The difference between psychology and psychological science

Psychology and Psychological Science students

You may know that Psychology is the study of the mind and our behaviour, but did you know that Psychological Science brings together rigorous scientific research with the theories of Psychology?

The two disciplines are similar but different, and the difference comes with the scientific practices that underpin psychological science. Every aspect of this field must be tested and proven. On the other hand, psychology can present theories about people’s behaviours that don’t go through the same scientific analysis. To gain further insights into these disciplines, we spoke with Associate Professor Stephen McKenzie, Head of Psychology and Counselling at Torrens University Australia.

What is the difference between psychology and psychological science?

The main distinction is that psychology, ‘the study of the mind, is taught as a general discipline and not as a science. Psychological science is psychology treated as a science. Psychology is a very popular field and attracts many students who are interested in the mind and behaviour. People often link Psychology to Freud, the famous developer of psychoanalysis.

Psychological Science takes a scientific approach to the study of the mind, which means there must be scientific evidence for the knowledge that's being presented. The fundamental characteristic of science is that it's based on objective evidence. So, instead of putting forth theories, such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory in Psychology, Psychological Science provides knowledge subject to scientific constraints and tested with strict scientific methods.

What are the similarities and differences between a Psychology and Psychological Science degree?

There are similarities and many subjects will be common to both degrees. Torrens University’s Bachelor of Psychological Science subjects –the Evolution of Psychology, Fundamentals of Personal and Social Behaviour, and Twenty First Century Psychology Issues and Applications – are all based on scientific evidence. Students of the course also study broad core and elective subjects, including Social and Emotional Wellbeing, Diversity and Inclusion and Understanding People.

Bachelor of Psychology

  • Generally, you will need to do postgraduate studies before you can work as a psychologist
  • As a psychologist, you may focus on providing professional support to people, addressing mental health issues and working as a counsellor
  • You will need to develop listening skills, emotional intelligence and patience

Bachelor of Psychological Science

  • You can work in rewarding roles once you’ve completed the bachelor’s degree, such as industry consultants, human resources, marketing and management
  • Undertake postgraduate studies and work in research or data analysis
  • You will develop skills in technical proficiency, statistics and scientific research
  • You can go on to work as a psychologist by doing postgraduate studies, typically a Fourth Year and then a master's course

What jobs are open to those with a Psychological Science degree?

The bachelor's degree gives students transferable skills and knowledge that will be relevant to a wide range of professions, such as management, marketing and human resources in various industries. Graduates can work as Educational Psychologists, counselling and supporting students in educational settings. In the Health sector, managing and developing health information services, and designing and running programs to promote health and wellbeing for individuals and communities. Also, you can do further studies at the master's and PhD levels and practice as a psychologist.

What makes the Bachelor of Psychological Science unique at Torrens University?

Our Bachelor program is very workplace oriented and designed to equip students with the expertise to work in many different professions. The aim is to make every subject relevant to students who will soon go out into the workforce. For example, where in many similar courses there would be a stand-alone Research Methods subject, at Torrens University we have integrated research methods into each subject. And we have a third-year subject, Psychology in the 21st Century, which includes content on the psychology of political correctness, gender, and Indigenous relationships. In the program, we look at how psychology is a science and how it can be applied in so many fields.

Check out our Psychology Course to learn more
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