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Study Psychology at Otago

The science of behaviour, brain and cognition

Psychology is the science of behaviour, brain and cognition, exploring the complex way humans and other animals interact with the world and
each other.

Psychology examines the behavioural, perceptual, mental and emotional processes taking place in our brains. Psychologists also address applied topics as diverse as transport safety, eye-witness testimony, industrial relations, intellectual disabilities, hyperactivity in children, and other clinical issues.

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Why study Psychology?

  • Learn about human behaviour.
  • Start a challenging career.
  • Develop research skills in the social and behavioural sciences.
  • Improve career flexibility with Psychology in your degree.

You will learn

  • How the brain stores memories and processes information.
  • How our abilities change from childhood to old age.
  • How emotions affect our reasoning.
  • How prejudice and stereotypes arise.
  • How parents' behaviour influences their children's development.
  • What underlies disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia.
  • Why drugs, head injuries and hormones influence behaviour.

Career opportunities

In addition to specialising in Psychology, a degree in Psychology is useful for a wide range of other disciplines as well. Students take Psychology as part of degrees in Law, Commerce, Physical Education, Applied Science, Education, or Health Sciences.

Graduates from the Department of Psychology have gone on to jobs in universities, health and social services, business and industry, safety, communications and planning, and various government agencies. Clinical Psychology graduates have gone on to work in the public health sector, Department of Corrections, or in private practice.

Graduates with appropriate postgraduate qualifications work in research sections of the government, such as the Department of Health, Education, Justice, Social Development, Transport and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Many of our graduates spend time working overseas, particularly in Australia, the United Kingdom or USA.

Psychology at Otago

What does first-year Psychology involve?

There are two first-year papers, PSYC 111 Brain and Behaviour (semester 1) and PSYC 112 Human Thought and Behaviour (semester 2).

These papers have lecture and laboratory components and cover a wide range of topics such as:

Biopsychology – how do sleep, hormone levels, and drugs affect our behaviour?

Perception – what do our senses tell our brains?

Neuropsychology – how do our brains work?

Learning – how do our experiences influence our behaviour?

Development – why do our abilities and behaviours change with age?

Social psychology – how do people affect one another?

Abnormal psychology – when do we decide that behaviour is “abnormal”, and what causes such problems?

Cognition – how do we remember things, solve problems, and use language?

If I major in Psychology what other subjects might I consider?

That depends on your interests and strengths. Here are a few examples, but there are many other possibilities.

Student A takes Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy because they are interested in neuroscience.

Student B takes Marketing, Management and/or Human Resource Management because they want to work in business or industry.

Student C takes Mathematics and Computer Science because they are fascinated by artificial intelligence.

Student D is interested in issues of social change, so they add Politics, Philosophy and Economics to their degree.

Background required

Any University of Otago student can take first-year papers in Psychology. Secondary school English, biology and statistics are useful but not essential.


Psychology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


PSYC 111 Brain and Behaviour

PSYC 112 Human Thought and Behaviour




PSYC 210 Principles of Psychological Research

PSYC 211 Brain and Cognition

PSYC 212 Social and Applied Psychology





One of PSYC 313, PSYC 315, PSYC 317, PSYC 318, PSYC 319, PSYC 321, PSYC 324, PSYC 325, PSYC 326, PSYC 327, PSYC 328, PSYC 329, PSYC 330

Total 108

PSYC papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
PSYC111 2024 Brain and Behaviour 18 Semester 1
PSYC112 2024 Human Thought and Behaviour 18 Semester 2
PSYC203 2024 Abnormal Psychology 18 Semester 2
PSYC204 2024 Justice, Race and Class 18 Semester 1
PSYC210 2024 Principles of Psychological Research 18 Semester 1
PSYC211 2024 Brain and Cognition 18 Semester 2
PSYC212 2024 Social and Applied Psychology 18 Semester 1
PSYC310 2024 Research Project 18 Full Year
PSYC311 2024 Quantitative Methods 18 Semester 1
PSYC313 2024 Cognition and Neuropsychology 18 Not offered in 2024
PSYC315 2024 Social Psychology 18 Semester 1
PSYC317 2024 Biopsychology 18 Semester 2
PSYC318 2024 Developmental Psychology 18 Semester 1
PSYC319 2024 Comparative Cognition 18 Semester 1
PSYC321 2024 Special Topic 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2026
PSYC323 2024 Sensation and Perception 18 Semester 1
PSYC324 2024 Health Psychology 18 Not offered in 2024
PSYC325 2024 Psychology in Legal Contexts 18 Semester 1
PSYC326 2024 Human Factors and Ergonomics 18 Semester 2
PSYC327 2024 Psychology of Language 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2026
PSYC328 2024 Behaviour Analysis in Everyday Life 18 Semester 2
PSYC329 2024 Cultural Psychology 18 Semester 2
PSYC330 2024 Drugs, Behaviour, Addiction, and Policy 18 Semester 2
PSYC331 2024 Applied Psychological Research 18 Semester 1
PSYC401 2024 Behaviour Analysis 10 Semester 1
PSYC402 2024 Assessment in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology 10 Semester 1
PSYC403 2024 Adult Psychopathology 10 Semester 1
PSYC404 2024 Assessment in Clinical Psychology Practice 10 Semester 1
PSYC405 2024 Clinical Neuropsychology 10 Semester 2
PSYC406 2024 Foundations of Clinical Intervention 10 Semester 2
PSYC421 2024 Advanced Research Methods 10 Semester 2
PSYC422 2024 Contemporary Issues in Psychology 10 Semester 2
PSYC423 2024 Advanced Topics in Health Psychology 10 Semester 2
PSYC424 2024 Contexts of Development 10 Not offered in 2024
PSYC425 2024 Advanced Topics in Behaviour Analysis 10 Semester 2
PSYC426 2024 Social Cognition 10 Semester 1
PSYC427 2024 Topical Issues in Child Development 10 Not offered in 2024
PSYC428 2024 Culture and Development 10 Semester 2
PSYC429 2024 Advanced Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience 10 Not offered in 2024
PSYC430 2024 Synaptic Plasticity Mechanisms 10 Semester 1
PSYC432 2024 Special Topic: Waenganui: Intersecting Culture and the Mind 10 Semester 2
PSYC433 2024 Advanced Theoretical Topic 10 Semester 1, Semester 2
PSYC434 2024 Advanced Quantitative Methods 10 Semester 1
PSYC435 2024 Developmental Psychopathology 10 Semester 2
PSYC436 2024 Topical Issues in Adolescent Behaviour 10 Not offered in 2024
PSYC437 2024 Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar 10 Semester 2
PSYC438 2024 Nervous System Plasticity in Health and Disease 10 Semester 2
PSYC439 2024 Neurobiology and Behavioural Effects of Drugs 10 Not offered in 2024
PSYC440 2024 Special Topic: 18 Not offered in 2024
PSYC441 2024 Personality and Measurement 10 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2026
PSYC442 2024 Qualitative Methods in Psychology 10 Semester 1
PSYC480 2024 Dissertation 40 Full Year
PSYC490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period
PSYC495 2024 Master's Thesis Preparation 40 Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year, 1st Non standard period
PSYC501 2024 Clinical Intervention 75 1st Non standard period
PSYC601 2024 Clinical Psychology Internship 144 1st Non standard period

More information

Contact us

Department of Psychology
William James Building
275 Leith Walk
Dunedin 9016
Tel +64 3 479 7644

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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