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Welcome to the Section of Organisational Psychology

What is organisational psychology?

Organisational psychology is an applied field of psychology. It deals with people's behaviour and people management processes in the workplace. In the past, our subject area was called industrial psychology, because practitioners worked mainly in the manufacturing industry.  However, as economies and work changed, we also started working in financial institutions, technology companies, governmental and non-governmental organisations, etc. The name of the discipline changed to Organisational psychology to reflect the broader sphere in which we now work. Some universities’ departments are still called industrial psychology or human resource management. At UCT, we use the term organisational psychology, and we are a section in the School of Management Studies. This field of study has become increasingly crucial as contemporary organisations realise that people are their most valuable asset. If that is of interest to you, then this section is an ideal fit for you to gain an in-depth understanding of what drives people’s behaviour.

What type of person would be interested in this field? 

Successful organisational psychologists are interested in people and problem-solving, have strong analytical skills, think strategically and creatively, and seek to develop an in-depth understanding of situations. If you are fascinated by people, how they interact in the workplace and how to manage these interactions, this is a possible career for you. While you learn the relevant people-related skills in the organisational psychology curriculum, it is helpful if you also gain a good understanding of the broader social and business context in South Africa and internationally.

In the UCT curriculum, we focus on critical thinking and building evidence-based arguments. The knowledge and skills you gain in organisational psychology will enable you to be successful in a variety of jobs. You will leave the university as a competent knowledge worker: a graduate who can label and describe human behaviour in the workplace, who can distinguish patterns in work behaviour and who can identify and analyse problems, and find innovative solutions for these organisational – and societal – problems.

What could you do with an organisational psychology degree? 

A major in organisational psychology opens up a wide variety of employment opportunities. Firstly, there is a profession called industrial psychology. The Health Professions Council of South Africa will register students who have completed a Master’s degree in Organisational Psychology at UCT, plus a one-year internship, as an industrial psychologist. They are certified to administer, analyse and interpret psychological assessments, and play a valuable role in recruitment, selection and retention processes.

You can also become a training and development specialist, or even specialise in online learning. Another exciting area of work is the evaluation of skills development programmes in which you advise human resource practitioners which programmes are most suitable to their circumstances. You can also work in reward management, where you guide job levels and the pay and benefits associated with these. 

An industrial relations manager is the custodian of fair labour practices in an organisation and ensures all employees receive fair treatment. You can also become a recruitment and selection specialist – someone who matches new staff in suitable positions in the organisation. Organisational change is a specialist area where you support organisations through change (e.g. mergers, new product or service offerings, organisational culture change). It often includes diagnosing where change may be required. You can also work in fields like organisational development; health, safety and wellbeing; and performance management. Finally, you can even contribute to policy development by working with government or large international institutions like the United Nations, and in this way contribute to advancing society.

Graduates find employment as practitioners in a variety of areas ranging from change management, employee relations, learning and development to human resources management - across diverse sectors: corporate business, government, NGOs, and management consultancies.

Degrees offered by Organisational Psychology: 

• Undergraduate
BBusSc Organisational Psychology: Bachelor of Business Science specialising in Organisational Psychology [CB004BUS08] 
BSocSc with Organisational Psychology as a major 

• Postgraduate
Honours in Organisational Psychology: [CH001BUS08]
Master’s in Organisational Psychology:  [CM037BUS028]
Master of Philosophy (by Coursework and Dissertation) specialising in Programme Evaluation [CM033BUS015]
Master of People Management [CM033BUS19]
PhD in Programme Evaluation
PhD in Organisational Psychology