Student FAQs Answers

A. Which Psychology Module is For Me?

What Psychology module should I take?

The answer to this question depends on what you intend to do after your undergraduate degree.  If you are considering graduate work in Psychology,
then you should be pursuing an Honors Specialization degree in Psychology. 
We recommend that you seek the advice of an academic counselor or career counselor if you are not certain that you are on the right track.

What is the difference between a BA and a BSc Honours Specialization
in Psychology?

The BA and BSc Honours Specialization modules are structurally very different. 
The courses that make up the BSc module focus primarily on the biological foundations of behavior, such as those in Neuroscience, Cognition, Sensation, Perception.  BSc students also must take 2.0 senior-level courses from the Faculty
of Science as part of their BSc in Psychology.  The BA module has a more flexible structure, providing students with opportunities to take courses focused on the biological, social, and psychological foundations of behavior.  Students can move into professional programs and/or graduate training programs with a BA or a BSc Honours Specialization degree;

What is the difference between a BA/BSc Honours Specialization in Psychology and a Double Major Honors Degree?

If you want graduate training in Psychology, you must take one of the Honours Specialization degrees to secure the research experiences that will make you a competitive applicant.  The Double Major Honours Degree does not adequately prepare students for graduate school in Psychology, but is a valuable stepping stone to other professional training programs such as Education, Law, Business, Medicine, etc.

B. What Do I Need to Get Into Psychology Modules at UWO and How Do I apply?

Do I need a Grade 12 Mathematics course if I wish to pursue a Psychology Major or Honours Specialization at Western?

Yes.  Students need to have a Grade 12 Mathematics course (Advanced Functions, Calculus and Vectors, or Mathematics of Data Management) in order to complete the prerequisite of 1.0 course in Mathematics during their first year at Western for admission to Psychology.  There is a Mathematics prerequisite for both the Psychology Major module and for the Honours Specialization modules in Psychology.

How do I apply for entry into a module in Psychology, such as a Major, a Minor or one of the Honours Specializations?

Every year beginning in February, students are required to indicate their first choice of program during the Intent to Register process.  During Intent to Register, you are encouraged to research programs and determine which module(s) you wish to pursue for the following academic year.  Most students will submit their Intent to Register form online by logging into their Student Services account.

It states a minimum of a 70% is necessary to apply for entry to an Honors Specialization in Psychology.  I have an average higher than 70%, so why was I not admitted?

Honors Specialization modules are limited enrollment programs. This means that not everyone who applies will be admitted, even if the minimum requirements are met.  The cutoff average is often much higher than 70%.

I want to be in an Honours Specialization, but I was not admitted this year. What do I do?

If your goal is to re-apply the following year for an Honours Specialization, we recommended that you “shadow” the course work of your preferred module as closely as possible. This will ensure you are not too far behind if you are admitted to the module the following year. This may require seeking special permissions for some courses from the Department. It is best to schedule an appointment with the Program Advisor to discuss your options in detail regarding an appropriate plan of action.

C. I’m Having a Problem Registering for Courses

Why am I getting an error message when I try to register for Psychology courses?

This could happen for many reasons.  The most common is that you do not have the required prerequisites for the course.  Alternatively, the course may be full, you may not be in the specified program for which priority to register is given, or you may not belong to the department in which the course is offered.  Please contact the appropriate Department if you are uncertain as to the reason behind the error message.

How do I get special permission to take a course?

For 3000 & 4000 level courses, you should email the instructor.  For 2000 level courses, you must make a counseling appointment with the Psychology Program Advisor (519-661-2067) in order to request special permission.  Many factors are taken into consideration when permission is sought and students should note that receiving special permission is not guaranteed.

I want to add a course, but it is full.  Is there a possibility I can still register for the course?

It is entirely up to the professor of the course to admit students over and above the enrollment limit.  You should consult with the professor directly.

I have a Statistics course from another department.  How will this affect my Psychology module requirements?

Most statistics courses are antirequisites of one another, therefore once you take one, you cannot take another without losing credit for the first one.  If you have a statistics course from another department, please make an academic counselling appointment to discuss how this affects your module .

D. I’m in an Honors Specialization module and I Have to Do a Thesis in Fourth Year. What Does This Mean?

What is an Honours Thesis?

An undergraduate psychology honors thesis is a major research project in
Psychology carried out by a 4th year honors psychology student under the mentorship of a qualified psychology supervisor, usually a full-time psychology professor on main campus.  The psychology thesis is an empirical project that involves formulating a research question, developing a research method, gathering psychological data, applying statistical analyses to the data, interpreting the findings, and writing a report using the formatting requirements of our professional association.  Thesis students present their findings to the Psychology Department at our annual Undergraduate Thesis Poster Day.  Completing an honors thesis is excellent preparation for graduate school in Psychology.

