Back to: Psychology major Psychology major

Psychology helps you understand why people are the way they are, and why they do the things they do. You will also study abnormal behaviour, including how it occurs and how it can be treated. 

Learn about aspects of behaviour such as human motivation and emotion, decision-making processes and social interaction, through a strong basic knowledge of psychological concepts and theories in areas including cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, sensation and perception, and social psychology.

You can major in Psychology in the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne. 

How to study Psychology at Melbourne

Careers

Psychology graduates are equipped with skills that open up a wide range of potential career pathways and opportunities.

If you choose to pursue in-depth training in psychology (an honours year followed by a professional or research graduate degree) find employment in a number of specialised areas such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Community health
  • Counselling
  • Educational and developmental psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Government
  • Human behaviour
  • Neuropsychology
  • Organisational psychology
  • Sports psychology.

Combined with further professional training, the skills you gain through your study of psychology can also be applied across a range of careers and professions, including teaching, marketing, human resources, journalism, market research and policy development.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • Mind, Brain and Behaviour 1 focuses on the workings of the individual from a psychological perspective. It includes detail of the neural components constituting the brain, the operation of the sensory systems underlying interaction with the external environment and the cognitive processes that construct the internal world experienced by the individual. Careful consideration will be given to the nature of this internal world and the importance of its relationship to the external world.

    The course is designed to raise significant questions prompting students to think about behaviour and to explore possible answers. Students will be introduced to the tools used in psychology to find answers to these questions. A common research-centred framework is adopted and the statistical tools that support this framework are introduced and developed as an integral part of the course. Psychology derives its approaches and questions from both science and the arts.

  • Mind, Brain and Behaviour 2 focuses on the development of the individual and their interaction with their environment and considers what the consequences are, both when this interaction proceeds smoothly and when it does not proceed smoothly. Questions concerning human development giving attention to cognitive and to social-emotional aspects are explored. An understanding of some basic issues in human development is complemented with an examination of the nature and development of personality and human interaction in social groups and cultural settings.

    The course is designed to raise significant questions prompting students to think about behaviour and to explore possible answers. Students will be introduced to the tools used in psychology to find answers to these questions. A common research-centred framework is adopted and the statistical tools that support this framework are introduced and developed as an integral part of the course. Psychology derives its approaches and questions from both science and the arts.

  • This subject studies the relationship between brain mechanisms and behaviour. Its major aim is to develop an appreciation of the neurobiological basis of psychological function and dysfunction via three approaches. The first emphasises a top-down method that links psychological functions to their biological substrates. Neuroscientific research techniques and what they can reveal about psychological function are emphasised. These techniques are presented within an historical context, beginning with electroencephalography (EEG) and finishing with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The second approach emphasises a bottom-up approach including the topics of brain development, neurons and neural circuits, neurotransmission and neurotransmitter substances, and the structurofunctional properties of selected brain regions. Neurobiological principles are illustrated using conditions with abnormal neuronal function. The third approach combines the top-down and bottom-up approaches to demonstrate how combining knowledge of cognitive theory and structurofunctional properties of the brain enables diagnosis and interpretation of pathological conditions. Case studies are used to illustrate this approach.

    A quantitative methods component will be integrated into the lecture, tutorial and assessment structure of this subject. The aim is to provide an understanding of, and practical experience with, the appropriate experimental design and statistical analysis techniques used to evaluate hypotheses in Biological Psychology.

  • Mental processes such as attention, memory, language and categorisation form the basis of our creative human cognitive abilities. An understanding of these cognitive abilities and the methods used by cognitive psychologists to study them provides an essential foundation for ongoing study in psychology. Classic and current research findings will be discussed to reveal what is known about the workings of the human mind.

    Specific topics may include: Perceptual processes and their role in cognition; the nature and function of selective attention; categorisation and the mental representation of knowledge; the structure, function and organisation of the human memory system; human linguistic ability, including language acquisition, language disorders, and models of spoken and written language processes; higher order cognitive processes such as explanation formation and decision making.

    A quantitative methods component will be integrated into the lecture, tutorial and assessment structure of this subject to provide an understanding of and practical experience with the experimental design and statistical analysis techniques used to evaluate theories in Cognitive Psychology.

