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MSc Psychological Research Methods

One year, full time programme code: PSYT107
Two year, part time programme code: PSYT24
PhD with Integrated Studies: PSYT19 – find out more

On this course, you'll develop a broad and comprehensive range of research skills within psychology. You'll be able to focus on particular methods so that you can develop your own specialisms, depending on your own career goals and research interests.

The course can form the first year of a four year PhD programme, or you can complete it as a stand-alone qualification. Graduates have gone on to PhD training in neuro-imaging, health psychology and social psychology, postgraduate clinical courses and assistant clinical psychologist positions.


To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Online application form

You can find more information about the application process on the University's postgraduate webpages.

How to apply: applying essentials


Course Director: Dr Danielle Matthews

If you would like to know anything else about this course, contact: | +44 (0)114 222 6534

You can also visit us throughout the year:
Postgraduate open days, visit afternoons and online chats

Pathway programme for international students
Don't meet our entry requirements? Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

About the course

I chose the University of Sheffield's psychology department because of their remarkable research in different interesting and important topics. As an international student coming from different education system, I never felt lost because the Psychological Research Methods course was very well structured.

Ali Aytemur

This course can be taken as a full-time course over one year or a part-time course over two. It is taught through seminars and workshops that take place on Tuesdays and Fridays only, and one-to-one supervision meetings. The research project makes up the biggest part of your course and you will work under the supervision of one of our world class researchers. In the past, findings from these projects have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

We have particular research strengths in theoretical and applied aspects of clinical, social, health, cognitive and developmental psychology, and neuroscience. The taught modules are an opportunity for you to pursue your own interests – in particular, the Professional Skills for Psychologists module trains you to write a research proposal on a topic of your choosing.

This MSc aims to give you:

  • expertise in research methods currently used in psychology (eg, an understanding of different methods of data collection and analysis in psychological research, practical experience conducting a piece of psychological research)
  • experience in conducting psychological research at a postgraduate level
  • general research skills (eg, bibliographic and computing skills, awareness of ethical and legal issues in research)
  • personal development and transferable professional skills (eg, communication and dissemination skills, professional development)

Entry requirements

For this course, we usually ask for an upper second class (2:1) honours degree or equivalent in psychology or a related discipline. You will also need to provide evidence of undergraduate training in statistics for psychology.

We can also accept qualifications from other countries. You can find out which qualifications we accept from your country on the University's webpages for international students.

Prospective international students: Your country

International pathway programmes

If you are an international student who does not meet our entry requirements, the University of Sheffield International College offers a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme. This programme is designed to develop your academic level in your chosen subject, introduce you to the study skills that will be vital to success and help with language if you need it.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at the University of Sheffield.

Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

English Language Requirements

If you have not already studied in a country where English is the majority language, it is likely that you will need to have an English language qualification.

  • For 2018 entry, we are asking for International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 7.0 with no less than 7.0 in writing and no less than 6.0 in reading, speaking and listening
  • For 2019 entry, we are asking for International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component

You can find out whether you need to have an english language qualification, and which other English language qualifications we accept, on the University's webpages for international students.

English language requirements

The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.

English Language Teaching Centre

Fees and funding

Up-to-date fees and funding opportunities can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students. These may include scholarships for home and international students and a 10% discount for University of Sheffield graduates.

Tuition fees

Funding your postgraduate course

Departmental Taught Postgraduate Bursaries

Each year we offer seven bursaries to students on one of our masters courses. Students who are awarded a bursary get a £1,500 reduction in their tuition fees. These bursaries are awarded on a competitive basis, based on:

  • Academic performance as indicated by GPA and transcript
  • Other relevant skills and knowledge (for example, programming courses outside the degree, or relevant work experience)
  • Research activity (co-authoring papers, conference presentations, etc)
  • Personal statement, which should include information on why you want to do the course you have applied for, how it fits with your aspirations, and details about your research interests supported by reference to the literature

To be considered for a bursary for a course you intend to start in 2018, submit your application by 31 May 2018. All applications received before this deadline will be considered for a bursary.

What our students say

Hannah Biney, student 2015/16, winner of the Outstanding Performance Award

"Having enjoyed completing my undergraduate psychology degree at University of Sheffield, I was keen to stay on at the University to complete a postgraduate course and continue in the child development lab as I had thoroughly enjoyed working there during my undergraduate course. The MSc in Psychological Research Methods at Sheffield gave the the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct and critique research. My literature review is being used as part of a publication thanks to the support and expertise of my supervisor.

