MSc Psychological Research

Comprehensive training and grounding in research methods and analysis across the broad field of psychology

Cognitive neuroscience lab


This flexible taught Master’s programme provides comprehensive training in psychological research across the whole range of psychology sub-disciplines. You will learn core research methods and specialist techniques, and choose optional courses which you can tailor to your interests.

Programme content and structure

Full programme structure

Compulsory courses

All students take a variety of courses covering research methodology, current topics in psychological research, and statistics. The classes on statistics also provide a grounding in statistical programming software. In addition, there are courses which focus on qualitative methodologies and on more general research skills, such as research ethics, science communication, and getting your work ready for publication.

Optional courses

Students have the opportunity to take further courses, covering topics as diverse as cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, psychology of language, cognitive epidemiology, psychometrics and social psychology. We also offer more in-depth training in use of psychological software, and in a selection of specialist research methods, with hands-on introductions to practical techniques in cognitive neuroscience.


The dissertation is worth 60 out of the 180 credits that are required to qualify for an MSc. It involves conducting research in your chosen area of psychology, so our students’ topics are very diverse. You are then required to distil your findings into a written report, in which you analyse and interpret your research data. Supervisors are normally chosen from staff within Psychology and the topic is negotiated between staff and student.

Learning outcomes and careers

The programme provides an excellent preparation for further psychological research, whether you choose to pursue this in a non-academic setting or as part of a PhD programme. It opens up a number of career possibilities: our alumni have moved on to work in research in psychology and related areas, including PhD training and academic careers, as well as assistant psychologist posts and advanced professional training in psychology (for example, Clinical Psychology or Educational Psychology).

Who is this programme for?

We welcome applications from those with a background in Psychology, and from those coming into the subject from a related discipline.

Why study psychology at Edinburgh?

The University of Edinburgh is firmly established as a world-leading centre of research for Psychology. Assessments by the Research Excellence Framework in December 2014 placed Edinburgh as best in Scotland and 3rd in the UK, based on volume of world-leading and internationally excellent research. The University attracts a high calibre of visiting speakers. These talks are an excellent way to explore new topics and get to know other postgraduate students.

Teaching and assessment

A taught MSc course allows students to follow a programme of courses which we have designed (including options for specialising in subjects of your choice), and which are typically assessed by the submission of coursework; this is followed by a dissertation.

Facilities and resources

Students can avail themselves of the resources (including study space, libraries, and computer labs) available within the school of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences, as well as in the university more broadly.

Student support

In addition to the student support offered to all students in the school of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences, your Programme Director or Supervisor will be able to provide you with academic advice and guidance specific to your programme of study.

Staff profiles

    Research interests
Billy Lee

Dr Billy Lee

Programme Director

Social communication, identity and mental health; Qualitative methods, phenomenological psychology and psychotherapy.
Thomas Bak
Dr Thomas Bak Relationship between language, cognition and motor function.
Tom Booth
Dr Tom Booth Individual Differences. Quantitative Methods.
David Carmel
Dr David Carmel The cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and perceptual awareness; interactions between visual awareness and attention, emotion, and working memory; top-down influences on perceptual processing; foundations of cognitive science, in particular the scientific study of consciousness.
Martin Corley
Dr Martin Corley Production and comprehension of natural language; speech production.
Leonidas Doumas
Dr Leonidas Doumas Analogy, relational reasoning, mental representation, cognitive development.
Elena Gherri
Dr Elena Gherri Action-perception links: Spatial Attention within and across sensory modalities; Conflict and Cognitive Control.
Michelle Luciano

Dr Michelle Luciano

Environmental and genetic factors contributing to cognition, personality and mood.
Martin Pickering

Professor Martin Pickering

Psychology of language and communication, including language production, language comprehension, dialogue, and bilingualism, with a focus on syntax and semantics.

Find out more

Fees, funding and how to apply