Postgraduate study

Psychological Research MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

This programme provides an opportunity for intensive advanced training in psychological research, while giving you flexibility to select courses in the areas of psychology and cognitive neuroscience of most interest to you. In addition to advanced training in general academic skills and statistical modelling, you will gain training in a variety of specific methodologies including, but not limited to brain imaging, neurodisruption, eyetracking, clinical case analysis, psychometric modelling, and discourse analysis.

Building on the research methods training, you will take topical courses in one of the core research areas of our department: social psychology, cognitive neuropsychology, individual differences, psychology of language, and human development.

Your MSc culminates in a research dissertation in a core research area: an original, publication-quality piece of research, undertaken in close collaboration with researchers in the relevant group.

You will take courses on the theoretical and methodological aspects of psychological science, and conduct an original research dissertation in your area of interest. You will also receive thorough training in advanced academic skills and research methods within psychology, including a comprehensive coverage of statistical modelling and research design using the R statistical language.

The programme comprises two semesters of taught core courses, one specialist core course (to be selected from courses offered by the other MSc programmes in the department) and one optional course, followed by a research dissertation conducted in close collaboration with a staff member over the spring and summer months. In addition to topics specific to your area of interest, the core courses cover advanced academic skills and research methodology, including research design and statistical modelling. The optional course can be selected to tailor the programme to your interests. If you wish, you may choose the optional course from an associated area, such as individual differences, informatics, psycholinguistics, and developmental or social psychology.

Core courses

  • Psychological Research Skills - General advanced research methodology; semester 1
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology using R - Introduction to R and statistical models; semester 1
  • Multivariate Statistics and Methodology using R - Advanced statistical modelling; semester 2
  • Qualitative Research Methods - Advanced methods for qualitative research; semester 2

Option courses include:

  • Seminar in Personality
  • Current Approaches in Social Psychology
  • Psychology of Language
  • Specialist Techniques in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Developmental Science
  • Brain Imaging in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Neuroscience of Language
  • Atypical Development
  • Applied Psychological Testing
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Or any other course available to MSc students


The dissertation involves conducting an empirical research project in close collaboration with an expert supervisor, sometimes also working with fellow MSc students. You will produce a written report, similar to an academic journal article; indeed, some dissertations are published as journal articles. The empirical work and writing takes place between April and August. The dissertation can be based on data collected by the student or existing datasets (e.g., from large cohort studies, biobanks or other projects). The dissertation is due in August.

On successful completion of this programme, you will gain:

  • an understanding of advanced topics, methodologies and issues in the areas of psychological science that are of most interest to you
  • an understanding of the basic and advanced principles of research design and application
  • competency in applying a range of methods and research tools, including statistical models and programming
  • skills in research management, including managing data and conducting and disseminating research in ways consistent with both professional practice and the normal principles of research ethics

The programme is primarily designed for students who aspire to pursue a research-oriented career in psychological science. However, the course also teaches a broad range of transferable skills applicable to a wide range of modern jobs, such as research design, data management and processing, statistical modelling and interpretation, as well as the synthesis and communication of complex literature.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

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

We may also consider candidates with a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a non-psychology subject if they can demonstrate evidence of their aptitude for research or research methods.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

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
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

This MSc programme operates a gathered field approach to applications. This means that all complete applications which meet our minimum entry requirements will be held until the nearest deadline at which point the Admissions Panel will meet to consider all applications received at this time.

Gathered field deadlines for this programme are as follows:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 01 December 31 January
2 01 February 31 March
3 01 April 31 May

Applications submitted after the deadline date will unfortunately not be considered.

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

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD