Autism is an intriguing condition and a growing societal problem, recently estimated to cost the UK an annual £34 billion. This unique course focuses on designing and applying research methods to the exploration of autism spectrum disorders, and combines this in-depth understanding of methods with practical experience derived from autism professionals. The course provides insights into research examining causes, diagnosis, prognosis and treatments of the condition. Its innovative approach combines training in psychological research methods with practical training and experience from autism professionals during a practical placement in an autism-relevant context.
The course is grounded in practice and is run in co-operation with Autism Treatment Plus and Speur Ghlan Early Intervention Service.
A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.
Our range of pre-sessional courses.
Modes of study
Two semesters for Diploma, 12 months for MSc
Four semesters for the Diploma, 24 months for MSc
Course start date
Structure and content
Psychology has powerful methods to help better understand the puzzling condition of autism. The course comprises modules designed to provide training in the fundamentals of research methods and how these apply to the study of autism. Our styles of teaching research skills range from explicit hands-on demonstrations of tools, to discussion of different approaches to research.
The modules include:
- Psychological Research Methods I and II
- Advanced Statistics
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Key Skills for Psychology Researchers
- Research placement
Alternative modules from the other taught MSc courses can also be taken for credit or audit with the agreement of the Course Coordinator.
Approximately half of your time is devoted to a research project, leading to a substantial dissertation.
Delivery and assessment
Delivery is by seminars, lectures, a research placement in a relevant context, and research supervision. Master's students have their own dedicated suite and are integrated into the thriving research culture of the Division.
- Autism: A series of interactive seminars with both research-based staff from the Division of Psychology and practice-based guest lecturer autism professionals.
- Psychological Research Methods I and II: Covers a wide range of techniques used in psychological research and demonstrates these techniques in relation to topics in a range of areas.
- Advanced Statistics: Assumes a reasonable knowledge of statistics, although an additional introductory module is available. The main statistics teaching is aimed at introducing advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and the rationale of using statistical methods.
- Key Skills for Psychology Researchers: Focuses on the research process, including ethical reviews, professional conduct and disseminating research effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
- Qualitative Research Methods: Provides a broad but solid grounding in qualitative research methodology.
- Research Placement: This month-long placement is carried out in January/February, allowing students to broaden their practical research experience. The placement may be external to Psychology and can be in a non-academic environment.
Dr Magdalena Ietswaart
In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.
The course has practical links with the Autism Treatment Trust and Speur Ghlan Early Intervention Service.
Psychology at Stirling is one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. It ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014) and is one of only seven non-Russell group universities to do so (Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, Sussex, Essex, St Andrews and Bangor; source Times Higher Education magazine). Its quality of research publications ranked third in Scotland after Aberdeen and Glasgow. Furthermore, the relevance of its research activity to society received the highest possible rating which only four other psychology departments in the UK achieved (REF 2014 results).
Psychology at Stirling University is small enough to fully involve MSc students in our lively and collegial community of research excellence.
Your three month full-time dissertation is supervised by leading UK academics.
The course is designed for those going on to do further research in autism or as the foundation for a career as an autism professional. The structure of the course includes both a placement and research project, allowing you to develop relevant skills for both research and applied careers.
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
There are typically five £1,000 bursaries to contribute towards fees or maintenance costs for students beginning a taught MSc course. All students, including international students, formally accepted onto the MSc course are eligible to apply for these awards. Awards will be decided on both previous experience and academic record but preference will be given to applicants intending to stay at Stirling to pursue a PhD following the MSc course.
Information on other possible sources of funding