A UK PhD in Psychology: The British Psychological Society Guidelines


Jonathan Foster

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Foster, J. K. (2003). A UK PhD in psychology: The British Psychological Society guidelines. European Psychologist, 8(1), 39.


This paper first presents the author’s impressions of the UK PhD in psychology, with respect to the author’s experience of 9 years’ teaching at the Universities of Oxford (1987–1989) and Manchester (1992–1999). In the second section of the paper, he discusses the Guidelines for the Assessment of the PhD in Psychology and Related Disciplines, endorsed by the British Psychological Society. Reference is also made to the Australian and North-American PhD systems, based on the author’s experience working at the University of Toronto (1990–1992) and the University ofWestern Australia (2000–present). Several current trends are identified for the UK PhD in psychology, including the tendency for the UK PhD to become more programmatic, better regulated, and more formalized. A final point concerns the development of the international “market” in PhD graduates, facilitated via media such as the internet. The author agrees with the majority of the recommendations made by the BPS PhD Guidelines. However, based on his recent UK teaching experience, he is somewhat sceptical concerning whether these Guidelines will—realistically—be implemented within the current political and managerial climate existing in the UK higher education sector.

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