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MSc Psychology

Why we're great

  • You’ll be eligible for graduate-basis chartered membership of the British Psychological Society
  • Gain full use of our virtual reality suites, babylab and observation suites
  • We are ranked top 20 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014)

Course options2017-18

MSc Psychology Full-time

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Psychology
Fee (Home/EU): £6,125
Fee (International): £15,950
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719

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About the course

Has your undergraduate degree inspired you to learn more about the way people work?

Our MSc Psychology is an advanced fast-track conversion course for students with an undergraduate degree in a subject other than psychology, or for those whose undergraduate Psychology degree was not accredited by the British Psychological Society.

This course combines the award of a Masters with eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society. The GBC is the minimum academic qualification required to work as a professional psychologist, so passing our course demonstrates that you have studied and acquired an advanced understanding in Masters-level study in psychology. With this qualification you will also be eligible to apply for professional training in any branch of professional psychology.

Our staff have a wide range of research interests, so you gain a critical and detailed understanding of the core areas of psychology, plus some specialisation, and learn research methods to an extent which will enable you to devise, carry out and analyse an empirical research project. Topics studied include:

  • Visual and auditory perception and cognition
  • Language, concepts, memory and attention
  • The relation between brain and behaviour
  • Developmental psychology
  • Social psychology

Our research is challenging and ground-breaking, with 90% rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014), placing us in the top 15 in the UK. We are supported by some of the most prestigious funding bodies, including the European Commission and the Leverhulme Trust.

We are a warm and friendly Department, and we wish to welcome both graduates who have recently completed their studies, and mature students who may wish to upgrade their qualifications, refresh their CV, or return to academic study after a period of time away from education.

Our expert staff

Our academic staff include award-winning teachers and prize-winning researchers who are international experts in their own research areas.

The Cognitive and Developmental Psychology Group are researching attention, language, decision-making, and memory. Recent projects have investigated the psychology of energy reduction, the enhancement of human memory through technology, and improvements in the usability and design of transport maps.

The Social and Health Psychology Group work on motivations, needs, intercultural contact, and sexual attraction. Recent projects include the impacts of living and studying abroad, and how personal relative deprivation is linked to problem gambling.

The Cognitive and Sensory Neuroscience Group research brain function and human behaviour. Recently they have been working on projects on the neural processes underlying language production, how motivations are communicated through tone of voice, and how the brain performs 3D vision. They previously developed the BioAid mobile phone app that turns an iPhone into a biologically inspired hearing aid.

Our department is expanding, and has recently appointed a number of excellent researchers whose expertise increases the diversity and depth of our skills base.

Specialist facilities

We are committed to giving you the best access to state-of-the-art facilities in higher education, housed entirely within our purpose-built psychology building on our Colchester Campus:

  • Dedicated laboratories including a virtual reality suite and an observation suite
  • Specialist areas for experimental psychology, visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology
  • Study the development of perceptual and cognitive abilities in infants in our Babylab
  • Our multimillion pound Centre for Brain Science (CBS) contains specialist laboratories, office space for research students, and research rooms and social spaces which foster opportunities for innovation, training, and collaboration

Your future

With the skills and knowledge you acquire from studying within our Department of Psychology, you will find yourself in demand from a wide range of employers.

Recent graduates of MSc Psychology have found employment as a research assistant at the Anna Freud Centre, a clinical psychologist for the NHS, a child psychologist for Children First and a lecturer at the University of Surrey. Other graduates have been employed in clinical psychology, educational psychology, criminal and forensic psychology.

We also have excellent links with the research community; we are recognised by the ESRC as providing excellent postgraduate training and are an accredited Doctoral Training Centre, offering several studentships.

Our recent PhD students have taken up post-doctoral positions in other top UK universities and international universities (in the US, Italy and Australia), as well as being appointed to lectureships.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

The brain is an extremely complex organ, and there is much that we still have to learn about its processes and functions. This module will detail the psychological mechanisms that underlie human behaviour and highlight the possibility that even our deepest thoughts and feelings arise from electrical and chemical activity in our brains.

