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Psychology BSc (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

Sunderland’s Psychology Department has been the highest rated in the North East of England for Overall Student Satisfaction for five years in a row, according to the National Student Survey 2013. With such a consistent record, you can have great confidence in the quality of our course.

Our course is accredited by The British Psychological Society and, if you achieve at least a second class honours degree, you will have graduate basis for chartered membership. With further work this can lead to chartered psychologist status, which is the benchmark of professional recognition.

Another benefit of Sunderland’s course is the ability to choose modules in your final year that suit your particular interests. Options include occupational psychology, mental health and illness and clinical neuropsychology.

‌Psychology at Sunderland was ranked best in the North East of England for Academic Support, according to the National Student Survey 2013. With all this, it’s no surprise that 92% of students in Sunderland's Department of Psychology say they are satisfied with the quality of the course (source: Unistats 2014).

Meet Amii Stewart, a University of Sunderland tomorrow-maker studying Psychology: 

See what our staff and students say about Psychology at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Year 1 (national level 4)

Genes to Mind (20 Credits)

Consider the relationship between biology and the human mind. Examine how DNA ultimately gives rise to thinking, conscious and complex human beings. Explore genetics and evolution, as well as the core areas of biological psychology, cognitive psychology and individual differences across topics as diverse as addiction, altruism, and sexuality.  

Mind to World (20 Credits)

Learn the story of how single units of personhood (or ‘minds’) interact with one another and come together to create societies. Focus on the way in which humans communicate with each other and operate in their social world. Explore the core areas of developmental psychology, cognitive psychology and social psychology across topics such as perception, language, interpersonal relationships, emotion, autism, and psychopathy.   

Foundations of Psychological Research (40 Credits)

Take an introductory look at the scientific basis of psychology and its historical context. Learn about a variety of research methods in psychology, and use this knowledge in practical work on a number of research projects in areas such as dark personalities and cognitive development. Acquire knowledge of how the data from psychological research is analysed. 

Academic Mentor 1 (20 Credits)

Meet with personal tutors who will act as academic mentors for both group and individual sessions. Develop academic skills (such as essay writing and referencing) and get an introduction to the career landscape for when you graduate.

Optional module:

Psychology in the Media (20 Credits)

Address common misconceptions about psychology and the role of the media in these misconceptions. Examine how the media influences the behaviour of individuals, and the application of psychological theories to understanding why people believe false and sensational claims.

Elective (20 Credits)

You will have the option to take 20 credits as electives from other subjects across the University.

Year 2 (national level 5)

Twenty-Four, Seven: Everyday Motivations and Biases (20 Credits)

Apply social, cognitive and biological psychology to understanding everyday motivations and biases in, for example, perception and memory. Explore topics including vision and sensory perception, social group processes, aggression, eyewitness testimony and eating disorders.

Cradle to Grave (20 Credits)

Meet a fictional family as you learn about the psychology of the human journey through the lifespan, from parent-offspring conflict in the womb to explanations for ageing and death. Explore topics including attachment, the 'teenage brain' and challenges in adolescence, personality development and cognitive change.

Psychological Research (40 Credits)

Work on a number of research projects across core areas of psychology. Develop more advanced skills in research methods, and gain opportunities to have input into research design as you become more skilled. Learn more advanced data analysis skills and apply these in the research projects.

Academic Mentor 2 (20 Credits)

Meet with your personal tutor to set academic and career goals. Develop graduate skills and take part in workshops designed to enhance your employability.


Optional modules (choose 20 Credits):

Please note: Not all modules will run every year

Attraction and Sexuality (10 Credits)

Learn about how mate preferences and human sexuality evolved, and how these are manifest in modern men and women. Explore the reasons why men have preferences for female beauty and particular body shapes, and why humans so often engage in infidelity, for example.

