Postgraduate study

Psychology PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Psychology

The Psychology unit is rapidly establishing itself as a centre of excellence for interdisciplinary research. We host five major research groups:

  • Developmental Science
  • Human Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language, Cognition and Communication
  • Differential Psychology
  • Social Psychology*

We also have strengths in the supervision of projects in history and theory of psychology and visual cognition.

Developmental Science

Research in the Developmental Science group examines how different developmental factors interact across the lifespan, from before birth into adolescence and old age. The group comprises a diverse but well-integrated set of researchers, with expertise in cognitive, social and linguistic development, differential psychology and genetics, and computational modelling.

Human Cognitive Neuroscience

This research group comprises academics with core interests in memory, attention, executive function, visual memory, sensory integration and perceptuo-motor control in both normally functioning adults and people with neurological disorders. The group uses traditional behavioural measures, neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI and ERP, eye-tracking, motion tracking, computational modelling and clinical assessment.

Language, Cognition and Communication

The Language, Cognition and Communication Research Group is internationally recognised for its work on the psychology of language. We have wide expertise in such areas as spoken and written comprehension, production, dialogue, bilingualism, language development, and the cognitive neuroscience of language.

Differential Psychology

The Differential Psychology group examines how thinking, behaviour and feelings differ from person to person, attempting to understand their psychological similarities and how psychological characteristics vary. Research includes the psychometric structure of intelligence; genetic and environmental effects on intelligence differences; associations between intelligence and information processing speed; and brain imaging and intelligence

Social Psychology

The Social Psychology group examines how we think about the self, others, and groups. The research group cover qualitative and quantitative methodologies, spanning processes like identity, relationships, crowds, and inter-group relations. We employ a range of methods such as questionnaires, interviews, social cognitive techniques, observation, and physiological measures.

*(Revised 21 March 2019 to expand information on the Social Psychology research group.)

Psychology postgraduate students typically receive formal research training through assessed courses.

You will be assigned at least two supervisors who provide expert academic guidance on your research. Each student is assigned to a research group, each of which hosts a regular programme of research activities.

Many PhD students will gain undergraduate teaching experience, for which you will be given training and mentoring.

Psychology houses extensive facilities including several eye-trackers, EEG recording equipment, an fMRI simulator, celspot recording equipment and a suite of dedicated computers running experimental software. Students additionally have access to excellent computer and video facilities which service laboratories designed for research with adults, children and infants.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a related subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDPsychology3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDPsychology6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD
Round Application deadline Date for decision
1 25 November 2019 17 January 2020
2 16 March 2020 15 May 2020

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for the PhD Psychology programme - this means that all complete applications which satisfy our minimum entry requirements will be held until the nearest deadline and the admissions panel will meet to consider all applications received together after that date.

First deadline: Monday 25 November 2019. In order to ensure full consideration of your application we ask that you submit your complete application including all supporting documentation by this date. The outcome of applications will be confirmed by mid-January. This is in order to meet the external funding deadlines.

Final deadline: Monday 16 March 2020. The outcome of these applications will be confirmed by mid-May 2020.

You must submit two references with your application.

Research area

It is often a good idea to contact potential supervisors prior to making an application, and we strongly encourage you to do so, and to indicate potential supervisors in your application.

References

You will be asked to add contact details for your referees. We will email them with information on how to upload their reference directly to your online application. Alternatively, they can email their comments to:

Research proposal

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should include a research proposal. Your prospective supervisors, in conjunction with the relevant subject Postgraduate Adviser, will consider your research proposal to assess whether they are able to take you on as a student.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD