Postgraduate Course

MSc Psychology

MSc Psychology


The details
January 2025
1 year
Colchester Campus

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

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. Students may also take the course as an end in itself if they wish to obtain a Psychology degree in one year.

Further study in our Department of Psychology gives you the freedom and the facilities to study, experiment, explore and research why we think, feel and act the way we do. You will learn from and work alongside internationally recognised experts, on a range of psychological topics including social psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, brain and behaviour, personality and individual differences, and psychology of health. You will also gain a thorough education in psychological research methods and statistics.

Our mission is to foster an “Understanding of our place in the World” and the multi-method research approach that our staff take is of particular value to this mission and to those who study with us. During your journey, you will learn about the relevance of core psychology areas including how we think about the world, how we interact with the world, and how we experience the world. But you will also advance your skill set on how to devise, carry out and analyse an empirical research project.

This course combines the award of a Masters with eligibility for graduates to apply for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society. 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.

We are a warm and friendly Department with staff and students from many different backgrounds. We are proud of the multicultural mosaic that makes up our community. Our staff and students come from over 40 countries around the World, bringing their own unique perspectives and experiences which enrich our teaching, learning, and research. Understanding Our Place In The World starts with us!

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. We are committed to diversity, inclusion, representation, and providing students with a curriculum that reflects the complexity of human behaviour world-wide.

You can start this course in either October or January.

Professional accreditation

Accredited against the requirements for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

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 17th in UK for research power in psychology (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

Our expert staff

The Department of Psychology at Essex supports world-leading, interdisciplinary research that promotes a better Understanding of Our Place in the World. This organisation of our research mission allows us to unite and synthesise knowledge across core psychology disciplines and beyond. To contribute to our mission, staff work across three research themes that dismantle conventional, disciplinary boundaries and that match our broad research strengths: Thinking about the World, Interacting with the World, and Experiencing the World. This unique approach benefits from the use of multi-methodological approaches, while nurturing the translation of our research findings into practical tools that benefit society.

Our academic staff include award-winning teachers and prize-winning researchers who are international experts in their own research areas. We are 17th in UK for research power in psychology (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

Research from staff who work on the Thinking about the World theme focuses on the psychological underpinnings of individual and group motivated behaviour and reasoning. It brings together researchers applying different methodologies to study how people make decisions, remember, and feel and act; this is studied in the political arena and in health and disease. Staff have strong skills in experimental behavioural, electrophysiological and neuromodulatory techniques.

Research around the theme Interacting with the World contributes to our understanding on how we perceive and present ourselves in relation to others and how this affects our behaviour and well-being. Staff study individual and group processes that are fundamental to social relations and that address questions around social wellness, sexual and interpersonal relationships and their links to identity and meaning of life, justice and trust. They also focus on education, language and cross-cultural processes and their interaction. Theme members use multiple methodologies including self-report, behavioural observations, and (electro-)physiological measures, to provide a wide-ranging look into the psychological processes underlying society's pressing issues and that guide our most important social interactions.

Experiencing the World theme members aim to unravel the physiological and neural underpinnings of how we experience and perceive our body states, how we see and how we control our actions. Staff further answer questions on how our perceptions and experiences change as we age. Infant and children work is conducted in the Essex Baby lab, the leading infant lab in the east of England. Staff use a variety of techniques including EEG, fNIRS, fMRI, TMS/tDCS, physiological and behavioural measures.

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.

After further study and training, 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 trained as clinical psychologists, or work in educational psychology or criminal and forensic psychology.

Many of our students also choose to continue with further studies. Following this course, students can qualify for our special Masters courses in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology, or in Research Methods in Psychology. Students may also choose to further pursue a Masters by Dissertation (MSD), which provides a 1-year opportunity to pursue an independent research project without additional taught modules.

We also have excellent links with the research community for those interested in careers in research and teaching in a higher-education context. We are recognised by the ESRC as providing excellent postgraduate training and are an accredited Doctoral Training Centre, offering competitive studentships. Our PhD students have taken up post-doctoral positions in other top UK universities and international universities (e.g., US, Italy and Australia), as well as being appointed to lectureships across the UK.

"My multidisciplinary experiences from studying psychology at Essex and work experience in the industry have strengthened my curiosity in tracing the field of visuospatial cognition. I've also benefitted from a Vice-Chancellor's Global Talent Scholarship which has meant so much more to me than just financial support. It's represented acknowledgment, opportunity, and a belief in the value of investing in my efforts and aspirations."

Asuka Onishi, MSc Psychology

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree, or equivalent in any subject.

This course is not suitable for applicants who already hold a British Psychological Society Accredited degree.

