BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
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BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by SnowGem » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:52 pm


I have a question relating to the benefits of choosing an MSc Psychology Conversion over a BSc Psychology. I already have a BSc in a general health science subject which I obtained through the OU, and have a 2.1. I have read various threads on the forum and wiki as have been trying to decide on a course. I am a mature student (late 30s) with an eye on clinical or counselling psychology. The general theme I have taken away is to enjoy the journey and choose a course which looks interesting.

In actual fact the course which most appeals is a BSc which has a large number of more specialised optional modules. But obviously taking a second undergraduate degree has pros and cons to include cost, age on graduation and on gaining sufficient experience to be in a position to apply for a doctorate. I'm wondering whether this would be viewed as a strange choice to choose a BSc over a conversion course? But to my understanding many have had to go on to do a second MSc after a conversion so does it really matter which course you do?

I'd be really interested in hearing your thoughts.

Many thanks in advance.

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:17 pm

I think a second BSc would be a waste of both money and time. As you have already taken a health sciences degree, and presumably left with solid study skills that include knowing how to research a topic, it's unlikely you would gain anything from the optional modules that you wouldn't gain from reading around the topics. If one area really interests you, do your MSC dissertation in that area. It's certainly not worth incurring triple the cost of an MSc with no access to student finance in order to take a handful of optional modules that may not even provide the detail you expect anyway - BSc modules are usually more broad than deep. (Edited to add: it's also worth remembering that many modules in a catalogue may not run every year, so those units might not be available to you anyway.)

People only *have* to take an MSc after conversion if their grade is too low to meet entry requirements for the clinical doctorate. I think you would be better off doing a conversion course, focusing on getting the best grade you can, and then looking for relevant experience.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by SnowGem » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:43 am

Hi Lingua Franca

Thanks for your reply :) You make a fair point about the depth and availability of modules on a BSc. And yes, I guess my first degree is sound enough for me to move onto a conversion. I think I may have been influenced by someone who told me I wouldn't get onto a Doctorate, so not to bother. I was then thinking to gain a better understanding of psychology as a subject so as to explore other options in case that avenue doesn't work out.

When looking at the conversion courses, do you think the number of credits allocated to research methods makes a difference? The courses I'm looking at vary between 20-40 of the taught components.

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by maven » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:57 am

I think the average psychology undergraduate course is pretty poor at providing any employable skills, even for people who do it as their undergraduate degree. An MSc with a good research weighting, and ideally a placement might be somewhat better. Find a way to publish a paper, and then you've added value again. But don't waste 3 years and 3 years of fees when you'd gain more in a one year conversion and some volunteering.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by lottrum » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:20 am

Hello SnowGem,

I studied the MSc conversion course and I would definitely recommend it.......not biased or anything!!!!!! haha
On a practical note the course confers BPS accreditation whilst studying at Masters level and is a more affordable option than completing another undergrad degree. The course provides an excellent grounding in the core principles of psychology and the behavioural sciences and there are opportunities to specialise during your option module, specialist essay and research project (course structure is likely to vary between universities).

If you have any questions at all re: course structure, content, assessment etc. please feel free to PM me!

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by hawke » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:45 am

I did a psychology conversion course, and like others would also recommend it above a BSc. Quicker, cheaper, teaches you a higher level of academic skill, more mature peer group. If you have a choice, go for one with a greater emphasis on research, and definitely pick a masters over a PGDip.
The only downside is that I feel I have a bit less breadth in my psychological theory knowledge than my trainee peers. For example, my cognitive theory knowledge on things like executive functioning and memory is pretty weak. I can make up for that by reading a psychology textbook, but I do sometimes wish I'd had the luxury of 3 years to cover more of the basics.

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by SnowGem » Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:00 am

Thanks for these useful insights. I've been looking at the local universities and a couple of online courses too. The dissertation module seems to be mostly 60 credits but it's the taught research methods component that seems to vary. I'm having difficulty seeing which would be the better option.

Hawke, I had wondered whether that might have been an advantage of doing a full BSc as I was concerned the conversion would be more of a whirlwind tour of psychology. I guess it might be useful to think of it as a starting point to develop my interests.

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by friday » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:02 pm

I'm not sure if this is a factor you've considered but you can get a tuition fee loan if you study psychology with the OU, even if you already have a degree. You might be able to transfer some credits from your first degree. If you don't have a masters already then you could get the masters loan so that may not be a factor for you.

I'm also wondering the same thing. I have a BSc (Hons) Open from the OU. I am a qualified social worker (PGDip) and will soon have an MA Social Work Practice with a 60 credit research module (hoping to get a paper published but not sure how realistic that is!) As I will have a masters I won't be eligible for a loan for the conversion MSc. If I transfer credits to the OU BSc I will probably only have to do 180-210 because I did some psychology and sociology modules as part of my first degree. I'm assuming it will be easier than the masters so I can probably do it in two years while working full time without too much stress, whereas the masters would probably be more challenging to balance with work and will probably take longer. Would it look too bizarre to do a BSc after a masters? Financially it's the best option for me.

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Re: BSc Psychology v. MSc Conversion

Post by miriam » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:23 pm

I think if you have a rationale for it, go for it. I'm convinced that selectors care much more about your experiences and competencies than the exact path you took to get them.

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