MSc Work Psychology modules

Developing skills for a career in enhancing organisational and personal effectiveness, our MSc Work Psychology equips you with the practical skills necessary for a career in organisational effectiveness. It is the same course as our MSc Occupational Psychology, but provides a route for students without a British Psychological Society (BPS) recognised degree.

Our MSc Work Psychology is taught full-time from autumn to spring, through a combination of lectures, seminars, case studies, group work for collaborative learning and web-based discussion groups. This taught period is followed by a dissertation where students conduct a research project within an organisation over the summer, providing real world experience within a company. Students are assessed through individual assignments, group projects, examinations and an organisational project.

Project opportunities can be generated by students or through IWP’s business network and Sheffield University Management School’s Employability Hub. These provide you with the chance to apply your knowledge to real-world issues and develop organisational skills. Throughout the programme, practical workshops focus on developing skills in presentations, SPSS statistical software, group work and information management.

Teaching is structured around case study and workshop activities in order to ensure that learning is both active and relevant to modern organisations. Our programme will ensure that you are equipped with practical skills for the workplace, have developed a strong understanding of occupational psychology, a critical appreciation of current theory and practice and have acquired the skills and knowledge necessary for future employment as an occupational psychologist.

Work Design, Organisational Change and Development

  • Led by Mrs Rose Shepherd
  • Autumn semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: 3,000 word written assignment

This module locates occupational/work psychology within a global context, providing students with an effective grounding for other core knowledge areas. It covers a range of topics, including organisational structure, design and culture, models of change and development, organisational effectiveness, performance and communications, the design of jobs, work systems and environments, workplace safety and methods for managing risk and reducing human error. Students also have the opportunity to critically engage with contemporary themes, such as technology-mediated work, consumer psychology and the role of social media in the workplace. Case studies, practical examples and exercises are used throughout the module to integrate theory and practice.

Leadership, Engagement and Motivation

  • Led by Dr Raymond Randall
  • Autumn semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: A two-hour exam and poster critically examining an area related to the module

This module covers the theoretical and practical issues concerning the structure, functioning and performance of organisations, and the behaviour of teams and the individuals within them. The module covers a wide range of theories about people’s motivation to work, their engagement with work, their leadership, and the relationships between management and employees. Teaching sessions will combine theoretical evaluation with opportunities to apply knowledge through group work, individual exercises and discussion.

Selection and Psychological Testing in Organisations

  • Led by Laura Dean
  • Autumn semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: Coursework

This module covers theoretical and practical issues concerning the psychological assessment and selection of employees. An overview of the recruitment and selection process with a focus on the strategic role of employee planning and recruitment will be provided, followed by critical evaluation of different methods of selection such as interviews, focus groups, psychometric testing and assessment centres. The module offers an in-depth insight into psychometric ability testing, including practices and considerations around test selection, administration, reporting and feeding back test results, assessing validity and reliability of tests, and issues surrounding equality and fairness in aptitude testing.

Statistical Methods for Occupational Psychologists

  • Led by Dr Chris Stride
  • Autumn semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: Written assignment

This module covers the fundamental and more advanced statistical techniques needed in organisational research. Lectures will be used to teach the rationale behind hypothesis testing and describe the principles behind techniques such as multiple regression, analysis of variance, factor analysis and structural equation modelling. Students will also attend practical classes in order to apply and develop their knowledge

Learning, Training and Development

  • Led by Dr Ciara Kelly
  • Spring semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: Two-hour exam and group presentation

The module aims to develop in students a critical understanding of the ways in which people learn and develop in the context of work and organisation. First, students will learn about the theory and practice of employee training, focusing on issues such as needs analysis, learning theories, different training methods and evaluation strategies. This will then be followed by a wider examination of career development activities, including coaching, counselling and mentoring. Sessions will combine theoretical inputs with opportunities to apply knowledge through discussion, case studies and simulation exercises.

Well-being and Work

  • Led by Dr Carolyn Axtell
  • Spring semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: 3,000 word written assignment

The module covers two psychological themes relating to how wellbeing in the context of work. Students will learn about the theory and practice relating to employee emotion and well-being. The module sets wellbeing within its wider societal context and also addresses the organisational and individual influences on wellbeing. It discusses the sources of wellbeing as well as interventions to improve it. Sessions will combine theoretical inputs with opportunities to apply knowledge through discussion, case studies and simulation exercises

Applying Psychology to Work and Organisations

  • Led by Laura Dean
  • Autumn and Spring semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: Ongoing assessment of a skills development portfolio

This module takes place over two semesters and will introduce students to practitioner skills and methods fundamental to practising as an occupational psychologist. Students will develop an understanding of professional issues critical in the applied practice of psychology. This will be done through a combination of skills workshops, seminars, presentations, a site visit and discussions with invited practitioners who will share their experiences of practising and researching occupational psychology. Sessions are designed to be interactive, facilitative and informative. Students will have the opportunity to develop new skills, receive feedback on their own skills development and discuss and debate practice with skilled practitioners. Experience, reflections and skills development will be recorded in a Portfolio of Competence that will be assessed formatively at the end of the first semester; with summative assessment during the second semester. This module is interrelated with your whole programme weaving together aspects of data gathering (such as questionnaire design), reflecting on evidenced-based practice, delivering feedback, designing training and development activities, along with your own personal development and job search activities.

Research Methods for Occupational Psychologists

  • Led by Dr Malcolm Patterson
  • Spring semester, 15 credits
  • Assessment: 3,000 word written assignment

The module provides coverage of quantitative and qualitative methods for psychology postgraduates, including a critical overview of the ontological and epistemological assumptions that underlie both methods. As a result students are able to understand the rationale for using different research designs and methods. Teaching sessions use lectures, discussion, and group exercises. The students engage in skill-based sessions in areas such as interviewing skills, theory development, and various methods of qualitative analysis such as thematic analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis. The module also covers the emerging field of evidence-based occupational psychology and innovative technologies in research methods.


  • Summer semester, 60 credits

The dissertation is the culmination of your master’s study and recognition of your capability to conduct a research project independently. Students can apply to undertake an organisation based dissertation project, arranged by the Management School. Working with an organisation, students can structure their project around a real business issue of challenge set by the host organisation. A student project will develop your employability skills, enhance your CV and give you the chance to use your insight to help an organisation develop.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is 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.

Information last updated: 29 November 2019

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