Experimental Psychology in the UK

Dr Fay Short started out her studies in Psychology as a BSc student at the University of Bangor. After completing a Masters and a PhD, she now lectures at Bangor's School of Psychology whilst researching body representation, teaching and learning, and counselling in high schools. Fay gives us an insight into why is it great to study Clinical and Counselling Psychology in the UK.

Careers in Psychology are diverse and varied, and many undergraduates starting a degree in Psychology can end up on a career path that is quite different from their original plan. This is one of the most exciting things about studying Psychology!

Studying Experimental Psychology in the UK

In the UK, your journey will begin with an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology. This will take a minimum of three years, and should include training in all of the core areas of psychology plus experience conducting your own psychological research. For example, at Bangor University, our undergraduate students learn about research methods and statistics, neuropsychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioural psychology, clinical psychology, and they complete a research project in a field of their choice in their final year. You must make sure that the British Psychological Society (BPS) accredits your chosen degree, because this means that you will be eligible for graduate membership once you graduate. Graduate membership of the BPS is a prerequisite for many postgraduate courses and careers in Psychology in the UK. After graduating with your undergraduate degree, you will find many different career paths open to you…

If you are excited about the idea of working at the cutting edge of psychological research, then you might want to follow the path to become an Experimental Research Psychologist. Psychologists work in research institutes, private companies, or universities to conduct psychological experiments to answer important research questions. To be hired as a researcher, you will often have to hold a PhD in a field of Psychology. Fully funded PhD places are highly competitive, so you will usually need a first or high upper second class undergraduate degree in psychology. It is also helpful if you hold a postgraduate Masters and you have already conducted some research or gained some research skills related to the topic of the advertised PhD. Alternatively, you can fund your own PhD and you may find that this allows you to choose your own research topic, provided that you can find an academic who is willing to supervise your research. Most students will complete their PhD within three to four years, and you may then take a job as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant to gain some further experience in the field. If you are successful in attracting grant funding for your research and publishing your research findings, then you will be a competitive applicant when you apply for a post as a research-focused Psychologist.

All of the important psychology concepts that you learn about on your undergraduate degree have come from experiments conducted by psychologists working as researchers. Following the career path of a Research Psychologist will give you an opportunity to contribute to this knowledge and further our understanding of human thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Dr Fay Short 
Reader in Psychology
Deputy Head of School (Teaching and Learning)
Bangor University


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