  • Developmental science attempts to answer questions about the ways in which: (1) nature and nurture together shape development; (2) development is continuous and/or discontinuous; (3) cognitive and sociocultural factors affect the developing person; and (4) the reasons for individual differences in psychological functioning.

    This subject examines the ways in which biological, genetic, neuropsychological, cognitive, social, emotional, personality and cultural factors affect developmental functioning from conception and infancy, through childhood and adolescence. Contemporary theories of development are reviewed to determine how well they account for the nature of changes in infancy, childhood and adolescence.

    A quantitative methods component will be integrated into the lecture, practical class, and assessment structure of this subject. The aim is to provide an understanding of, and practical experience with, the appropriate experimental design and statistical analysis techniques used to evaluate research in Developmental Psychology.

  • This subject examines human individuality and relatedness, the core themes of personality and social psychology. Its focus is on how we are unique individuals but also connected to others. The personality section investigates the nature and structure of individual differences, how these differences are assessed, and how they can be explained psychologically and biologically. The social psychology section examines how individuals construct their sense of self and identity, how they perceive and evaluate other people, how they form relationships, and how their behaviour is influenced by their social groups and cultural context.

    A quantitative methods component will be integrated into the lecture, tutorial, and assessment structure of this subject. The aim is to provide an understanding of, and practical experience with, the appropriate experimental design and statistical analysis techniques used to evaluate theories in Personality and Social Psychology.

  • This subject provides students with an overview of theories, principles, methods, and findings in applied psychology, with a focus on domains such as health and well-being, education, work, and consumer behaviour. Topics will be selected from motivation and emotion; personality and abilities as predictors of real-world outcomes; economic decision-making; performance and achievement; expertise; health promotion; market research and consumer psychology. Tutorial exercises develop and extend these areas.

  • In developmental science the interaction between nature and nurture takes centre stage in answering questions about the reasons for variability in the emergence and growth of children's cognitive abilities. Recent advances in cognitive and neuropsychological assessment procedures provide new ways of understanding changes in typical and atypical development.

    This subject examines the development of preadolescent children's thinking abilities: specifically, the significance of cognitive, neurological and neuropsychological factors in typical and atypical development. Current research on developmental plasticity and sensitive periods in development will be reviewed. Special attention will be paid to the prenatal and postnatal development of the central nervous system, as well as the impact of neurological insult on children's cognitive development. Of particular interest are the challenges associated with assessing the changing nature of children's cognitive competencies (e.g., executive functioning, reasoning, working memory, theory of mind, attention, planning and strategic skills), as well as how these are manifested in children with specific disorders (e.g., ADHD) or with particular physical difficulties (e.g., deaf and blind children). Special attention will be paid to the development of language, reading, number and mathematical abilities, focusing specifically on the diagnosis and remedial interventions of children with dyscalculia and dyslexia.

  • This subject explores the relationship between the brain and psychological attributes, such as behaviour and cognition. It covers a number of specific areas which may include:

    • the structure and function of the brain in general and clinical populations
    • how to measure brain activity, and how brain activity can be used to inform models of cognitive function
    • a variety of cognitive functions and their neural underpinnings, such as: representation of objects, rules, intentions, decisions, laterality, memory, number processing, attention and perception.
  • Perception, Memory and Cognition covers a variety of cognitive processes ranging from the initial perception of a stimulus all the way through to decision making. The lecture topics may include visual perception, visual illusions, attention, awareness, consciousness, memory, learning, categorization, decision making and various cognitive disorders. The tutorials will focus on current theoretically important questions and provide an opportunity for students to develop an understanding of experimental techniques and scientific writing skills. By increasing our understanding of normal cognitive processes, we are placed in a better position to understand abnormal behaviours and cognitive disorders. The material is distinct from that covered by PSYC20007 Cognitive Psychology and students are not required to have previously taken that subject.

