Best universities for psychology degrees in the UK

Explore the best universities the UK for psychology degrees using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Best universities in
March 30 2021
Student studying in library


In the UK, psychology is one of the most popular subjects for students to take at degree level. Often, psychology courses at UK universities are accredited and follow guidelines set out by the British Psychological Society, which is key for students who wish to pursue a career as a practising psychologist with chartered status.

Courses in psychology are wide-ranging and tend to focus on either scientific research or applied psychology. UK higher education institutions are often equipped with research facilities to conduct studies in either specialisation. Students can conduct research into perception, developmental psychology, cognition or behavioural neuroscience on the scientific side, or neuro-rehabilitation, education and health on the applied side.

There are no strict criteria for studying psychology in the UK, but it is important to have an analytical mind and an interest in human behaviour. Certain grades will be expected depending on the university, as well as a clear interest in the subject.

As for post-graduation prospects, psychology graduates are well equipped to join many industries given the course’s transferable skills.

These are the best universities in the UK for psychology degrees.

1. UCL

UCL was founded in 1826 with the aim of bringing higher education to those who were typically excluded from it.

The first year of the psychology undergraduate course offers students both compulsory and optional modules. Compulsory modules include experimental design in psychology, behaviour, individual differences, and social psychology. There are no optional modules in the second year, but students will learn across modules in health and clinical psychology, and language and cognition.

In the final year, students will carry out semi-independent research while taking other compulsory modules.

UCL offers a couple of taught psychology master’s programmes, including psychological sciences and psychology of education. There are also research master’s degrees available in psychiatry and human development and psychiatry.

What can you do with a psychology degree?

2. King’s College London

Psychology courses at King’s College London are taken through the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, which is Europe’s largest centre for research and education in these combined fields. It’s also home to the to the UK’s oldest clinical psychology training programme.

There are a range of undergraduate and postgraduate psychology courses that cover neuroscience, health psychology and clinical psychology. The course curricula are regularly updated with the latest research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

King’s College London has partnerships with the South London and Maudsley Hospital, and clinician-scientists will often offer placements and voluntary work to psychology students to help develop their real-world experience.

There is also the opportunity to undertake a year abroad or a year in professional development. Partner professional organisations for this initiative include HM Prison Wandsworth, the Priory Clinic and Community Clinical teams. Partner universities are located in New York, Melbourne, New Zealand, Canada and South Korea.

King’s is also home to the Institute of Psychiatry Library, the largest psychiatric library in western Europe, with a range of specialised resources covering psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, neurology, genetics and psychotherapy.

3. University of Edinburgh

The department of psychology at the University of Edinburgh was established in 1906 before being incorporated into the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences in 2003.

It offers both undergraduate and postgraduate training, including several taught and research master’s, and doctoral programmes.

The single honours psychology degree and most of the joint undergraduate psychology degrees at the University of Edinburgh are accredited by the British Psychological Society, enabling students to go on to further professional training.

At undergraduate level, teaching is mostly conducted in lectures and small group meetings called tutorials during your first two years. Tutorials, which typically comprise about 10 students, provide an opportunity to discuss topics in greater detail.  In years three and four, the emphasis shifts to more specialised, seminar-based courses and independent study.

The department’s teaching facilities include a private psychology library, computer suites and well-equipped teaching rooms.

It has about 40 members of academic staff spanning all major areas of academic psychology: cognition, development, individual differences, neuroscience and social psychology.

4. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

The LSE’s department of psychological and behavioural science offers both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including several taught and research master’s, and doctoral programmes, all from its central London location.

The undergraduate course focuses on developing core knowledge in the subject as well as developing research and statistical analysis skills.

There are a range of postgraduate courses available in areas including social psychology, psychology of economic life and behavioural science. The LSE also has a dedicated library – the Himmelweit Library for Social Psychology.

The psychology department at the LSE hosts a variety of academic and social events, talks, trips, competitions and parties. It also teams up with LSE services, including careers advisers.

