Psychology is the scientific study of thought, emotion and behaviour. Psychologists examine the various aspects of human experience, such as human emotions, thoughts and actions. They apply their understanding of people in a variety of professional, including clinical, counselling, educational, organisational and academic settings.
The first step to a career in psychology in Ireland is to study for a primary degree at honours level. Completion of an approved primary honours degree enables a student to become a graduate member of The Psychological Society of Ireland (P.S.I.). Further education and specialist training is then necessary to develop a career in psychology.
In general, a primary degree in psychology requires three to four years’ study. Courses are designed to familiarise students with the topics and research skills required in psychology. These courses generally involve both the study of psychological theory and gaining practical experience of research methods. Typical components include:
Whether a graduate decides to continue their training in psychology or not, a primary degree in psychology is a valuable qualification. It combines high levels of both literacy and numeracy, experience in working both individually and within a group, as well as planning projects and reflecting on aspects of theory.
During the course of an undergraduate degree in psychology, students acquire a variety of academic skills, such as the ability to read critically and write essays, design and carry out research, analyse data and understand numbers, listen to and understand lectures, use the library and a range of information databases and appreciate ethical issues. Students will also develop a number of other skills including working in teams, listening to other people, presenting complex arguments, tackling new areas, planning and carrying out individual projects and meeting deadlines.
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Completion of an accredited degree confers eligibility for graduate membership of P.S.I. This list is revised on a regular basis. At any time, other courses are under consideration by the Undergraduate Accreditation Committee on behalf of the Council of the Psychological Society of Ireland. All final decisions regarding accreditation are made by Council of the Society.
Once a student has completed a primary degree in psychology, there is a wide range of options for further study, depending on the area in which they wish to specialise. Completion of postgraduate studies takes between 2 – 3 years.