Psychology Honours

Close crop of lady in teaching setting

Why study Psychology Honours?

Honours is the necessary preparation for further training that enables entry into professional practice, such as the Master of Professional Psychology. The Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours is an accredited course that provides students with advanced and integrated knowledge in psychology, experience and competence in conducting research.

An Honours year is also designed for undergraduate students to develop pre-professional skills as well as skills and interests in independent research. Your research thesis is a large part of the Honours year and will allow you to contribute original knowledge to your discipline. It may be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at academic conferences.

Plus, you’ll join the Faculty of Health's renowned research community and work alongside researchers who are making a difference to people’s health and wellbeing.

An Honours degree can launch your career in research and academia. It is also the stepping stone to a PhD.

You can find out more about supervisor interests below.

How to apply

1. View the list of supervisors

View the list of supervisors below. Contact the course coordinator if you have questions about finding a supervisor.

3. Apply online

Apply online through the course page for the Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours.


CODI LOWER, HOST: Welcome everyone to the Open Day psychology panel. I'm Codi. We're going to run through some frequently asked questions about our Bachelor of Exercise, Bachelor of Psychological Science. We'll give you an idea of what our study options are available to you, and also a little bit of understanding about what the career may look like for you and, the diversity of those careers that are available with our audience here today.

Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge we are on the lands of Bundjalung Nation today and pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging. Today I'm joined by student Helen, graduate Isabella Power, lecturers Dr Dylan Poulus and Dr Kachina Allen. Hi everyone. Can I please ask you to introduce yourselves and your, I guess, your connection to Southern Cross University and we'll start off with you.

HELEN CLARK, STUDENT: Hello there. Testing, testing. My name's Helen Clark. I'm a Bachelor of Psychological Science Honours student. I'm in the final stages, about to write my thesis.

DR KACHINA ALLEN: I'm Kachina, and I'm a lecturer at Southern Cross University. I actually came to psychology a slightly different route. My background is neuroscience, so I'm very much interested in how the brain works, so it's a slightly more unusual, diverse route into the lecturing.

ISABELLA POWER, GRADUATE: Hi everyone. I'm Isabella. I completed my Honours year at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast, and I've just recently completed my Masters of Counseling Psychology at UQ and about to apply for general registration as a psychologist.

DR DYLAN POULUS: Hi everyone. My name's Dylan. I'm a lecturer in psychology, so I teach into the undergraduate degree and the Honours program. And as well as that, I'm the course coordinator for the combined degree we have with exercise and psychology.

HOST: And Kachina can I start by asking you about the type of student who'd be attracted to studying psychology, but also what does our courses look like? I know there's a range of differences between undergrad, postgrad, Honours, and research. Can you tell us a bit more about that sort of field?

DR KACHINA ALLEN: Sure. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone wouldn't be interested in psychology. So, to be interested in psychology, you just have to have a brain and I think we all have one. And so, I mean, if you look around, we see the whole world in colour and yet most of our vision is actually black and white, and our brain is creating that colour for us.

So that understanding that what we perceive isn't necessarily what's coming in through reality. So it's understanding ourselves, understanding other people. A lot of people come into it wanting to help other people, so working in the clinical areas. Some people like me come in cause we're just really curious and want to study people.

In terms of the course, we have a three-year undergraduate degree and you can choose various electives. You can also choose to join in with exercise science or have a double major. We then have an Honours year. And so that one's hard work, but it's really fun and it's where you really start to get your teeth into research.

Then you have the option of going on to a Masters. We have a professional Master's of Professional Psychology here at SCU, or you can go on to another university if you're interested in a different sort of structure of psychology and we even find that some of the students who come in thinking that they're going to do clinical psychology working towards that, get to the Honours level, fall in love with research and decide maybe they want to go onto a research degree, so then you can go on to do a Master's by research or a PhD so you can go on to just look into what is happening and then provide that information to professional practice.

