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Study Psychology at Otago

The science of behaviour and the brain.

Psychology is the science of behaviour and the brain, 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 aircraft safety, eye-witness testimony, industrial relations, intellectual disabilities, hyperactivity in children, and other clinical issues.

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Why study Psychology?

The Department of Psychology at Otago has a highly-regarded teaching programme and is internationally renowned for the strength of its research.

The research conducted in the Department of Psychology addresses problems in areas as diverse as sleep disorders, industrial relations, phobias, drug rehabilitation, aircraft safety, hyperactivity in children, how nonhuman animals think, as well as how the brain works.

  • 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

Psychology is a very popular course. In it, you will learn:

  • how the brain stores memories and processes information
  • why drugs, head injuries and hormones influence behaviour
  • how parents’ behaviour influences their children’s development
  • how our abilities change from childhoodto old age
  • how emotions affect our reasoning
  • how prejudice and stereotypes arise
  • what underlies disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia

Background required

Any University of Otago student can take first year papers in Psychology. Secondary school English, Biology and Statistics are useful butnot essential.

Careers 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, Marketing, Neuroscience, English, Physical Education, Management, Applied Science, Philosophy, Education, or Health Sciences.

There are many careers in Psychology in New Zealand and overseas, including positions as scientists in universities, government agencies, organisations, and industry. Otago graduates are studying pilot error in aviation, learning deficits in children, the causes of rugby injuries, the biological basis of memory, and the effectiveness of alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

Otago also offers training in Clinical Psychology for those wanting to work in health-related services. Clinical Psychologists work in hospitals, private practice, and in the Department of Corrections. Many of our Clinical Psychology graduates work for a time overseas – particularly in the UK or Australia.

What does first-year Psychology involve?

There are two first-year papers, PSYC 111 (First Semester) and PSYC 112 (Second Semester). 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?

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

Perception – What do our senses tell our brains?

Social psychology – How do people affect one another?

Abnormal psychology – When do we decide that behaviour is ‘abnormal’, and what causes such problems?

Neuropsychology – How do our brains work?

Learning – How do our experiences influence our behaviour?

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

Applied psychology – Can we improve pilot selection or enhance workplace safety?

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 and Chemistry because she enjoys science.

Student B takes Management and Marketing because he plans to work in industry or an organisation.

Student C takes Mathematics and Computer Science because he is fascinated by artificial intelligence.

Student D is interested in issues of social change. She adds Politics and Philosophy to her degree.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Psychology

Level Papers Points
100-level

PSYC 111  Brain and Behaviour

PSYC 112  Human Thought and Behaviour

Either STAT 110 Statistical Methods or STAT 115 Introduction to Biostatistics is recommended

18

18

200-level

PSYC 210  Principles of Psychological Research

PSYC 211  Brain and Cognition

PSYC 212  Social and Applied Psychology

18

18

18

300-level

Four of:
PSYC 313  Cognition and Neuropsychology
PSYC 315  Social Psychology
PSYC 317  Biopsychology
PSYC 318  Developmental Psychology
PSYC 319  Comparative Cognition
PSYC 321  Special Topic
PSYC 323  Sensation and Perception
PSYC 324  Health Psychology
PSYC 325  Psychology in Legal Contexts
PSYC 326  Cognitive Engineering
PSYC 327  Psychology of Language
PSYC 328  Behaviour Analysis in Everyday Life
PSYC 329  Cultural Psychology
PSYC 330  Drugs, Behaviour, Addiction, and Policy
PSYC 331  Applied Psychological Research

Students intending to advance to postgraduate study should also take PSYC 311 Quantitative Methods

72
Plus

198 further points which may include STAT 110 or STAT 115; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts

198
Total   360

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Psychology

Papers

Or, for students granted provisional admission to PGDipClPs

Prerequisites:
At least five 300-level papers including:
PSYC 311  Quantitative Methods
and four from PSYC 313, PSYC 315, PSYC 317, PSYC 318, PSYC 319, PSYC 321, PSYC 323, PSYC 324, PSYC 325, PSYC 326, PSYC 327, PSYC 328, PSYC 329, PSYC 330, PSYC 331

Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Psychology

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Psychology is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Psychology

Thesis
  • Thesis: PSYC 5

Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Psychology or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Psychology must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Psychology prior to undertaking the thesis.

Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Psychology

Level Papers Points
100-level

PSYC 111  Brain and Behaviour

PSYC 112  Human Thought and Behaviour

Either STAT 110 Statistical Methods or STAT 115 Introduction to Biostatistics is recommended

18

18

200-level

PSYC 210  Principles of Psychological Research

PSYC 211  Brain and Cognition

PSYC 212  Social and Applied Psychology

18

18

18

300-level

Four of:
PSYC 313  Cognition and Neuropsychology
PSYC 315  Social Psychology
PSYC 317  Biopsychology
PSYC 318  Developmental Psychology
PSYC 319  Comparative Cognition
PSYC 321  Special Topic
PSYC 323  Sensation and Perception
PSYC 324  Health Psychology
PSYC 325  Psychology in Legal Contexts
PSYC 326  Cognitive Engineering
PSYC 327  Psychology of Language
PSYC 328  Behaviour Analysis in Everyday Life
PSYC 329  Cultural Psychology
PSYC 330  Drugs, Behaviour, Addiction, and Policy
PSYC 331  Applied Psychological Research

