What do you study in psychology – an insider guide
My name is Nathan, and I am an Honours student currently undertaking my fourth-year of psychology at Deakin University, part-time. I started my Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) way back in mid-2013, and finished my third year in mid 2017.
I always took on 75% of the workload (three out of a possible four subjects) in order to give myself a little breathing room, which for me, was the right decision.
The first thing I noticed about studying psychology was how more science-y it was compared to my expectations.
Before I began, I expected psychology to focus on topics like feelings, families, and relationships far more than it did. These concepts were present, but the course contained topics I never expected, such as research methods, which explores psychological statistics, and the means by which psychology is studied through research and tricky math (surprisingly, there was no need for strong math skills, most of the hard math was taken care of by the computer). Below, I’ll discuss what a bachelor in psychology really consists of.
There are two major aspects of studying psychology formally.
What do you study in psychology – the study
- The first of which is what you will be learning. This can range quite dramatically, including subjects like
- Child and adolescent development (‘what is normal at what age?’)
- Neuro-psychology (‘how does the brain work at a microscopic level?’), and
Abnormal psychology (‘what happens when things go wrong within the brain?’) for example. From my experience, in the early years, we looked at psychology very broadly, only touching on each topic week-by-week.
But in the later years, topics you just touched on earlier, become their own fully fleshed out subjects.
What do you study in psychology – the assignment
The second major aspect is what you will be producing.
The assignments in psychology are equally as varied as the subjects, ranging from simple multiple choice quizzes and short question-and-answer assignments which are typically not worth too much in terms of overall grade, to major assignments like lab reports, which are rigid studies that seek to answer specific questions about psychology, and are usually worth around 35-50% of your overall grade.
What do you study in psychology – the subject layout
Generally each subject in psychology will follow a set format.
This format can deviate a little, but overall, subject layout is similar across topics. For learning, each week you will be given a set reading from a textbook or online article, you will have to attend a lecture, and a tutorial session either weekly or fortnightly.
What do you study in psychology – the lecture
Lectures are the standard sit-and-listen situation where you will be presented with a bunch of slides and information regarding the topic, whereas tutorials are more closely akin to high-school learning. You will be in a small classroom with 5-30 other students, and will be able to have a back and forth with the teacher to discuss the subject, and be provided information about the assignments.
When it comes to assignments, and what you need to produce, each subject will normally require one or two minor assignments (such as quizzes) one major assignment (such as lab reports or group presentations), and finally, an exam. The exams are usually closed-book multiple choice, and can last between one or two hours. There are short answer exams, but they are less common.
Although some of these assignments and learning concepts were difficult, I never felt like I was left ‘high and dry’ by the teaching staff. The students were always given a starting point from which to work in each assignment, with clear directions and information regarding what was expected of students.
Overall, I would highly recommend studying psychology if you find yourself asking questions like ‘I wonder why that person said that’, or you find yourself wondering how people think. But most importantly, at the end of your degree, you will be equipped to make a difference in others lives, either through clinical practices, or through youth work.