Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour. It is a diverse discipline that encompasses many aspects of human behaviour. Psychology is concerned with the way we behave in groups as well as individual behaviour patterns; it is concerned with the way we act as well as the way we think and it is concerned with our interaction with the physical world as well as our interaction with others.
Psychology is offered either as a specialised four year Bachelor of Psychology (BPsych) degree or as a major in other degrees. If you are enrolled in a science, arts, health sciences or the liberal arts and science degree, you will study psychology alongside other units from these faculties, choosing to study one or two years of psychology or to go on to a third year and major in psychology. You can then progress to fourth year (honours) if you perform well enough.
School of Psychology website
Studying Psychology at the University of Sydney
When you study psychology, you will cover a range of areas including abnormal behaviour, biological bases of behaviour, developmental psychology, individual differences in behaviour, personality, social influences on the behaviour of individuals and groups, and theories of learning. At the University of Sydney, it is possible to study a full major in psychology, including an honours year, in any of the following courses:
- Bachelor of Psychology (BPsych)*
- Bachelor of Science (BSc)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (BLAS)
- Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS)
- Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) (BCom(LibStud))
Plus any combined course that includes the BSc.
* this is a four-year course that includes honours as the final year of study.
Bachelor of Psychology
The Bachelor of Psychology is a specialised course for those interested in pursuing a career in psychology. You will study four years of psychology together with other units in either a science or arts stream of the BPsych.
In your first year, you study psychology as well as other units fitting with the stream in which you are enrolled (science or arts). In your second and third year you build your specialisation in psychology. The fourth year is an honours program that involves specialised individual research.
Note that minimum grade requirements for progression apply throughout this course. If you do not satisfy these requirements, you will not be able to continue in the course, but you will have the opportunity to transfer into a course that allows a major in psychology.
Psychology major in other courses
When you study psychology as part of one of the other courses listed on this page, you also take other units from these courses. You can take a full sequence of psychology, including fourth-year honours, within each of these courses. There is a minimum grade requirement of credit in intermediate and senior psychology to enter the honours program. Honours is competitive and currently subject to a quota.
The areas of study in psychology are listed below. Whichever course you choose, you can study one, two or three years of psychology (at least 24 credit points of intermediate and 24 credit points of senior units are required for an accredited major in psychology or to continue beyond third year).
Which course should you choose?
Choosing which course to study depends on your ATAR and on which other units you want to study in combination with psychology.
If your interests are mainly in the humanities or social sciences, you probably want to enrol in one of the courses offered by the Faculty of Arts. Alternatively, if you are science-oriented, you should investigate courses offered by the Faculty of Science. If your interests span both the humanities and the sciences, you may want to consider courses like the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science which allows you to complete a major in either an arts or a science area (like psychology) and incorporate studies from the other faculty. These various courses have different specific requirements that you need to be aware of - for more information, obtain a copy of the science, arts, or health science brochures or visit their faculty websites.
What will you study?
The following outlines the specialist aspects of psychology that you may study in each year:
There are two junior units of study offered in psychology - one in each semester. Both junior units are compulsory for a psychology major. Both units are an introduction to the various sub-disciplines in psychology, such as research methods; behavioural neuroscience; social psychology; personality theory; human development; mental abilities; learning and motivation; applied psychology; perception; abnormal psychology; and cognitive processes.
Second year psychology extends on material introduced in first year.
All four intermediate units are compulsory for a psychology major.
- Brain and Behaviour
- Statistics and Research Methods for Psychology
- Cognitive, Developmental and Social Psychology
- Personality and Intelligence (I)
At least four senior units (five for BPsych) are required for a psychology major.
- Advanced Statistics for Psychology*
- History and Philosophy of Psychology and Psychiatry
- Abnormal Psychology**
- Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience#
- Cognition, Language and Thought#
- Developmental Psychology
- Learning and Behaviour#
- Perceptual Systems#
- Personality and Intelligence (II )
- Social Psychology
- Applications of Psychological Science
* Compulsory for fourth-year entry
** Compulsory for a major
# At least one of these is compulsory for a major
Career opportunities in Psychology
After three years of study (major in psychology)
While three years of study in psychology is insufficient for registration as a psychologist, it does open the door to many interesting careers such as advertising, market research, marketing, public relations, science journalism and public policy, plus a range of graduate positions in major industries such as banking, management consulting and telecommunications.
The three-year courses also prepare you for entry into graduate programs in coaching psychology and health psychology. These graduate programs are not designed to lead to registration as a psychologist, but they provide excellent exposure to advanced knowledge and skills needed in the employment market.
After four years of study (honours or honours equivalent in psychology)
As well as achieving the basis for registration, fourth year graduates in psychology have the necessary training to obtain work in areas such as schools, hospitals, prisons, human resources, developmental disabilities, and various social policy areas in the private and public sectors. Registered psychologists are in high demand.
These qualifications are required for entry into all professional psychology programs, such as the Doctor in Clinical Psychology/Master of Science, which will qualify you to become a clinical psychologist. They also form the ideal base to pursue graduate research programs such as the PhD.