BPS logoMSc Psychology and Education (Conversion)

Duration: 1 year full-time

The MSc Psychology and Education (Conversion) is a unique, intensive, one-year full-time programme accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). It is designed specifically for students with no previous formal Psychology qualification to:

  • cover all aspects of the Psychology BPS curriculum including biological, cognitive, developmental and social psychology, individual differences, theory and history of psychology and research methods;
  • allow you to apply for the Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS);
  • focus on international and multi-cultural aspects of educational psychology, so you will gain a thorough insight into global perspectives;
  • acquire a wide range of expertise through theory-focussed and practical sessions and an original research project.

This MSc is a conversion course which provides Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) providing you pass the empirical project and gain the equivalent of at least a 2:2 overall. Many of our graduates will wish to become Educational and Child Psychologists and on satisfactory completion of all aspects of the MSc you will fulfill the academic entry requirements of BPS professional training programmes in Educational and Child Psychology. The Psychology and Education (Conversion) MSc opens up a range of careers within education and healthcare, as well as family therapists, youth or social workers and service managers.

The core curriculum of the MSc Psychology and Education (Conversion) is enriched by the ethos and culture of the School of Education as well as the critical research, theoretical and practical orientation of our Educational Psychology team. In particular, the School of Education and Educational Psychology team share a commitment to working with disadvantaged communities.

We offer an unrivalled opportunity to be part of a dynamic and vibrant scholarly community, you will work closely with leading academic experts with demonstrated expertise in these areas:

  • research and publications in matters relating to marginalisation, psychopathologies and disability across psychology and education in a variety of cultural settings;
  • our work in national, regional and service policy making;
  • our ongoing professional practice with young people up to 25 year olds, their families and schools in diverse communities across various geographical areas.

Course Structure

Course Structure

Teaching will take place in the form of 8 consecutive 15-credit compulsory modules each of which will last for an average of two or three weeks. These modules entail theory and practical sessions covering the core curriculum areas: biological, cognitive, developmental and social psychology, individual differences, theory and history of psychology, research methods. The programme concludes with an original research project of your choice (dissertation) that spans several months (15-20000 words).

Students in a class

The MSc Psychology and Education (Conversion) is an intensive programme of study, there is a strong taught component and a requirement of an active contribution throughout the duration of the programme.

As potential practitioners you need to become accustomed to the notion of reflexive practices which require you to engage with aspects of your own life experiences in relation to the content and concepts contained within the MSc programme.

During the programme you will be required to consider and understand the psychological processes involved for potentially vulnerable clienteles in situations which have been presented and discussed as part of the programme (e.g. Safeguarding; young people looked after; ‘minority’ groups).

Our staff team are highly experienced in dealing with such issues and the complex matters which can arise during the course of our teaching, and will be able to provide responsive pastoral support at the level of the individual student if required.

There is considerable generic support for employability available for students across the Faculty and the School of Education, however, due to the intensive demands of the BPS core curriculum the programme does not provide opportunities for placements and/or study abroad. It would be expected that students would gain such experience following completion of the MSc.

Module Information

Module Information

There are 4 compulsory modules in the Autumn Semester and 4 compulsory modules in the Spring Semester followed by a dissertation. Each module is awarded 15 credits, the dissertation is awarded 60 credits.

Autumn Semester

EDU6166 - Social, Historical, Cultural & Institutional Contexts of Psychology

This module explores the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline, its historical origins, development, socio-cultural & institutional contexts and limitations. The module introduces students to the multiple paradigms, theoretical perspectives and methods of analysis in psychology and explores the differences and/or complementarities between them as well as relevant ethical issues.
Module content includes:

  • Psychology as a science: Conceptual and historical paradigms & models
  • Social and cultural contexts of psychology & indigenous and cross-cultural approaches
  • Ethical issues in psychology and education
  • Institutional contexts, feminism & socio-political issues in psychology and education

