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Sunday, 18 Apr 2021

What is a Psychology Conversion Course?

By Dr Becky Spelman

A Psychology Conversion Course is designed to provide a pre-professional qualification equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Graduates from such a course can proceed to post-graduate education, where they can specialise in an area of professional psychology.

Some people leave school and enter university with the plan to graduate in psychology and become a professional psychologist already fully formed. Others acquire an interest in psychology at a later stage – perhaps after having completed a few modules in psychology or in a related subject. Having graduated in a different speciality, they may be reluctant to start over from scratch with a second undergraduate degree. For these people, a psychology conversion course is often the perfect choice.

A psychology conversion course is an intensive course for those who have graduated from university in a subject other than psychology, so that they can progress to courses that will result in their becoming fully-qualified psychologists.

Students who are interested in undertaking a psychology conversion course can be recent graduates in another field, but they may also have graduated some time ago and entered the workforce, possibly developing an interest in psychology as a result of their work or life experiences. It is common to find fairly high numbers of mature students enrolled on such courses – a welcome feature, as they bring a wealth of life- and work-experience with them, enriching the whole student body.

Those who enrol on psychology conversion courses have already acquired essential academic skills from their previous studies, and they typically adjust quickly and well to the demands of their new discipline, as these skills are transferable to their new learning environment. Through a combination of lectures, research experience, laboratory work, and more, these students gain a broad knowledge of essential psychological topics, as well as fundamental research skills specifically tailored to the field of psychology, preparing them to move on to the next stage of their professional training.

Various different types of conversion course are available. For example, students with a good degree in any subject can take an MSc in psychology, undertaking exams, coursework, and personal research, which is often presented in the form of a dissertation. Students who have already studied a certain number of psychology modules in their undergraduate course, or whose undergraduate work was in a related field, may instead be able to do a postgraduate or graduate diploma in psychology, which is typically somewhat shorter than an MSc.

On successfully completing  an accredited conversion course in Britain, graduates can join the British Psychological Society as graduate members, which is an essential step towards becoming a professional psychologist. Students from other countries can join analogous organisations that serve the same purpose there.

Graduates of a conversion course who have achieved official recognition for their studies and who wish to work professionally as psychologists are now ready to undertake doctoral-level training that has been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). HCPC approval is a prerequisite to being allowed to work professionally as a psychologist, whether clinical or counselling, in the UK.


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Sheriston, Lee; Holliman, Andrew J.; Payne, Alice. (2019) ‘Student Adaptability and Achievement on a Psychology Conversion Course’, Psychology Teaching Review, v25 n1 p22-29.

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