MSc Occupational Psychology

Developing skills for a career in enhancing organisational and personal effectiveness, our renowned MSc Occupational Psychology not only equips you with the practical skills necessary for becoming an occupational psychologist; it is also accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is the first step towards pursuing registration with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Key facts

Study mode: Full time
Duration: 12 months
Next available start date: September 2019


TATA visit 2013Our MSc Occupational Psychology boasts an international reputation. It is taught full-time from September to spring followed by a dissertation where students conduct a research project within an organisation over the summer. 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 the 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 course, practical workshops focus on developing skills in presentations, SPSS statistical software, group work and information management. There is also training to acquire the BPS Assistant Test User and Tester User Qualifications (Occupational, Ability and Personality) in Psychometric Testing.

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. The MSc Occupational Psychology covers all the knowledge areas required for Stage 1 of professional development to be a practicing psychologist. In workshops, guidance is also provided on working towards Stage 2 (Supervised Practice).


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 Christine Sprigg

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 Dr 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 Kamal Birdi

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 Dr Laura Dean

Autumn and Spring semesters, 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.

Research Project in Occupational Psychology

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'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.

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.


BPS logo

The MSc Occupational Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Click here to read more about this accreditation and exemptions.

Careers and employability

At Sheffield University Management School, we are committed to focusing on employability and our postgraduate students’ future career prospects. We have two specialist careers advisors in the School, dedicated to providing full-time career support throughout your programme.

You will have many opportunities during your course to engage in personal and professional development. Our programmes are designed to enable you to acquire the transferable skills essential for employment: communication, organisation, the ability to deal with complex issues creatively and systematically; and the conceptual understanding required to evaluate current scholarship and research techniques.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees for 2019-20 are:

GBP 12,250 for EU Students
GBP 22,600 for non-EU Students

You may incur fees for late registration, re-examination and re-submission. Click here to find out more.


There are a number of scholarships which students may be eligible for, visit the following links for more information:
Sheffield University Management School Scholarships
University of Sheffield Scholarships
International Student Scholarships
For more information about fees and funding your studies, click here.

Student Testimonial

Jessica Pickard, MSc Occupational Psychology (UK)

What were you doing before you started your course?
I graduated from Newcastle University with my BSc degree in Psychology. Following that I spent some time gaining work experience, and I also travelled for six months around Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

Why did you choose to study your course?
Following my undergraduate degree I was interested to pursue a career within Clinical Psychology. However after gaining some experience in the field I realised it wasn’t the right option for me and started to explore other areas of Psychology. I did a lot of research into Occupational Psychology, spoke to students currently studying the MSc at Sheffield and read job profiles of current Occupational Psychologists and the varied roles within the discipline. This, coupled with my experience of working in different organisations, inspired me and assisted in my desire to pursue a career in Occupational Psychology, and contribute to improving the wellbeing of employees. In addition, the course is the first step towards my long term ambition of chartered psychologist status and registration as an Occupational Psychologist, and it will enable me to develop practical skills and knowledge to become successful in the field. I chose to study for my Occupational Psychology Masters at the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP) because of its recognised reputation as a centre of excellence, and also for its friendly and supportive community with dedicated staff who are leaders in their field. I was also attracted by the small class sizes and combination of the interactive teaching programme and research project within an organisation to provide real-world work experience.

What have you most enjoyed about your course/student experience so far?
I have really enjoyed the broad range of modules within my course, enabling me to gain an insight into the different areas of Occupational Psychology and experience its diverse and applicable nature. The interactive and practical element of the lectures have been stimulating and inspiring, and helped develop my communication and critical thinking skills whilst increasing my knowledge and understanding of the field. The support from the staff has really enhanced my experience so far, and it has been fantastic getting to know the other students on my course, both working together during group discussions and projects, and socialising outside of lectures.

What has been your favourite module?
This is a difficult question! The modules that we have been taught so far (including Personnel Selection, Work Systems and Human Factors, and Organisational Behaviour) have all been very interesting and insightful, and really highlighted how diverse Occupational Psychology is. I have particularly enjoyed analysing case studies of past and current workplace issues, and learning how to enhance the wellbeing of employees at work and the effectiveness of organisations.

What do you like most about the city?
What I love about Sheffield is that it is a very student friendly, safe and vibrant city with lots going on, and an abundance of great cafes, bars and restaurants. The fact that it’s a small city makes it easy to navigate by foot (as long as you don’t mind the hills too much – but that’s another bonus as they keep you fit!), and where public transport is necessary, it is cheap and easily accessible and there are excellent transport links to other cities in the UK. Furthermore, Sheffield is the ‘greenest’ city in the UK and is situated on the edge of the beautiful Peak District, where I have enjoyed some excellent walks and cycling.

What do you want to do when you graduate?
There are so many exciting career options within Occupational Psychology and at the moment I am still not entirely sure which specific direction I will take. However following graduation I hope to gain a role within a consultancy and utilise the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout my Masters course, eventually working towards gaining chartership and becoming a successful practitioner within the field.

How do you feel the Management School has helped you increase your employability, either through your course or its support services such as the Employability Hub?
The Management School has so far provided many opportunities to enhance my employability. They keep students informed of work experience opportunities, careers events and employer presentations within the school and are very supportive in gaining placements within companies to conduct research projects. I have attended several of the skills workshops associated with writing persuasive CVs and job applications, and being successful in interviews. In addition, there is a module on my course dedicated to practitioner skills and professional insights which focuses on developing skills ready for practice in Occupational Psychology. Examples of some of the sessions include presentation skills, team working, business strategy and also career workshops with guest speakers currently working in the field.

Do you have any advice for students thinking about studying your course?
First of all, I would highly recommend the course! Ensure you do lots of research into it, the city and Occupational Psychology in general to ensure it is the best option for you, and don’t hesitate to contact the school before applying if you have any questions or concerns. Importantly, make good use of the support available throughout the application process – such as speaking to current students who are happy to help and share their experience of the course with you. Unfortunately, I wasn’t available to attend the open day for the Occupational Psychology Masters, but the Management School was very accommodating and I arranged to visit at another time. I was welcomed by the director of my course who showed me round the school which gave me a great insight into its friendly, supportive learning environment. Ensure you make the most of all the fantastic opportunities the School offers throughout your course such as the skills workshops and networking events. Finally, be prepared to work hard, but to also have an exciting, rewarding year that will enhance both your knowledge and practical skills and prepare you for a career in Occupational Psychology.

How to apply

Entry requirements

This programme will appeal to graduates with a strong academic background in psychology who want to become an Occupational Psychologist, as well as those with an interest in business consultancy, human resource management or organisational research.

You will have a 2:1 honours degree in psychology, with significant coverage of research methods and statistics topics. You must be eligible for the BPS’s Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). If you have not graduated from a BPS accredited degree programme, you can apply for our MSc Work Psychology course.

For overseas students, Sheffield University Management School’s standard English requirement is IELTS 6.5 (with no less than 6 in each part). For detailed information on our English language requirements, click here.

Apply now

If you have any enquiries about your suitability, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Team:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 3376