• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Social Sciences
  • Study Mode: Full Time+Part Time

For psychology graduates who wish to gain research training.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

Cutting edge research equipment

You will conduct a piece of independent research in collaboration with a member of academic staff, in an area of your choice

Image of student using eye equipment

The programme will lead to the award of the MSc in Psychological Research Methods. The course offers an excellent theoretical and practical grounding in research methods in Psychology, building upon the levels of skill and knowledge attained in your first degree in Psychology (as recognised by the British Psychological Society for Graduate Membership).

Why study this course at Dundee?

You will be given practical experience of working in an active researcher's laboratory and you will also design and carry out a substantial research project under the supervision of a different member of the academic staff. You will be given the opportunity to present and discuss your findings in written, oral and poster formats in a supportive and cohesive environment. Our aim is to significantly improve your prospect for employment in a wide range of contexts where insight into human behaviour and/or rigorous evaluation of information are key elements of good decision making.

At Dundee, you will benefit from dedicated MSc social and study areas, an active student society, and will be taught by academic staff who are the forefront of psychological research. You will have access to state of the art research equipment for, for example, tracking eye movements to measure attention, measuring brain activity, or conducting surveys and observational studies.

We are a small friendly department who offer focused teaching and research in psychology. This means that we get to know our students, and can provide them with the individual support they need throughout their studies. This is evidenced by us being ranked in the top 10% of Psychology departments in the UK for student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2016).

We are also situated in the School of Social Sciences, which will allow you to meet and socialise with students from other disciplines (e.g. business, geography, law, politics, and economics) and to attend seminars outwith psychology. This will allow you to situate your learning in a broader social context, as well as to network and make contacts across disciplines. 

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Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

How you will be taught

All our assessments are coursework-based, including essays, presentations, group work, and a research dissertation.

  • lectures
  • in-class group work
  • workshops
  • tutorials
  • talks by invited speakers

What you will study

Core Modules

This module provides a firm foundation to the practical aspects of conducting modern psychological research. By the end of the module, you should be able: to survey, review, and critique the literature; understand ethical issues in research; generate research ideas and evaluate them. 

This module will introduce approaches to collecting and analysing qualitative data, including: interviewing (open, semi-structured or structured), ethnographic methods, single and multiple case studies, action research, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, textual analysis, content analysis, focus groups, and analysis of audio and video recordings.

A substantial individual research project with a supervisor of your choice. Supervision, on a one-to-one basis, will guide you through a literature review, conception and design of an experiment, data collection and analysis. The dissertation will be written up in the form of a scientific article (8000-10,000 words). 

This module will provide you with an understanding of advanced statistical analyses used in psychological research. Depending on student’s prior knowledge, topics covered include:

  • simple regression
  • multiple regression (standard and hierarchical regressions)
  • mediation and moderation analysis
  • power analysis and factor analysis

Advanced Modules

Choice of two from the following list:

You will learn to analyse reading development from a biological, cognitive and behavioural point of view, and to consider the implications of this research for practical educational questions concerning the definition, assessment and treatment of reading difficulties.

Topics usually include:

  • definitions of dyslexia
  • brain areas involved in reading
  • interventions
  • visual attention and reading

Credit rating: 15

Mental disorders in infancy and childhood, diagnosis and research methods of mental disorders occurring in: early development, critical periods, introduction to psychological assessment (newborn, infant and child assessment, interview with parents), assessment of intelligence, socio-emotional, clinical assessment, observational methods in developmental psychopathology, reactive attachment disorder, eating, sleeping problems, failure to thrive, infant abuse, effects of postpartum depression on infant and child development, autism, Asperger's disorder, rett syndrome, eating disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, mental retardations, syndromes with known genetic aetiologies (Fragile X, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome).

Classes are interactive lectures and workshops. Workshops will discuss case studies, and you will learn and practice assessment methods. You will complete a field-trip to a local nursery and carry out an assessment on a preschool-aged child. Assessment is 2 coursework essays. 


It is feasible to make the argument that decisions underlie all of human behaviour. Therefore if we want to understand how people behave, we need to understand what motivates us and how we make decisions. This course aims to give a relatively broad understanding of human behaviour from the fascinating approach of decision making.

