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Why Study Psychology in the UK? - Dr Ryan Scott

As part of our ongoing series of articles about studying Psychology worldwide, we visited Dr Ryan Scott, Lecturer in Psychology at University of Sussex, to ask him about why the UK is a great place to study Psychology and what the UK (and Sussex) offers prospective students, international and domestic, that is different from other countries.

Why Study Psychology in the UK?

1. Why is Psychology still an important subject to study at university?

What is there of greater importance than understanding ourselves? Psychology touches on everything from Government policy to medicine to law and beyond. It influences all aspects of life and helps us to improve society and conditions of living through self-insight. 

2. Why is Psychology such a popular subject to study, particularly within the UK?

A lot of people study Psychology because they can see its influence and value in everyday life and can relate to it at a personal level. It’s exciting to study our motivations and those of others. The subject of Psychology is being driven forward by advances in areas such as behavioural genetics and neuroscience; I believe many students are drawn to it because they are excited to be at the forefront of such scientific progress. In the UK, we have a long history of teaching Psychology as a science and have, since the days of William James, maintained a reputation for excellence in the subject.

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3. What is the main benefit of the following types of courses in Psychology? Pure Psychology (BSc Psychology), Joint Honours Psychology (e.g BSc Psychology with Business) and Psychology with a specialism (e.g. BSc Psychology with Cognitive Science)?

We do not offer full joint honours degrees with Psychology at Sussex but rather offer the opportunity to take Psychology with a minor where 25% of your time is dedicated to studying another, often closely related, subject such as Neuroscience or Criminology.  We prefer this arrangement as it ensures that we retain flexibility within the syllabus while meeting the British Psychological Society’s requirement for accreditation.  Students studying our straight Psychology course benefit from exposure to the greatest depth and breadth of the subject while retaining the maximum flexibility to tailor the course to their interests through electives and options. Those choosing to study Psychology with a minor benefit from augmenting the core subject with an integrated sequence of modules from another field.  This allows them to advance their understanding in a parallel subject that might itself fit well with their unique career aspirations. Our minors include: Clinical Approaches, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Economics, Business & Management, and Education.

4. What support is there available for international students studying psychology in the UK?

At the University of Sussex, we offer comprehensive support for all of our international students, which starts even before they’ve applied. This includes a network of over 100 approved agents who help advise potential students on the best place for them to study, offering support with course choices as well as visa and application advice.

Once students have applied, they have access to a dedicated web page which helps the students to prepare for university - http://www.sussex.ac.uk/s3/ A pre-arrival guide is also sent out which helps to explain the facilities available at the university.

Once they’ve arrived, airport pickups are arranged and the students are able to take modules in English to help improve their language skills. There is also a large Students Union at the University of Sussex, with over 200 clubs and societies for students to join and a bespoke Careers and Employment service is available for international students.  

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Psychology Research at the University of Sussex


5. How does studying Psychology in the UK differ from in other countries?

I can’t comment on many other countries’ Psychology courses but I can offer a side-by-side comparison with the USA. In the UK, a Psychology course is 3 years long, whereas in America a Psychology degree typically takes 4 years. In the UK the main focus is on the subject of psychology itself, while in America psychology forms a much smaller proportion of the total material covered. Finally, the UK places much more focus on hands-on research experience with the research project forming a very substantial part of the overall degree.

6. What should students look for when choosing a university to study Psychology at in the UK?

There are a number of things you should look for in a prospective institution:

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7. Which is the most popular of your Psychology courses at Sussex and which are the most popular non-compulsory modules in Psychology?

Our most popular course is actually the straight Psychology BSc. I think a lot of students want to study as much psychology as they can before choosing to specialise later down the line. There are number of popular modules but a top 4 that stand out are:

8. Have you got any success stories about former students who have gone on great things?

One of our students, Molly, came to Sussex as an exchange student from the University of Michigan. She liked it so much that she transferred to complete her full undergraduate degree here. She is now studying aPhD here, after receiving a Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship.

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Find out more about studying Psychology at the University of Sussex on http://www.sussex.ac.uk/psychology.

Dr Ryan Scott is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex and is a Research Fellow at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He is also the Director of Recruitment and Admissions for the School of Psychology. View his staff profile for more information and his contact details. 

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