Research Methods in Psychology (MSc) 2023 entry

The MSc in Research Methods in Psychology is designed to train students wishing to pursue a higher research degree in psychology and equips them with the specific skills necessary for undertaking a career as a research psychologist.

Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2024
One year full time
School of Psychology and Neuroscience

Application deadline

Thursday 10 August 2023.

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé 
  • personal statement (500 words) 
  • sample of your own, single-authored academic written work (2,000 words) 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MSc in Research Methods in Psychology is a full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Psychology and Neuroscience. The course is based on an initiative to provide interdisciplinary training in the social sciences plus advanced research training in psychology. 


  • The course provides interdisciplinary training in the social sciences plus advanced research training in psychology. 
  • Students have access to laboratories in neurophysiology, psychopharmacology, psychophysics, animal learning and cognition, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and social psychology. 
  • The MSc is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as an accredited course. 


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details about each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue, which is for the 2022-2023 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2023 entry. 

  • Generic Research and Professional Skills in Psychology: introduces students to the various skills and issues that are important to academic psychologists irrespective of their particular area of research. 
  • Methods of Data Analysis in Psychology: advanced training in research design, statistics, qualitative methods and modelling. 
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces students to the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, covering the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research. 
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Research: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research. 
  • Quantitative Research in Social Science: provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis - underlying principles, research design, sampling strategies, uncertainty and missing data, and some statistical approaches to data analysis.  

Students must choose two optional modules. 

  • Animal Models in Psychology and Neuroscience: focuses on the animals frequently used in psychology and neuroscience research; discussing key physiological and behavioural characteristics of the animals, why these characteristics make them good or bad models for given areas of research, and how these behavioural and physiological characteristics must be accounted for when designing experiments. 
  • Being a Social Scientist: focuses on how to design and produce a research dissertation and addresses issues of professional development (e.g. ethics, careers, grant writing).
  • Communicating Psychology and Neuroscience:  allows first-hand experience of behavioural and neural science communication with the public through a series of expert led master-classes, presentations, and interactions with social media.  
  • Computer-aided Research: builds on statistical techniques learned in previous modules and introduces modelling techniques, imaging, stimulus presentation and data visualisation. 
  • Data Science for Psychology & Neuroscience: introduces modern data science methods such as machine learning and data mining, with emphasis on the practical utilisation of these methods in the context of psychology and neuroscience.
  • Mechanisms of Behaviour: Integrating Psychological and Neuroscience Perspectives explores many physiological and neural systems that modulate patterns of behaviour in a range of species, including humans.
  • Methodologies for Psychology and Neuroscience:  practical experience in a number of laboratory techniques and research methodologies as employed by the principal investigators in the School. 
  • Research Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience:  showcases the state-of-the-art approach of observing the brain in action to to understand the physical bases of behaviour. 
  • The Impact of Science: focuses on a writing review of a research finding in psychology and neuroscience selected by the student and approved by the module controller, with one aspect of the review based on the impact of the research finding on science and society. 

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development). 

Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date specified in August. 

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2023 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Over two semesters, students will take five compulsory modules, a research project module and one optional module.

These are taught through lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials.

On average, class sizes range up to 80 students for lectures and 20 students for seminars. 

The final three months of your course will be dedicated to a 15,000-word research project dissertation. 

Assessment comprises entirely of coursework; there are no exams.  


The School of Psychology and Neuroscience hosts a weekly seminar programme typically held in the Old Library of the Psychology Building.

These seminars include public lectures, open School discussions and papers presented by a variety of guest lecturers from the UK and abroad. Following the seminar, a reception is typically held in the departmental common room. 

The School also hosts an annual Jeeves Lecture as part of its seminar programme. The lectures are given by eminent psychologists and neuroscientists. Staff, students and members of the public are welcome at this lecture. 

See the psychology and neuroscience seminar programmes.  




More information on tuition fees can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances. Find out more about the scholarships and postgraduate loans available.

All taught postgraduate scholarships

After your degree


Many students progress from the MSc to PhD study, and some graduates have been successful in applying for EPSRC PhD studentships.

Others have successfully applied for research assistantships to initiate their research careers. 

Some graduates have applied for positions in government, health care, and management services. 

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere.

The MSc in Research Methods in Psychology is accredited for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 1+3 PhD studentship programme. 

Postgraduate research

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Postgraduate virtual days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2157
School of Psychology and Neuroscience
St Mary's Quad
South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9JP

School of Psychology and Neuroscience website