President's Column

Pam Maras welcomes new students
Welcome and well done to all new undergraduates starting psychology degrees this autumn! Copies of this issue are being sent to psychology departments for free distribution to new students, so I am addressing this column mainly to them.
Welcome and well done to all new undergraduates starting psychology degrees this autumn! Copies of this issue are being sent to psychology departments for free distribution to new students, so I am addressing this column mainly to them.

Psychology is one of the most popular subjects at school and university, and as first-year students you are at the start of a fascinating journey. A BPS-accredited psychology degree is a prerequisite to undertaking doctoral training to become a practitioner psychologist. It also provides transferable skills relevant to a whole range of careers, including in human resources, business, public relations, marketing, law, social care, education and policy work.  

Students are essential for the future of the discipline, and the Society has a commitment
to support its student members. The Student Members Group (SMG: provides a regular publication (Psych-Talk) and network for undergraduates. If there isn’t an active SMG representative in your department, then why not become one? Contact Anna Woolley ([email protected]) for advice on how to go about this. You will be provided with ongoing practical support and information.

If you join the BPS you will become one of around 45,000 members. You will automatically become
a member of a Branch in the geographical area where you live or study, and you can also join specialist Sections of the Society (for example in cognitive, developmental or social psychology).
The Society recognises student achievement by awarding an annual prize to the undergraduate student achieving the highest marks in each department running a BPS-accredited degree.

Dissemination of psychology is central to the Society’s work. The Society publishes major international academic journals (see, as well as books, in partnership with Wiley Blackwell, through a special imprint BPS Blackwell (see for information about special offers for members).

Students have a regular column in The Psychologist, which all Society members receive monthly.
This month’s special issue focuses on what psychologists can do to nurture the next generation. How can we ensure a smooth and useful transition between pre-degree psychology and university? Do specifications encourage a ‘cookbook’ approach which is harming the discipline? How should A-level teachers be supported? Further into the issue, on the Students page, you can find out what to expect from your degree. And don’t forget to enter The Psychologist’s annual student writer competition (see

The Society is also celebrating the 100th issue of its free Research Digest service, a valuable aid in your studies. We trawl the latest journals and serve up tasty morsels in an engaging, informative and interactive fashion aimed specifically at students. To view the blog and to subscribe to the fortnightly e-mail, see  

The Society’s website ( contains general information, careers advice, policy responses, news, conferences and events. For example, you can find out about the SMG conference, which next year will be held at the Society’s Annual Conference in Dublin in April 2008. The conference will offer an opportunity to meet other students, and hear some of the people you read about in textbooks speaking, as well of course as giving a chance to sample some Irish hospitality (see for more).

Dissemination also includes policy work in current areas such as sustainability, autism, children’s reading and asylum seekers, as well as contributing to the development of legislation; for example, the Society made a significant input into the drafting of the recent Mental Health Act. In line with this work and our commitment to students an annual internship is awarded to an undergraduate student to visit the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in the Houses of Parliament and to see how policy is informed by science (see

All of these activities are about making a  difference. As well as the examples above, psychologists are often high profile in policy and media. For example, a psychologist, Dr Tanya Byron, has just been appointed to head a government inquiry into children and the internet, whilst Dr Tommy MacKay (a past Society President) is the topic of the penultimate chapter in Gordon Brown’s recent book Britain’s Everyday Heroes for his work on raising literacy standards
in West Dunbartonshire.  

Fritz Heider suggested in the 1950s that we are all naive psychologists, seeking to explain and predict our own and others’ behaviour. You’ve now got the opportunity to embark on an adventure and look at the science underpinning Heider’s commonsense stance. It was the most exciting journey I ever began. I hope you enjoy it too, and that the Society can help you along the way. Don’t delay – complete the application form opposite.

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