Department of Psychology

Masters study

A student looking across at a person mostly out of shot, just to the left of the photographer.

Explore your intellectual passion

Take a deep dive into the science of human thought, feelings, and behaviour by embarking on a Masters degree in the Department of Psychology.

You’ll be part of a truly diverse scientific community, where different levels of experience and expertise are brought together by shared passions to inform real-word change and impact.

Our research spans three overlapping areas - Thinking about the world, Interacting with the world, and Experiencing the world (T-I-E) - that feed into our overarching mission of tie-ing it all together to better Understand our Place in the World.

We take a research-led approach to teaching, giving students insight into cutting-edge advances in psychological research with these three themes feeding in to our modules. Throughout your degree, you will be able to study wide ranging topics including: memory and attention, emotional behaviour, human development across the lifespan, the social influences on our actions and the impact of culture on individual and group behaviour.

A Masters degree is an excellent way to enhance the skills and knowledge you developed during your undergraduate studies and prepare you for diverse career paths. We have Masters degrees suitable for students with BPS-accredited undergraduate degrees in psychology, and those with little to no background in the subject. Whichever degree you choose, you’ll receive research-led teaching from internationally renowned experts with access to our state-of-the-art facilities.

If you’re planning on working towards Chartered Psychologist status then our BPS-accredited postgraduate degree will be the ideal next step for you, giving you the grounding in research methods and statistics often needed for vocational psychology roles.

However, a professional psychology career is just one of many paths that postgraduate psychology can equip you for. Many of our graduates go on to careers in management, human resources, education, policy, data analytics, and research degrees. Our specialist postgraduate degrees will help prepare you for a vibrant future in these fields and more.


Explore our Masters courses
Why choose us?
  • You will develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in many different exciting career paths. We offer three different programmes tailored to support everyone from those who have no background in psychology to those looking to become specialist experts.
  • You will be at the forefront of cutting-edge advances in psychological science. Our teaching is research-led so you’ll be learning from internationally renowned experts about the latest advances in psychology and the impact their research has on theory, practice and real-world change.
  • You will get hands-on practical experience that will bring lectures to life. We have an outstanding range of specialist labs and facilities including online experiments and cutting-edge equipment housed in our Centre for Brain Sciences, as well as a research experience scheme that gives you a front-row seat to what goes on behind the research scene.
Essex graduate Carolyn White, with pink hair and glasses, standing outside with a window, blue sky and clouds in the background.
"I really loved the neuropsychology and cognitive psychology modules because they show how the brains processing directly affects our behaviour in ways you really don't even think of. After graduating I used the alumni benefits of the Employability and Careers Centre to help hone my CV skills for applying to PhD studentships. I was ultimately awarded a PhD ICASE studentship at University of Salford, funded by the BBC. I am researching practical ways to help the employability and work lives of the neurodiverse (those with Autism ADHD, Dyslexia and other related conditions)."
Carolyn White MSc Psychology

What can we offer you?

Conversion course

Our MSc Psychology degree is for candidates who have an undergraduate degree in a non-psychology subject, or who hold an undergraduate psychology degree not accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

A one-year conversion degree is an intensive course designed to bring you up to speed with the knowledge and skills needed to flourish in a professional psychology career, including research methods and advanced statistics.

Holding a BPS-accredited degree is also an essential step in the path to many professional psychological careers, such as becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

Specialist psychology courses

If you already have a BPS-accredited undergraduate psychology degree then you will be able to apply for our specialist Masters degrees; MSc Research Methods in Psychology, or MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology.

An advanced psychology degree is the ideal next step towards chartered status, which is essential for specialist roles such as forensic or educational psychology. The additional experience and skills gained from completing a Masters course will better equip you to compete for a place on doctorate programmes or in the job market more generally.

A professional psychology career is just one of many paths that postgraduate psychology can equip you for. Many of our graduates go on to careers in management, human resources, education, policy, data analytics, and of course research degrees.

Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD)

A Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD) is a one-year research degree for students looking to develop their research skills without taking taught modules. With supervision from one of our academic staff you will carry out an independent research project which you will write up as a 30,000 word dissertation and defend in an oral exam called a viva.

If you’re thinking of applying for a PhD then an MSD is an ideal stepping stone. It can help you identify the area of research you wish to specialise in and help improve your research skills. Successful MSDs can be extended into the first year of a PhD in our department in some cases.

Read more about our MSD


As one of our Masters students on any of our courses, you will be able to explore the latest methodological techniques that psychological scientists use to conduct research.

