Top Psychology Universities in the UK

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Marwa Abady

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08 February, 2021

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8 mins read

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University Life

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Have you ever laughed just because the person next to you is laughing? We all have! Psychological research shows that happiness and laughter are contagious. You laugh at someone’s laughter, even if you do not know why they are laughing because the other person has an infectious laugh. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. It overlaps with and contributes to various disciplines, including linguistics, sociology, education, anthropology, neuroscience, and archaeology. So if you wish to understand mental processes and how they affect behaviour, a degree in psychology would be your best choice. Read through our blog to discover the top psychology universities in the UK and apply to the degree that interests you the most through UCAS

Top Psychology Universities in the UK

1. The University of Cambridge - Department of Psychology

The University of Cambridge is the third best university worldwide in psychology and the first in the UK. Its Department of Psychology offers two undergraduate courses where you can study psychology in greater depth. These two courses are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). So if you wish to become a professional psychologist, you may join their graduate membership. However, to be eligible for this membership, you should graduate with a minimum of second class honours. 

These are the two psychology degrees offered by the Department of Psychology:

1. BA Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS)

This three-year degree enables you to gain further knowledge in brain mechanisms, cognitive, biological, developmental psychology, group social behaviour, personality, and family relationships. Teaching is through seminars, lectures, supervisions, and classes, while some practical subjects are taught in laboratories. Upon graduation, you will have access to jobs in various sectors, including, media, teaching, research, management, civil service, law and more. 

In Year 1, you will study Introduction to Psychology and Psychological Enquiry and Methods as compulsory subjects. You will choose two topics from a wide range of options. These options include Evolution and Behaviour, Biological Anthropology, Social Anthropology, Sociology, and Philosophy. At the end of the year, you will take a three-hour written exam in each subject. 

In Year 2, your compulsory subjects will be Cognitive Neuroscience, Experimental Psychology, and Social and Developmental Psychology. You will choose electives to study alongside the compulsory core subjects. These subjects include History and Philosophy of Science, Biological Anthropology, Neurobiology, Sociology, and Philosophy. At the end of the year, you will take a written exam in each subject. 

In your final year, you will choose three optional subjects, one of which should be amongst the following topics: Developmental Psychopathology, or The Family, Advanced Topics in Social and Applied Psychology, Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience, and Cognitive and Experimental Psychology. The other optional subjects include Biological Anthropology, Criminology, History and Philosophy of Science, Sociology and Philosophy. Additionally, you will undertake a research dissertation of 7000 words on a psychology topic of your choice. 

2. BA Natural Sciences (NST)

Usually, this programme lasts for three years; however, some subjects may last for four years since they offer an integrated masters course. 

In the first year (Part IA), you will choose three experimental subjects and a subject in mathematics. The experimental subjects have a wide range of options, including Evolution and Behaviour, Physiology of Organisms, Physics, Biology of Cells, and Materials Science. The mathematics subjects that you will choose from are Mathematics and Mathematical Biology.

In Year 2 (Part IB), you will also choose three subjects from the following: Experimental Psychology, History and Philosophy of Science, Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Materials Science, and more. Each week, you will attend three lectures, one supervision and undertake upto six hours of practical work for each subject. 

In Year 3 (Part II), you will specialise in only one subject. You will choose from Psychology, Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, Physiology, Development, & Neuroscience', Genetics, and more. Upon the successful completion of this year, you will be awarded the BA degree. 

2. The University of Oxford - Department of Experimental Psychology

Battling with Cambridge for the best university in psychology, the University of Oxford is the fourth-best university globally, thanks to its Experimental Psychology degree at Pembroke college. Helping to prevent discrimination, harassment, and bullying in its community, the Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology has been awarded the Athena SWAN Silver Award for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. As a Psychology student at this college, you will conduct experimental research to gain an in-depth understanding of the behaviour-related psychological and neurological mechanisms.

To gain a degree in psychology from the University of Oxford, you may study Psychology on its own in the Experimental Psychology (EP) course or with Philosophy and/or Linguistics in the joint honours Psychology, Philosophy and/or Linguistics (PPL) course. 

In the joint honours PPL course, you will join a bipartite degree of Psychology and Philosophy, or Psychology and Linguistics.  Another choice is to join a tripartite degree in Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics. To join these psychology courses, you should have a mathematics or science A level, Advanced Mathematics and a second language besides English. 

In the selection process, you will have an interview at Pembroke college, where you will be asked to talk about the practical problems encountered in psychology and other disciplines. If you are shortlisted, you will have another interview at a second college.

3. University College London (UCL) - Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

The University College London is ranked seventh among UK universities for psychology. Its Division of Psychology and Language Sciences is located within the Faculty of Brain Sciences. As one of the top psychology universities in the UK, the university offers a three-year psychology programme accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). 

In Year 1, you will study six compulsory modules: Social Psychology, Introduction to Statistical Methods, Introduction to Psychological Experimentation, The Psychology of Individual Differences, Evidence and Enquiry in Psychology, and Memory and Decision. You will choose one optional module from across the University College London. In Year 2, there are no elective modules. However, you will study eight compulsory modules: Qualitative and Mixed Research Methods, Research Methods in Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Brain and Behaviour, Perception, Language and Cognition, Health and Clinical Psychology, and Intermediate Statistical Methods. During your final year at college, you will conduct a compulsory Research Project. Additionally, you will study six modules from a range of options, including Psychology and Education, Topics in Developmental Psychology, Topics in Neurobiology, Visual Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Behaviour Change, Genes and Behaviour, Brain in Action, Language in Context, The Social Psychology of Risk, Social Psychology, Organisational Psychology, Human-Computer Interaction, Applied Decision Making, and Human Learning and Memory. 