Dialogue (10 Credits)

Conversation is such an everyday event that people often take it for granted, yet it requires great complexity. Learn about psycholinguistic research and gain an understanding of how people use language and are able to engage in conversation. 

Psychology of Religion (10 Credits)

Apply psychology to understanding different aspects of religion, such as morality and belief in life after death. Examine the relationship between science and religion and the origins of religious belief.

The Science and Psychology of Fiction and Storytelling (10 Credits)

Develop a scientific and psychological understanding of an aspect of fiction that interests you. Use an Enquiry Based Learning approach and, at the end of the module, produce a ‘video essay’.   

Anomalistic Psychology (10 credits)

Apply psychology to understand why people have anomalous experiences (such as psychokinesis and out-of-body experiences) and why people believe in anomalous events. 

Elective (20 Credits)

You will have the option to take 20 credits as electives from other subjects across the University.

Final Year (national level 6)

Empirical Project (40 Credits)

Work with a supervisor to apply what you have learned in research methods modules to your own research project. Report your findings in an extensive research report, and present your project in the form of an academic poster at our poster conference.

From Lab to Life: Big Issues in Psychology (10 Credits)

Engage with some of the ‘big issues’ at the cutting edge of psychology, for example, the place of psychology within the wider field of science, free will, consciousness and the implications of personality disorders for criminal responsibility. 


Optional modules (choose 70 Credits, at least two 20 credit options must be taken):

Please note: Not all of these modules will run every year.

Clinical Neuropsychology (20 Credits)

Look at the nature of cognitive and emotional impairments following brain damage in adults. Cover topics including the causes of brain damage in adults, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's Disease, neuropsychological assessment procedures and rehabilitation following brain injury.

Mental Health and Illness (20 Credits)

Explore a number of psychological approaches to mental health problems and the therapies and treatments associated with them. Cover a number of common mental health conditions, as well as the perspectives of users of mental health services. The module will be of interest to you if you are hoping to enter clinical or therapeutic work.

Occupational Psychology (20 Credits)

Learn about the scope of occupational psychology and its application to work, employees and organisations. Cover topics which align with the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology core areas and may include psychological assessment at work, learning, training, and development, leadership, engagement, and applying psychology to work and organisations, amongst others.

Contemporary Evolutionary Psychology (20 Credits)

Apply an evolutionary perspective to various aspects of modern social behaviour, such as mate choice, consumerism, social networking and family conflict, including cutting-edge developments in the field.

Environmental Psychology (20 Credits)

Gain specialist knowledge of Environmental Psychology, an applied sub-discipline of Psychology which bridges a range of core areas and related disciplines such as architecture, planning, and geography. Cover topics which include the role of the environment in social development and relationships, the relationships between environments, health and wellbeing, place attachment, place identity and the importance of home.

Health Psychology and Behaviour Change (20 Credits)

Examine how psychological concepts, principles and theories can be applied to understand and alleviate problems associated with health and health-related behaviours. Cover topics which include personality, health and illness, sociocultural aspects of health and illness, and stress and health. Focus on psychological interventions aimed at changing health-related behaviours.

Advanced Quantitative Methods (10 Credits)

Further develop your research design and data analysis skills, building on the foundations provided at Stages 1 and 2. Cover advanced quantitative research design and acquire a number of advanced data analysis techniques.

Cyberpsychology (10 Credits)

Learn about the emerging field of  cyberpsychology, the psychology of how humans interact with technology and online environments. Consider how we interact with virtual worlds, virtual identity, online behaviours, privacy and self-disclosure online, for example how the internet can be utilised effectively for learning.

Dark Personalities (10 Credits)

Learn about the psychological study of 'dark' personality, focusing on the ‘Dark Triad’ of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy – a cluster of inter-related traits characterized by disagreeableness, deception and aggression. Explore reasons why women may often be attracted to men who possess these seemingly undesirable personality traits, and examine ‘dark’ personality disorders, including theories of their development, diagnosis, treatment and ethical issues.

