MSc in Psychological Research | University of Oxford
Psychology
A stack of textbooks on psychology
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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.

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.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.

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.

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.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

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

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Courses suggested by the school

Experimental Psychology DPhil
Neuroscience MSc
Clinical Neurosciences DPhil
Experimental Psychology MSc by Research

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Experimental Psychology

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in psychology or a related discipline.

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

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

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

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.
  • Publications are not required.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

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

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).

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

Resources

You will have access to the department’s 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 are encouraged to attend departmental events as 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 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£23,505

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application GuideApply

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