Postgraduate study

Developmental Science MSc, Diploma, Certificate

Awards: MSc, Diploma, Certificate

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Developmental Science

This programme provides an opportunity for intensive advanced training in Developmental Science. In this taught programme you will learn how key topics in Developmental Science can be addressed using research techniques from several inter-related disciplines such as:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Computational Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Linguistics

This programme aims to enhance your understanding of key theoretical and practical issues about typical and atypical development in children and young people, from a developmental science perspective. It also aims to equip you with the skills required to conduct independent scientific research that addresses key issues in developmental science.

You will take courses on the theoretical and methodological aspects of developmental science and conduct an original research dissertation in one of these areas. 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 University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of research expertise in developmental psychology. This programme brings together experts on cognitive, social and affective development focusing on both typical and atypical development in children and young people. You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, having the opportunity to select option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

The programme comprises two semesters of taught core courses and an 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 developmental science, 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)
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology using R (introduction to R and statistical models)
  • Multivariate Statistics and Methodology using R (advanced statistical modelling)
  • Development 1 (20 credits)
  • Development 2 (20 credits)

Option course may include

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


The dissertation involves conducting an empirical research project in close collaboration with a staff member, sometimes also working with other graduate students. Each student produces a written report, similar to an academic journal article; indeed, some dissertations are published as journal articles. The dissertation can be based on data collected by you or existing datasets (e.g., from large cohort studies, biobanks or other projects).

The empirical work and writing take place between April and August and will be due in August.

For students with a strong interest in clinical populations, there may be opportunities to join ongoing clinical research projects, subject to certain constraints (e.g. Application for NHS Research Passport).

(*Revised 13 January 2022 to update information on compulsory courses.)

On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained:

  • an understanding of advanced topics, methodologies and issues in the areas of developmental 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 developmental 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, either in psychology or in a cognitive-science related discipline.

You should also be able to demonstrate evidence of your ability to learn advanced statistical/computational analysis techniques as well as evidence of your experience/interest in conducting research with children as participants.

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, 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
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

Applications are held for processing over three deadlines:

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

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for MSc Developmental Science. This means that all complete applications that 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. To be considered as having met the deadline, your application must include transcripts and an academic reference.

Applications will not be accepted after the final deadline.

Applications must be complete with all supporting documentation to be passed on for consideration, this includes references. Please ensure that you inform referees of any deadline you wish to meet.

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

Further information

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