Psychology of Art (10 Credits)

Focus on two main areas: firstly, can psychology help us to understand and explain how and why people create art? Secondly, can psychology help us to understand why (some) humans like art, how art communicates meanings and what humans gain from experiencing art?

Memory and Life (10 Credits)

Explore real world issues and problems relating to memory, as well as topics drawn from current research interests of members of staff. Examples of topics include: autobiographical memory (e.g. childhood amnesia, writing about memories), mindfulness and memory, the relationship between memory and emotion, story and memory, and recovered and false memories.

Addiction (10 credits)

Take an introductory look at the psychology of both substance and non-substance related addictive behaviours. Examine a variety of addictive behaviours such as alcoholism, addiction to psychoactive drugs, gambling, and sex addiction, as well as theories relating to the development, persistence, control and treatment of addictive behaviours. Link these behaviours to various areas of psychology such as the biological effects of drug use, how cognition plays a role in addictive behaviours and the social implications of addiction.

Brain Plasticity (10 credits) 

Explore the malleable and changeable quality of the human brain. Look at brain development running from childhood through to adulthood, and how age affects the plasticity of the brain. Examine evidence of the interconnectedness of the human brain from birth, looking at individuals with born sensory defects and synaesthesia as well as the ability of the brain to reorganise after damage.

Elective (20 Credits)

You will have the option to take 20 credits as electives from other subjects across the University.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include, lectures, seminars, group work and e-learning. We encourage you to develop independent study skills. You will also have opportunities to present ideas to other students and develop concepts within groups. Teaching takes advantage of the University’s specialist psychological and computer laboratories.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also on-going assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include written coursework, projects, presentations and exams.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

The University has specialist psychological and computer laboratories, plus dedicated space (the ‘sandbox’) for psychology students to develop ideas collaboratively. The course is based entirely at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, on the banks of the River Wear and less than a mile from the seaside.

 Our specialist facilities include:

  • Cognitive Laboratory
  • Visual Psychophysics Laboratory
  • Linguistics Laboratory
  • Eye-tracking Laboratory
  • Computing Laboratory
  • Multimedia and Games Research Room

University Library Services

The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources.

Learning environment

Sunderland offers a vibrant learning environment with an international dimension thanks to the presence of students from around the world. At the same time, the University is fully plugged into relevant industry organisations, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people.

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in the David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


The Reg Vardy Centre

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's, St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 112 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Funding section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

For five continuing years, Sunderland’s Psychology Department has been the highest rated in the North East of England for Overall Student Satisfaction, according to the National Student Survey 2013.

Graduates from this course can move into a broad range of careers spanning management, personnel, social work, public services, counselling and advertising, or alternatively pursue postgraduate qualifications in specific fields of psychological practice such as clinical or forensic psychology.

If you decide to develop a career in psychological practice, a key benefit of our course is its accreditation by The British Psychological Society. If you achieve at least a second class honours, you will have the graduate basis for Chartered Membership with the Society. This is the first step towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme:


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars. If you have individual queries or difficulties within subject areas, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet him/her in agreed timetabled sessions throughout the year, both individually and within a group.

Personal Tutors are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course and extra-curricular activities. They can also point you towards more specialist support, such as student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

In addition a psychology careers tutor, who is a dedicated member of our team, offers practical guidance and resources such as support with finding work experience.

Support from day one

Even before you arrive at the University you can access our Getting Started programme. On arrival there is a Welcome Week where you can meet all the staff involved with your course and also receive full information about services available from the University.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"Sunderland's Psychology Department will teach you to use evidence to establish the truth from myth."

Matthew Watson

Dr Matthew Watson - Academic

Lecturer, Psychology

“Did you know that you make most of your decisions unconsciously? Or that women prefer the smell of T-shirts that have been worn by attractive men?