"I highly recommend this MSc, as adequate preparation for anyone interested in continuing a career in clinical psychology. This masters prepares you with excellent research skills for the doctorate and during the course I was able to complete voluntary work to enhance my clinical expertise. Since finishing the MSc, I have started working as an Assistant Psychologist in an adolescent inpatient eating disorders unit and I have used my research knowledge to develop and test the effectiveness of a therapy programme run on the unit."

Ali Aytemur, student 2014/15

"After completing my undergraduate psychology education in Ege University in Turkey, I found a scholarship opportunity which allowed me to be able to study in any respected university in the world. I chose the University of Sheffield's psychology department because of their remarkable research in different interesting and important topics.

"As an international student coming from different education system, I never felt lost because Psychological Research Methods course was very well structured. Everything you need to do is written step by step so that you can plan your work better and learn more. The department has a variety of researchers and research facilities. Therefore, you can do research probably in any topic that interests you.

"This course is a very good in terms of preparing you into academic world. You can improve your understanding of psychological research methods and perform a study in your area of interest. After completing my MSc, I continued my PhD here in the University of Sheffield straight away because I really enjoy studying here and Sheffield is a nice city which is suitable for student life as well. If you want to improve your research skills and want a career in academia, I definitely suggest this course."

Paulina Gonzalez Salas Duhne, student 2014/15

"I completed my undergraduate degree in Mexico and worked as an assistant psychologist there for a few years. However, in order to go onto further clinical training, I lacked experience and knowledge in research. The MSc in Psychological Research Methods at Sheffield gave the the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct and critique research.

"The teaching is condensed into two days, allowing freedom to manage our time. However it really did imply a full time schedule given the projects we had to complete for each module: literature review, critical appraisal, statistics (with Dr Chris Stride, one of the best statisticians I've ever met), ethics and dissertation.

"For the dissertation, we were given a vast diversity of choices of supervisors and topics. My dissertation has now been published thanks to the support and expertise of my supervisors. I highly recommend this MSc, as an adequate preparation for anyone interested in continuing a career in clinical psychology. Since finishing the MSc, I have gone on to the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology as the first international student in the University."

Current modules

The modules listed below are examples from the current academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course.

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.

Research Project (60 credits)

Module leader: Dr Danielle Matthews
Project supervisors: All academic staff

You will conduct a complete empirical project including design, analysis and write-up, under the guidance of a member of academic staff. Projects may be published in peer-reviewed journals and recent examples include:

  • Vabalas, A., & Freeth, M. (2016). Brief report: Patterns of eye movements in face to face conversation are associated with autistic traits: evidence from a student sample. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(1), 305-314.
Systematically Reviewing Psychological Research (30 credits)

Module leader: Dr Danielle Mathews
Review supervisors: All academic staff

Seminars address searching on-line databases such as Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar, the process of conducting systematic and narrative literature reviews and meta-analysis. The application of reference managing software to manage reference libraries is also addressed. You will complete your own literature review on a topic of your choice under supervision of an academic member of staff.

Current Issues in Psychological Research (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Aarti Iyer

Seminars are presented by academics on contemporary controversies in their research areas. Particular attention is paid to the way different research methods are triangulated to advance the field.

Research Methods in Psychology (30 credits)

Organiser: Dr Jilly Martin

Seminars on the methods currently being applied by psychologists  are presented by experts in their application. Methods covered include behavioural genetics, eye-tracking, questionnaire design, experimental methods for working with infants and children, qualitative data collection and analysis, and neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI).

Professional Skills for Psychologists (30 Credits)

Module leader: Dr Mark Blades

Seminars address a range of skills that will be important for psychologists in both academia and professional practice. Topics include ethical issues, presentation skills, grant proposal writing and managing conferences.

Intermediate Multivariate Statistics for Psychology (15 Credits)

Module leader: Dr Chris Stride

The course addresses a range of commonly applied quantitative methods including multiple regression (including testing for mediation and moderation), analysis of covariance, exploratory factor analysis and reliability analysis. The emphasis is on conceptual understanding of when to apply these techniques and how to interpret the output rather than on the underlying mathematics. Additionally a three day course in using SPSS software is offered in the Spring sememster.