Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Psychology of Language MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

This unique programme offers an opportunity for intensive advanced training in the psychology of language focusing on the mental representations and processes that underlie human language use.

Key research areas

Building on the research methods training, you will take topical courses related to the core research areas of our department including theoretical and methodological aspects of the psychology of language.

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.

The teaching and supervision are conducted by internationally recognised researchers from our Language, Cognition & Communication Research Group, one of the largest collections of natural language researchers in Europe, with links to computer scientists, neuroscientists, linguists, and philosophers.

The group’s expertise covers the broad scope of psycholinguistics, with connections to other areas of social and cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Members use a wide range of experimental, observational, computational, and neuroscience methods.

Psychology at Edinburgh is rated 3rd in the UK by Times Higher Education for the quality and breadth of the research using the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).

What will I learn?

You will take courses concerned with core areas of the psychology of language and conduct an original research dissertation in this area. You will also take an additional psychology course, chosen from a range of options.

You will receive thorough training in advanced academic skills and research methods related to the psychology of language. This includes comprehensive coverage of statistical modelling and research design using the R statistical language.

Is this MSc for me?

This programme provides an understanding of advanced topics, methodologies and issues in the psychology of language, as well as research design and management, and you can flexibly choose an optional course to customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.

It provides an excellent preparation for further research and knowledge of the psychology of language, whether you choose to pursue it in further research or use it for another professional career.

Reputation, relevance and employability

The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of research expertise in psychology. Our large Psychology department is home to academics leading research in the field.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, having the opportunity to select an option course and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Our students’ research projects are often published in academic or professional journals.

This programme has an excellent reputation amongst employers and across other universities. Many of our graduates have gone onto PhD training and academic careers as well as professional careers.

We maintain close contact with professional organisations such as British Psychological Society (BPS).

Find out more about our community

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is home to a large, supportive and active student community, hosting events and activities throughout the year which you can join. As a postgraduate student you will have access to a range of research resources, state-of-the-art facilities, research seminars and reading groups.

This programme contains two semesters of taught core courses and optional courses, followed by a dissertation.

The taught courses and their assessments take place between September and December (Semester 1) and between January and April (Semester 2). Planning for the dissertation will take place before April and it is carried out between April and August.

Core courses

The core courses include topics specific to the psychology of language, and cover advanced academic skills and research methodology, including research design and statistical modelling. The core courses are:

  • 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
  • Psychology of Language 1 (semester 1)
  • Psychology of Language 2 (semester 2)

Optional courses

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. Note that the Neuroscience of Language course is the one that is most closely related to the Psychology of Language.

Examples of optional courses are:

  • Brain Imaging in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Neuroscience of Language
  • Applied Psychometrics
  • Qualitative Methodologies in Psychological Research
  • any other course open to MSc students subject to approval from the programme director


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.

You should liaise with potential supervisors and determine your choice of topic in the months before April. It is useful to start thinking about dissertation topics and supervisors early if possible. The empirical work and writing take place between April and August and it is due in August.

The dissertation is typically based on data collected by the student, but it can make use of existing datasets.

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught through lectures, and some include seminars/tutorials and practical sessions. The number of contact hours and the teaching format will depend to some extent on the courses.

After classes finish in April, you will spend all your time working independently on coursework, exam revision and your dissertation. When you carry out your supervised dissertation research, you will receive guidance from your supervisor through one-to-one meetings, comments on written work and email communication.

This programme provides you with a range of knowledge and skills to prepare you for a variety of career paths. On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained:

  • specialist knowledge of the mechanisms of human language processing, from perceptual and articulatory aspects of speech processing to discourse processing and dialogue
  • training in research methods relevant for psycholinguistic research
  • an understanding of 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
  • transferable skills in written and verbal communication, group and teamwork, computing, programming and numeracy, and time and project management
  • the ability to work as an independent researcher and as part of a team

The programme is primarily designed for students who aspire to pursue a research-oriented career in the psychology of language. However, students interested in careers outside research will obtain a broad range of highly desirable transferable skills applicable to a wide range of modern jobs, such as:

  • research design
  • data science
  • data management and processing
  • critical evaluation and synthesis of scientific literature
  • statistical modelling and interpretation
  • synthesis and communication of complex literature

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

Your application and personal statement allow us to make sure that you and your chosen MSc are good matches for each other, and that you will have a productive and successful year at Edinburgh.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. You should avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred. If you plan to apply to more than one programme, you should discuss your choices with us before you submit your application.

Personal statements

When applying you should include a personal statement detailing your academic abilities and your reasons for applying for the programme.

The personal statement helps us decide whether you are right for the MSc programme you have selected, but just as importantly, it helps us decide whether the MSc programme is right for you.

Your personal statement should include:

  • what makes this particular MSc programme interesting for you?
  • what are the most important things you want to gain from the MSc programme?
  • the key courses you have taken that are relevant for this specific programme
  • your experience with collecting empirical data (e.g., preparing and carrying out experiments, surveys or interviews)?
  • your experience with statistical analysis and programming or qualitative research methods
  • your experience with writing empirical research reports (including any that have been published)
  • any other information which you feel will help us ensure that you are a good match to your intended MSc programme.

A good personal statement can make a big difference to the admissions process as it may be the only opportunity to explain why you are an ideal candidate for the programme.


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:

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

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.

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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

There are a number of highly competitive scholarships and funding options available to MSc students.

Deadlines for funding applications vary for each funding source - please make sure to check the specific deadlines for the funding opportunities you wish to apply for and make sure that you submit your application in good time.

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

Applications are held for processing over three deadlines:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 30 November 2023 01 February 2024
2 04 March 2024 30 April 2024
3 01 May 2024 26 June 2024

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for MSc Psychology of Language. 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 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.

Please read through the ‘Important application information’ section on this page before applying.

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