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All psychology courses teach psychology, but here at UCS our emphasis is on doing psychology. We are BPS accredited so, as well as covering all of the core academic aspects of psychology, the course focuses on the practical applications of psychology to the real world. Because of this you will not only gain academic skills and knowledge, but also develop the professional skills that are so important for modern working life.

With the application of psychology at the forefront of the course, you will have the opportunity to conduct your own research in areas that interest you. Below are just some examples of the opportunities you have to do this!

Using psychology to solve real-world problems

In the first year of your course you will have the opportunity to use psychology to tackle a problem facing society. However, this problem is not made-up by staff; instead, one of the many community organisations that we work with present a real-life problem to you. Then, in groups, you have the chance to help ‘solve’ that problem for the organisation!

For example, this year Age UK asked students for ideas to help combat food poverty among older people living in Shropshire. After building their knowledge and skills throughout the year, they then presented their ideas back to Age UK in a formal presentation at the end of the module. Our students came up with all sorts of great ideas for Age UK to consider: supported cooking classes, intergenerational contact, even plans to get food banks and supermarkets involved! As usual, UCS staff, as well as Age UK, were impressed by the thoroughness and creativity that our students demonstrated.  

Working with community organisations

With this experience under your belt, you get the opportunity in the second year to go beyond designing a solution to a community problem to investigating whether or not it could work!

UCS has links to many organisations in Shrewsbury including the West Mercia Police, Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Sports Village, Age UK, Shropshire Cat Rescue (for the animal lovers!), SOVA and SAND… to name a few! Then, in groups, you are tasked with identifying a research question, designing a psychological study to investigate it, and then analysing and presenting the data. This year one of our groups worked with the police to assess the role of street pastors in the night-time economy. Not only did the police attend their presentation, but they also expressed a good deal of interest in a number of their findings!

This is something unique to UCS and it is an excellent opportunity to experience the practical application of psychology, make important professional links, and to further develop professional skills. In fact, many of our students decide to continue developing the research from this project in their dissertation in the final year (which can also be done in conjunction with one of our many stakeholders). It is also a great introduction to study design, data analysis and report-writing in preparation for the final-year dissertation!

Career guidance with specialist guest speakers

In preparation for life after your undergraduate degree, part of the final year is devoted to helping you plan your life after graduation. You will be taught by guest speakers from a variety of career paths including sports coaching, forensic and police work, education, health and mental health. Importantly, you also have the opportunity to access specialised support from our dedicated career services team throughout the year and get one-on-one guidance for writing CVs, cover letters and job applications. In fact, one of your assessments in the third year is to sit a mock interview for a job of your choosing.

However, the chances to develop your professional skills do not end there! In one of the final year modules, you have the opportunity to design and deliver a short workshop on the psychological topic of your choice with a specific audience in mind. For example, this year a group developed a workshop on stress in young children that was designed to be given to school teachers. In addition to this, you get to take part in a poster conference that is not only open to students and staff at UCS, but members of the community at large. For this, you are asked to present a poster where you’ve applied a psychological theory of your choice to a career path that interests you. Not only does this allow you to reflect more deeply on potential areas for work, but also to network with individuals in that area!

The UCS family

Because of the opportunities we provide our students, the course is designed to be small. Hence, you can count on being taught in classrooms with less than 30 students under a team of 5 dedicated members of staff. This has a number of benefits for you including a strong support system that can help you succeed, no matter what challenges you face. Also, not only do you get to know your Applied Psychology peers well, but you will also get to know at least some of the other undergraduate students in your year. Hence, your world at UCS can be as big, or as small, as you want it to be.

From an academic perspective, the small group setting means that rather than have you sit in a lecture hall, we can use a number of interactive and innovative teaching methods. These include seminars, debates, applied activities, field trips, and role-play exercises. And, due to the close-knit community we have here, these activities are done with the friends you will no doubt make for life!

So, if you want to use psychology in a way that is meaningful, graduate with a highly employable CV, and be part of our rich and growing community, then come in person to see what we have to offer.

Find out the latest news from the UCS Applied Psychology department at their Facebook page. If you'd like to learn more about studying Applied Psychology at UCS, why not come along to our upcoming Open Evening? You can book your place here

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