How do I find a Thesis advisor?

During the latter half of your third year in an Honors Specialization module in Psychology, you should be thinking about obtaining an advisor for your 4th year Honors Thesis course (major research project carried out under the direction of a qualified advisor).  It is your responsibility to find a thesis supervisor from among the faculty listed on the Psychology Department website.  Normally, supervisors prefer to accept students who have taken courses in and/or are familiar with their research areas.  In this regard, familiarity with the potential advisor’s research interests is highly recommended,

E. I Want to Go to Graduate School in Psychology.  What Do I Need to Know?

What do I need to get into a graduate program in Psychology?

On the website of the Canadian Psychological Association you will find a very helpful document that outlines what is required to apply to graduate school in Psychology:
Please copy and paste this address into your browser window.

How would I benefit from early research experience outside of the classroom?

There are numerous benefits to early participation as a volunteer under the supervision of a faculty member in the Psychology Department, especially if you think you might wish to pursue graduate training in Psychology.  First, successful early (second and third year) contact with a faculty member could give you a “foot-in-the door” when seeking a thesis advisor for fourth year.  Second, you could build research skills and knowledge that would enhance your competitiveness as a graduate school applicant.  Third, your supervisor would get to know you and could write a well-informed letter of recommendation for you.  Fourth, close contact with members of a professor’s research team, including graduate students, could give you an insider’s perspective on what graduate school is like.  Fifth, you would get a good sense of whether or not you would enjoy the research aspect of graduate training.  Before approaching a professor to discuss volunteering opportunities, be certain that you can commit at least 5 hours per week, and that you can honour this commitment.

 F. Advice for students entering Psychology

Welcome to Psychology at Western! You are about to begin a life-changing experience that will provide foundational skills in the psychology and prepare you for the next leg of your career development. We look forward to getting to know you and wish you great success.

Here are some friendly words of advice to help you make the most of your academic experience.

  1. Students are often unsure about how to address their professors in writing or conversation. Unless you are instructed otherwise, refer to these individuals as Dr. (Surname) or Professor (Surname). When writing to your profs, begin your emails by addressing them by surname (Dear Dr. X; Hi Prof X.) rather than “Hi” or “Hello” followed by nothing, or worse, Mr. X, Mrs. X, or Miss X. 
  1. Although some students have a clear sense of their career path, most begin their university years without having made a firm decision. The university experience often helps students to identify their preferences and dislikes, and guides decisions about further training directions. Once you’ve chosen a career path, your professors can help you on your way by identifying appropriate programs or jobs, and writing letters of recommendation.
  1. To ensure that you establish relationships with your professors that will work to your future advantage, we recommend the following behavior in class:
  1. Consider your class experiences as auditions for recommendation letters. Be academically engaged rather than passive. Attend classes, read, and complete assignments to the best of your ability. Ask questions, even if your interest in the material is not great. Make sure that your instructors notice you (in a good way). At the very least, introduce yourselves to your profs, especially in large classes where it’s easy to be anonymous.
  1. Take notes by hand rather than on a laptop. Research has shown that much less learning occurs when students type their notes, because the material is processed less deeply. [Most of us can take dictation with our attention focused elsewhere].
  2. If you are tempted to use your computer for any purpose other than note-taking, don’t open it in class. Professors always know when students’ attention is distracted, and this behavior makes a poor impression, even if nothing is said.
  1. Time management is one of the greatest challenges of university life. Each of your courses will make large demands on your time if done well, and you will also want to enjoy the social aspects of university life. All of this should be possible if you manage your time efficiently. We guarantee that papers written the night before the due date will not earn much academic credit, and cramming for exams at the last minute will leave you with no lasting knowledge, even if your marks are adequate. [You’ve all earned entry to Western based on your demonstrated abilities, so we expect you to be capable of success. However, even geniuses can’t overcome poor time management].
  1. The Psychology programs are structured in a way so as to build your scholarly skills incrementally. Later courses in the program build on foundational skills in methodology, statistics, and writing for the discipline. The programs are meant to prepare you for the next leg of your training. Even if you never envision yourself in a research career, many graduate training programs in the helping professions include a major research component, and graduate applicants are expected to demonstrate research proficiency. Thus, even if methods and statistics courses are not your favorites, they are among the most important courses you will take at Western, and you should make every effort to learn and retain the information.
  1. Professors receive many requests for recommendation letters each year. Some requests come from students who are well known to them because the students have taken more than one of their courses, or have volunteered as research assistants in their labs. Other requests come from students whom they barely know. Because graduate and professional programs are highly competitive, it is important to have very strong letters of recommendation. Strong letters are written by individuals who know you well rather than those who’ve had only minimal contact with you. Thus, take more than one course from the same individuals, and go all out in these courses. If applicable, volunteer in someone’s research group.
  1. Students who aspire to complete an Honors Specialization Program in Psychology or Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience will be required to complete an independent research project (honor’s thesis) under the supervision of a faculty member in Psychology in their final year. To see a list of faculty and their research topics, look here. Some labs are in very high demand. To get a foot in the door of the lab you wish to work in for your thesis, take courses from that faculty member and volunteer in his or her lab in third year (if the lab is taking volunteers). In other words, start at your end goal and work backward to do what you need to do to achieve your ultimate goal.
  1. Once you’ve decided on one (or more) career paths, ask a professor who knows you well if you are ready to move forward on this path to the next level of training based on her/his observations of your skill development to date. If your applications to graduate schools or professional schools are unlikely to be successful in a given year, consider waiting a year to remediate necessary skills. For example, if writing well is a challenge for you, consider taking writing courses before graduation. The Student Development Center may be able to help with other types of academic skill development, such as test taking strategies and public speaking anxiety. These services are available to you for free as a Western student; make the most of them!

