Information about studying psychology
at the Institutes of Psychology in Aarhus and Copenhagen
BY JANNE HERTZ, LONE KÆRVANG, ANDERS DEGN PEDERSEN, MOGENS SRENSEN & NIELS WENDELBOE
DET PSYKOLOGISKE STUDENTERRAAD AARHUS UNIVERSITET
ASYLVEJ 4 8240 RISSKOV
EDS. AND PHOTOS: LONE KÆRVANG DET PSYKOLOGISKE STUDENTERRAAD, AARHUS, UNIVERSITET
ASYLVEJ 4, 8240 RISSKOV (C) 1990
General academic information
Psychology in the structure of the universities
Danish universities are state universities. Only two of them provide teaching in psychology, within an Institute (department):
- Copenhagen, where psychology is taught in the Faculty of Humanities (that is subjects such as language, history, philosophy), and
- Aarhus, where psychology is taught in the Faculty of Social Sciences (that is subjects such as law, economy, political and social science).
Both Institutes are under the rule of the same Order of Study. This Order of Study is a frame within which a Plan of Study is elaborated by each Study Board in cooperation with the teachers. So, despite common regulations in Copenhagen and Aarhus, the teaching provided by both universities differs in one way or another. (The major part of the information we provide here is valid for Aarhus only: the Copenhagen Institute is also member of E.F.P.S.A., but they have no students representing at the Lyon meeting and haven’t made any preparation for it)
The situation of psychology has changed quite a lot in the last few years as has already been mentioned in the report from Liege. Despite protests from students not only in Denmark, but also from E.F.P.S.A., the prescribed time for the education of psychologists is now reduced to 5 years. Obviously it has been almost impossible to cut down in any element in the study-programme. Some of the missing half year of studytime has been found by reducing the amount of time spent on practical training. This of course is very regrettable, but never the less we had to choose this somewhat absurd alternative - otherwise our education would simply lack proper theoretical background compared to other countries and to the theoretical level in other academic education in Denmark.
It is now possible to become a Bachelor of Psychology in Denmark. This takes 3 years of studies.
There has been great reformation in the public scholarship-rules, which means that a student is forced to participate in all the prescribed exams in the prescribed amount of time. Otherwise he/she will not receive any money at all to cover the costs of living.
These are some examples of all the reformations that are being brought into action with the present Danish Government within the field of Education. There seems to be a strong tendency to reduce and cut back on all education that are humanistic or social orientated.
The Numerus Clausus and the employment market
On the basis of an entrance examination the number of students in psychology is restricted to 70 (+ 20 overbooking) a year at each university. Attendance - which exceeded 500 students a year in the early 70's - is expected to decrease further in a context of heavy unemployment among psychologists in Denmark. Though, the unemployment rate has been deminishing (from 24% to about 17% at present).
Actually, 85 to 90% of all Danish psychologists are employed in the Public Services (social, health, educational, research sectors, etc.).
Degrees and diplomas
After 3 years: bac. psych. degree.
After 5 years: cand. psych. degree (candidatus/a psychologiae). (Equivalent to a masters degree)
After 6,5 years: mag. art. degree.
Besides that education the institutes are working at offering a subsidiary subject of 1,5-2 years of studies.
Psychology curriculums (see the overview next page)
The course of study is a combination of two parts of six and four semesters respectively.
The first part introduces the students to cognitive, personality, social, developmental, work, clinical and educational psychology, history of mind, history of psychology and research methods. Besides psychiatry, human biology, statistics, etc.
The second part comprises more profound applied psychology: work, clinical and educational psychology. The students are also required to spend some time in an ordinary place of work for psychologists (practical training). At last a thesis is written in an area of the student’s own choice.
The training in psychology in Denmark is to a much lesser degree than in most other countries organised in courses. They talk more of study elements which are organised in a coherent plan, and all students have to pass through all the above mentioned parts of the fundamental and superstructure training. Though there is a possibility for some form of specialisation - especially in Applied Psychology (second part) and in the choice of the thesis subject. But all in all the training is regarded as a general education, which is quite much oriented to social psychology.
