Psychology is a popular study choice because it's for anyone interested in knowing about the human mind. That was the case for Dr Ian Fuelscher, who got into psychology because he was 'curious about understanding behaviour – why people do what they do.' That curiosity led him to where he is now, as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology.
What should I look for in a psychology degree?
When comparing the best universities and the different psychology course options, what’s most important to consider? Here Dr Fuelscher and Dr Meaghan Danby, a lecturer specialising in forensic psychology at Deakin, weigh in.
Dr Danby emphasises the importance of practical learning and real-world experience. 'Your degree should offer opportunities to practice what you’re learning,' she says. 'You want to able to apply your skills and knowledge in placements and real-world opportunities so, at the end of your degree, you’re job ready.'
'Look for flexibility in terms of how and when you study,' Dr Fuelscher says. You might want to fast track your degree or study part time, or do your course units online, when and where you please.
'You want staff that are knowledgeable and passionate,' Dr Fuelscher says. 'But also staff that care about your learning and are looking to inspire you.'
‘Psychology is very broad,’ Dr Danby says. ‘It includes lots of different areas of specialisation, research and learning.’ You want a degree that includes a variety of electives, so you can forge your own pathway.
What will I learn from Deakin's psychology courses?
As a first year student, you'll be introduced to the core concepts of psychology, as well as the different specialisations. From second year you will start to choose electives that are more specialised; e.g. forensic or developmental or cognitive psychology.
You'll learn a lot of other useful skills too, like communication, problem solving, critical thinking and digital literacy.
Who will I study alongside?
'Our students are really diverse,' Dr Danby says. 'We have a lot of school leavers, a lot of mature-age. Online we get people who might be working full-time or parents or people living in remote communities.'
'Our students have a range of interests,' Dr Fuelscher says. 'So you can be confident that there will be others interested in the more niche areas, such as organisational psychology or cognitive neuroscience.'
How flexible can it be?
At Deakin you can complete your entire undergraduate degree online. The School of Psychology has students living as far away as Alaska and as remote as the North-West Kimberley. Its digital-first approach means all lectures are live-streamed and there are plenty of interactive modules, online seminars and live chats.
What support will I get?
‘Deakin offers very strong support,’ he says. ‘Staff are accessible. We help students structure their degrees, plan their workloads and map out their assessments.’ This allows students to focus on their learning.
All the services available to campus students are also available to students studying online. This means all students have access to services like free counselling, health services and careers counselling.
Will I study statistics?
'(Psychology students) need some understanding of statistics,' Dr Danby says, 'so they can critique research, and understand what they’re reading.'
But, she says, at Deakin 'it's delivered in a pretty friendly way, with a lot of support from lecturers and tutors.'
Dr Fuelscher agrees that statistics are taught 'in a way that is accessible, even for those wary of numbers or maths. We try and make it relevant, with real-world applications.'
Is there much group work?
'There are plenty of opportunities to engage in individual work and also in group-based work, both online and face-to-face,' he says. 'I think it's a good balance.'
'In our second and third year units, students practice peer-to-peer counselling skills and learn about techniques involved in counselling and coaching.'
Are there opportunities for practical experience?
'We recognise that students want a job at the end of their degree,' Dr Danby says, 'so we speak with employers to identify what skills are useful. And then we offer students opportunities to engage with placements and internships.'
'We've got two specialised units in second and third year that help students get ready for the workplace,' Dr Fuelscher says. 'Preparing for Employment gives insight into possible careers and we've got a whole subject where we help (students) secure a relevant internship in their area of interest. And then help them understand how psychology is applied in a workplace setting.'
What about specialisations in psychology?
Some students come to Deakin knowing exactly what they want to specialise in. Others come with a general interest in psychology and use their undergraduate degree to try things out, see what fits. Both are valid pathways.
Across the degree you can choose from several specialisations including cognitive neuroscience, clinical, forensic and criminal psychology. If you're interest lies in organisational psychology, Deakin is the only school in Victoria that teaches it. And Professor Michael Leiter is an internationally recognised lecturer in that course.
'Psychologists work in many areas,' Dr Fuelscher says. It's true. You'll find them in medicine, health, business, education, sport, HR – the list goes on. It's a vibrant and vital field that applies to everyone, everywhere. So why not turn your passion into your profession by studying psychology at Deakin?