I wish you all the best for a successful tenure at Western.                                                                                  

Dr. Z

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Psychology Transfer of Credit

Students seeking permission to take a Psychology course at another university in substitution for a UWO Psychology course should proceed as follows before consulting an Academic Counsellor in the Psychology Department:

1)    Obtain a description of the course you wish to take from a current version of the Academic Calendar issued by the other university.  The description must include information on whether the proposed course is a full-year or a half-year course, and whether the course is a second, third, or fourth year offering.

2)    Obtain a "Letter of Permission" form which is available in the Social Science Academic Counselling Office (SSC 2105) or on the Social Science Academic Counselling web site (

3)    Students seeking permission to take a course equivalent to any of the following UWO Psychology courses must also obtain a course syllabus from the other university.  The syllabus, in turn, must be approved by the instructor of the UWO course.  A note from the instructor granting this approval should be submitted to the Academic Counsellor in the Psychology Department along with the Letter of Permission form.

        Psychology 2080A/B  (formerly 180A/B)
        Psychology 2800E  (formerly 280E)
        Psychology 2810  (formerly 281)
        Psychology 2820E  (formerly 282E)
        Psychology 2990A/B  (formerly 290A/B)
        Psychology 3800F/G  (formerly 380F/G)
        Psychology 4850E  (formerly 485E)

4)    To obtain final University approval, the Letter of Permission form must be submitted to the Academic Counselling Office in the student's home faculty.  Students registered in the Faculty of Social Science should submit this form to Room 2105 SSC. 

Note:  Students should allow sufficient time for the processing of this material, which may take several weeks or longer, depending on the time of year.  It is the student's responsibility, and not the Department's responsibility, to gather the required material.  For further information on the transfer of credit from another university, see the section entitled "Letters of Permission" in a current version of the UWO Academic Calendar.

Transfer Students – Transferring Credits toward your Western Degree

What is a Transfer Student?
A transfer student is a student who has been admitted to Western on the basis of academic performance at another post-secondary institution.

Step One – Admission to Western
The program to which a transfer student is admitted is determined by his/her application, the Admissions Office and the Faculty.  The Admissions Office will review your transcripts to determine your eligibility for advanced standing .  Your advanced standing will appear on your Admission Assessment Form. Generally, first-year students (those with fewer than three advanced standing credits) are admitted to Year I, general Social Science, Arts and Humanities or Science.  Senior students (those with three or more advanced standing credits) are usually admitted to Year II of an unspecified B.A. program.  To declare an Honors Specialization, Specialization, or Major Module, you must have permission from the appropriate Department and your Faculty.

Step Two – Review by the Department.  Once you know what your advanced standing is, then Faculty and Department Counsellors will help you to determine how the credits can be used toward your Western degree.  For instance, if you are given advanced standing for an introductory Psychology course, it may count as one of your five required first-year courses.  If there is a possibility that the advanced standing credit could count as a principle or module course or it would satisfy the prerequisite requirement for a course you plan to take here, have the credit evaluated by the appropriate Department. 

2. Please provide the Psychology Department with a copy of the course description/outline/syllabus in order to determine if the course can be considered equivalent to a particular course offered at Western.  Information such as a breakdown of topics covered, evaluation methods, textbook used, etc. are items taken into consideration when determining equivalency.

Example:  You wish to pursue a degree with a Major in Psychology.  This program requires the equivalent of Psychology 1000 (formerly 020--an introductory course) and a first-year Mathematics course.  You were given advanced standing for a Year I Psychology (introductory) course and for a Year I Mathematics course.  You should make an appointment to see the counselor in the Psychology Department for a course evaluation of the Psychology course to ensure the course satisfies the Year I Psychology requirement.  Also contact the Mathematics Department for an evaluation of the level of the Mathematics course.  Then submit written recommendations from both Departments to your home Faculty Academic Counselling office for final approval and future reference.