EDU6167 - Research Methods in Psychology and Education I

The module explores different paradigms of psychological and educational research, with a focus on qualitative methodologies and research designs, such as interviews, content and discourse analysis, case studies, observation and visual methods. It also considers research ethics.
Module content includes:

• Epistemological paradigms and general methodological principles: Positivism, empiricism, interpretivism.
• Classic approaches, recent trends, case studies, action research, longitudinal research, big data.
• Research proposals, research questions & research designs.
• Ethics.
• Collecting oral data: interviews and focus group discussions.
• Coding & analysing interview data: grounded theory, content & discourse analysis.
• Observation, visual methods and mixed-methodological designs.

EDU6191 - Research Methods in Psychology and Education II

The module explores different paradigms of psychological and educational research, with a focus on quantitative methodologies and research designs, such as statistical analysis; experimental and quasi-experimental designs, psychometric theories and scale construction, and surveys.

Module content includes:

• Quantitative research principles, research variables, survey, questionnaire design & quantitative data collection
• Experimental and quasi-experimental research designs
• General principles of psychometrics, test theory, item response theory, measurement techniques & scale development
• SPSS, inferential and descriptive statistics; parametric and non-parametric tests,
• Correlational design, ANOVA, Two-way ANOVA and factor analysis; Mixed-methodological designs

EDU6192 - Cognition, Psychology & Education

This module explores major theories and key debates concerning the study of human mind and cognition. It considers psychometric measures of cognitive performance as well as case studies requiring contextual analysis and ethical understanding.

Module content includes:

- Perception, attention, memory
- Thinking & language, problem solving and decision making
- Cognitive styles, intelligence & cognitive psychological testing
- Consciousness, social cognition & emotion
- Metacognition, current debates & implications for learning & education

Spring Semester

EDU6193 - Neuroscience, Psychology & Education

This module explores the fundamental biological mechanisms underlying human and animal behaviour. It also considers laboratory research methodologies and critically examines the relevance of bio-psychological and neuroscientific knowledge for education.

Module content includes:

Introduction: Education & neuroscience
Behavioural genetics, heredity, comparative and evolutionary psychology
Psychobiology, biological bases of human & non-human behaviour, hormones and behaviour, socio-biology
Neuroimaging, cognitive & evolutionary neuroscience

EDU6194 - Difference, Disability & Diversity in Psychology and Education

This module explores multiple perspectives to psychology and education relating to the study of human difference, personality, disability and gender, race and ethnicity. It also considers practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of personality tests.

Module content includes:

- Personality theory, measurements & applications
- Individual differences
- Motivation
- Mood disorders/ mental health: biological, cognitive & socio-cultural dimensions
- Disability, impairment and SEN
- Gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity
- Difference & ethics in educational settings

EDU6195 - Learning & Development in Global Contexts

This module explores major theories and key aspects of human development from infancy to adulthood in a variety of cultural settings. It also considers case studies & key developmental tests and the application of developmental psychological knowledge in contemporary multi-cultural and global educational, upbringing and institutional contexts.

Module content includes:

- Emotional development & parenting cultures
- Cognitive development, learning & language
- Moral development
- Typical and atypical development in multi-cultural societies

EDU6196 - Social Psychology & Practice

This module explores classic and recent social psychological theory and research. It examines social psychological processes in a variety of educational, psychological, multi-professional and digital contexts as well as the implications of psychological research for social policy and professional practice.

Module content includes:

- Attitudes, perception of the self, social perception, attribution
- Group processes and intergroup relations
- Identities, social cognition, social constructionism and professional services in on/offline spaces
- Leadership & multi-professional teamwork for integrated children’s services & ethical issues

EDU6197 - Research Dissertation (60 credits)

In this module, students are supported in planning and carrying out a piece of original research and in writing a dissertation of 15,000 to 20,000 words in length. The research will be empirical, utilize either qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods and explore psychological topics in relation to education and upbringing. The dissertation offers a space for synthesising knowledge from the different modules, and pursuing in more detail an area of interest for the student.