Overview to a degree in psychology
The degree in psychology at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, consists of the following parts and areas (5 years or 10 semesters of full-time study = 5.0 points):
Part one. (B.A.) 3.0:
First to 3rd semester
General Psychology 1.1
a) Social psychology and psychology of personality
b) Cognitive, learning and behavioural psychology
c) Developmental psychology
Laboratory courses in the above three areas 0.2
(Research methods, small exercises, empirical reports)
Human biology 0.1 (neurology and psychogenetics)
Theoretical foundations of applied psychology 0.5
a) Pedagogical psychology
b) Industrial and organisational psychology
c) Clinical psychology
5th to 6th semester
Philosophy of psychology 0.1
Psychology in electronic data processing 0.1
Research methods I 0.1
Methods to bring about and teach psychology 0.1
Specialisation in area(s) of general psychology 0.2
B.A. thesis 0.3
Part two (candidatus/candidata psychologiae) 2.0:
7th to 9th semester
Applied psychology 0.6
a) Pedagogical psychology
b) Industrial and organisational psychology
c) Clinical psychology
Specialisation in area(s) of applied psychology 0.4
Implemental courses 0.3
Research methods II
Tests and methods of intervention
Trainee period 0.2
Candidate thesis (Comparable to PhD-thesis) 0.5
Evaluation of the students
During the course of study the students have to pass several exams. With the reformed order of study the way of examination has been changed remarkably in the first part of the study. There are now more examinations and they are of a more "strict" kind - this means 6-hours examinations with no means of help such as literature, notes, etc. There is a possibility to change two of these three examinations to an oral examination based on one out of three written synopsises. In the B.A. thesis and in applied psychology on second part the students have to make a thesis related to a certain area of his/her interest. There always remains a possibility to complain and get your thesis examined a second time. Besides, a rule protecting students states that external examiners participate in at least one third of the examinations.
Examinations are organised twice a year (January and June) and the academic year is divided into 2 semesters (September to December, February to May).
As we have seen above, the teaching is mostly theoretical. There are two practical courses, but the only real practical training consists of 0.2 study points with supervised (uninterrupted) participation in the activities of an institution with employed psychologists. The practical arrangements are settled by the institute and professional psychologist.
The practical training in the reformed order of study haven’t been planned precisely yet. May be it will be two coherent months or 2 days a week during a semester out of the university. There is a possibility to extend the practical training to 0.4 study points, but it is uncertain how easy the possibility is in the reality (for instance of economical reasons). One of the possibilities for the practical training might be to follow the work in The centre of psycho-therapy or in The centre of system development connected to the institute. Eventually combined with some of the subjects on second part.
Centre of psychotherapy
About 20 students per year have the possibility of passing the examination in clinical psychology by attending a special psychotherapeutic course (That is how it is now for the students from the order of study of 85. They get both the examination in clinical psychology of 0.4 study points and a specialisation of 0.2 study points by following this course during 3 semesters. It has no influence on the one semester of practical training which is included in this order of study.) The participants get one year of own therapy in group (120 hours). Beside this, they participate in a group where theoretical aspects of psychotherapy and clinical psychology are being discussed. Each member of the group has to make 6 essays during the year for the group, and at last an exercise for the examination. After having passed the examination the participants gets two clients each for therapy for about 16 weeks. The clients pay 100 dkr. per therapy hour. And the students get supervision one hour individually and three hours in group a week by professionals.
This special training is very intensive for the students, and gives them a good education in psychotherapy because of the combination of (self-) practise and theory. It is of course expensive for the institute, ex. because it necessitate one professional therapist per 6 students. That’s why it is only offered for a little amount of students. About twice as many want to follow the training, but there is possibility to apply for it again every semester.
The therapeutic direction of the centre is experience-oriented on a psycho-dynamic foundation. It means that it is mainly inspired of psychoanalysis and Gestalt therapy.
Centre of system development
Associated to the centre are two professors in psychology and about 25 graduate students in psychology plus a few visiting resource persons. The centre integrates research, graduate training, and professional work, particularly consulting jobs. Common to the work in all three areas is the interest in the development of human activity systems such as project groups, team groups, institutions, and organisations.
"Compensation fees" coming in from client systems constitutes one part of the economic foundation of centre activities.
In the consultation projects students are included as trainees/assistants as a part of their professional training and education.
Typical consultation projects are:
- Designing work-shops or conferences in collaboration with groups of people who want to develop their own systems, i.e. their ideas, their methods, their organisation, their service etc.
- Training professionals in communication, using the Socratic dialogue and the qualitative research interview as basic paradigms.
