Psychological Research MSc
Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
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 be trained in a variety of specific methodologies, typically including:
- brain imaging
- clinical case analysis
- psychometric modelling
- discourse analysis
Key research areas
Building on the research methods training, you will take topical courses in one or more 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.
Psychology 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 on the theoretical and methodological aspects of psychological science and conduct an original research dissertation in your area of interest.
You will 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.
Is this MSc for me?
This programme teaches you core research methods and specialist techniques, and you can flexibly choose optional courses to customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.
It provides excellent preparation for further psychological research, whether you choose to pursue this in a professional setting or as part of a PhD programme. So whether you want to continue in academic research or move into professional training in psychology, this programme is for you.
Reputation, relevance and employability
The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of research expertise in psychological research. 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 option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.
Our students’ research projects are often published in academic or professional journals.
Our programme has an excellent reputation amongst employers and educators. Many of our graduates have gone onto PhD training and academic careers, or advanced professional training in psychology.
We maintain close contacts with professional organisations such as the 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 you can join in with throughout the year. As a postgraduate student, you will have access to a range of research resources and projects, state of the art facilities, research, seminars and reading groups.
This programme comprises two semesters of taught core and optional courses followed by a dissertation.
The taught courses and their assessments take place between September and December (Semester 1) and January and April (Semester 2). Planning for the dissertation will take place before April, and it is carried out between April and August.
The core courses cover advanced research skills (how to plan for, conduct, publish and communicate research), statistics and qualitative research methods, and provide a grounding in computer programming using the R language.
Semester 1 core courses
- Psychological Research Skills - General advanced research methodology
- Univariate Statistics and Methodology using R - Introduction to R and statistical models
Semester 2 core courses
- Multivariate Statistics and Methodology using R – Advanced statistical modelling
- Qualitative Methodologies in Psychological Research Methods
The optional course can be selected to tailor the programme to your interests. These are normally selected from the core research areas of Psychology, but may also be selected from associated areas such as linguistics or informatics. Examples of optional courses are:
- Brain Imaging in Cognitive Neuroscience
- Clinical Neuropsychology
- Psychology of Language
- Neuroscience of Language
- Applied Psychometrics
- 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 takes place between April and August and it is due in 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).
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 option courses chosen.
After classes finish in April, you will spend all your time working independently on coursework, exam revision and on 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.
Find out more about compulsory and optional courses
We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.
|Programme structure 2023/24
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:
- 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
- transferable skills in written and verbal communication, group and teamwork, computing, programming and numeracy, 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 psychological science. 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 ideas
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.
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 and 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 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.
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.
- 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.
Find out more about our language requirements:
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
- 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
- Dugald Stewart Building
- 3 Charles Street
- Central Campus
- EH8 9AD
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
MSc Psychological Research - 1 Year (Full-time)
MSc Psychological Research - 2 Years (Part-time)
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:
|30 November 2023
|01 February 2024
|04 March 2024
|30 April 2024
|01 May 2024
|26 June 2024
Applications submitted after the deadline date will unfortunately not be considered.
- PPLS Postgraduate Office
- Dugald Stewart Building
- 3 Charles Street
- Central Campus
- EH8 9AD