Academia, teaching and research psychologist job profile
Research in psychology requires the application of skills and knowledge to scientifically hypothesise about an aspect of human behaviour, then to test it, analyse it and communicate the results.
Learn more about this career path
Research underpins much of the teaching and practice of psychology as it provides the evidence-base for psychological theory and the effectiveness of treatments, interventions, tests and teaching methods.
Teaching and research in psychology usually go hand in hand. Some teaching staff will have qualified in one of the applied psychological fields. They may return to teaching to develop professional practice and conduct research or simply to share their knowledge. All university lecturers are expected to help extend their subject by gathering psychological evidence on key research questions and telling others what they have found by publishing articles.
Administration is a large part of a lecturer’s life. It includes student selection, devising new teaching programmes, sitting on committees which allocate resources and coordinating aspects of the life of the department.
Many schools and colleges of further education now offer psychology as a subject at GCSE, A level, AS level, Scottish Higher, as part of the International Baccalaureate and as part of a general studies programme. Teachers prepare students for published syllabuses set by the examining bodies, so their work is not as flexible as that of teachers of undergraduates. Nevertheless, there is considerable choice in what to offer within the syllabus and an enormous range of possible studies in practical and laboratory courses.
Lecturers and researchers work in universities, colleges and schools. 'Research scientists' may also work in research units (such as the MRC Applied Psychology Unit). However, few people are able to develop careers consisting solely of research.
Teachers mainly work in schools, colleges and higher educational institutions. Students include diverse cohorts from 14-19 year olds at secondary schools to adult learning and CPD training for professionals.
How do I become Chartered?
To become a Chartered member of the Society in the field of teaching or research in psychology, you will need the following qualifications:
- Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This is achieved by completing a society accredited degree or conversion course
- Five or more years supervised and assessed professional activity. The research route will normally include taking a PhD or equivalent research experience
The society has also established a new route to Chartered membership on the basis of training and experience as a teacher.
How does the Teaching route application process work?
As a candidate you complete an application form when you feel ready to apply for Chartered membership. As part of your application a brief report is appended, detailing experience under four headings.
These are known as the key role sections.
Your application is initially looked at by Society staff to ensure that you:
- Have the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)
- Are eligible to apply on the teaching route; and
- Have provided appropriate referees
Who assesses my application?
There are Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers of Psychology (DARTP) representatives on the Admissions Committee who consider applications for Full membership of the DARTP. Your application is considered independently by two of these Chartered DARTP members. Their feedback is collated by society staff who advise you on the overall decision of your application.
Information about the latest teachers’ pay scales is available from the Times Educational Supplement.
Research contracts are frequently paid on University Academic and Related Staff Scales, with Grade A scales currently starting at approximately £13,287 and Grade B pay ranging from £19,340 to £29,211 (2005 figures - see the University and College Union website for updates).
Jobs advertisements may be found in the following locations:
- Jobs in Psychology
- The Psychologist app
- In the National Press
- In specialist publications from the Health Service Journal and Department of Health website
What support does the society offer?
Detailed information on gaining a postgraduate research degree can be found on our website. We also run a number of awards and grant schemes for postgraduate psychology students.
- Postgraduate Study Visit Scheme. This grant provides opportunities for research students to visit another institution to experience new skills and training
- BPS/Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Postgraduate Award. This award provides opportunities for a postgraduate psychologist to work at POST providing objective briefing material for MPs and Peers on psychological topics.
We also support and facilitate the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG). PsyPAG is a voluntary organisation run by postgraduates for postgraduates.
What funding is available?
Course organisers are usually best placed to give advice on funding. There are a number of websites that offer information about postgraduate funding. A few examples are listed below:
- Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
- DirectGov - Funding your postgraduate course
- Postgraduate studentships
- Prospects - Funding my further study
What to do with a 2:2?
Admissions tutors will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2 unless they have achieved some higher qualification too. Any psychology Masters degree would be relevant: the main thing is that the MSc demonstrates applied research ability - a taught MSc would be less relevant unless there is a heavy emphasis on research methods.
Courses are looking for evidence that the person has the required academic and research ability. Usually this means an MSc or MPhil in which the candidate has successfully completed an applied research project. Contact the universities directly for more specific information on their entry criteria.