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The University of Southampton
PsychologyUndergraduate study


Voluntary Research Assistant Scheme (VRA)

In your second year you can apply for the VRA scheme to gain hands-on research experience beyond your coursework. It offers highly motivated students interested in careers in psychology to work with experienced psychology researchers on their ongoing projects.


Projects vary every year and depend on current research and available supervisors, but span the whole of psychology – including visual cognition, developmental disorders, self and identity, health interventions, psychophysiology, and much more.

We invite applications for our term-time scheme at the start of each university semester, and match up students with supervisors who work in the areas of psychology that most interest you. VRAs typically work for about 4 hours per week in term-time. This workload is flexible and fits in well with the course timetable of lectures and workshops, while helping to hone your time management skills to manage the commitment throughout the semester.

Student research opportunities

Exploring visual illusions

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Student research opportunities

Spatial Memory Research

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Photo of Kristy Newton
VRA was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the lab and develop my research skills in preparation for my third year empirical project.

Summer Placement scheme

We also run a competitive Summer Placement scheme, in which you can apply to work alongside research and psychology professionals not only within the University but also in local external settings such as NHS clinics (relating to clinical psychology) and market research companies (relating to organisational psychology). These placements vary anywhere from an intensive two-week full-time position to one day per week throughout the whole summer.

Working as a voluntary research assistant helps to prepare you for your third year project and gives you real insight into what a career or postgraduate studies in psychology involves. It also enhances your CV by allowing you to gain psychology-relevant voluntary work experience which can otherwise be hard to come by. Many of our student list their voluntary research assistant supervisor as a reference for jobs and further courses, and have gone on to study psychology at postgraduate level.

University Ambassador Scheme

If you're taking BSc Psychology, you might like to spend part of your final year studying within a local school setting through our University Ambassador Scheme. This is evaluated and credited to your degree in the same way as campus-based study.

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