Psychology is the science of behaviour and the mind. It uses a variety of scientific methods to explore major aspects of; the influence that our biology has on behaviour; the ways in which we develop from early infancy to adulthood; the ways in which we perceive the world, think, solve problems and make decisions; and the way we interact with each other. Understanding individual differences in the ways in which we think and behave provide other important considerations. All of these approaches to the science of mind and behaviour enable theories to be developed and tested within psychology.

Applied psychology takes up and usually extends the issues raised by psychology's theories in important settings such as education, work and organisations, health and mental ill-health, sports and exercise, systems design, marriage and relationships, the environment, forensic and criminological analysis and much besides.


Our undergraduate degree programmes in Psychology are focused on understanding how psychology can be applied to help us address real-world situations. All of our undergraduate Psychology degrees are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) for graduate registration - which is crucial for anyone looking to then go on to train as a professional psychologist.

Our postgraduate degree programmes in Psychology have a distinctive practical emphasis, preparing students to apply knowledge of psychological theory and evidence to solving real-world problems and to improving effectiveness at individual, team and organisational level across a variety of sectors and roles including HRM, marketing, business performance, organsiational development, and strategic management.


Our Psychology research is grouped under three main themes:

  • Work, Society & Environment
  • Lifespan Health & Wellbeing
  • Cognition, Brain & Behaviour

Find out more about our Psychology research.


League Table Heriot-Watt ranking
National Student Survey 2016 8th in Scotland
50th in UK
The Guardian University Guide 2017 11th in Scotland
84th in UK
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 9th in Scotland
52nd  in UK
The Complete University Guide 2017 9th in Scotland
45th in UK