- Giving external supervision to evaluation projects carried out by various groups of field workers.
In terms of psychology, the work of the centre is in a border area between social psychology, organisational psychology and pedagogical psychology, drawing also upon personality theory, clinical psychology, psychology of work and research methodology. Ideally, the approach can be characterised as follows: Dialogic orientation, integrative holistic view, phenomenological understanding, process oriented work, qualitative methods, symbolic interactionism, systems thinking.
The thesis is to be written in the last year of study. The subject is totally free (as long as it has relevance for psychology), but the student must be guided by a teacher. The evaluation of the thesis is made by the supervising teacher and a censor.
Group sessions at the beginning of the study
There is an opportunity to attend a group of fellow students of about 15 members for the first 3 semesters of study. This working group meets once a week with a student who is on the brink of finishing his/her studies. The task of this teaching-assistant is to help the younger students beginning the study, both in a professional and social way.
Evaluation of the teaching
Evaluation of the teaching is being undertaken more and more often in cooperation between students and professors. It is not possible to make it compulsory compared to the estimate-agreement of the teachers, but it is becoming more and more important, because some teachers are going to be fired in the next few years. In such a situation the students of course want to get rid of the worst teachers!
A group of students has planned to make an overall evaluation of the teaching, lectures, sessions and of the teachers this year. For this they have worked out an evaluation scheme. Hopefully this questionnaire will be able to provide the evaluation group with sufficient information about the quality of the educational level and content, and enable them to make a thorough rapport about this very important issue.
The groups ambition is that this evaluation will be carried out at least once every year and that it will be taken more and more seriously by everyone at the Institute - including the teachers themselves.
The legal aspects; Role and status of the profession
The diploma from the university is protected by law with the title cand. psych. But the profession name in daily life conversation - psychologist - is not. Negotiations have been going on with the Ministry of the Interior for several years in order to protect the professional title, psychologist, but there is no hope that there might be successful results before long. The contents of the theoretical and practical training is not protected by law. Everyone can acquire theoretical and practical skills within psychology somewhere.
The titles cand.psych., cand.ped.psych.3, cand.mag. and bac.psych. is recognised equivalent to similar education by EEC countries and non-EEC countries (Eastern countries?).
The titles cand.psych., cand.ped.psych., cand.mag. or bac.psych. is given to the holders of.
The diploma or the studies does not give a definition of what is a psychologist.
About the profession psychologist
The profession (professional acts) is not protected by law. But membership of the Danish association of psychologists "Dansk Psykolog Forening" requires the cand.psych., cand.ped.psych. or bac.psych. title.
The acknowledgement of psychologists is increasing in private and public services as well as among individual "users".
Concerning relationships with other professions there is no formal corporation agreement. But informally there is a close relation to
psychiatrists with whom - as an example - psychologists are trying to create a common post degree clinical education. In reality the psychologist is normally working close together with social workers, doctors, physicists, pedagogical professions teachers and related professions.
Students activities and student organisations
At the top of the pyramid we find the national students organisation called D.S.F., which is an umbrella-organisation where a majority of all students is member through their university or other institution. D.S.F. takes care of national issues concerning students situation, i.e. economy, housing etc., and can be regarded as the students union. D.S.F. has a significant political influence through a diversity of political councils, committees and organisations.
There is a central students council (C.S.R.) at each university, and it is run by a secretariat and a board consisting of members of each faculty and institute. C.S.R. is involved in the daily administration of the university and handles information about economy and housing on a local level. It offers legal, social and psychological guidance, and arranges seminars about the structure of the educational system, student-political subjects, reading/study technique etc. It publishes a magazine 9 times a year which deals with actual as well as non actual subjects.
At the bottom of the pyramid we have the local students councils (S.R.) at each institute. Each S.R. takes care of the daily work in their respectively institutes. Each institute is run democratically by teachers, students and administrative personnel in 3 ruling organs, and the S.R. elects their representatives to these organs once a year. Especially in these 3 organs we find the heavy workload, but there is also an immense diversity of other activities. At the institute of psychology (Aarhus) we can mention the E.F.P.S.A. group (!) and the N.K. 89/90 group. These two groups take care of all the international work. The N.K. 89 group arranged and held the third Nordic Conference for Psychology Students, which took place in Aarhus in Oct. 89, and the E.F.P.S.A. group takes care of the preparations to each E.F.P.S.A. meeting and the meetings in the Danish psychology students association.