An in-depth look into cognitive, trait and biological theories and approaches to personality, individual differences and intelligence. This module will also give you the opportunity to cover and debate contemporary topics in individual intelligence (such as how individual differences explain behaviours, feelings and thinking).

This year long module will take you from basic level statistics right through to the advanced level required to gain your British Psychological Society graduate membership. It will also teach you key aspects of experimental design and develop your report writing skills.

Your chance to build on the knowledge gained in Cognitive Psychology 1. This module will go further in-depth into key areas of cognitive psychology including the method, theory and data behind the processes of visual and auditory perception and visual cognition.

Your chance to build on the knowledge gained in Cognitive Psychology 1. This module will go further in-depth into key areas of cognitive psychology including the method, theory and data behind the processes of language, mental representation, memory, and attention.

By studying a range of theory and research surrounding human thinking and behaviour in a social world you will develop a clear understanding of the topics social psychologists are interested in and how they approach their study. You will also discover how theory and research in social psychology might help us to understand current issues in society.

Explore classical and contemporary themes of child development such as prenatal and perceptual development, early language acquisition, and cognitive and social development, whilst examining the research methods and designs employed in Developmental Psychology.

In this module you complete a research dissertation with a maximum of 10,000 words, written up as a report. You have a lot of flexibility as there are a wide variety of topics that you can choose to research. You report on the results of an original psychological research study carried out under the supervision of a staff member. A good research report will look like a psychology study reported in a peer-reviewed journal (such as Cognitive Neuropsychology, or Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology).

This module is your chance to investigate the main research areas and methods used in investigating how the brain works. It asks difficult questions such as how mental processes like perception, memory, language and emotion are implemented within the brain and will provide a solid background in brain structure at a molecular and cellular level.

Be inspired by the current research of the academics in your department, and examine major contemporary topics in individual differences and developmental psychology. In doing so, you’ll gain an insight into the major unresolved questions and controversies in the field, as well as the opportunity to engage critically and scientifically with relevant theory and research, in preparation for the research project module.

Examine how neurologically acquired disturbances of the processing of words can be interpreted within (and also inform) theories of ‘normal’ cognitive processing, and be introduced to the approaches, methods, and assumptions of cognitive neuropsychology. You will focus on spelling and writing, spoken word production, aspects of auditory word processing, and aspects of word and object comprehension. On completing the module, you’ll have acquired a critical understanding of the assumptions and methodology of cognitive neuropsychology, the contrasts between different types of disorders, and will be able to interpret acquired impairments in terms of cognitive models of normal lexical processing.

Examine at an advanced level, the in-depth understanding of theoretically influential papers within a chosen specialised area of psychology. You will develop a critical awareness of advanced theoretical ideas in relation to a background of empirical knowledge, as well as refining your written articulation and critiquing skills.

Be inspired by the current research of the academics in your department, and examine major contemporary topics in individual differences and developmental psychology. In doing so, you’ll gain an insight into the major unresolved questions and controversies in the field, as well as the opportunity to engage critically and scientifically with relevant theory and research, in preparation for the research project module.

An advanced survey of major topics in contemporary experimental social psychology. Provide critical analysis of the relevant theory and research including: motivation, emotion, self and identity, intergroup bias, automaticity, existential psychology, social justice, evolutionary psychology and health.


  • Your modules are taught through lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials, seminars, fieldwork, independent reading and research projects
  • We host a very active programme of research seminars


  • Full-year modules are most often examined using a three-hour examination, and half-year modules by a two-hour examination


  • An original psychological study carried out under the supervision of a staff member
  • Maximum of 10,000 words, written up as a research report

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UK entry requirements

You need a first, upper second or high lower second class honour degree, or equivalent

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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