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A Science or Humanities Based Psychology Degree Course

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Psychology Career Degree Science

Before you choose to study psychology, it is important to appreciate that the focus and direction of different degree courses vary greatly, with this having a real impact on your potential.

If, for example, you’re particularly interested in the human aspect of psychology and have an aim to work as a counsellor on a one-to-one basis, you may find that a humanities-based degree course will suit your better. Alternatively, if you’re scientifically-minded and are interested in the more analytical aspects of psychology, a science-based course will be better for you.

How to Choose?

All psychology degree courses are not created equal! Rather than get too far into a course that you realise is not really for you, or suitably geared towards your academic skills or career goals, do a little homework before you apply for places.

So how do you know which one is which? What makes a science course or a humanities course? Now that the majority of students have to pay rather hefty tuition fees, universities are most concerned with making sure that students finish their courses, as drop-outs have a dramatic impact on the course funding available for the following year. This means that the university itself is the best place to start to see what direction their psychology degree course or courses take. Start by asking the admissions officer and then speak to a faculty member from your potential course if needed.

Professional or Commercial Affiliations

You can also gain an insight into the course’s approach to psychology by looking into whether the department has any particular affiliations with companies, associations or other departments. In the same vein, check out if the course is sponsored in any way. These will give you an idea of the perspective of the course as those that sponsor the course, its equipment or its research facilities are likely to take graduates from the course, so it will be leaned towards the needs of the sponsor.

Attend the Open Day

A further was to establish whether the university degree course you are interested in has a humanities or scientific leaning is to ask at the Open Day. It is not always as simple as seeing what is written in the prospectus as most universities will try to sound as inclusive as possible in order to appeal to as many potential students as possible. At the university Open Day, talk to psychology undergraduates to see what they do or don’t like about the course. A good question to ask is what A Levels did they study, that way, you can establish if their background and aptitude matches your own.

Career Impact of Different Psychology Courses

Do not underestimate the impact on your future choosing the right course will have. It’s not just about how interested you are in the subject and how hard you’ll study, but there are knock-on effects about the direction your career can take. If you are interested in a certain area of psychology such as forensics, many high-end graduate positions in this field require at least a 2:1 degree for a science-focused psychology course. Although there are fewer demands for humanities-based degree courses for the more cerebral areas of psychology as a career, if this is where you are most comfortable it is very likely that a science-focused psychology degree will not interest you or, in the worst case scenario, even cause you to fail your degree.

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