On completion of all 16 modules you will be awarded 120 credits and will be eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology and Education, if you do not complete the full MSc award.

If on completion of 8 modules you have attained 60 credits, you will be eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology and Education, if you do not complete the full MSc award.

In order to quality for Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) you must pass the empirical project and gain the equivalent of at least a 2.2 overall.



Assessment will take place every two or three weeks and you will be given feedback regularly so that you have plenty of possibilities for further improvement. The programme concludes with an independent research project (dissertation) that spans several months.

A variety of assessment devices will be used to evaluate the learning outcomes in accordance with the professional standards mentioned above:

  • Essays
  • Portfolios
  • Psychological lab report 
  • Blog post
  • Research dissertation/ Empirical project.

Photograph of Students

On satisfactory completion of the Psychology and Education (Conversion) MSc programme students have acquired the knowledge and experience to:

  • critically integrate & apply multiple perspectives to psychology and education, recognising that psychology is constituted by a range of theories, research methods, forms of evidence, and applications, all of which have been culturally, historically and socially influenced
  • demonstrate conceptual understanding from across different paradigms in psychology and education, critically evaluate current scholarship and research methodologies and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses relevant to people across the lifespan, schools, families and a range of diverse communities
  • analyse, present and critically evaluate quantitative and qualitative data and use psychological tools including specialist software and psychometric instruments to identify and evaluate patterns in behaviour, psychological functioning and experience
  • demonstrate an understanding of the role of empirical evidence in the creation and constraint of theory, and also in how theory guides the collection and interpretation of empirical data
  • critically understand contemporary research on mind, brain & human behaviour while taking under consideration wider cultural, societal and institutional contexts, for example, schools, families and communities
  • generate and explore original hypotheses and research questions and conduct an extensive piece of empirical research ethically and independently through a variety of research methods, such as experiments, observation, psychometric tests, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and field studies
  • apply psychological knowledge ethically and safely to explore timely ‘real life’ problems at the forefront of practice & research, and develop a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry lead to the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, hopefully making a difference to education, upbringing & professional psychological practice in a variety of cultural settings
  • employ critical, evidence-based and original thinking on theoretical, practical, ethical and socio-cultural issues associated with the use of different methods and perspectives in psychology and education.
Course Team

Programme Director and teaching staff

Throughout the duration of the progreamme you will be taught and supervised by experienced academics and practitioners all of whom are either Chartered Members of the BPS or are eligible for membership. Our Psychology and Education staff team have a wealth of specialist knowledge, experience, and professional contacts having worked as academics, researchers or as practitioners, with vast experience of either working or researching directly with diverse communities in education, psychology and mental health services throughout the region, across the UK and globally.

Some members of the team continue to practise as educational and child psychologists and are thus cognisant of the issues involved when working at the interface between current policies (national, local, professional), research evidence and professional practices. This specialist knowledge and experience will be utilized throughout the programme to enable you to constantly critique and juxtapose theory, research data and the best interests of the people who are the subjects of professional practices.

Dr Anna Weighall (Programme Director)
Professor Tom Billington
Professor Dan Goodley
Dr China Mills
Dr Tony Williams

What our students say

What our students say

Photograph of Lene OsmundsenLene Osmundsen

The MSc Psychology and Education conversion course at Sheffield University was the highlight of my time in university. The course is well thought-out, with brilliant lecturers who are passionate about their respective fields and advancing the education of their students. 
Because lectures are held as intimate classroom sessions, rather than big lecture groups, it is easy to form relationships with all your classmates as well as university staff. 
I found our lecturers, especially course director Dr. Anna Weighall, incredibly helpful and accommodating throughout the course. Lecturers are also available to answer any course related questions, either by mail or through the online group forum which is shared with all the students on the course. You are also assigned a personal tutor. 
One of my favourite aspects about the course was the timetable and the way they handled evaluations. Sessions are limited to three times a week, including one practical session that allows you to discuss lecture materials (and rehearse practical assessments) in a more informal setting. As each module was concluding, we submitted our work (usually an essay, but sometimes also through more practical evaluations). That way we only focused on one topic at the time, and our grade in the module was determined by effort rather than “a good exam day”.
Since completing the MSc Psychology and Education course, I have progressed to a psychologist training programme. I feel confident my time in Sheffield has prepared me for the upcoming study, role and responsibilities. Thus, I would highly recommend anyone who is looking to do a psychology conversion course to apply to Sheffield University.”

