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MSc Psychological Research Methods

The psychological research landscape is continually changing, and researchers require an up-to-date knowledge of the latest methods in order to be able to make an impact. With leading research institutes, higher education providers and funding bodies across the world placing increased importance on transparent, reliable and replicable methods, the need for psychologists to demonstrate skills in a breadth of research techniques has never been greater.

Through your MSc Psychological Research Methods training, you'll learn the latest techniques that are applied in cutting-edge psychology research from the psychologists who are using them in their published studies. The techniques covered range from neuroimaging and multivariate statistics, to clinical trial design and qualitative interview methods. You'll also receive professional skills training in grant proposal writing, academic presentation skills and research ethics before completing an extended research project in your chosen area of psychology.

Tailor your studies to pursue your research interests in clinical, cognitive, developmental or social psychology and take the next step towards a PhD, clinical training or a career in psychological research.

Specialise based on your research interests

Whether you're passionate about clinical, cognitive, developmental or social psychology, on the MSc Psychological Research Methods course more than half of your training can be tailored by you to your research interests and career goals. That includes your extended research project and literature review.


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

Online application form

Programme codes:
One year full time: PSYT107
Two year part time: PSYT24

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 6533

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

This 12-month course is designed to train you in the latest research methods that are applied in cutting-edge psychology research, ready for clinical training, a PhD or an exciting psychological career. Throughout your course you'll learn from psychologists who are publishing papers at the forefront of their fields. From neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI), behavioural genetics, through experimental methodologies, clinical trial design and multivariate statistics, to qualitative interview, diary study methodologies and specialist methods for working with infants, children and clinical populations. We'll teach you the skills you need and give you the opportunities to apply them to the area of psychology that you're interested in: from cognitive and developmental, to social and clinical psychology.

From week one you'll begin training in a range of skills that are important for psychologists in academia and professional roles. You'll understand ethical issues in research, learn how to write a grant proposal, receive training in multivariate statistics, and develop your presentation skills ready to take part in our annual student-led summer conference.

The Research Project and Systematic Literature Review course components, which include coverage of meta-analysis,  give you the opportunity to focus on a chosen psychological research question in detail under the supervision of one of our world-class researchers. You can choose a supervisor from an area of psychology that matches your research interests and future career aspirations within cognitive, developmental, social or clinical psychology. These projects give you the opportunity to put your new research methods knowledge into practice while addressing an issue at the cutting edge of psychological research. It's common for MSc research projects and literature reviews to form the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Example research projects include:

  • Identifying risk factors for poor treatment outcomes in clinical therapy;
  • The roles of self-control, ambivalence and decision-making in the context of health behaviour change;
  • The development of cognitive flexibility / inhibitory control in the preschool / school years.

Example past papers published including student authors:

  • Matthews D , Biney H, Abbot-Smith, K (2018) Individual differences in children’s pragmatic ability: A review of associations with formal language, social cognition, and executive functions. Language Learning and Development.
  • Johnston, S., Krasuska, A., Millings, A., Lavda, A., & Thompson, A. R. (2018). Experiences of rosacea and its treatment: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. British Journal of Dermatology, 178, 154-160. doi: 10.1111/bjd.15780
  • Vogt, KS & Norman, P (2018) Is mentalization-based therapy effective in treating the symptoms of borderline personality disorder? A systematic review. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.

In addition to technical skills and specialist knowledge of psychological research methods, throughout your course you’ll also develop transferable skills around problem solving and communication, sought after by employers around the globe. In order to build these skills, you’ll learn through small-group teaching in a mixture of seminars, workshops and one-to-one supervision. All assessment is coursework-based.

Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:

MSc Psychological Research Methods

After your degree

This course is designed to train you for a wide range of exciting psychological careers or prepare you for the next step to begin clinical training or further study to PhD level.

The course can form the basis for a four year PhD programme and previous graduates have gone on to PhD training in neuroimaging, health psychology and social psychology.

Graduates will be equipped with the specialist knowledge and transferrable skills to pursue careers in:

  • NHS trusts or other public health organisations in roles including Assistant Psychologist or Research Assistant.
  • Charitable and not-for-profit organisations such as the Alzheimers Society, Mind and Rightsteps in roles including Psychology Practitioner or Mental Health Support Worker.
  • Academia as a psychological researcher or lecturer and beyond.

The University's Careers Service runs workshops on CV and application writing, job hunting and preparing for interviews. They offer events where you can meet employers, and opportunities to get work experience while you study. The Careers Service will even continue to support you for three years after you graduate.

Graduate spotlight

Dr Emma Blakey 300

Dr Emma Blakey
Now: Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, University of Sheffield

Read Emma's story

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.  Evidence of undergraduate training in statistics for psychology is also required.

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.

  • 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

Funding and scholarships

Funding is available, depending on your fee status, where you live and the course you plan to study. You could also qualify for a repayable postgraduate masters loan to help fund your studies.

Funding your postgraduate course

UK/EU scholarships

100+ scholarships image

We're offering 100+ scholarships worth £10,000 each for home students starting a taught postgraduate course in 2019 that can be used towards fees or living expenses.

Find out more

International scholarships

International scholarships image

We're offering 100 International Postgraduate Taught Merit Scholarships, each worth 25% of the original tuition fee for a postgraduate taught programme starting in September 2019.

Find out more

Alumni rewards

Alumni rewards

If you’ve previously graduated from the University and intend to pursue further studies with us then you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on your tuition fees.

Find out more

Up-to-date fees can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:

Tuition fees

Departmental Taught Postgraduate Bursaries

Each year we offer two bursaries to students on this program. 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, and how it fits with your aspirations.

To be considered for a bursary in the year that you intend to start your course, submit your application to study with us by 31 May. All applications received before this deadline will automatically be considered for a bursary.

Caroline Wojnarowski 500

Caroline completed research in depression and anxiety as part of her masters and now works as a Clinical Studies Officer in the NHS.

I was lucky enough to have a fabulous supervisor that gave me great opportunities for research in depression and anxiety which is a keen interest of mine! From the MSc I now have two published papers from the systematic review module and my research project is currently under review for publication.

Caroline Wojnarowski - READ MORE


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Current modules

All students will study:

Research Project (60 credits)

Module leader: Professor Richard Rowe
Project supervisors: All academic staff

You'll 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 Matthews
Review supervisors: All academic staff

Seminars address searching online 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'll 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 Claudia Von Bastian

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 semester.

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.