Our range of specialist facilities and labs are primarily housed in our award-winning Centre for Brain Science and include a virtual reality suite, two psychoacoustic hearing labs, cognitive and visual perception labs, EEG, fNIRS, eye-tracking, equipment to measure human physiology, and the latest methods to collect psychological data in an online world.

Take our virtual 360 degree tour

Hands-on practical experience

We provide one of the most immersive and exciting opportunities to study psychology through collaborating with our researchers. Our Research Experience Scheme (RES) is designed to help you become more familiar with the process of academic research by working one-on-one with a psychologist as their research assistant.

Throughout the year, academics advertise for undergraduate and Masters students to get hands-on with a research project, whether it’s helping plan experiments, recruiting and testing participants, or analysing data.

You will gain a deeper insight into how real-world research is conducted from initial ideas and the details of carrying out research, to the conclusions that you might be able to draw about human experience. The research scheme might inspire your Masters project, and help you decide whether to pursue research as a future career.

And even if you know research isn’t for you, then it will help build your experience, skills, and confidence in project management and collaborative working. Your supervisor will also be ideally placed to provide you with a personalised reference when applying for jobs.

Optional modules

Our degrees have a set of “core” modules which are carefully curated to give you the necessary grounding in advanced psychological research and theory.

The MSc Research Methods in Psychology and MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology also allow you to tailor your studies to suit areas of personal interest with our optional modules.

The optional modules we offer can change each year but have included “critical literature review”, “special topics in social psychology”, “research management”, “special topics in individual differences and developmental psych”, “research methods & statistics in cognitive neuropsychology and neuroscience”, “neurocognition of language”, and “advanced statistics for research”.

Skills development

A Masters degree will enhance and advance the skills and knowledge you need to flourish on your future career path. This is true if you’re interested in continuing to a PhD, want to specialise in practicing psychology in a specific context (e.g., educational, forensic, business), or simply want a rounded degree that will provide you with core transferable skills that you can demonstrate on your CV and in interviews.

The specialist skills that you can develop during a Masters degree with us include:

  • Experimental design and data collection
  • Critical (scientific) thinking, reasoning and argument
  • Imaging and programming
  • Quantitative and qualitative research skills

In addition to scientific skills a Masters degree with us will advance numerous transferable skills such as:

  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Data analysis and presentation
  • Collaboration
  • Independent and team working

Leading research

Our research spans three overlapping themes: Thinking about the world, Interacting with the world, and Experiencing the world. These themes "tie" together to improve our understanding of the world and the people within it.

We are a vibrant research community with many overlapping interests and areas of expertise. We examine a variety of area of human behaviour and life, such as risk, judgement and decision making; relationships, sex and attraction; and action understanding, covering all stages of human life from birth and baby development through to healthy ageing and death. Our research is often interdisciplinary and we run collaborative projects with numerous departments at the University and with community partners such as Essex County Council.

Our academics are experts in their specialist areas of research. Along with teaching, they publish in high-impact journals, present their research at conferences, and supervise and mentor the next generation of psychologists. We are 23rd in UK for psychology research (Grade Point Average, REF 2021), and at the 2022 Celebrating Excellence in Research and Impact Awards, Dr Jordi Asher received an award for Best Research Impact by an Early Career Researcher, Dr Miroslav Sirota was Research Visibility Champion for the Faculty of Science and Health, and Dr Nikhila Mahadevan received The Conversation Award for her article on narcissists.

Our research feeds into our teaching and influences the modules we offer for our Masters degrees. This means that what you discover in your degree is informed by research: you’ll be taught by the very people who are at the forefront of the latest discoveries and innovations in psychological science.

Dr Veronica Lamarche
"By mastering how people think about, interact with, and experience the world around them, the study of human psychology lies at the foundation of nearly all successful careers. Our MSc programmes prepare students for the global marketplace by 'tie'-ing together cutting-edge research underlying human thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and arming them with unique and competitive skills to better understand the world and the people who shape it."
Dr Veronica Lamarche Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate (Taught) Director

Our research

A close up of a microphone with a blurred crowded room in the background.
Understanding Our Place In The World: The Essex Psychology Podcast Series

This podcast series from the Department of Psychology brings together experts in the department to discuss how psychology research gives insight into a range of issues, from maintaining relationships in lockdown, to the thought processes that are linked to conspiracy theory beliefs.

View our podcast episodes
Get in touch
Psychology postgraduate enquiries