HOST: So it's very diverse and, and there's a range of different, I guess, course options for you.

And I think something that you can pull out of that is that you don't need to make a decision on your very first day. It sounds like obviously a lot of our students here have maybe wanted to go down that more clinical set of skills and then fell in love with research along the way. And talking about when it comes to getting those clinical set of skills, but, obviously being professionally accredited and a lot of people here maybe in the audience may be like, I want to be a, you know, a professionally qualified psychologist or a clinical psychologist, and what does that mean and how they differ.

What is the pathway to get there and what does it look like?

KACHINA ALLEN: Okay. So at the moment, it's a five plus one model. So, to get into and here it's the master of professional psychology, but it could be clinical psychology, neuropsychology, anything like that. You do your three-year undergraduate degree, you then do an Honours year, and then you do a master's in the area that you're interested in for a year.

And that master's actually allows you to start to do that clinical placement. So the university, will help to place you in with a psychologist to get that provisional psychology started and then you do one more year as a, provisional psychologist and then you can go out and be accredited. HOST: So it's a mixture of theoretical knowledge, hands-on learning, In the workplace learning, do you need to do a certain amount of hours in that sort of setting to be signed off or is it more over a time period, like a year?

KACHINA ALLEN: It really depends on what you're going to do. So, as of next year, if people aren't too fussy about the electives they're doing, they can actually get through the undergraduate degree in two years.

So it's possible to speed it up so you can actually, narrow that down. So it just depends on how people want to study. There's also part-time options. It varies by individual. HOST: Very flexible. and doesn't sound like it's a, a very black and white structure, which is, which is I think one of the nicest parts about the course is you can really take it where you want to because like you said, psychology is, is everything in a way.

I know for me, you know, I did a lot of psychological units in my marketing cause I'm a past business student and I was really passionate about consumer behaviour and decision-making. So I guess the double degrees with psychology is quite common with psychology and law, psychology and business and those sort of fields where they have a lot of relatable aspects.

Helen, why did you choose to go into the psychology field? I know you are just in your Honours now, so you're obviously the three year bachelors. What's your experience look like and why did you choose to go down the honours pathway?

HELEN CLARK: Prior to, signing up, I'd worked a lot with, youth at risk, in a previous life, so I'd taken some time out from that and then came back to it and thought this was a pathway to get back into it and have greater understanding cause there's a lot of theoretical underpinning that goes on through the undergrad degree rather than placement. So that was the start. And then I've got to Honours and I just wanna keep researching.

HOST: And that I'm aware of, you're planning to keep on going after your honours to more research instead of going the master's route?

HELEN CLARK: Yes. I'd very much like to. I think if you can come up with something that could benefit a load of people, then that is quite a powerful thing.

HOST: And this might be a question for all you guys, cause you, it sounds like you've all done your Honours in one way, shape, or form. Was there flexibility in choosing what you wanted to do for your Honours? Obviously it requires you to complete a thesis. Do you have to have a supervisor? What does that look like? Do you can choose any topic you like as long as they get signed off by, I guess a supervisor or an ethics committee?

HELEN CLARK: Yes. Everything has to go through ethics. Generally there'll be supervisors that have their preferred areas of research or specialist interest areas, and hopefully you get paired up with one of those that matches your interest.

HOST: And what is yours?

HELEN CLARK: I'm interested in the effects of the natural world on human mental wellbeing.

HOST: Okay. What about any of your other experiences?

DYLAN POULUS: Can I jump in there? I think when you go through your undergrad and you do your first three years, a lot of your learning is kind of guided in that you'll lean on your lecturers for what we're gonna investigate in assignments and in reports and how we go about investigating that.

You'll really lean on your supervisors or your lecturers, people like me in first and second year for that. The really exciting thing about Honours is that it's your first chance to pick a direction, aim at it and go after it in a research sense. And so as, as you've just heard here, here, you get this really amazing opportunity if it is to explore how does you know our relationship with the natural environment impact our wellbeing? And because we've got such a diverse range of supervisors in the Honours program, I'm one of like 15 people as well as Kachina who can look after you in the Honours program in your research capacity, you can pretty much explore anything you want as long as it's researchable.