Core themes 

  • How do we conceptualise and understand the decision process?
  • How should we make decisions vs. how do we actually make decisions?
  • How can we improve our decisions?
  • How do we decide what to believe? How do our prior beliefs influence how we deal with  new information?
  • How are our decisions influenced by how information is presented to us?
  • How do our emotions and other people influence our decisions?
  • What motivates us?
  • Procrastination and impulsivity: how do we make decisions for delayed rewards?

This option will place human behaviour in the context of our evolutionary history. It will cover natural and sexual selection pressures on, for example, group behaviour, sexual attraction, mate choice, altruism and parenting. It will address contemporary issues in evolutionary psychology including debates around methodology and interpretation of findings from modern populations.

The aim of the option is to enable students to situate behaviour and psychology in the context of evolutionary history. To achieve this, students will develop an understanding of the evolutionary processes that shape behaviour and of the methods employed in such research. More broadly, the option will allow students to develop critical thinking skills by evaluating the application of evolutionary theory to behaviour.

Indicative content (subject to some change):

  • evolutionary processes (Natural and sexual selection)
  • sociality (Why do we form social relationships? Which relationships do we invest most heavily in?)
  • Mate choice (What demands govern our choice of sexual partners?)
  • Attraction (Why are we attracted to particular faces, body types and olfactory cues?)
  • Intelligence (How can evolutionary processes explain individual- and species-level differences in intelligence?)
  • Mating strategies (Are humans really monogamous? Are we unique in this?)
  • Evolutionary medicine (Are there adaptive benefits to health problems such as depression and schizophrenia?)

Aims and Overview 

This module focusses on the interplay between society, psychological processes, and health. We begin by investigating the impact that contemporary society and its cultural trends may have on mental health. We then look at the effects of socio-economic status (either objective or perceived) on health. Subsequently, we focus on the links between social ties and health. More specifically, we explore how different aspects of social ties (i.e., social integration, social support, and social identity) impact upon health, and we look at the mechanisms that are believed to be responsible for the link between social ties and health.

The domestic cat (Felis catus) is one of the most popular pets. It has been reported that the domestication occurred several thousand years ago, and there are now more than 10 million pet cats in the UK alone. Yet, we don’t know much about them – research into domestic cat behaviour is relatively new. This module aims to uncover the mystery of this amazing creature. In particular, we will focus on their communicative and cognitive abilities, ultimately aiming at a better understanding of the nature of such skills in other species including humans.

We will cover topics including background (e.g., why cats?; history of cat domestication; cat physiology), cat perception (e.g., visual perception; auditory perception), cat cognition (e.g., object permanence; handedness; spatial cognition), cat communication (e.g., cat ‘language’ (‘meows’; ‘purrs’; non-verbal behaviours etc); intra-species interactions (with other cats etc); inter-species interactions (with owners etc)), cat development, effects of cats on humans (e.g., owners), beyond the cat (e.g., what we can learn from cats to understand human cognition).

The module will be assessed by two course work essays, each not to exceed 2,500 words. Each essay will contribute 50% towards the final mark for the module.

This module provides a broad understanding of classic and current research on social, emotional and moral development in children and adolescents. The course will develop your awareness of a variety of methodologies and experimental techniques.

Topics usually include:

  • expression of emotions in infants
  • social referencing
  • attachment
  • social interaction
  • theory of mind
  • peer relationships
  • prosocial and antisocial behaviour
  • morality

Students from this course have gone on to do PhDs and have used the qualification to improve their chances of getting on to clinical and educational psychology courses. Several students take the course to improve their chances of getting jobs as support workers and Assistant Psychologists. The higher degree also generally improves job prospects when competing against other Psychology graduates in other fields of business.

Joanna Beaumont (current student)

"I chose to study the MSc Psychological Research Methods course at Dundee as I wanted to gain advanced research training in qualitative and quantitative research methods. In addition to the core research modules, I liked being able to choose two advanced modules that suited my interests. The course was very 'hands-on' and staff extremely friendly and supportive. Due to the success of this course, I was able to fulfil my ambition to pursue scientific research at the highest level."

You should hold, or expect to hold a first or second class honours degree in Psychology, normally conferring eligibility for Graduate Membership of the British Psychological Society.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Writing 6.0
Speaking 6.0

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fee statusFees for students starting 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £5,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £5,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £14,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowPsychological Research Methods MScP025805

Course Contact

Dr Ben Vincent
Social Sciences
+44 (0)1382 388308

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