Why Study Psychology?

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The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus where I taught on the Psychology Undergraduate Degree Programme.

Why study psychology? In the UK Psychology is one of the most popular degree courses. It’s not only popular amongst students – employers like psychology degrees too.

In Malaysia and other middle-income countries you may have to work harder to explain why a psychology degree is a good course because it isn’t as well understood.

What Skills Do You Learn During a Psychology Degree?

A Psychology degree gives you the ability to:

  • Gather information from a variety of sources.
  • Analyse data.
  • Present complex ideas.
  • Engage in effective team work.
  • Problem solve.
  • Reason scientifically.
  • Consider alternative approaches and solutions.
  • Evaluate and make critical judgements.
  • Understand issues from other people’s perspective.
  • Plan and manage projects.
  • Be sensitive to cultural issues.

The list above is from the British Psychological Society’s document ‘Your Journey into Psychology’.

Professions in Psychology

Some careers require you to study Psychology. You’ll find a description of some of these professions below.

Clinical psychology

Clinical Psychologists aim to reduce psychological distress and promote well-being. Their work often overlaps with the professions listed below. For more information about becoming a Clinical Psychologist see the guide on this website.

Educational Psychology

Educational Psychologists help children and young people who are having problems with learning, their emotional well-being, behaviour or friendships. In some countries you need to be a teacher before you become an Educational Psychologist.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists work within the criminal and legal system. They try to stop people convicted of crimes from re-offending. A common misunderstanding is that Forensic Psychologists solve crimes or track down serial killers. Unfortunately, these methods don’t really work so they aren’t often used. In middle-income countries it can be very difficult to work as a Forensic Psychologist because governments usually don’t fund their work.

Health Psychology

Health psychologists help people think and behave in ways that are better for their health. They may

  • Conduct research
  • Advise governments on their health policies
  • Work with individual hospital patients to improve their physical and psychological well-being.

Neuropsychology

Neuropsychologists focus on issues involving the brain. They try to understand the problems someone is experiencing and make recommendations to help them have a more comfortable and productive life. They may work with children and adults with brain injury, strokes or dementia etc.

Occupational psychology

Occupational psychologists are also called Organisational or Industrial psychologists. They:

  • Help businesses to get the best from their employees.
  • Conduct recruitment, training or develop incentive schemes.
  • Reduce stress at work.

Sports psychology

Sports psychologists try to improve the performance of athletes. This is another profession which may be more challenging in middle-income countries because athletes usually have less funding. However, there are some sports psychologists operating in middle-income countries so it is possible.

Research Psychologist/Lecturer

Research psychologists tend to study for a PhD and then focus their time on investigating the topic that most interests them. It may later lead to you becoming a lecturer at a University.

Careers that aren’t specific to psychologists

Many psychology graduates do not want to become practising psychologists or researchers. In the US, UK and other western countries businesses are usually happy to employ psychologists for roles that don’t have much to do with psychology. Psychology graduates have been employed in:

  • Market Research
  • Advertising
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Careers advisory services
  • Teaching
  • ….. and many others

If you’d like to know about other professions in psychology https://careers.bps.org.uk/

Any questions or comments?

Did you find this article helpful? If you have any questions on this topic write them in comments section at the bottom of this page and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible. It would also be good to read any comments or opinions you may have.


Further Information …

I’ve included some links to websites that I have found useful below.

British Psychological Society Career Guide

The BPS’s web guide to careers in Psychology is aimed at British Citizens but the information should still be useful.


American Psychological Society Career Guide

The APA’s guide to careers includes stories and biographies of a number of different psychologists so you can learn about their day-to-day work.


6 COMMENTS

  1. What is the differences between Clinical Psychologist and Counselling ?
    Besides these two majors, what others courses that I could pursue my Master Degree in Malaysia ?

  2. Hi I am a science student majoring in Occupational Safety and Health but I am interested in gaining knowledge regarding psychology – behavorial psychology and such for the improvement of life quality. However, do you think I should learn from scratch first? Like starting from general psychology. Or just specific in which field I prefer? And can you recommend a good book for starters like me (no basics in psychology at all). Thank you in advance, have a nice day!

    • It’s great to hear that you’re interested in psychology. Psychology can be applied to lots of different fields. I don’t know enough about your area to recommend a directly relevant book but I am sure they exist. I think it would be easiest to search to see if there are books or academic articles written about Applied Psychology and Occupational Safety and Health. It would be difficult to learn general psychology and then try to apply the theories yourself. If you’re interested in improving quality of life you might find Positive Psychology interesting. Here’s a link to get you started: https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/readings-and-videos/selected-scholarly-articles.

  3. Hi, I am a psychology students studying in UK right now. I’m looking for some intership opputunities in Malaysia. Do you know where or I could I find them?

    • Rekindle Academy (https://www.rekindletherapy.com/academy) has some internships. However, there are probably more opportunities to gain experience in the UK. The ideal role would put you in contact with a clinical psychologist so you can see what work they do. However, that is extremely difficult to find. You could also gain experience by working with people that clinical psychologists would commonly work with (for example being a care assistant for people with dementia, learning disabilities or mental health problems).

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