Then there is the evaluation group (they evaluate the education and the examination requirements, as mentioned before), the debate forum group (they arrange discussions between teachers and students about different psychological topics), the FAPIA group who is starting a psychology students association in Aarhus with it’s own magazine and photocopying service etc. We can also mention Cinema Psycho, which is our local cinema, our theatre/revue group, the sports psychology group, the party/cafe group, etc. etc.
Welcoming foreign students; practical information (Aarhus)
Cost of living
There are no institution fees, except for a small registration deposit of 500 Danish kroner, but students must have sufficient funds to cover their current expenses while studying in Denmark. The living expenses for the average student in Aarhus in 1990 are approximately 5000 Danish kroner per month.
The University of Aarhus and the other educational institutions are unable to offer financial support or scholarships to foreign students. All official state scholarships and fellowships are awarded through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Education in the students’ home country.
The Danish educational institutions have no residential facilities, and foreign students have to make their own arrangements as regards board and lodging. Generally speaking, finding accommodation in Aarhus is no easy matter, especially if you try to find a flat around the university, which is in the city centre. There are, however, at number of student dormitories, and foreign students are eligible for rooms on equal terms with Danish students in the dormitories administered by the various students’ organisations etc.
Students wishing to find accommodation are to apply to:
Vester Allé 24,2
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Telephone 86 13 21 66
Rules of admission
Foreign nationals are eligible for admission to university courses if they have a certificate or diploma that is recognised or accepted as equivalent to the Danish entrance qualification. If an applicant meets these requirements, the application will be taken into consideration. Whether (s)he is effectively accepted or not depends on the number of available positions.
Entrance Restrictions (Numerus Clausus)
A definite number of positions is available for foreign nationals for each study or group of studies. The quota for psychology is 20%. The total number of foreign students must not exceed 10% of the total number of positions available in each university.
Guest students (occasional students)
This applies to foreign students who wish to study for at term or two or who wish to attend a few courses only and who at the same time are studying at an advanced level in their home-country. The student’s study programme will usually be individually arranged, and
the student will beadle to obtain some form of attestation of attended courses, and passed tests or examinations. A previous knowledge of Danish will usually be necessary.
Danish Language Requirements
Foreign students must succeed in a Danish language test two months before beginning the courses. Since teaching is given in Danish and as even foreign languages are taught through the medium of Danish, it is essential for foreign students to have a good working knowledge of Danish before beginning their studies.
In some cases it may be decided on a mutual agreement to give some courses in English. Indeed, a large majority of Danish students and professors are able to communicate in English.
Foreign Students Office
Any kind of information concerning foreign students can be obtained at:
DK - 8000 Aarhus C
Telephone 86 13 43 11, extension 284
Open Monday-Friday 10-14
For special information about studying psychology:
Telephone 86 17 55 11, extension 118
Projects in which foreign students are welcome (at the institute in Aarhus)
As mentioned above one of the problem about studying in Aarhus for a foreign student is the language. It is at least necessary to understand Danish, if the student wants to follow lectures. But it will do to speak English in many cases and it is possible to write examination-exercises in both English and German.
Before leaving to the G.A. in Lyon we asked the teachers in which projects foreign students are welcome, and we got only a few answers. They answered all that English was OK, and that the students should be on graduate level.
The possibilities are:
* Project with alcoholics
* Ecological cognitive psychology (Gibson-Neisser tradition)
* Memory-research (for instance autobiographical memory, amnesia and dementias)
* Reading and literature-psychology
* Developmental psychology
* Work psychology, psychosocial factors and stress
* Psychology of life-alteration
* Teaching in the centre of system development (if the student can speak Danish)
The Danish delegation in Bergen 1992 (from the Institutes of Aarhus & Copenhagen)
Ålborggade 16, 5.
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Koll. 4.1 - Værigo
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Lone Vinther Christensen
Landehjælpvej 17 Lejl. 13
DK-2300 København S.
tel. 184.108.40.206 (ask for 17/13)
(weekdays 5 pm - 10 pm, weekends 12 am - 10 pm)
N - Juelsgade 5. I.T.V.
DK-8200 Aarhus N
DK-1816 Frederiksberg C
The addresses of our institutes (the students council):
Det psykologiske Studenterråd
Tel. 86 17 55 11, extension 112
DK-2300 København S.