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Published: 13 August 2015

Psychology at Surrey – for wonderful minds

After careful thought and consideration, you’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of pioneers Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget by studying psychology, exploring and unlocking the mysteries of the human mind. But with so many degrees on offer, why choose the University of Surrey?

Of course, the location of the University is a deciding factor for many students. Not only is it a short ten-minute walk from the historic centre of Guildford, but it boasts a campus surrounded by lush green lawns, a tranquil lake and shady trees to study under.

Most importantly, the University’s academic credentials are giving rivals such as Oxbridge and St Andrews a run for their money in university league tables, helping Surrey rank fourth in the Guardian University Guide 2016.

So what is it that gives Surrey the edge when it comes to academic achievement? Professor Peter Hegarty, Head of the School of Psychology, claims a ‘hands-on’ approach to teaching is critical to students’ success.

He explains how students are encouraged to get involved in research early on in the course. Taking part in projects as a participant in the first and second year helps students develop an understanding of the experiences of those being observed and studied by a psychologist. In the second year, students are then able to participate in something called the Volunteer Research Assistance (VRA) scheme, where they will work with academics a few hours a week on a voluntary basis.

Professor Hegarty says: “In the first couple of years of the degree, the majority of students will be taking part in projects as participants but the ones that are really curious about research based careers will be doing the VRA, leaning in a bit and hopefully that is informing their aspirations as well.”

Finding a job after graduation is a huge concern for students today, but with Surrey ranked second for graduate employability compared with other chartered universities in England, it’s is breaking new ground in leading young people into fulfilling careers.

Key to the University’s success is the Professional Training placement scheme it offers. The placements provide students with experience of the working world as part of their undergraduate programme, giving them a head-start after graduation.

There is a big step between finishing university and joining the world of work. The placement year makes the transition smoother. The scheme not only equips students with a range of vital jobseeking skills, such as CV and application writing, but they also learn how to work independently, as well as time management and communication skills.

“A placement really helps students dip their toe in the water, hone their interests and reflect on what they really want to do in a career,” says Professor Hegarty.

He adds: “It gives them a chance to really experience employment and that does set them apart from other undergraduates. The placement year is where they walk the walk of work and they leave with greater confidence and independence.”

Learn more about our psychology degrees and our School of Psychology.

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