And as you go through your undergrad, you're going to touch on all of these incredible topics and you'll start filing them in first year and second year, if we do some interesting research methods or some interesting social psychology, or you do sport and exercise psychology and then you're interested in something that I'm really interested in or you're interested in clinical, you can start looking at clinical populations and how we can work with those people.

Honours is your first year to start exploring that, and even though you have a supervisor, you are the leader. You come to the supervisor and say, this is what I want to do, this is what I wanna make happen, and this is the impact I want to make with my research. And it's our job as a supervisor to help you make that a reality.

And so Honours is your first touch point with that. And as you've seen here, some students get a taste of that and they go, oh, I want this again. And that was my experience. I did Honours , I looked at sports psychology and I went, this is it. This is what I want to keep researching. And then you get other students that go, I've researched this, I understand it.

But I actually want to be on the front line. And then at Southern Cross, you can go into our master's program, as Kachina talked about, and you can start learning the skills to be on the front line and start, whether it's in a clinical setting as a therapist or a counsellor, or whatever capacity you wanna work in, the Honours year is that stepping stone for you to start making those decisions. And I would like to jump back to the pathway. I think that's one thing that's really powerful about studying psychology is that you're not locked in to kind of six years and you have to do this because on day-one you decided you wanted to do that.

At three years, you can kind of check in and go, do I want to go out and start working? Because you'll have the skillset after three years to go and make a difference in any business, or to go start your own thing and do that. Now I want to go another year. I'm going to try some research, I'm going to try some counselling, or one of those two really took my interest.

And then that again gets to help inform which decision you make next, whether it's a master's or a PhD or whatever it is. Whatever it is you want to do next. And the reason the study of psychology is so powerful is that some people look at that six years and they go, oh, there's so many degrees I have to do.

But what you're learning in that first three years is you're learning how to think. So you're learning how to absorb information and discern information. Think about how important that is in today's media and everything that's happening. What's good information, what's reliable information. You're learning how to pick that up.

You're learning how to think about it, formulate ideas, and you're learning how to write about it with our, you know, reports and our assignments. So when you learn how to write, you learn how to organise ideas and that makes you very influential. It makes you very good at what you do. And so at the third year and at the fourth year, you've already got those skills.

So if it's not for you to go into further study and do a masters or a PhD, you've already got the skills you need from the first two degrees to go out and make a difference. And then you learn how to speak. So you learn how to discern information, organise that information, and speak it in a meaningful way.

And that allows you to have whatever impact you want to have on the world. And pardon me, with, with our, with our three degrees, which we offer them all, undergrad, Honours and masters. Not many universities offer them all. You can do that whole journey with us. Get off whenever you want. Come back whenever you want, or complete the whole thing in one go.

Yeah. You've got so many options. It's so flexible and, and that's why I absolutely love teaching as many parts as I can on that degree, cause I get to see you develop across that whole journey. And yeah, kind of gone on a bit of a tangent now, but that's what makes psychology at Southern Cross really special.

HOST: Yeah. And I, I think you raise really good points, especially the flexibility of the check-ins. I, I really love the way you phrased it. Get to you three years. Check in, do a bit of one more year if you really want to check in again and then keep going. Keep going. the pathway where you are now looking at doing a PhD or others may go down the master's route.

And we are joined here by one of our alumni and who obviously just graduated and is still further progressing in the industry. Isabella, can you tell us about your career so far? I know your academics speak very highly of your, the job position that you have already. Can you talk about what your current career is and where you want to go with it?

ISABELLA POWER: Yeah, of course. So I am very fresh still, so I, like I said, just recently graduated from the Master of Counselling Psychology. so as a part of that progress, we do all our placements. So I did do a placement at the UQ Psychology Clinic. It's really great place where you can start, have the support to start to build those more clinical skills.