5. Cardiff University

The School of Psychology at Cardiff University is one of the UK’s largest centres of psychology. It offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research opportunities.

At the undergraduate level, students will study across a broad range of topics within the field, including developmental psychology, social psychology and language and memory.

Students can incorporate a professional placement into their course, which can be organised through the university’s network of placement partners. Examples include local and national hospitals, care units, forensic psychiatric services and prisons and national and international universities.

Postgraduate students can choose between taught or research courses in a range of areas such as children’s psychological disorders, cognitive and behavioural therapies and clinical psychology.

The department organises a range of events, including seminars, external speakers, engagement events, that students can get involved with.

Top universities in the UK for psychology degrees 2021

UK Psychology Rank 2021 WUR Psychology Rank 2021  University City
1  3  UCL London
2  11  King’s College London London
3  16  University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
4  =17  London School of Economics and Political Science London
5  38  Cardiff University Cardiff
6  =52  University of Manchester Manchester
7  59  University of Kent Kent
8  =81  University of Sussex Brighton
9  83  University of Sheffield Sheffield
10  84  University of Bristol Bristol
=11  =86  University of Bath Bath
=11  =86  University of Warwick Warwick
13  95  Birkbeck, University of London London
14  =98  Lancaster University Lancaster
=15  101–125  University of Birmingham Birmingham
=15  101–125  University of Dundee Dundee
=15  101–125  Durham University Durham
=15  101–125  University of Exeter Exeter
=15  101–125  University of Glasgow Glasgow
=15  101–125  University of Nottingham Nottingham
=15  101–125  Nottingham Trent University Nottingham
=15  101–125  University of Southampton Southampton
=15  101–125  University of St Andrews St Andrews
=15  101–125  University of York York
=25  126–150  Aston University Aston
=25  126–150  Keele University Keele
=25  126–150  Newcastle University Newcastle
=28  151–175  City, University of London London
=28  151–175  University of Reading Reading
=28  151–175  Royal Holloway, University of London London
=28  151–175  University of Surrey Guildford
=32  176–200  Coventry University Coventry
=32  176–200  University of East Anglia Norwich
=32  176–200  Goldsmiths, University of London London
=32  176–200  University of Leeds Leeds
=32  176–200  University of Portsmouth Portsmouth
=32  176–200  University of Stirling Stirling
=38  201–250  Brunel University London London
=38  201–250  The Open University Nationwide
=38  201–250  Queen's University Belfast Belfast
=38  201–250  University of the West of England Bristol
=42  251–300  Anglia Ruskin University ARU East Anglia
=42  251–300  Bangor University Bangor
=42  251–300  University of Essex Essex
=42  251–300  University of Greenwich Greenwich
=42  251–300  Loughborough University Loughborough
=42  251–300  Ulster University Ulster
=48  301–400  University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
=48  301–400  Bournemouth University Bournemouth
=48  301–400  University of Central Lancashire Preston
=48  301–400  University of Derby Derby
=48  301–400  University of East London London
=48  301–400  University of Huddersfield Huddersfield
=48  301–400  University of Hull Hull
=48  301–400  Kingston University Kingston
=48  301–400  Leeds Beckett University Leeds
=48  301–400  University of Leicester Leicester
=48  301–400  University of Lincoln Lincoln
=48  301–400  University of Liverpool Liverpool
=48  301–400  Middlesex University London
=48  301–400  University of Plymouth Plymouth
=62  401–500  Canterbury Christ Church University Canterbury
=62  401–500  Edge Hill University Ormskirk
=62  401–500  University of Hertfordshire Hatfield
=62  401–500  Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool
=62  401–500  London South Bank University London
=62  401–500  Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester
=62  401–500  Northumbria University Northumbria
=62  401–500  Oxford Brookes University Oxford
=62  401–500  University of Roehampton London
=62  401–500  Sheffield Hallam University Sheffield
=62  401–500  University of Strathclyde Strathclyde
=62  401–500  Swansea University Swansea
=74  501+  University of Salford Salford
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