Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Psychology

PhD Psychology

Overview

The details
Psychology
October 2021
Full-time
5 years
Colchester Campus
Psychology

An Integrated PhD provides a route into research study if you do not have a Masters degree, or have very little research training. It enables you to spend your first year completing a full-time Masters-level qualification, followed by a full-time PhD studied over 3-4 years or a part-time PhD studied over 6-7 years. We also offer a ‘standard’ PhD in this subject which can be studied either full-time (3-4 years) or part-time (6-7 years).

In your first year on our Integrated PhD Psychology, you will develop your awareness of psychological science in relation to its philosophical and biological contexts, and in relation to research in the natural and social sciences. In addition to this research-focused training, you also study advanced topics in psychology that will extend your theoretical knowledge. Your first year gives you advanced research training which provides you with an excellent preparation to start the PhD element of this course.

In your second year you move into the PhD element of the course where research supervision is available in the fields of cognitive psychology, sensory and cognitive neuroscience, and social psychology. You study in a stimulating and vibrant research environment, and we provide excellent research facilities. In general, our PhD students enjoy the same access to neuroscience and other research equipment as our academic staff, and access to our research participant pool, which is essential for your experimental research. You also benefit from the supportive supervision given by our staff, and the friendly and collegiate atmosphere provided by fellow students. This ensures that we have an exemplary record in supporting our PhD students to produce a high quality thesis.

Our University is one of just 21 ESRC Doctoral Training Centres, enabling us to offer studentships to psychology students intending to pursue a research degree. We are supported by some of the most prestigious funding bodies, including the European Commission and the Leverhulme Trust.

Why we're great.
  • We are ranked 25th in the UK for research quality (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019).
  • We provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology, with our Hearing Research Laboratory and our Visual Perception Unit.
  • We also have our Centre for Brain Sciences (CBS), a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource for psychology and neuroscience, with specialised laboratories for investigating brain activity.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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.

After your first year, when you start your PhD, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.

The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.

Twice a year, you will have a supervisory panel meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.

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.

We provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for your study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology.

We also have our Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource with specialised laboratories for investigating behaviour and brain activity including: two eye tracking labs for recording eye movements, four electroencephalography (EEG) labs for recording cortical oscillatory activity, event-related potentials (ERP) and functional connectivity; two near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) labs for measuring changes in blood oxygenation levels; four neuromodulation labs including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), repetitive TMS (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and neuro-navigation facilities.

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.

Our 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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in any subject.

Our four year integrated PhD, allows you to spend your first year studying at Masters level in order to develop the necessary knowledge and skills and to start your independent research in year two.

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 select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

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

Structure

Example structure

Most of our taught courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

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.

The research element of your degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Research Management

Knowing how to manage your research effectively will be invaluable when producing quality work throughout your course. This module will teach you how to critically review existing literature, communicate effectively to a scientific audience and take into account ethical issues. You’ll then have the opportunity to put this into practice, preparing your own presentations and research proposal

View Research Management on our Module Directory

Fundamental Statistics for Research

This module provides you with a detailed overview of the most common statistical tests used by postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in psychology.

View Fundamental Statistics for Research on our Module Directory

Advanced Statistics for Research

This module provides you with a detailed overview of the most common statistical tests used by postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in psychology. The module will build upon the module 'Statistics I' and will provide opportunities to specialise in advanced concepts and statistical techniques, including mixed effects modeling (aka multilevel modeling), factor analysis, bootstrapping and Bayesian statistics.

View Advanced Statistics for Research on our Module Directory

Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis

What are the different approaches to qualitative data analysis? And when should qualitative interviews be used? Learn about the qualitative research process, including design, selection of interview subjects and analysis, so that you are equipped to tackle your own qualitative research in the future.

View Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis on our Module Directory

Psychology - Research

This module is for PhD students who are completing the research portions of their theses.

View Psychology - Research on our Module Directory

Research Project (MSc)

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).

View Research Project (MSc) on our Module Directory

Special Topics in Social Psychology (optional)

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.

View Special Topics in Social Psychology (optional) on our Module Directory

Special Topics in Individual Differences and Developmental Psychology (optional)

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.

View Special Topics in Individual Differences and Developmental Psychology (optional) on our Module Directory

Research Methods & Statistics in Cognitive Neuropsychology & Neuroscience (optional)

Research in cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neuropsychology employs a diverse range of analytical tools and procedures. This module provides specialist Masters students with the training necessary to critically evaluate the analyses presented in published research. Additionally, you will be trained to apply numerical techniques to neuropsychological and psychophysiological data and to interpret the output of popular analysis software.

View Research Methods & Statistics in Cognitive Neuropsychology & Neuroscience (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

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

Assessment

Your full-year taught modules are most often examined using a three-hour examination, and half-year taught modules by a two-hour examination.

The award of a PhD signifies an original and substantial contribution to knowledge that means you can be considered an expert in your field. The majority of your learning during the PhD element of this course comes from ‘hands on’ experience of designing, conducting and analysing your original research, as well as from the demanding process of writing and submitting a PhD. To help in this process, you attend several taught courses in the first year of the PhD element of this course and all our research students are required to undertake postgraduate research training modules as part of their studies.

At the end of your first and second years of the PhD element of this course you will prepare a 10,000 word document that contains a review of relevant literature and summarises findings from your empirical work conducted in that year. You will also take part in a Postgraduate Research conference in which you make an oral presentation of this work to the Department of Psychology. The submission of the 10,000 word document in particular helps you prepare for the writing of your thesis.

Dissertation

Students within our Department of Psychology submit a dissertation of up to 80,000 words for their PhD. We take pride in our completion record with our PhD students. We achieve this, in part, by ensuring from the outset that you follow a clear path to ensure completion across the three years of the PhD element of this course – with specific appropriate milestones at the end of your first and second years.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£5,360

International fee

£18,800

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

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, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • 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 tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Applying

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 encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four 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.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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.

Exhibitions

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.

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 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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