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What is Psychology

Questions about Psychology.

Frequently asked questions by students about studying psychology in UCD.

Psychology is the study of all aspects of behaviour and mental processes. It includes topics such as how the brain works, how our memory is organised, how people interact in groups and how children learn about the world. Because of its breadth, virtually everyone can find something in psychology that is of interest to them. Psychology has links to the natural sciences, the social sciences and the arts, and leads to a variety of career opportunities. Professional psychologists work in the areas of clinical psychology, educational psychology, organisational psychology, forensic psychology, counselling psychology and health psychology.

There are several differences but one of the most important is the training that psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have. Psychology is an independent discipline which is taught in universities and colleges. A psychologist is someone who holds at least a BA or BSc in psychology which is accredited by a national psychology association such as the (opens in a new window)Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). More often than not, a professional psychologist will also hold a masters or doctoral degree in a specialist area of psychology, such as clinical psychology. A psychiatrist, in contrast, has a primary degree in medicine (rather than psychology) and a specialist postgraduate qualification in psychiatry. Psychiatry is therefore a branch of medicine. Psychoanalysis is a particular approach to psychotherapy, and this approach falls within a psychotherapeutic tradition founded by Sigmund Freud. While all psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists learn something about Freud’s work during their training, only a minority undergo additional specialist training in psychoanalysis to become qualified to practice as psychoanalysts. You can find out more information about psychology at the PSI website. More information about psychiatry is available at the College of Psychiatry Ireland website. Information about psychotherapy in Ireland is available at the (opens in a new window)Irish Council of Psychotherapy (ICP) website.

If you do not have a degree already, then the best route is to take the three-year UCD Honours BA in Psychology. If you already have a degree but have not majored in psychology, then you may enrol on the two-year Higher Diploma in Psychology (H Dip Psych). These two degrees provide a general academic training in the discipline. They are accredited by PSI, and as such provide the foundation, and gateway for further postgraduate professional training in a particular branch of psychology such as clinical, counselling or health psychology. This professional training is offered at a masters or doctoral level, so it usually takes 2 to 4 years of study after the BA or H Dip Psych in order to qualify as a professional psychologist.

Statistics are widely used in psychology and courses in statistics are a part of every psychology degree. This news may cause anxiety among new students. However, any student who attends core psychology lectures and tutorials and does the assigned reading should have no difficulty with statistics. The most important thing is to avoid developing a fear of the subject in advance.

Courses in biological psychology are a part of every psychology degree. Some biology may also be covered in other psychology courses. As with statistics, you will have no problems with biological psychology if you attend the lectures and tutorials and do the assigned readings.

There is no practical work in the first year of psychology. In the second year, students are required to complete supervised practical work in experimental psychology, survey research and psychological testing. In the final year, every student must complete a research project and write it up as research thesis.

UCD School of Psychology

Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.