1. Introduction

This document describes the structure and contents of an academic curriculum that provides the necessary preparation to those who want to become a qualified 'W&O psychologist' in Europe. The occupational title 'W&O psychologist' refers to a specialty within general occupational category of 'psychologist' which includes professional work and research with respect to human behavior in the context of work and organization.

It should be acknowledged that the curriculum described here only covers the basic training for these types of occupational activity, and thereby addresses only part of the process by which W&O psychologists acquire and maintain their qualifications. It should be acknowledged that in most European countries there exists a system of further preparation for professional activity as well as for continued education meant for those who have graduated from the university. For professional work such ongoing education typically includes post academic training courses, supervised practice and accreditation. For research work there are advanced training courses and workshops, Ph.D. programmes etc.

The structure of the curriculum is laid down in a model, the so-called Reference Model, while its contents is specified in Minimal Standards. These two parts together can be considered to define 'common core' of qualifications W&O psychologists need to have, i.e. the required knowledge, skills, attitudes, and competencies.

The curriculum is supposed to be part of a university based training programme in psychology. This means that certain knowledge and skills are assumed to be acquired outside the framework of the W&O curriculum, preferably before the curriculum starts. As entrance requirement a general training in psychology of 2 to 3 years with the following content is supposed:

  • general psychology
  • developmental psychology
  • personality psychology (& individual differences)
  • social psychology
  • human physiology
  • psychopathology
  • psychological assessment
  • research methodology (design and data analysis)
  • overview of fields of applied psychology
  • professional ethics

 The study of psychology typically consists of three cycles: a first cycle leading to a Propaedeutic or Bachelors Degree, a second cycle leading to a Master's Degree, and a third cycle ending with either a Doctor's Degree or a professional qualification. The first two cycles are normally considered to be sufficient for becoming a psychologist (in some countries only after a special examination). The W&O curriculum outlined here is supposed to be integral part of the study during the first two cycles. The curriculum does not cover any areas of specialization within W&O psychology, which is supposed to take place after completion of the second cycle, that is in the preparation for professional work or a third cycle training programme.

The Reference Model only pertains to the training of W&O psychologists in sensu strictu. It does not apply directly to training programmes for related specialities of professions, even though such programmes may contain elements from W&O psychology, and those who studied W&O psychology are among those who practice such specialties or professions. Thus, the model does not pertain to the training in Engineering Psychology, Traffic Psychology, Managerial Psychology, Consumer Psychology or Health Psychology, nor to the training in Ergonomics, Cognitive Engineering, Human Resource Management, Business Administration, Industrial Relations, and the like. However, as will be outlined below, the model can be used in verifying and improving the content of training programmes in such fields.

The starting point for the development of the Reference Model has been a view of 'what W&O psychology is' both as a discipline and a professional speciality, rather than the state of affairs at the labour market for work experts with a background in the behavioral sciences. It is recognized that the labour market is of great importance in determining the actual shape of W&O psychology as an occupation, but it is held inappropriate to let the diverse and changeable conditions of supply and demand for professionals, and the underlying economic mechanisms define the boundaries and content of the training of W&O psychologists. A consequence of this choice is that the model offers a balance between theory and methodology on the one hand, and practical skills and competencies on the other hand.

The following sections of this document describe the structure and content of the model. The Reference Model and the Minimal Standards are normative in character, that is to say they represents the view of ENOP on the requirements a university curriculum should minimally meet in order to provide W&O psychologists with the proper academic qualifications. The way in which the model can be used in designing and improving university curricula will be outlined in a separate paragraph.

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