Psychological Research Methods

Study Psychological Research Methods and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate

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Psychological Research Methods
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date September

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

Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour and aims to explain all aspects of experience, from the neural substrates of thought to biases in social behaviour. As a result, psychology tends to be eclectic, drawing on scientific knowledge and methods from other fields to help understand behaviour. The MSc in Psychological Research Methods provides an introduction to this fascinating field. The course will prepare you for a research career in psychology by helping you develop the theoretical understanding and practical and interpersonal skills required to carry out research, and opportunities to gain practical experience of psychological research through a month-long work-based placement and through your dissertation project. As a student on this course, you will become an integral part of the University's research community with a dedicated MSc office, a peer mentor and an academic supervisor to guide your development.

Course objectives

The primary aim of the course is to provide advanced training as a preparation for a research career in Psychology. The course develops the theoretical understanding and practical and interpersonal skills required for carrying out research. Postgraduates are an integral part of our research community. Students are based in a dedicated MSc office, or within an appropriate research group, and allocated a peer mentor. In addition, each student is associated with an academic supervisor in Psychology. Our aim is to support students making the complex transition towards being an independent research scientist.

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

MSc: one year; Diploma: nine months

MSc: two years; Diploma:18 months

Course start date


Structure and content

The course consists of different modules designed to provide training in the fundamentals of Psychological Research Methods. We aim to be flexible in meeting personal training needs and students may select some alternative modules from other taught MSc courses at the discretion of the Course Coordinator.

This course includes the following modules:

  • Psychological Research Methods I and II: These modules cover a wide range of techniques used in research and demonstrate these techniques in relation to topics in a range of areas, including social, cognitive, comparative and developmental work
  • Research Methods in Cognition and Neuropsychology: A series of seminars and practical classes covering the range of methods that are used to study issues in cognition, including computer-based modelling, neuropsychological methods for brain-injured patients and neuroimaging
  • Advanced Statistics: The teaching is aimed at introducing the packages available to psychologists, at advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and at the rationale of using statistical methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods: This module provides a broad but solid grounding in qualitative research methodology
  • Key Skills for Psychology Researchers:This module focuses on the research process, including ethical conduct and disseminating research to both academic peers and non-specialist audiences.
  • 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 the department and can be in a non-academic research environment.

The different modules emphasise different types of skills, from explicit hands-on demonstrations of tools, to discussion of different approaches to research. All our postgraduates are also expected to attend regular research seminars and relevant research group meetings.

Students are also encouraged to attend ‘Scottish Postgraduates in Psychology Research Training’ events in participating universities across Scotland.

Finally, for those who go onto the MSc:

  • Research dissertation: 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 in small groups in specialist classes, with first-year PhD students or other postgraduate students (for example, in modules from other MSc courses).

The individual module components provide 60 percent of the MSc grade, with the research dissertation contributing the remaining 40 percent.

Course Director

Professor Phyllis Lee

RAE rating

70 percent of research in Psychology at Stirling was recognised as being of a quality that is internationally recognised in terms of originality, significance and rigour in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

Our students

The MSc in Psychological Research Methods at the University of Stirling has been one of my most rewarding experiences to date... By the end of this MSc, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills set required to succeed in your future aspirations.

Grant Walker, MSc Psychological Research Methods 2009/10


Career opportunities

The course is designed for those going on to do doctoral research or those seeking to become a research assistant. The placement also allows considerable scope to develop relevant work-based employment skills. The focus on training in research methods is also highly valued by those who move on to other kinds of career which involve the interpretation and analysis of all forms of data.



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