Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Psychology

Why choose Psychology at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We consistently rank as one of the top 50 universities in the world for psychology (QS World University Rankings and Complete University Guide).

  • In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, we were rated first in Scotland and third in the UK as part of a joint submission for psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience.

  • We offer you hands-on experience in psychological research throughout your programme. This includes labs in Years 1 and 2, group projects in Year 3, and your original research dissertation in Year 4.

  • Our teaching facilities include a private psychology library, computer suites and well-equipped teaching rooms. Our research facilities include state-of-the-art labs for cognitive neuroscience, developmental science, human movement, individual differences, and general experimental psychology, supported by a large panel of volunteer research participants and partnerships with local nurseries.

Study abroad

Psychology is all about understanding people. As well a developing logical and methodological skills, studying psychology helps you learn what can drive, inspire, and motivate people.

Stephen Jones 4th year MA (Hons) Psychology
Stephen Jones 4th year MA (Hons) Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, brain, and behaviour. It focuses on building and testing theories to help explain how people interact with each other and the world around them.

Psychologists are interested in the way biological and social factors influence how we behave, and how interests and abilities differ from person to person. They also study how we perceive, think, and learn about the world around us. They examine how we communicate verbally and non-verbally, and how and why our mental abilities change across our lives.

Psychology is an experimental and observational science, in which evidence from research studies is used to develop and evaluate theories. Our programme has a strong emphasis on developing skills in research methods and statistical analysis, to support our research-led teaching.

Applying for MA or BSc

The psychology content of the two programmes is identical. The MA and BSc only differ in the courses taken alongside psychology in Years 1 and 2.

On the MA, you will be able to choose additional courses in your pre-honours years (1 and 2) from a wide range of courses that the University offers. On the BSc programme, you will be required to take some pre-honours courses from the College of Science & Engineering.

Although the BSc typically suits students with a stronger science background, psychology itself is typically studied and practiced as a science, so students applying to the MA or BSc should be prepared for a rigorous, scientific, research-focused approach to the understanding of mind, brain and behaviour.

Year 1

Through lectures and tutorials, you will complete a general introduction to psychology, covering cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, the psychology of memory and perception, individual differences, language and thinking, and social psychology. You will also discover basic concepts in research methods and statistics, and you will have a practical introduction to laboratory-based psychology research.

Year 2

You will continue to study core areas of psychology, along with clinical psychology. You will practise and develop your professional and study skills, such as literature searching, report writing, and ethical awareness. You will also complete a year-long, intensive grounding in research methods and statistics to prepare you for Year 3.

Year 3

You will take an advanced tutorial course to help you critically analyse psychology research papers.

To support your research work, you will complete further specialist courses in research methods. You will choose advanced courses in psychology, expanding upon and combining the core areas required for British Psychological Society accreditation, and complete research work in small groups.

Year 4

Alongside a small-group tutorial course and a major, original research dissertation, you will undertake further advanced psychology courses. These courses are research-led and will allow you to learn about cutting edge topics across the range of psychology sub-disciplines.

Are there additional costs?

There is an optional weekend trip away in Year 3. The student contribution for this is typically £20.

Our facilities

Teaching will take place at the Psychology building at George Square, and at other locations within the University's Central Area. You will have use of the specialised laboratories and the University's library and computer facilities.

Study abroad

In Year 3, there are opportunities to study at a foreign university. You can devise your study abroad with our Year Abroad advisers and with advice from your Personal Tutor and Edinburgh Global.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, practical classes, project work, peer-supported group work, and computer-based exercises.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by various types of coursework and exams. In Year 3 will complete a literature review and group project, and in Year 4 you will complete an independent research project.

Our graduates develop high-level research, statistical, IT and report-writing skills, valued by employers in various sectors.

Many psychology graduates have gone on to work in healthcare and social services, charitable organisations, human resources, management, business and finance, consulting, and media and advertising. Some students continue their studies to enter a research or teaching career, or to train as a professional psychologist in a specific field (such as clinical, educational, forensic, health, or organisational psychology).