Evolutionary Psychology

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma


You will benefit from the expertise of our leading researchers in evolutionary psychology, who have particular interests in cultural evolution and language, social learning, and mate choice. Our staff are also at the forefront of new developments in applying evolutionary principles to address real world issue. Students interested in comparative approaches and animal behaviour will benefit from other members of our Behaviour and Evolution Research Group whose world-leading research on behaviour and cognition in primates, dogs and elephants are also being applied to real world problems, including conservation, human-animal interaction, and animal welfare. Under the group's expert guidance you will undertake specialists modules, a research placement and a research project.  You will also be able to take advantage of our on-site and overseas labs, field sites and links with industrial partners.  For example, the University works closely with the Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre at Edinburgh Zoo.

Key information

  • Degree type: MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Dr Kelly Cobey

Linda Cullen
Postgraduate Secretary
University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 466854 www.stir.ac.uk/natural-sciences/

View fees and finance

Course objectives

The course provides advanced training as a preparation for a research career in Psychology, primarily for those intending to proceed to a PhD in the area of evolutionary psychology, comparative cognition or animal behaviour. It may also be suitable for meeting continuing professional development needs for those working in related applied contexts.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

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 have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.


2016/17 Overseas £13,950
2016/17 Home/EU £6,100
2015/16 Overseas £13,500
2015/16 Home/EU £6,000

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.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Scholarship finder

Scholarships & funding

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

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course consists of a number of different modules designed to provide training in the fundamentals of research methods. They emphasise different types of skills, from explicit hands-on demonstrations of tools to discussion of different approaches to research. Students may select some alternative modules from the other taught MSc courses at the discretion of the Programme Coordinator.

This course includes the following modules:

  • Evolutionary Psychology: A series of seminars will address both theoretical and practical issues relating to the study of evolution and behaviour across topics and research settings. Students will also be expected to participate in our weekly Behaviour and Evolution Research Group meetings, in which they will hear about the current work of staff, other graduate students and also regular presentations from external speakers.
  • Psychological Research Methods I and II: These modules cover a wide range of techniques used in psychological research and to demonstrate these techniques in relation to topics in a range of areas.
  • Advanced Statistics: This module assumes a reasonable knowledge of statistics, although an additional introductory module is available for those who wish. The main statistics teaching is aimed at introducing advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and at the rationale of using statistical methods.
  • Key Skills for Psychology Researchers: This module focuses on the research process, including ethical reviews, professional conduct and disseminating research.
  • Qualitative Research Methods: This module 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


For those who go onto the MSc, approximately half of your time is devoted to a research project, leading to a 12,000-word dissertation.

Delivery and assessment

Teaching is delivered using a variety of methods including tutorials, demonstrations and practical classes, but the majority is seminar-based. Students are typically taught within small groups in specialist classes, with first-year PhD students or other postgraduate students (for example, in modules from other MSc courses).

Both taught and research postgraduates are integral to our research group and expected to participate in our regular meetings. All students allocated a peer mentor are provided with appropriate office space and equipment. In addition, each student is associated with an academic from Psychology.

The individual modules contribute towards 60 percent of the MSc grade, with the research dissertation contributing the remaining 40 percent.

Modes of study

MSc: one year; Diploma: nine months

MSc: two years; Diploma: 18 months

Study method

Part-time; Full-time

Why Stirling?


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.


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.

Our students

This course provided an excellent academic and applied training environment that thoroughly prepared me for my current PhD position. Being taught by enthusiastic and research-active staff was inspiring and helped nurture my fascination with evolutionary approaches to psychology.

Eoin O'Sullivan, MSc Evolutionary Psychology, 2010/11


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This course provides advanced training to prepare you for a research career in evolutionary approaches to behaviour, especially for those intending to proceed to a PhD. You will become an integral member of our lively and active research group and we will support you in making the complex transition towards being an independent research scientist. The placement also allows considerable scope for those interested in more applied areas to develop relevant skills for these careers. The course also seeks to meet the continuing professional development needs of those already working in related applied contexts.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).

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