Each year, you will take several modules with a total number of 120 credits. After completing 360 credits in these three years, you will be awarded a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Psychology. Studying psychology in the UCL, you will acquire various transferable skills such as communication and literacy skills, presentation skills, teamwork, numeracy, IT literacy, data-management, time-management, report writing, and independent research. So after graduation, you can follow a variety of careers in a wide range of industries that are open to psychology graduates. 

4. King’s College London (KCL) - Department of Psychology

One of the other top psychology universities in the UK and worldwide is King’s College London. It is located in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience in London. The psychology sections of Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine merged with KCL’s Department of Psychology, making it one of its largest departments.

Focusing on understanding the mechanisms that maintain psychological distress and developing and evaluating new psychological treatments, the department’s research interests include mental health disorders and psychological problems like anxiety disorders, trauma, and antisocial personality depression.

 For over 60 years of combining research and clinical practice, the university has offered undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates. Here are the three undergraduate psychology degrees offered by the KCL’s Department of Psychology:

1. BSc Psychology

Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), this three-year BSc introduces you to psychological science’s application in various contemporary social challenges. Through lectures, seminars, and tutorials, you will take a total of 120 credits each year. This degree allows you to extend the programme to four years with a professional placement year or a year abroad.

In Year 1, you will study the following compulsory modules: Psychology and the Individual, Psychology and Development, Psychology and Society, Psychology and the Brain, Addressing Problems, Inspirational Research, and Research Methods. There are no optional modules in the first year. 

In Year 2, you will take the modules; Distorted Worlds: Variation in Perception and Memory, Origins of Individual Differences, Choices: Agency, Autonomy and Addiction, Psychological Skills, and Research Methods as compulsory modules. Additionally, you will choose two modules from the following options: Clinical Psychology, Contemporary Issues in Neuroscience, Work and Organisational Psychology, and Philosophy of Psychology.

In Year 3, you will conduct a research project and choose five optional modules, including Behavioural Genetics, Economic Psychology, Occupational Psychology, Women’s Mental Health, Addiction, Applications of Learning Theories, Neurodegenerative Disorders and Mechanisms, and more. 

If you decide to undertake a professional placement year, you will spend your third year putting theory into practice before conducting the research project in the final year. Also, if you decide to do a year abroad, you will spend your third year studying at one of the partner institutions which include the University of Melbourne, Western University, the University of British Columbia, Korea University, the University of Auckland, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, George Washington University, etc.

2. Neuroscience and Psychology BSc

This three-year degree will help develop your problem solving skills, teamwork skills, communication skills and statistical and analytical skills. You will learn about analysing cognitive and cultural processes, how the nervous system works, and human behaviour. Through lectures, seminars, and directed self-studying, you will take compulsory and optional modules with a total of 120 credits each year, with almost the same subjects as the BSc Psychology. You may also apply to a four-year degree with a year abroad or a year of professional placement. 

In Year 1, you will study Psychology and the Brain, Brain Form and Function, The Making of A Brain, Research Methods and Statistics with R, Psychology and Society, and Psychology and the Individual. There are no optional modules during this year. 

In Year 2, you will study Computing for Brain Cognitive Scientists, The Cognitive Brain, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Research Methods and Statistics with R, Distorted Worlds: Variation in Perception and Memory, Choices: Agency, Autonomy and Addiction, and Origins of Individual Differences. As in the first year,  there are no optional modules in the second year. 

In Year 3, you will conduct a research project to be eligible for the BPS graduate basis for chartered membership. Alternatively, you will take these two modules: eLearning or Science Media/Public Engagement Project and Neuroscience and Society. In addition, you will choose five optional modules from a wide range of options in both cases. These optional modules include Computational Neuroscience, Pharmacology of Neurological & Psychiatric Disorders, Machine Learning in Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology, Contemporary Issues and Theories in Addiction Science, Global Mental Health Foundations, and Applied Forensic Psychology. Like the BSc Psychology degree, you will spend your third year putting your learning into practice if you apply for the four-year pathway with a professional placement, or studying abroad at one of the partner institutions. 

3. Psychology iBSc

Are you a medical or biomedical science student? Apply to this one-year intercalated BSc in Psychology where you develop your skills in conducting, designing, analysing, and reporting research projects, critically evaluating your research, and presenting your research orally or in written form. Through 60 hours of lectures and seminars, 240 hours of self-directed studying, and 20 hours of data-handling workshops, you will study Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Health and Illness Across the Lifespan. Research Methods and Statistics as compulsory modules. You will be assessed through written examinations, coursework, oral presentations, and a dissertation throughout the year.

The postgraduate courses provided by the KCL’s Department of Psychology include Health Psychology MSc, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology DClinPsy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health MSc/PGDip/PGCert, Cognitive Behavioural Therapies PG Dip, and more. Also, there are certificates in CBT Psychosis, Family and Early Intervention, Adult IAPT training, CYP IAPT (Children and Young People) training and IAPT for Long Term Conditions/Medically Unexplained Symptoms.

There are other top psychology universities in the UK such as the  University of Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews, the University of Bath, the University of Cumbria, the University of Chichester, the University of York, the University of Nottingham, and Cardiff University.

If you are interested in exploring human behaviour, the human brain, the intersection of psychological and neurological processes and more, apply now to one of the top psychology universities in the UK and book your student accommodation there. Offering a wide range of room types and prices, Casita will help you choose your perfect student accommodation in the UK near one of the top psychology universities.


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