If you already hold a BSc/BA Psychology and are not seeking BPS accreditation we advise you consider the MSc Cognitive Neuroscience & Neuropsychology or MSc Research Methods in Psychology .

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum score of 5.5 in all components.

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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Advanced Brain and Behaviour

Students will gain a wide understanding of the relationship between the human brain (and other physiological mechanisms) and behaviour. The brain is an extremely complex organ, and many areas of interest to psychologists are as yet, beyond the reductionist approach adopted here. However, the module is designed to establish the possibility that most behaviours, even our deepest thoughts and feelings, arise from a combination of electrical and chemical interactions in the central nervous system.

View Advanced Brain and Behaviour on our Module Directory


Advanced Cognitive Psychology

This module explores the basic cognitive processes involved in thinking about the world, interacting with the world, and experiencing the world. Often as users of these processes they just work and the complexity of the underlying operations are hidden; a kind of "user illusion". You will learn about the emerging scientific picture of how these basic processes operate, thereby gaining a better appreciation of the underlying complexity, and a renewed appreciation of the brilliance of these operations. The module will consider examples of human talents; such as bilingualism, as well as human limitations, such as our working memory capacities. The module will cover core areas of cognition as defined by the British Psychological Society such as perception, mental imagery, attention, memory, language, and consciousness. These will be discussed both with reference to laboratory-based experiments, and also how these processes may be disrupted and may breakdown in various conditions, such as dyslexia, amnesia, and other neuropsychological conditions. Finally, the lectures will address how basic cognitive processes apply to complex real-world behaviours.

View Advanced Cognitive Psychology on our Module Directory


Advanced Personality and Individual Differences

This module gives students a detailed review of personality, intelligence and individual differences. It provides a parsimonious account of theories and approaches to personality and individual differences. Several areas of Psychology will be covered, including cognitive, trait theories and biological.

View Advanced Personality and Individual Differences on our Module Directory


Statistics in Psychology

This module will give you the background necessary to analyse and understand quantitative data, identifying and implementing appropriate statistical tests and interpreting outcomes. It will provide you with the skills needed for your final research project and knowledge about statistical analyses will be covered to the level required for British Psychological Society graduate membership.

View Statistics in Psychology on our Module Directory


MSc Psychology Research Project

This research dissertation is an empirical investigation which is written up with a 10,000 word-limit. The project provides students with an opportunity to apply the statistical and research skills learnt, in an original piece of research. The topic will be chosen from a selection offered by members of staff in the department.

View MSc Psychology Research Project on our Module Directory


Research Methods in Psychology

This module will teach the background necessary to design, implement and report basic psychology research in order to test hypotheses and answer questions about human mind and behaviour. You will learn about a variety of techniques for studying behaviour within psychology. You will learn how to find, read and evaluate scientific research reports and to write your own.

View Research Methods in Psychology on our Module Directory


Advanced Psychology of Health

This module combines the areas of medical and health psychology to explore the biological, psychological and social processes implicated in the development of ill health. We will address questions such as: What psychological processes are involved in modifying behaviours associated with health? How does disadvantage feed into negative health outcomes? Does living in line with our values improve well-being? How do people recognise symptoms in themselves and attribute them to illness? What is the link between early experience and brain development and parents' health-related behaviours? Questions will be addressed from different perspectives and will provide a comprehensive overview of how individuals think about health, how they experience health, and the role that social interactions play in this process.

View Advanced Psychology of Health on our Module Directory


Advanced Developmental Psychology

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.

View Advanced Developmental Psychology on our Module Directory


Advanced Social Psychology

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.

View Advanced Social Psychology on our Module Directory


MSc Psychology Research Project

This research dissertation is an empirical investigation which is written up with a 10,000 word-limit. The project provides students with an opportunity to apply the statistical and research skills learnt, in an original piece of research. The topic will be chosen from a selection offered by members of staff in the department.

View MSc Psychology Research Project on our Module Directory


  • Your modules are taught through lectures, seminars, practical classes and private study (approx. 12 - 16 hours per week during the autumn and spring term).
  • A typical timetable for postgraduate taught students in the Department of Psychology involves a two-hour lecture for each module per week. Some modules will involve additional computer labs (normally 1 hour per week), while others will include seminars (normally 2-3 per term).
  • Most taught modules will include joint lectures with undergraduate students with additional postgraduate level seminars.
  • The course requires private study.
  • 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. All elements are required and applicants with a non-science background should be aware of the requirement to pass statistics.
  • Submission of coursework, coursework tests and examinations (you will be required to submit approximately 15 pieces of coursework during the year).
  • Your final research project will be completed during the summer and submitted in mid-September.


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

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold 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.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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