances similar to that of many work places: they can draw on the use of computer spelling checkers and human critics, but are working to a deadline and with other simultaneous demands on their time.

Giving talks ("presentations", oral communication)
Our graduates have been required to present at a number of short talks on their work, complete with visual aids and a time limit, to an audience of limited attentiveness. Typically they regard this as very stressful, yet perform competently in the view of staff (for whom giving and listening to talks is a prominent feature of their professional life).

Information technology
Our students were required to use email for much of their time as a standard departmental communication medium. They were required to submit all their written work outside exam rooms in word-processed form, including some use of tables and charts. They are further trained and exercised in the use of at least one statistics package, and in the use of online literature search software. They will normally have used the world wide web in various ways, as the department maintains some information in that form, and some courses require its use.

Numeracy, quantitative methods
As noted above, the statistics course and required applications of it mean that graduates have used calculators, spreadsheet, and statistical software to process data, and to present numerical results in tables and charts.

Library research
Our graduates have had to undertake library research both as part of the regular courses, and for their project work and critical reviews. The latter especially demand extracting useful information directly from the published scientific literature, mainly online.

Trustworthiness, honesty, professional ethics
We are happy to confirm in personal references that a particular graduate has given us no reason to doubt their honesty, but in general a degree course offers few opportunities for more definite observations or tests. The exception is in acquiring and practising the desirable standards for dealing with human participants (or "subjects") in empirical studies. All our graduates have received training in this, in line with BPS guidelines, and were required as part of their research project to construct, and to have submitted an ethics application covering their study. The difficulty of getting such clearance varies greatly: for example, administering questionnaires to other undergraduates is generally an issue of relatively low sensitivity, while working with disturbed patients receiving treatment elsewhere is a high sensitivity area.