James Comer

Photograph of James Comer

After working for four years in education as a primary school teaching assistant, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in educational psychology; however, having had no formal education on the subject, I was unsure of how to proceed. The University of Sheffield has a fantastic reputation for the impact its research has on the global community and, as I had already completed my undergraduate degree here in 2014, I checked online to see if there was a course that would provide me with a suitable qualification to begin my new career path and discovered the MSc Psychology and Education (conversion) course. This degree provided the perfect opportunity to both learn the fundamentals of psychology and achieve a BPS accredited qualification and I was eager to enrol. 

Initially, I was concerned that I would be at a disadvantage due to my lack of experience in psychology but this fast-paced course quickly provided me with the foundational knowledge necessary to engage with a wide range of resources. The staff on the course were supportive and knowledgeable with each specialising in a different area of psychology and the way that they incorporated their own interests and experiences into lectures greatly enriched the course. Throughout the degree, I was able to learn about a variety of psychological perspectives and was actively encouraged to critique them with a conscientious attitude in order to become a reflective and ethical practitioner. I finished the course by completing a dissertation which involved designing and conducting my own experimental research and reporting the findings in an APA style report – a feat that I was incredibly proud of after having only very basic psychological knowledge just one year ago. A particular highlight of the course was being able to access professional resources that are utilised by educational psychologists and gain hands-on experience using those tools. Overall, I feel that I have been equipped with a robust set of skills that will be a fantastic asset in my future career. 

Since completing the course, I have immediately been able to apply for a variety of professional roles not only in psychology but also in areas such as research, mental health care and education. I hope to one day return to the University of Sheffield to complete my doctorate and become a fully qualified educational psychologist.

Photograph of Yan ZhouYan Zhou

Last summer I finished my Bachelor degree and then started my Master degree in the University of Sheffield. Compared to the bustling metropolis, I prefer a quiet city, which is one of the reasons why I chose Sheffield. I moved from nursing to psychology and education. Apart from the reason of personal interest, I think the pain of the body will eventually dissipate, but the pain of the mind is often remembered. Why more and more social news reported that teenagers suffer from psychological problems? Although I don’t believe I can heal other people’s hearts just through one year, I hope to learn about why and how they suffered by psychological illness from this course. 
The course was very fulfilling. It went from a wide range of psychological backgrounds to research methods and statistical analysis techniques and backed to the various branches of psychology. After the class, I joined in voluteering activities. Every week I went to a local primary school and played with children. By getting along, I found out that Chinese and English children do have a lot of different personalities and habits. I also attended in Student Union as Education counsellor. Compared with the Chinese Students' Union, the UK Student Union is more involved and will vote through the proposal. In this year, I lived independently, cooking myself, taking time to go to church activities, and also making some local friends. However, the life in the UK without family was still quite lonely and homesick. 
After the course finished, I backed to China soon. This year's study has established a basic understanding of educational psychology and a rich theoretical reserve for me, but unfortunately there is no opportunity for practice. At the same time, I also thought about whether to continue to a further learning. I feel that I have some misunderstanding of written theories which is because I have not been exposed to similar cases in reality. Therefore, I hope that in the future I will have a chance to understand their inner activities at a deeper level by working with children and young people. In general, this year's harvest is a lot, I will miss this time.  

The curriculum of this course builds on research taking place at the Centre for Critical Psychology and Education:
Centre for Critical Psychology and Education

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.