And then they put you out in different community, placement. So for me, one of them was at an alternative school working with, teenagers with trauma. Another one was working with young people at Headspace providing psychological intervention there. And most recently, was working as a provisional psychologist at Serena Russo Employment Agency.

So working with, job seekers on Centrelink, a lot of them have a lot of barriers to finding employment. So, they, those job seekers would get referred to me and I would provide psychological intervention to them. So that was things like, I guess presentations like anxiety, depression, addiction, people who have been incarcerated, DV, a whole range of different, presentations that you get to see.

We get, start to develop the skills for. As part of, I guess the unique aspect of working at Serena Russo was that our, the idea was to help them find employment eventually. So also trying to use a strength-based approach to help them build their self confidence in the workplace to build those interview skills so that they can, you know, have a better quality of life.

And yeah, as well. So that's my experience so far. And I guess now I'm looking to probably do not-for-profit work or private practice. We'll see what happens next.

HOST: So it sounds like before being accredited, you can already start getting in the industry, having some hands-on experiences at a provisional level and really understanding what you like and don't like.

And it sounds like your job now comes with so many challenges but obviously it's a very rewarding space to be working in. You see a lot of great outcome out of it, and that's a lot of emotional skill to take on as well. And I, and I'm sure you get that from your course, but I guess not many people can really prepare you for, I guess, the emotional challenges comes with that space. How did you prepare for that? I guess that hands on practical side of your course in terms of did you have placements while you were at university before you got into this sort of circumstance?

ISABELLA POWER: Yeah, so that's a great question and it, I think it can be sometimes challenging when you are doing four years of study, which is incredible.

You're learning all this great material and trying to apply it to your own life. But then having the question of what is it actually like to work in the industry? What would it act? Am I going to actually enjoy this job? So I think one of the, the great things is that they, that they emphasise is, volunteering along the way.

So basically getting out into the social work, mental health space, volunteering your time at, I personally, volunteered some time at, Lives Lived Well doing rehab. Or you can go to, Lifeline, volunteer as a counsellor there where they would train you and you get a good taste of what it's like to actually work with people in this sort of capacity where it can be quite, quite full on at times. So, and I think if you enjoy that and you love that, it, it creates that confirmation that this is something I want to do. You can work as a support worker. That's, you know, all these experiences add up, to, I guess, make the decision if this is something you want to do long term and to continue down with.

And if it's not, there's also other options like discussed as well. I think a lot of people that start out studying psychology, they also go into, parallel fields like social work and masters of counselling as well. So there are lots of options.

HOST: And talking about the different types of jobs. And I think the whole reason why, I guess anyone's here today is because they're passionate about the field, but what sort of outcome are they going to get out of it?

We've obviously got two academics who I'm sure have heaps of industry experience, but what are the type of jobs that you guys can have through studying psychology? obviously you are going down the research route and wanting to find further information against a certain, I guess, topic. And what about you Kachina? What sort of work experience have you had and what are other students going on to do?

KACHINA ALLEN: well, I really like, as I said, how the brain works. So I'm very interested in the academia and in sort of working out at that very basic science level, how the brain works, and then other people can then apply it to, a more clinical field.

But if we look at different students coming in at different points throughout the degree, if you do the three year undergraduate, I mean, we've had students go on to be anything from detectives to working in ethics, to working in HR. So anything where you work with people, and need a better or a deeper understanding, then just a three year undergraduate will will get you there.

Then for the extra Honours, then you can go on and that gives you that extra depth that teaches you whether research is your passion and you can go on and again, the extra year is helpful and you can go onto a whole lot of different areas. But if you then go onto the masters, then that opens it up even more into a sort of clinical space.

