MSc in Psychological Research | University of Oxford
Psychology
A stack of textbooks on psychology
(Image Credit: Tudor Popescu / Graduate Photography Competition)

MSc in Psychological Research

About the course

The MSc in Psychological Research is a one year taught master's course. The course provides a broad-based research training programme in psychology, covering theory and methods in core domains of psychology reflecting particular research strengths within the department. Hands-on research training within the core research themes of the department is also provided.

Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.

The broad-based research training programme covers:

  • behavioural neuroscience, from animal models to human functional imaging and TMS
  • cognitive neuroscience, including MEG, EEG, neuropsychology
  • developmental science, comprising Babylab studies and studies with children with developmental disorders
  • social psychology and psychological disorders, focusing on inter-group behaviour, emotion, anxiety and post-traumatic stress

The course contains 9 modules which are taught at the University of Oxford. You will be required to pass 8 modules and the research project to be awarded the MSc. The course is taught through the attendance of seminars, lectures and workshops with some of the modules spanning two terms. The five core modules currently comprise:

  • Research Evaluation
  • Project Design
  • Statistical Theory and Methods
  • MATLAB Programming for Experimental Psychology
  • Philosophical Foundations of Psychology

You will also undertake three of the four available optional modules, currently comprising:

  • Emotion, Personality and Social Behaviour
  • Language and Development
  • Brain and Cognition
  • Computer Modelling of Brain Function

The modules are assessed via written submissions, examinations and presentations. You will complete a research project consisting of a 10,000-word dissertation, submitted at the end of the course.

You are individually supervised for your research project and you will work on this project (dissertation) throughout the academic year. You will also meet with your academic advisors on an individual basis.

Graduate destinations

A majority of MSc in Psychological Research students go on to undertake a DPhil (PhD) either within the department or within other departments of  the Medical Science Division here at Oxford or at other institutions.  Others go on to pursue careers in consultancy and government.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in psychology or a cognate discipline.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

All applications are evaluated by the MSc in Psychological Research Admissions Panel. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend one interview which will last for up to half an hour. Around a third of applicants are invited to interview.

Interviews are usually held in late January or early February. Applicants who are shortlisted for interview will be invited to Oxford, or if unable to attend, may be interviewed via Skype (with video).

Publications

Publications are not required.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or work experience in psychology may be an advantage.

Preference may be given to those who have previously studied a psychological degree.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Experimental Psychology to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Experimental Psychology and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Experimental Psychology.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

In the case of students who require specific help to adjust to an academic programme or to a new range of skills, the MSc Course Director and/or the Academic Advisers will work with them to ensure that they have additional support.

Resources

You will have access to the department’s dedicated MSc Centre with computer facilities, access to IT support and university library services such as the Radcliffe Science Library and experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the topic of your research project. The provision of other resources specific to your project will be agreed with your supervisor.

You will be able to attend the seminars organised by individual research groups or groups with common areas of interest organised for your own members and others. The department also provides regular departmental seminars during term time. You can use the departmental cafeteria and you are encouraged to attend departmental events. Departmental seminars and colloquia bring research students together with academic and other research staff in the department to hear about on-going research, and provide an opportunity for networking and socialising.

The departmental social committee holds occasional events throughout the academic year for both students and staff in the department.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Full funding opportunities are available for all Medical Sciences Graduate School programmes, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details of these, as well as information about external funding opportunities.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£18,080£3,021£21,101

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are not required to contact a member of staff before you apply. However, you may wish to consult the department's website for information about the current research activity as you will be working in one of the groups or labs as part of your research project.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
Up to 1,000 words

The personal statement should be single spaced and written in English. The statement should outline the reasons for applying and evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study. It should focus on research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

The text of your document should be no smaller than size 10 Arial or similar.

This will be assessed for:

  • previous experience of psychological research
  • motivation to pursue the topics covered by the MSc and to conduct independent research
  • understanding of theoretical, methodological, and statistical issues
  • appropriateness of career plans
  • understanding of the aims and content of the course in relation to these career plans.

You should be prepared to give an oral presentation on a previous research project undertaken at undergraduate level or other suitable research experience, should you be shortlisted for interview.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Both academic references and professional references from employment relevant to the course are acceptable.

Your references should provide evidence of your intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group.