PhD Psychology

The course

Delivery type
Full-time, Part-time
Intake date
September, January* (* part-time only)



Heriot-Watt University’s mission is to create and exchange knowledge that benefits society, and in keeping with this, our psychology research examines and offers solutions for many different global challenges.

The PhD Psychology is a 36-month full-time research degree conducted under the supervision of a faculty member culminating with submission of a research thesis.

Our research can help diagnose and support people with mental health conditions and improve cognitive and psychological health and wellbeing across the life course.

For example, it can help us understand how learners of different ages and with different levels of ability can be better supported, and show us how coaching, training and engagement can enhance performance, productivity or wellbeing.

Research in psychology at Heriot-Watt University is grouped by three main themes:

  • Cognition, brain and behaviour
  • Lifespan health and wellbeing
  • Work, society and environment.


Read more about the UAE Federal Accreditation.


Cognition, Brain and Behaviour

Our brains and cognitive abilities develop from childhood through to old age. Research within this theme explores those changes in healthy children and adults, as well as developmental conditions, dementia and stroke. Research spans from language to social cognition, including memory, motor control and body representation. A strong aspect of this theme is theoretically-informed translational interventions, making use of state-of-the-art multidisciplinary techniques such as robotics and virtual reality.

Lifespan Health and Wellbeing

Issues explored in psychology are inherently linked to wellbeing across the lifespan, affecting fields from education to health. Research in this theme explores health-promotion activities in children and adolescents, healthy ageing and mental health issues in developmental conditions.

Work, Society and Environment

Findings from psychology can impact people and society in several ways. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, research in this theme explores behaviour in the workplace, assessing risk in the environment, and interventions to improve workplace performance.

Entry requirements

All applications will be reviewed within the department with a shortlisting decision made based on qualifications, the suitability of the research proposal and the availability of a supervisory team. Applicants must have the equivalent of a first or upper second class honours undergraduate degree in psychology or related discipline. A masters degree (with a dissertation mark of 65% or higher) or relevant research experience may also be required. Applicants who are unsure if their qualifications meet the minimum criteria should contact

How to apply

Please submit your application via the online portal with the three supporting documents listed below and your CV.

Please state clearly on your application that you are applying for a PhD scholarship and quote the relevant project reference.

Research proposal (1500 words or less) 

On the front page of your research proposal, please ensure that you state the relevant project reference.

The research proposal should contain: an introduction or outline of the proposed topic; a statement of objectives and/or specific research questions; a brief summary of some of the relevant literature which supports the research objective(s); an indication of the intended research methodology; an indication of the theoretical structure and/or conceptual outline; a provisional timetable of the major phases of the research process; results expected from the research e.g. practical value of the research or possible contributions to knowledge or policy or methodology.  

At this stage we are not looking for a definitive document but merely an indication that you have thought through most of the above issues.

Please note that work submitted may be subject to screening via plagiarism software.

Academic transcripts and degree certificates

Copies of full academic transcripts from all previous academic degree courses and copies of degree certificates for degrees already awarded.  If you are currently pursuing a degree course please provide all available marks to date.


If you have references available these should be submitted with your application.  If they are not currently available please ensure that you provide the names and contact details, including email addresses, of two academic referees on the application form.

Candidates should also submit a curriculum vitae.

Queries may be directed to

English language requirements

Where English was not the medium of instruction during previous education, applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5. Other qualifications may also be considered.

Fees and funding

  • AED 95670 per year*

* All tuition fees inclusive of VAT

Scholarships and bursaries

See our range of degree entry, undergraduate, postgraduate taught and PhD scholarships and discounts.