"Psychology is full of interesting and quirky findings about the way people think and behave. It is also plagued by many popular misconceptions: people do use 100% of their brain not just 10%, dreams don’t have any hidden symbolic meaning and men don’t fancy their mothers.

"The Sunderland Psychology Department contains many research-active psychologists who will teach you how to use evidence to establish the truth from myth.

"The degree covers topics from religion, language, and self-control, to how evolution has shaped human behaviour. You will also learn the skills to be a researcher culminating in a research project of your own.”

"What I thought was really good about the university was the emphasis on future career paths."

Russell Hounslow

Russell Hounslow - Graduate

Assistant Educational Psychologist at Sunderland City Council Children's Services

"It was a really good course and there were lots of opportunities to learn a wide range of topics in psychology, ranging from biology to topics such as how we process information and interact with others.

"What I thought was really good about the university was the emphasis on future career paths. I was encouraged to start thinking about the future during my studies and made the effort to secure voluntary work and get work experience in schools.

"The relationship with lecturers was brilliant too. I found they all offered just the right amount of support while leaving you free to develop your own interests. The facilities were also first class. The campus at St. Peter’s is absolutely amazing. It's a really great place to study.

"During my undergraduate degree, I had decided to pursue a career in educational psychology. I knew I needed more experience and knowledge to go forward and stayed on to do a masters degree.

"I'm now working as an Assistant Educational Psychologist for Sunderland City Council Children's Services which involves working with children, their families and the schools to understand their issues. It's pretty diverse."

"The quality of the teaching within the department is very good"

Grace Essang

Grace Essang


"The quality of the teaching within the department is very good and I particularly enjoy the lectures from practising psychology professionals who give talks on current issues in the field.

"The course offers a broad range of subject options to choose from giving a good understanding of different aspects of psychology.

"Furthermore there is the opportunity for students to assist in real research projects. This is very rewarding and a great experience."

"I really appreciated how each lecturer had every second of the day to speak to every single student."

Louie Crake

Louie Crake


"I feel that studying Psychology at the University of Sunderland helped me gain appreciation of the vast number of fields you can study in.

"The University allowed me to pursue the areas of Psychology I was most interested in and increase my overall passion for the subject. The lecturers were really passionate about their subjects, adding their own twists on the lectures. I really appreciated how each lecturer had every second of the day to speak to every single student.

"I would recommend Psychology at the University of Sunderland if you’re interested in Psychology as the experience is completely unique and you’re never a conversation away from something interesting or hilarious, or both!

"In the future I want a career in teaching but prior to university I had little experience. The student mentoring scheme enabled me to build my skills and confidence, enabling me to make a positive decision and career choice. It was a great feeling to act as a positive role model for the University of Sunderland."

"The staff are very supportive and approachable."

Jemma Learmouth

Jemma Learmouth


"After school I went to Sixth Form and struggled with the lack of support. Still wishing to progress with my education and go to university, I was fortunate enough to find a Level 0 Course in Psychology, with the course being provided at Shiney Row College by the University of Sunderland.

"After feeling lost in the education system, I was made to feel welcome and put at ease straight away. Even though the course was held at Shiney Row College I felt part of the University from day one. Having successfully passed the course, I am attending the University of Sunderland studying Psychology at the St. Peter's Campus.

"Now in my first year, I feel settled after my early introduction to University life. The staff are very supportive and very approachable; they always try to keep everyone engaged with interesting subjects to appeal to everyone.

"The facilities are fantastic with several libraries of which one is open 24 hours a day. The Department of Psychology has invested time and money into an activity room called the 'sandbox', which is only available for Psychology students where we can relax and study. After graduating I hope to pursue Occupational Psychology."

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Saturday 12th November 2016
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Admissions Tutor:

Dr Matthew Watson
Tel: 0191 515 3541

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

Follow the Psychology Team on Twitter: @PsychUni_of_Sun

The details

Course Name Psychology
Classification BSc (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

112 points

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