Psychology of Faces

Study Psychology of Faces and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma

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Psychology of Faces
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date September

Linda Cullen
Postgraduate Secretary
University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 466854

The University has a long history of face research. Our internationally renowned team of experts study almost all aspects of face perception, including low level visual processing, adaptation, gaze perception, social perception such as mate preference and attractiveness, mechanisms of recognition and forensic aspects such as unfamiliar face matching and eye witness recovery of memories for faces. This research has led to EvoFIT, a unique system for constructing facial composites of offenders by witnesses and victims of crime, which has a suspect identification rate ten times higher than traditional methods used by police. You will become part of this vibrant research community as you study the key research methods related to face research and will put your learning into practice during a month-long placement.

Course objectives

This course facilitates understanding of this diverse subject whilst allowing students to focus the majority of their efforts in face research, an area for which Psychology at Stirling has long been internationally renowned.

Entrance 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 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

Full-time Diploma: two semesters; MSc: 12 months
Part-time Diploma: four semesters; MSc: 24 months

Course start date


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 hand-on demonstrations of tools, to discussion of different approaches to research. An important part of the course is training in the skills needed to generate stimuli for research, from controlled photography to morphing and editing, in both 2 and 3D. Students may select some alternative modules from the other taught MSc courses at the discretion of the Course Coordinator.

This course includes the following modules:

  • Psychology of Faces: A series of seminars will address both theoretical and practical issues relating to the study of the face, including face perception, face recognition and the role of emotional expressions and gaze in face processing. Students will also be expected to participate in regular research group meetings, in which they will hear about the current work of staff and other graduate students.
  • 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.

Part-time students take the same modules spread over two years.

Course Director

Professor Peter Hancock


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.

More information


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 academic knowledge and research skills gained throughout the MSc have helped me tremendously to secure a fully funded PhD studentship and pursue a career as a psychology researcher.
Anna Bobak MSc Psychology of Faces

Career opportunities

The course provides advanced training for a career involving face research. It is intended primarily for students who already have a degree in Psychology or an allied discipline who intend to proceed to a PhD in this field.


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.


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