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Frequently asked questions

Your queries about studying psychology answered
There are a number of ways to study psychology at the University of Sydney, here are answers to some common questions you may have about pursuing this area of study.

Yes. Many students mistakenly believe that they can only study psychology in the Bachelor of Psychology.

You can study our accredited psychology program within our three-year Science or Arts degrees and in many combined four-year Advanced Studies degrees. Read more information on our accredited degrees

After completing the psychology program, you will be eligible to apply for honours in psychology, which is necessary to attain provisional registration as a psychologist or to pursue a research pathway.

As psychology honours is subject to a quota, entry is highly competitive. Students will need  a minimum grade average of around 75% (distinction)in Intermediate and Senior psychology to be eligible for Honours.

Our non-accredited major in Psychological Sciences is also available from the shared pool of interdisciplinary studies majors and is open to many students across the University. In fact, any student whose degree offers an additional major or minor from this pool can complete psychological sciences units. This major is designed for students who are interested in psychology because it is relevant to their vocational goals, but do not plan to pursue professional registration in psychology.

You can apply to transfer into the Bachelor of Psychology at the end of your first year. You will need to perform exceptionally well in first year psychology as well as your other first year subjects.

Entry into the Bachelor of Psychology is competitive and subject to a quota. Note that you can complete the accredited psychology sequence in a variety of other accredited degrees (see above question).

The psychology subjects you study in any of the other accredited degrees are exactly the same. What differentiates the degrees are the other subjects that students study alongside psychology. For example, a student wishing to study psychology in a Bachelor of Science would study psychology as well as other science subjects (including mathematics).

Bachelor of Arts students wanting to major in psychology would also major in an Arts subject area (eg. philosophy, history, a language, etc.). When you go to a psychology lecture, you will be sitting amongst students from a range of degrees. Even students in the Bachelor of Psychology have to study other subjects alongside psychology, but the psychology units they study are exactly the same.

Apart from your ATAR and the accreditation status of the degree, the main issue thing to consider in choosing which degree to enroll in is what other subjects you want to study in combination with psychology.

If your interests are mainly in the humanities or social sciences, you probably want to enroll in one of the degrees offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, such as the Bachelor of Arts.

Alternatively, if you are science-oriented, you should investigate degrees offered by the Faculty of Science, such as the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Psychology.

If your interests span both the humanities and the sciences, you may want to consider degrees like the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science.

These various accredited degrees have different specific requirements of which you need to be aware – for example, all Bachelor of Science students need to study mathematics in their first year, and all science degrees (including that Bachelor of Psychology) are subject to the mathematics pre-requisite requirement for admission.

It is important to obtain information from the relevant Faculty’s website or advisory staff to make sure that you know all of the requirements of your degree and how the psychology program would fit into the degree program you choose.

The University requires students to complete mathematics course prerequisites for a number of its degrees, which include the Bachelor of Psychology and the Bachelor of Science. The subject of psychology however does not have any prerequisites. Additionally, other subjects that you study within your selected degree may have prerequisites or assumed knowledge.

You are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with the guidelines and restrictions of the degree in which you wish to enrol.

When you study psychology, you will cover a range of areas including behavioural neuroscience, personality theory, social influences on the behaviour of individuals and groups, forensic psychology, health psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, memory, attention, intelligence, sensory processes and perception, research methods, and theories of learning and motivation.  

You can see the syllabi of each psychology Unit of Study here. 

Depending on your ultimate goals, psychology combines well with a wide variety of subjects. If you will be studying in the Faculty of Science, then a combination of biochemistry and psychology would be extremely valuable for someone interested in neuroscience, so Chemistry 1 and Psychology 1 (PSYC1001 and PSYC1002) would need to be taken together.

Other useful combinations might be mathematics and psychology (for people interested in the mathematical modelling and prediction of behaviour), or biology and psychology (for those interested in the physiology of behaviour), or computer science and psychology (for those interested in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction).

If you will be studying in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, then you might want to consider linguistics, philosophy, sociology or anthropology. 

Note that regardless of which Faculty you study in, the psychology you study is exactly the same.

The Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP) enables graduates to complete the psychology program without having to complete another undergraduate degree. On successful completion of the GDP, graduates may be eligible to apply for entry to a fourth year of study in psychology. 

More information about the Graduate Diploma of Psychology here.


Psychologists work in a variety of fields concerned with human behaviour and mental processes.

When people think of a psychologist, they commonly picture someone who is involved with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness.

While this aspect of psychology, known as clinical psychology, is an important one, it is only one of many aspects of a very diverse discipline.

There are many other areas where psychologists apply their knowledge of human behaviour and mental processes. For example, organisational psychologists might work on developing selection procedures for employment or to apply their knowledge about psychology to improve organisational culture.

Forensic psychologists might work on reducing rates of re-offending by prisoners, whereas health psychologists might work on developing strategies to increase healthy dietary habits.

Sports psychologists might use psychological techniques to improve performance of athletes.


Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who have additional specialised qualifications for diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental illnesses.

Psychiatrists focus on how physical illness can affect the mind as well as on how psychological functioning can affect the body.

The medical and pharmacological training that psychiatrists have also allows them to prescribe medication in the treatment of mental illness.

Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists both work with mental illnesses, however their educational qualifications are quite different and this is reflected in the different approaches they may adopt in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness.

In some cases, patient outcomes can be further improved when clinical psychologists and psychiatrists work together.