Helping students get the most out of their studies is always a challenge, especially when the subject area, the methods and skills are as broad as they are in Psychology. In the BSc (Hons) Psychology we recognise the importance of getting a degree as a gateway to careers, and the need to prepare students for both further study or starting a career. Over the past two years we have looked carefully at the degree programme and thought how we might best support students in preparing for their next career steps, and have now introduced ‘employability’ and a work focus at each level of the degree. The BPS website features some of the careers that are available to Psychology graduates:
The first year of the degree is crucial period for undergraduate students. Developing appropriate academic skills and confidence to manage later on is vital for career success, and we start to do this as soon as students arrive. The induction week programme helps students settle into the university and to get to know members of their tutor group; it is also an opportunity for us to start asking about career aspirations. We pick this up through a module, Applying Psychology to Learning and Work. This module helps students in thinking about the skills and knowledge different professions need and encourages them to think about what they’d like to do in the future based on good knowledge of themselves and their aspirations. The module also helps student think about presentation, interview and CV skills. All of which are important to getting a good job. Students complete this module early on in their degree to allow them to start thinking about what skills and experience they will need to develop before graduation.
In the second year there are now more work and volunteering placements than ever. We have a new module Work, Volunteering and Applied Psychology that offers students opportunities to use their psychological knowledge in applied settings through reflective practice and work integrated learning. We have links with First Campus, the Salvation Army: Ty Gobaith Social Service Centre for homeless, and many others. Students selecting a work-based learning placement apply for a position, are given some training and must complete successfully a number of placement hours. We are very pleased about how the placements are developing, and about how popular they are proving to be. There is evidence that students who do well in the placements do well in the rest of their studies, and are more motivated and goal-orientated. Thus the second year is an opportunity for students to start developing desirable skills and experiences identified in Applying Psychology to Learning and Work in the first year.
We recognise that in the final year of their studies, students are often focused on completing their dissertations and on preparing for their next steps. It’s partly for that reason that we try to do so much earlier in the degree, but we continue to offer support to final year students, especially in terms of project supervision. We also offer a Work, Volunteering and Applied Psychology module for those that wish to complete a further placement, and make sure that all students are aware of the support available from the Careers Service and the Student’s Union:
Integrating placements and careers support is important across all three years. We use Initial Professional Development (IPD) sessions and offer regular meetings with tutors to help support students. This year we started a hosted our first Careers and Volunteering Fair, and will do so again next year:
As a team delivering an accredited Psychology programme we realise the importance of supporting our students appropriately so they are prepared for a range of careers and study.