Students intending to advance to postgraduate study should also take PSYC 311 Quantitative Methods

72
Plus

198 further points which may include STAT 110 or STAT 115; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science

198
Total   360


Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)) in Psychology

Papers

Or, for students granted provisional admission to PGDipClPs

Prerequisites:
At least five 300-level papers including:
PSYC 311  Quantitative Methods
and four from PSYC 313, PSYC 315, PSYC 317, PSYC 318, PSYC 319, PSYC 321, PSYC 323, PSYC 324, PSYC 325, PSYC 326, PSYC 327, PSYC 328, PSYC 329, PSYC 330, PSYC 331

Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Psychology

Papers

Or

Master of Science (MSc) in Psychology

Papers and Thesis
  • PSYC 495  Master's Thesis Preparation

  • Papers worth 80 points from PSYC 401-441

  • Thesis: PSYC 5

    Note: The papers are normally taken before undertaking the thesis.

Minor subject requirements

Psychology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, 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 Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), 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

Level Papers Points
100-level

PSYC 111  Brain and Behaviour

PSYC 112  Human Thought and Behaviour

18

18

200-level

PSYC 210  Principles of Psychological Research

PSYC 211  Brain and Cognition

PSYC 212  Social and Applied Psychology

18

18

18

300-level

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

18
Total   108

Papers

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
PSYC111 2022 Brain and Behaviour 18 points Semester 1
PSYC112 2022 Human Thought and Behaviour 18 points Semester 2
PSYC203 2022 Abnormal Psychology 18 points Semester 2
PSYC204 2022 Justice, Race and Class 18 points Semester 1
PSYC210 2022 Principles of Psychological Research 18 points Semester 1
PSYC211 2022 Brain and Cognition 18 points Semester 2
PSYC212 2022 Social and Applied Psychology 18 points Semester 1
PSYC310 2022 Research Project 18 points Full Year
PSYC311 2022 Quantitative Methods 18 points Semester 1
PSYC313 2022 Cognition and Neuropsychology 18 points Semester 1
PSYC315 2022 Social Psychology 18 points Semester 1
PSYC317 2022 Biopsychology 18 points Semester 2
PSYC318 2022 Developmental Psychology 18 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC319 2022 Comparative Cognition 18 points Semester 1
PSYC321 2022 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC323 2022 Sensation and Perception 18 points Semester 1
PSYC324 2022 Health Psychology 18 points Semester 2
PSYC325 2022 Psychology in Legal Contexts 18 points Semester 1
PSYC326 2022 Human Factors and Ergonomics 18 points Semester 2
PSYC327 2022 Psychology of Language 18 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC328 2022 Behaviour Analysis in Everyday Life 18 points Semester 2
PSYC329 2022 Cultural Psychology 18 points Semester 2
PSYC330 2022 Drugs, Behaviour, Addiction, and Policy 18 points Semester 2
PSYC331 2022 Applied Psychological Research 18 points Semester 1
PSYC401 2022 Behaviour Analysis 10 points Semester 1
PSYC402 2022 Assessment in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology 10 points Semester 1
PSYC403 2022 Adult Psychopathology 10 points Semester 2
PSYC404 2022 Assessment in Clinical Psychology Practice 10 points Semester 2
PSYC405 2022 Clinical Neuropsychology 10 points Semester 2
PSYC406 2022 Foundations of Clinical Intervention 10 points Semester 2
PSYC421 2022 Advanced Research Methods 10 points Semester 2
PSYC422 2022 Contemporary Issues in Psychology 10 points Semester 2
PSYC423 2022 Advanced Topics in Health Psychology 10 points Semester 1
PSYC424 2022 Contexts of Development 10 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC425 2022 Advanced Topics in Behaviour Analysis 10 points Semester 2
PSYC426 2022 Social Cognition 10 points Semester 1
PSYC427 2022 Topical Issues in Child Development 10 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC428 2022 Culture and Development 10 points Semester 2
PSYC429 2022 Advanced Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience 10 points Semester 1
PSYC430 2022 Synaptic Plasticity Mechanisms 10 points Semester 1
PSYC431 2022 History and Theory of Drug Use and Abuse 10 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC432 2022 Special Topic: Social and Affective Neuroscience 10 points Semester 2
PSYC433 2022 Advanced Theoretical Topic 10 points Semester 1, Semester 2
PSYC434 2022 Advanced Quantitative Methods 10 points Semester 1
PSYC435 2022 Developmental Psychopathology 10 points Semester 1
PSYC436 2022 Topical Issues in Adolescent Behaviour 10 points Semester 2
PSYC437 2022 Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar 10 points Semester 2
PSYC438 2022 Nervous System Plasticity in Health and Disease 10 points Semester 2
PSYC439 2022 Neurobiology and Behavioural Effects of Drugs 10 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC440 2022 Special Topic: 18 points Not offered in 2022
PSYC441 2022 Personality and Measurement 10 points Semester 2
PSYC480 2022 Dissertation 40 points Full Year
PSYC490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period
PSYC495 2022 Master's Thesis Preparation 40 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period
PSYC501 2022 Clinical Intervention 75 points 1st Non standard period
PSYC601 2022 Clinical Psychology Internship 144 points 1st Non standard period

Key information for students

Contact us

Department of Psychology
William James Building
275 Leith Walk
Dunedin 9016
Tel +64 3 479 7644
Email psychology@otago.ac.nz
Website otago.ac.nz/psychology