Three leading universities in psychology
Source: University of Surrey

Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour. A vast and complex field, it covers everything from the brain and nervous system to social interactions and personality development. Mastering these not only leads to fascinating and rewarding careers but personal growth too.

There are many reasons why studying psychology is essential. It can help us to understand ourselves and others better. By learning about the different factors that influence how we behave, we can better explore our thoughts, feelings, and actions, which, in turn, helps us make better decisions, solve problems, and build stronger relationships. It can also help the economy as depression and anxiety, two of the most common health conditions, cost the global economy US$1 trillion annually

Having a psychology degree makes a difference. According to the World Health Organisation, there has been a 13% rise in mental health conditions and substance use disorders in the last decade (to 2017). About one in five people in post-conflict settings have a mental health condition. By learning about different mental disorders and how to treat them, we can help them better understand and cope with their mental health challenges, building much-needed resilience along the way.

If you’re looking for the right school to explore this fascinating subject, check out one of these leading universities: 

University of Surrey

Ranked 13th in the UK Complete University Guide 2024 league table and 244th in the QS World University Rankings 2024, the University of Surrey is known for producing exceptional graduates. 

Its School of Psychology provides an exceptional education and training to students whose quality is widely recognised by employers across sectors. They stand out for their valuable work experience in numerous industries, including healthcare, education, human resources and marketing. Surrey psychology graduates have one of the highest employability outcomes in the UK with over 95% entering employment or continuing with education. The School’s award-winning Professional Training programme lets you choose from thousands of placement providers or source your own placement. It is offered by only two psychology schools in England, giving students the option to spend a career-enhancing year in industry, either in the UK or abroad. 

The Undergraduate Programme within the School of Psychology is ranked in the top 20 in the UK Complete University Guide. It is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which ensures high quality of teaching, a wide-ranging curriculum (from brain and neuroscience through behaviour change) and gives students the basis for graduate membership of the society. In the National Student Survey 2022, the University of Surrey earned a 90% satisfaction score for psychology — a testament to the students’ outstanding experience of studying psychology at Surrey.

Whether you’re in Surrey’s undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, you’ll be able to conduct your own experiments in the brain imaging suites, baby lab, extended reality (XR) labs, observations lab for social psychology experiments and other state-of-the-art psychology facilities. “With every assignment, we are encouraged to critique literature and go beyond merely regurgitating content,” says student Jonny Beavis. “I also enjoy the variety of topics from language to history to cognitive psychology. The academic staff are incredibly knowledgeable, completely approachable and they push the students to think critically about content which is the hallmark of a great lecturer.”

Studying at Surrey helps you enjoy a welcoming campus life in a beautiful location only 30 minutes away from London, connecting you to one of the most exciting cities in the world. With Heathrow and Gatwick just half an hour away, Europe is practically at your doorstep. All in all, wonderful things happen at Surrey — find out more here.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University’s School of Psychology ranked seventh for psychology in the Complete University Guide 2022. Source: Cardiff University

Cardiff University’s School of Psychology is one of the UK’s largest psychology centres. Situated in the city’s vibrant and bustling heart, the school has established itself as a leading researcher in the field, boasting breakthroughs in how to improve quality of life through shaping public policy to improving health outcomes. 

Students report having a positive and fulfilling experience at the School of Psychology. “I truly loved the course,” says Angelica Monge, a Psychology with Professional Placement (BSc) student. “The modules gave me a broad understanding of the wide variety of paths a psychologist can take, gave me hands-on experience in research, and freedom to explore topics in more depth. The placement year was also an incredible opportunity to make strides in my early career and network with researchers beyond the university.”

The School of Psychology is ranked seventh for Psychology in the Complete University Guide 2022. This high ranking is due to its award-winning work, which includes firefighter decision-making research responsible for a nationwide policy change, world-leading research informing environmental and climate policy, and producing the most detailed images of the brain

The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences focuses on research that makes a real impact. Source: The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is known for producing stellar research across its fields. The QS World University Subject Rankings 2023 have ranked all of the school’s subjects in the top 10 in the UK and top 30 globally. Boasting 130 academics, the faculty are leaders in experimental psychology, cognitive neurosciences, and genetic influences on human behaviour. They guide a broad and diverse community of 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is located across three buildings at the centre of the university’s George Square campus. A highlight of this school is the facilities, which include a range of specialist laboratories and a well-stocked and resourced School library supported by a librarian.

The school and the psychology department, in particular, are focused on research with an impact. The overall quality of the study, which includes neuroscience, psychiatry, and clinical psychology, is ranked second in the UK, and combined quality/breadth is ranked third in the UK. Its research community has influenced the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines for the assessment and management of motor neurone disease (MND) and developed the psychological theory of Interactive Alignment, which underpins methods for teaching English as a second language in China. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International