Psychology

Students learning in the Science facilities at the UNSW Kensington campus

Understand yourself and other people 

Psychology is a science. The defining feature of any science is the objective approach that is used to advance our knowledge. In psychology we use this scientific approach to learn about behaviour and mental processes. It's a broad field that includes:

  • neuroscience
  • cognition
  • learning
  • memory
  • motivation
  • reasoning
  • decision making
  • perception
  • social (yourself as well as others)
  • developmental
  • clinical
  • forensic
  • health

You'll learn about aspects of human behaviour that will help you in daily life, including your interactions with others, your learning and memory performance, your ability to cope with pressure and your understanding of the causes of psychological disorders.

Psychology also intersects with many other disciplines across Arts, Design and Architecture (ADA), Business, Medicine & Health and Engineering. Psychology complements these disciplines, which benefit from an understanding of different aspects of human behaviour. 

Enhance your career prospects

Ranked 24th in the world for psychology*, we're a global leader in psychology research and education. Psychology provides excellent training in analytical thinking and scientific research methods. Whether you’re looking to become a registered psychologist, or would like to gain a psychology background to enhance your career prospects, the skills acquired through psychology training are applicable to a broad range of careers. A psychology degree will prepare you for careers in industries such as:

  • advertising
  • community development and relations
  • copywriting
  • counselling
  • developmental care
  • public, community and occupational health
  • management consultancy
  • human resources
  • recruitment
  • training and development
  • industrial relations
  • market research
  • journalism
  • marketing
  • business and retail management
  • welfare and youth work
  • statistical and data analysis 

Prepare for professional practice

Psychologists work in a wide variety of different contexts, including clinical, legal, organisational, educational and research settings in both the private and public sector. To practice as a psychologist, you need to complete an undergraduate degree, honours program and accredited master's degree. For those wishing to practice as a clinical psychologist, typical areas of work include:

  • Clinical psychology involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of serious psychological problems. To practice as clinicians, psychologists must have completed an accredited clinical master's degree.

  • Organisational psychology involves working in public, commercial and industrial settings. Tasks may include job analysis, selection, career planning, training, ergonomic and task design, and organisational development.

  • Forensic psychology involves working in settings associated with the legal system such as police, courts, prisons, guardianship and child protection.

  • Clinical neuropsychology is a specialisation of clinical psychology. It involves the diagnosis and rehabilitation of people affected by brain damage.

  • Counselling psychology involves helping adults, children and families to explore and resolve problems in everyday living.

  • Educational psychology involves helping teachers, parents and students to maximise their learning in educational environments.

Pathways to psychology

There are many ways to study psychology and work towards your general registration. At UNSW, there are seven different programs you can take to meet the requirements of your accredited undergraduate psychology sequence. Regardless of which one you decide to study, you'll complete the same core units and have the same opportunity to progress to honours. Entry to honours is based on performance in undergraduate psychology units and there is no preference given to any particular degree sequence. Honours is also the same for all students regardless of their undergraduate degree program. 

Although the core psychology components of these degrees are identical, the programs vary in the other courses you take alongside your psychology major. This allows you to tailor your degree to suit your particular interests and as such we encourage you to explore your options and choose a degree that's right for you.

Retraining as a psychologist?

If you're a graduate from another discipline wishing to retrain as a psychologist, there are a couple of approaches you may wish to take.

  • You may consider enrolling in an undergraduate degree where it's possible to complete an accredited four-year sequence of study in psychology. All of the undergraduate programs listed below are accredited sequences in psychology and those which do not include an embedded honours program may be followed by the standalone Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) program. 

    Based on courses completed in your previous degree(s), you may be given a certain amount of credit/exemption. Depending on exemptions granted, you may still have to complete some non-psychology courses as well as psychology courses. All major sequences in psychology contain the same minimum core of 78 units of credit (UOC), which is comprised of:

    • three level 1 courses
    • five level 2 courses
    • five level 3 courses (two compulsory courses and three elective courses)

    This sequence is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and allows entry into honours for all students achieving the minimum entry criteria.

  • You may consider enrolling in the Graduate Diploma in Psychology. This program is designed for students that have completed an undergraduate degree and wish to retrain as a psychologist in an accelerated and flexible manner. Plese note that if you complete the Graduate Diploma in Psychology, you'll still be required to complete an honours year in order to be eligible to apply for further postgraduate study in psychology.

Psychology programs

*QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021