So, for example, one of our graduates has gone on and she now does work with human trafficking. So incredibly important work, that is sort of very important at, at a worldwide level. So it can be helping in a local community, it can be helping in this sort of international space. and if you wanna go on to do the, the masters, by research or the PhDs, your HDR candidates, your higher degree, then you can go on into academia or anything where that research is, a process or we've had students that go on, so I have one student from last year. She's gone on to do, a master's of clinical psychology at the same time as a PhD. So there's the combined program cause she couldn't pick, so she ended up wanting to do everything.

So there's just so many options.

HOST: Okay. That's a challenge. That sounds like, you know, that sounds like you're really going for, I guess, a, a big target there and how you balance that must be a challenge in itself. But it sounds like there's a lot of support available to you with your supervisors, especially it sounds like when you do have a supervisor, it's a real personalised relationship cause you guys both have a dual passion.

It's something that you are looking to succeed in. So that must be a really positive experience. I've got one more question before I'd like to throw it out to the audience. Cause we have such a big audience here today is what, do you guys have any advice to any new student who's wishing to go into the psychology field or study obviously Bachelor of Psychological Science and Anastasia, I'd like to start with you, obviously with someone who is already in the mix of it.

ISABELLA POWER: Yeah. yeah, I think my best advice I could give is just to pace yourself. It is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, and while it might be, you know, six years in total to be a fully registered psychologist.

There's so much variety in between that, take your time. For some for some people that looks like doing it all in one go. For me, that looked like taking breaks between each degree. For others it's going part-time or you know, going to work in the industry a bit in a related role before you actually become a psychologist.

So take your time, enjoy it cause there's so much to learn. There's so much personal growth that comes from this degree as well, particularly, as you start to learn those clinical skills. yeah. And yeah, I guess that would be it.

HOST: Dylan.

DYLAN POULUS: I actually think that's a it's a pretty difficult question to answer and I say that because one of the, one of the subjects I teach in first year, so if you join into the psychology degree here, you'll get me in first year with hopefully that goes well, is called fundamentals to career success in psychology, and that whole subject is helping you plan your next three, four, six years in psychology. And so I get asked this all the time, like, what's your one big, biggest piece of advice for people starting a degree? And I'd encourage you to think about the timeframe that you've just carved out for yourself. You've got a three, a four, a six year period of your life where it's okay to try things, to make mistakes, to explore both yourself and the world through your study of psychology. And what I urge my students to do in that first year subject is to, regardless of what you've come in as if you go, I want to be a clinical psych, I want to be a sports psych, I want to do research, whatever it is, try everything. Try volunteering, try work in different fields that are all related to psychology because, one, we have a subject that supports you to do that. Two, we have a careers and employment team whose job it is to help you figure out what your northern star is and how you can best point towards that, and then hook you up with industry that can help you, whether that's a bit of Lifeline training, bit of Headspace volunteering, bit of local community stuff, whatever it is. Your study of psychology, learning how to think, speak and understand information is going to help you excel in that. And we've got this beautifully defined period here for three, four, or six years where you can explore that.

Your strengths, what impact do you want to make on the world? And so when students ask me kind of, you know, what's the one biggest bit of advice? It's don't lose that curiosity in psychology. Even if you think you know what you want to do, use this as a springboard to reach out, fail, fail fast, fail cheap, trial this amazing stuff in your three year period.

Because it's much better to go into your career knowing that there's six different things you definitely don't want to do because you tried them and didn't want to do it, and you did it in a safe way that didn't impact anyone cause the university supported you to do it. And then to have so much more assurity in the thing you're choosing to do is being the thing you want to do and the meaningful impact you want to make on the world because you tried a whole bunch of other things that weren't quite.


HOST: Well spoken. And I'm sure a lot of our panellists here have gone through all those similar circumstances. Even myself, I've studied two completely different degrees in my, I can honestly say my first degree taught me what I didn't want to do, but it really projected where I wanted to go because I found something within that course that really told me this is where I want to be.

