Frequently Asked Questions

My ATAR isn't high enough for the Bachelor of Psychology. Can I still study psychology?

YES!! Many students mistakenly believe that they can only study psychology in the Bachelor of Psychology. However, at the University of Sydney, it is possible to study a full major in psychology, including an Honours year, in a variety of other accredited degrees.

There is a minimum grade requirement of credit (65%) in Intermediate and Senior psychology to enter the honours program. Honours is competitive and currently subject to a quota.

Can I transfer into the Bachelor of Psychology after my first year at university?

You can apply to transfer into the B.Psych at the end of your first year. You will need to perform exceptionally well in first year psychology as well as your other first year subjects.

Entry into the Bachelor of Psychology is competitive and subject to a quota. Note that you can complete a major and honours in psychology through other accredited degrees. You do not need to to the Bachelor of Psychology to become a psychologist.

There are so many degrees in which I can study psychology. What is the difference between them?

The psychology subjects you study in any of these other accredited degrees are exactly the same. What differentiates the degrees are the other subjects that students study alongside psychology. For example, a student wishing to study psychology in a Bachelor of Science would study psychology as well as other science subjects (including mathematics). Bachelor of Arts students wanting to major in psychology would also major in an Arts subject area (eg. philosophy, history, a language, etc.). When you go to a psychology lecture, you will be sitting amongst students from a range of degrees. Even students in the Bachelor of Psychology have to study other subjects alongside psychology. The psychology they study is exactly the same.

The difference between the B.Psych and the other degrees is that the B.Psych includes the honours (4th) year of psychology. To progress into the honours year, B.Psych students have to meet grade requirements. Students in the other accredited degrees can also study the honours (4th) year of psychology by applying for entry after they complete their psychology major.

Which degree should I choose?

Apart from your ATAR and the accreditation status of the degree, the main issue to consider in choosing which degree to enrol in is what other subjects 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 degrees offered by the Faculty of Arts, such as the BA. Alternatively, if you are science-oriented, you should investigate degrees offered by the Faculty of Science, such as the BSc. If your interests span both the humanities and the sciences, you may want to consider degrees like the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science. These various accredited degrees have different specific requirements that you need to be aware of – for example, all BSc students need to study mathematics in first-year. It is important to obtain information from the Faculty’s website or advisory staff to make sure that you know all the requirements of the degree and how your psychology major would fit into the degree program.

What are the pre-requisites for studying psychology?

The subject psychology (regardless of which degree you study it in) does not have any prerequisites. However, the other subjects that you have to study within your selected degree may have prerequisites or assumed knowledge. You are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with the guidelines and restrictions of the degree in which you wish to enrol.

What sort of things will I be studying in psychology?

When you study psychology, you will cover a range of areas including behavioural neuroscience, personalty theory, social influences on the behaviour of indviduals and groups, forensic psychology, health psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, memory, attention, intelligence, sensory processes and perception, research methods and theories of learning and motivation.

You can see the syllabus of each of our Units of Study here.

You can see how you progress through Units of Study from the first through to the third and fourth year of study here.

What other subjects should I study with psychology?

Depending on your ultimate goals, Psychology combines well with a wide variety of subjects. If you will be studying in the Faculty of Science, then a combination of Biochemistry and Psychology would be extremely valuable for someone interested in neuroscience, so Chemistry 1 and Psychology 1 would need to be taken together. Other useful combinations might be Mathematics and Psychology (for people interested in the mathematical modelling and prediction of behaviour), or Biology and Psychology (for those interested in the physiology of behaviour), or Computer Science and Psychology (for those interested in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction). If you will be studying in the Faculty of Arts, then you might want to consider linguistics, philosophy, sociology, anthropology.

In your second year of study, you might want to consider PHIL2642 Critical Thinking.

Note that regardless of which Faculty you study in, the psychology you study is exactly the same.

I already have a degree, but it's not in psychology. What can I do if I want to pursue psychology?

The Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP) enables graduates to complete a major in psychology without having to complete another undergraduate degree. On successful completion of the GDP, graduates will be eligible to apply for entry to a fourth year of study in psychology. More information about the GDP

What is the difference between psychology and psychiatry?

Psychologists work in a variety of fields concerned with human behaviour and mental processes. When people think of a psychologist, they commonly picture someone who is involved with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. While this aspect of psychology, known as clinical psychology, is an important one, it is only one of the many aspects of a very diverse discipline. There are many other areas where psychologists apply their knowledge of human behaviour and mental processes. For example, organizational psychologists might work on developing selection procedures for employment or to apply their knowledge about psychology to improve organizational culture; forensic psychologists might work on reducing rates of re-offending by prisoners; health psychologists might work on developing strategies to increase healthy dietary habits; sports psychologists might use psychological techniques to improve performance of athletes.

Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who have additional specialized qualifications for diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illnesses. Psychiatrists focus on how physical illness can affect the mind as well as on how psychological functioning can affect the body. The medical and pharmacological training that psychiatrists have allows them to also prescribe medication in the treatment of mental illness.

Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists both work with mental illnesses, however their educational qualifications are quite different and this is reflected in the different approaches they may adopt in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. In some cases, patient outcomes can be further improved when clinical psychologists and psychiatrists work together.