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

The Psychological Research Methods (PRM) course provides broad training in the fundamentals of psychological science - the modern approach to studying mind and behaviour. PRM combines training in psychological theory with practical skills development, preparing our students for a future career in psychology. Individual modules provide a thorough introduction to quantitative and qualitative research, the analysis and interpretation of data, and a critical skeptical approach to psychological science.

Opportunities for practical hands-on skills development are built in, ranging from low-tech observational assessment to high-tech eye-tracking, and including training on giving oral presentations. A self-reflective approach to personal development is encouraged, and students on this course are an integral part of Stirling Psychology's research community, housed within a dedicated MSc office. The course will appeal to students wishing to develop a career in psychological research, either working towards a PhD in Psychology, or working in the wider public, private or third sector.


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.  Students have an academic supervisor in Psychology who supports and guides their development - including the research dissertation project. Our aim is to encourage students to make the complex transition to become a fully 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 the use of eye-tracking, neuropsychological case studies of brain-injured patients and the application of neuroimaging methods.
  • 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


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.

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 Psychological Research Methods (PRM) course is designed as a springboard for a career in psychological research and is ideal for students wishing to pursue a PhD in psychology. The course incorporates training in a wide range of skills that are required to conduct high-quality research in psychology, and students are encouraged to develop applications for PhD funding through the course.

One essential part of the course is the requirement to carry out a Placement (typically in an external company, charity or third sector organisation). This provides a fantastic opportunity to develop relevant work-based employment skills, and to develop a network of contacts relevant to future career goals. Students benefit hugely from the Placement experience, combining skills and experience with personal and professional development.

PRM graduates are well placed for careers in clinical and health psychology, educational psychology and teaching, human resources management and personnel, etc. The skills gained are also readily transferable to other careers: PRM positions students for the growing expectation that graduates have a good understanding of human behaviour, are able to interpret and analyise complex forms of data, and to communicate ideas clearly to others.



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