Commendations in our MSc in Occupational Psychology

By Dr David Biggs

This is my first ever blog.  So I thought I’d say a few words about our MSc in Occupational Psychology and the commendations we received recently from our British Psychological Society’s accreditation meeting.  They said:

  1. The new revised programme has a strong applied nature and this particularly demonstrated in the Occupational Psychology in the Contemporary Business Environment module, where student get a chance to solve real life problems in Occupational Psychology within a company.
  2. The introduction of the placement handbooks helps the students find placements and understand their transferable skills and what they can offer to future employers.
  3. The programme team have a passion for Occupational Psychology and supporting the students in gaining an identity for the profession which is highly appreciated by the students.

I was very thrilled to receive these commendations.  These commendations are a team effort. I would like to thank our team that includes: Josie Truscott, Steve Baker, Graham Edgar, Julie Collins, Caroline Mills, Jocelyne Fleming and Douglas Yourston.  Most of us teach on the MSc course to different levels or have been instrumental (in the case of Caroline Mills) in the redesign of the course two years ago.

Our MSc degree prides itself in supporting the career of an aspiring occupational psychologist. The career of an occupational psychologist is very varied.  You can get well paid, although that’s not the reason for most of us to get into occupational psychology.  You can work at strategic levels of a business.  This may range from developing senior managers to conducting succession planning within a company.  Or you may be championing women or ethnic minorities in leadership roles demonstrating how diversity can lead to strategic advantages within organisations. Alternatively, you can work with the vulnerable in our society. So if you join the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), you may be working with individuals with physical or mental health issues in trying to get them employment.  And for companies who persistently refuse to take on such people you may take them to court and add evidence as an expert witness.

Interestingly, some have the view that occupational psychologists just work with psychometric tests.  I remember doing a careers event at Oxford and that’s what I was told by the audience.  However this is definitely a false claim.  Psychometrics have their uses; they can reveal hidden aspects of a person, which may be hard to reach without the use of a measure.  However, these are only part of the tools of an occupational psychologist.  There is observation, coaching, ethnography, mentoring, interviewing, job analysis, assessment centers and the list goes on in terms of the tool kit of an occupational psychologist.  These are just some of the tools we will equip you with on the MSc. On the undergraduate degree you cover the basis of psychology gaining Graduate Basis of Chartered Status (GBC).  At the MSc level, that basis is extended so that it can equip someone with the tools they need to work as a practitioner occupational psychologist.

What I find fascinating is that as an occupational psychologist you get to investigate everyday people.  This may range from German bankers through to factory workers.  Each of these people has their own fascinating story to tell.  And this to me is the most interesting aspect of occupational psychology, looking at people at work.  We do this and then use our psychological knowledge to improve their work.  This may involve going against the grain or culture in an organisation.  Take French Telecom a few years ago and their ‘management by terror’ policies that led to several employees committing suicide.  This is another aspect of what you have to deal with as an occupational psychologist, and it is a real challenge.  But if you can apply the psychological craft and ultimately make work better, safer and a more fulfilling part of life.  Then that is a brilliant achievement.

If you think any or all of the above sounds interesting do get in touch about the Occupational Psychology MSc we run at the University of Gloucestershire and find out if this could be the next step in your career path or the change in path you have been looking for!

David Biggs

Programme director (

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