  • This subject draws together students’ undergraduate experiences in psychology by emphasising links between the science and practice of psychology in contemporary life (the science-practitioner model). The subject comprises a lecture and a research seminar stream. In the lecture stream the three areas of strength in the Psychology Department—Clinical Sciences, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience—will be reviewed in depth. In the research stream, students work on a research topic with a small group of peers, under the supervision of a psychology department academic. The aims of the lecture and research streams are to prepare students for further studies within the discipline or the workplace by practicing core research skills. These include understanding ethical aspects of research and professional practice, collaborating with peers in planning research, collecting and analysing data, and report writing. Consistent with best practice, groups will construct professional research posters to report their findings. These will be displayed in the Department of Psychology to illustrate the range of research activities engaged in by psychologists.

  • In this subject, students will aquire research skills and methods to critically investigate, measure and assess research topics involving human behaviour, interactions, and thought in a variety of contexts. In addition, students will aquire an understanding of fundamental principles in psychological assessment of individual traits and dispositions, in particular, how to evaluate the reliability and validity of psychological assessments. Emphasis will be placed on how the skills and techniques being taught are tools for gathering evidence relating to real-world problems typically encountered in the behavioural sciences, but not limited to this area, for which meaningful inferences can be generalised beyond the particular sample data available. Topics to be covered may include research design, implementation, and evaluation; techniques for measuring human behaviour, emotions, and interactions; the application of relatively simple quantitative models to data in order to identify differences and associations, make predictions, and possibly assert causation.

  • This course provides a broad overview of history, theory, research methods, and research findings in social and emotional development. Content areas covered include emotional development, temperament, attachment, self development, social cognition, achievement motivation, sex differences, aggression, moral development, family and peer relationships, and schooling.

  • There are more connections in a human brain than there are stars in the universe. This subject focuses on the brain as an integrated system and looks at how its many connected networks achieve coordinated effects, linking the mind to the brain and the body.

    In exploring integration across the nervous system, this subject will examine topics such as the effects of neurotransmitters on emotions and behaviour, the nature of sleep and wakeful states and transitions between them, and mechanisms underlying the control of body movement. The connections between social factors and brain function will also be explored, as well as current ethical dilemmas in the field, such as the ethical consequences associated with recent technologies designed to alter our minds, or enhance brain function beyond normal healthy ranges.

  • This subject covers phenomena such as hallucinations and delusions, anxiety, somatisation, depression, dissociation, and changes in memory and cognition, and places them in the context of everyday experiences. It discusses the various factors, processes and mechanisms thought to lead some people who experience such phenomena to develop full-blown disorders. A theoretical basis for this continuum model is provided and students are encouraged to consider mental health issues from this humanistic perspective in comparison to the traditional categorical model.

  • Ever since Freud, the unconscious mind has been a critical part of our understanding of the human mind and behaviour. Despite its power to captivate popular imagination, scientific psychology's treatment of unconsciousness has a history of vicissitudes. This subject has three main components: historical background, contemporary theory and research, and applications and implications in contemporary culture and society. First, the subject traces the historical origin and subsequent development of the idea of the unconscious mind in psychological theories and practice. In so doing, Freud's notion of unconsciousness, as well as lesser known, but critically important theorists' contributions are examined and their contemporary implications are discussed. Second, the modern methods used in the contemporary examination of unsconcious processes are introduced, and the current understanding of psychological unconsciousness is discussed from neuroscientific, perceptual, cognitive, developmental, social, and clinical perspectives. Third, we survey the uses of the scientific understanding of unconscious processes in a variety of applied contexts and explore implications of the psychological knowledge about the unconscious mind in contemporary culture and society. This includes a critical examination of the evidence for the role of unconscious processes in abnormal human behaviour and discussions about implications of the unconscious mind for identity and responsibility.

  • This subject has two components.

    Personality: discusses major contemporary issues in the study of personality, and selected areas of contemporary research. Topics will be selected from the neuroscience of personality; personality processes; the emotional and motivational correlates of personality; personality change and stability; trait and type approaches to personality; the interface between personality and abnormal psychology.

    Social Psychology: extends the understandings gained in the first two levels of the undergraduate program to consider more advanced theoretical and empirical work in the areas of individual, interpersonal and group processes. Topics will be selected from advanced research in attitudes and social cognition, interpersonal, small group and sociocultural processes.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Arts Extended & Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Science Extended pages.