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? One of the best reasons to study psychology is because it is such an interesting subject. Have you ever wondered why people behave in certain ways? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn more about your own mind, emotions, and actions? Earning a degree in psychology is an excellent way to gain a greater understanding of people. Although you’ll need to study a Masters or a Doctorate to learn how to apply the theory that you learn during an undergraduate degree.

In the UK Psychology is one of the most popular degree courses. It’s not only popular amongst students – employers like psychology degrees too. Employers like psychology graduates because the degree is a good mix of science and the arts. Psychology graduates understand scientific method and statistics but they can also make a compelling argument and communicate complex ideas.

In Malaysia and other middle-income countries you may have to work harder to explain why a psychology degree is a good course.

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’.

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:

  • Human Resources
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Management Consultancy
  • Teaching
  • ….. and many others

Professions in Psychology

One strong reason why you should study psychology is that some careers are only open to psychology graduates. You’ll find a description of some of these professions below.

There’s no need to rush into specialising in one of these fields. It’s helpful to gain ‘life experience’ or to have worked in other careers before becoming a professional psychologist.

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. They try to understand a young person’s strengths and the difficulties by giving them a series of structured tests or observing them in the classroom. You can find out more about the sort of assessments that they may conduct on our page about learning assessments.

Based on their assessment they will then develop an intervention and work directly with the young person or work via their parents, teachers or other professionals. In some countries you need to be a teacher before you become an Educational Psychologist.

We are not aware of a course in Malaysia that trains you to be an Educational Psychologist. If you are interested in the work of Educational Psychologists you can train as a Clinical Psychologist and then focus on working with children and young people.

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 difficulties such as brain injury, stroke or dementia. You can find out more about the sort of assessments that a neuropsychologist may conduct with a child on our page about learning assessments.

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.

The challenge of occupational psychology is convincing large organisations to pay for your services. You’ll need quite an entrepreneurial spirit to be successful as an Occupational Psychologist in Malaysia.

Sports psychology

Sports psychologists try to improve the performance of athletes. This is another profession which may be more challenging in middle-income countries such as Malaysia 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. Your undergraduate psychology degree will give you an introduction to research. If you enjoyed your final year project this could be an area for you to look into.

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

I have a psychology degree and I want to become a practicing psychologist. What should I do next?

If you would like to become a practicing psychologist in Malaysia the best option would be to qualify as a clinical psychologist. The title of clinical psychologist is better recognised in Malaysia and there are more training opportunities. You could then choose to do further short training courses to specialise in forensic, sports, education, occupational or health psychology.

To find out how to become a clinical psychologist in Malaysia click here.

Any questions or comments?

Did you find this article on why you should study psychology helpful? If you have any questions on this topic write them in comments section at the bottom of this page and we’ll reply to you as soon as possible. We’d also be very happy 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.


Times Newspaper (UK) Article on Studying Psychology

The Times Newspaper answers the question: What can you do with a psychology degree? It gives information on what you should study to get your place on a degree, and what jobs you could get once you graduate. It should be noted that the article is written from the British perspective.

I am a British Chartered Clinical Psychologist currently working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I aim to help people who are facing psychological or emotional difficulties to overcome their difficulties.

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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