And I focused on that set of skills. So I think, I think trial is the best, I guess, feedback for any of that sort of experience. Now guys, we are running over time. We've been talking for far too long, but we'd love to throw out to the audience. Is there any questions that we can answer for you guys? Yes. Up the back there?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah. So as I understand from degree with the, with the three year degree, you, you.

KACHINA ALLEN: Yeah, you need the five plus one to become a registered psychologist, but it doesn't mean that you can't work in the same kind of space, like as you said in a company. So you can work in anything that requires that knowledge of psychology.


ISABELLA POWER: So, just to clarify, there's two masters programs. There's two ways you can become a fully registered psychologist. It's, there's the five plus one program. So you do the four year bachelor and Honours, and then you do the one year masters, which, Southern Cross offers. And then you do a one year internship.

So during that, one year master's and one year internship you're registered as a provisional psychologist, that's when you're learning all those skills. You have a lot of supervision and a lot of support, but you are doing client work. So the other option is just the six years. So, you go instead of doing the one, a one year masters and one year internship, you do a two year master program. That can be in health psychology, sports psychology, clinical psychology. I'm in the counselling psychology program, so basically, They build those, that internship into the master's course, so they will organise those placements for you. but it, it, it's a similar way.

And so during that two year, two year period where you are a provisional psychologist, you do get to see clients, but, and then once you graduate, you get your full general registration.

HOST: Thank you for joining us here today. If there is any unanswered questions or you do wish to speak one on one with when any of our panellists or our future students team, they are here today.

Alternatively, you can give them a call on 1-800-626-481 or email Thank you for joining us. Please take a campus tour here today. The psychology, facilities and our health facilities up in, top of building B are phenomenal with a fantastic view. I studied business, unfortunately, I didn't get the view that these guys get. It's fair enough. You guys spent a lot more time on campus than I did. and if you are a school leaver and currently in year 12, please apply for our early offer program. It's a fee free application based on your school's recommendation, not solely on your ATAR result.

Honours supervisors

Honours projects are subject to the availability of appropriate supervision. These academic staff members, their research interests and contact information are listed here as potential supervisors. Other opportunities may also be available, for further details please contact the course coordinator.

Dr Kachina Allen

Research interests:

Perception and processing (e.g., auditory, visual), Attention, Working memory, Psychophysics

Professor Peter Hassmen

Research interests:

Resilience and stress syndrome; Cognitive hardiness; Emotional regulation, social support, and resilience; Burnout in the workplace

Dr Kyle Bennett

Research interests:

Skill acquisition, expertise, talent, development, esports, performance analysis, sport science

Dr Louise Horstmanshof

Research interests:

Leadership and decision making; Transition, adjustment, and managing change; Wellbeing and empowerment of older adults

Dr Desirée Kozlowski

Research interests:

Pleasure and pleasurable emotions, especially the relationships between these and human health, resilience, creativity, and flourishing

Dr Mitchell Longstaff

Research interests:

Cognitive psychology and human movement science

Associate Professor Gail Moloney

Research interests:

Research interests: Organ donation and registration; Organ donation and registration; dementia; dentistry.

Dr Dylan Poulus

Research interests:

Esport and competitive gaming (Performance psychology & Mental health); Stress, coping, resilience, mental toughness and burnout

Associate Professor Sally Sargeant

Research interests:

Social and health psychology; Psychology of language and communication

Associate Professor Christian Swann

Research interests:

Sport, exercise and performance psychology

Dr Eric Brymer

Research interests:

Adventure psychology/ therapy and health/wellbeing

Dr Belinda Barton

Research interests:

All aspects of cognitive and psychosocial functioning of children (

Dr Royce Willis

Research interests:

Environmental/Conservation Psychology

Dr Suzanne McDonald

Research interests:

Health psychology and behavioural medicine; N-of-1 trials

Dr Mary-Anne Kate

Research interests:

Mental health and trauma

Dr Ruben Laukkonen

Research interests:

Altered States of Consciousness (e.g., Psychedelics); Creativity; Predictive Brains