Psychological Research Methods (Perception and Action)

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma


As we make our way around the world we are continually making decisions and performing actions that are driven by our sense organs. Our perception of the world is not just sensory information, but instead an interpretation based on what our brain expects as well as what it is being told by sense organs. Understanding and measuring perception distinct from sensation is a complex task. 

The course will explore methods by which it is possible to measure perception with varied content, depending on the specific interests of the student. Lectures from academic staff will form a course introducing the main methods of measuring perception, considering the strengths and weaknesses.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Ross Goutcher
Download postgraduate prospectus

Linda Cullen
Postgraduate Secretary

University of Stirling

Course objectives

In addition to broad training in psychological methods, this course ensures that students acquire an understanding of how to measure perceptual experience in a bias-free manner, including the basic framework for understanding such measurements. Students also acquire practical experience in making measurements of perceptual experience through a research project and opportunity to conduct a placement in a laboratory context.

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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.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU £6,300

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

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

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Full-time students are required to complete a course of modules for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. The MSc award also requires completion of a dissertation on a topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff, one of whom will act as supervisor.

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

The modules include:

  • Advances in Perception and Action
  • Psychological Research Methods I and II
  • Analysis Methods in Psychological Research
  • Key Skills for Psychology Researchers
  • Research placement
  • Dissertation

Delivery and assessment

Lectures, seminars and workshops are used to deliver a coherent course of study. Teaching methods are adapted to suit the aims of each module and to provide students with the range and depth of learning required by their needs. Students are able to pick a route through the course that fits their interests and needs as a self-motivated learner.

Teaching emphasises the importance of systematic empirical research, whether in the laboratory or in the field, as appropriate to the problem at hand.

Across the course, students experience a range of different forms of assessment. Specific assessment within the Perception in Action course is a research report. Students will conduct and report (6,000 words) on a small research project involving a measurement of perception. The student will be responsible for the whole process: design of study, programming and other practical aspects of doing the research; data collection and analysis. The main assessment of the report will consider the quality of the research, the level of understanding about measurement of perception, and the competence of the procedures used in the research. The report will also be assessed for clarity and conciseness.


Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Modes of study

Diploma: two semesters ; MSc: 12 months

Diploma: four semesters ; MSc: 24 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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


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 provided a valuable and fascinating exposure to many topics and tools, as well as a rigorous grounding in psychophysics.

Jennifer Robertson, MSc Measuring Perception 2012/13


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This course prepares you for a research career involving perception in action and is ideal if you intend to study for a PhD in Psychology.



98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16
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