Key information

Mode of delivery
Delivery type
Start date
1 year


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MSc Applied Psychology is a one-year postgraduate degree for graduates who aspire to a career in academic psychology or applied psychology. It is led by research-active academics working in applied fields of psychology at our Edinburgh campus.

MSc Applied Psychology at Heriot-Watt University is led by research-active academics from the university's Centre for Applied Behavioural Sciences.

This degree is suitable for graduates of Psychology or related fields aspiring towards a career in academic or applied areas of Psychology.

As a postgraduate degree, MSc Applied Psychology follows on from our established, BPS Accredited undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology. It will allow you to explore key topics related to Heriot-Watt's three important psychological research 

  • Cognition, Brain and Behaviour
  • Lifespan Health and Wellbeing
  • Work, Society and Environment. 

Your learning will also be complemented by the Department of Psychology's existing postgraduate teaching and research strengths in the fields of Business Psychology and Sport Psychology.

Research in Psychology can lead to understanding and solving many global challenges. From exploring the ways that coaching, training and engagement can enhance performance, productivity and wellbeing; to improving diagnosis and support for people with mental health conditions.

This degree will deepen your knowledge of contemporary research in Psychology and consider its translation and application to such real-world problems. You will also benefit from access to research facilities such as eye trackers, driving simulators, and consistent environment labs, to support your independent research projects.

Postgraduate Masterclass Series

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Our student perspective


Course content

Year 1

Semester 1 

Current Directions in Psychology: At the end of the course, the students will be able to understand, critically evaluate, and contribute to research on a variety of psychology and neuroscience topics. Research topics will align with core research themes within the department:

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

Psychological Assessment: The course provides a critical appreciation of the range of tests, procedures and techniques used to better understand a person's psychological character and behaviour. Students will gain knowledge about how such tests and procedures are used in experimental and applied settings. Learning will involve case discussions, hands-on experience of testing, with groups of students investigating different cases and procedures week by week. Students will develop an appreciation of the types of psychological testing and the analysis and interpretation of the outcomes of that. Students will become familiar with the administration, scoring and interpretation of measures commonly used within psychological assessment. The course will provide a foundation for future specialised training and supervised work experience.

Specifically, this course aims to:

  • Promote understanding and knowledge about the contributions and challenges of psychological assessment in various contexts and settings
  • Develop skills in selecting appropriate testing procedures and the generation of hypotheses based on the outcomes of those
  • Explore the scope of psychological assessment techniques and develop skills in the administration and interpretation of tests commonly used in experimental and applied settings

Research Methods in Psychology 1: This course will provide students with opportunities to learn and demonstrate critical ability to use a range of techniques and research methods applicable to advanced scholarship in Psychology. Students will develop critical knowledge and understanding of how to conduct qualitative and quantitative research of relevance to Psychology, including critically understanding research philosophies, research ethics, research designs, and how to collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative psychological data.

Choose one of: Coaching Psychology, Social and Organisational Change, Organisational Culture, or Introduction to Human Factors

Semester 2 

Research in Action: This course will provide students with applied research experience by working with supervisors in a real research environment. This will allow students to understand how research is conducted in practice, and what tasks are required to realise research objectives. Students will gain knowledge of how research gaps are identified, how appropriate research questions are formulated, and how methodologies are developed and applied. Placement tasks will be completed individually, though research activities will be directly supported by supervisors and underpinned by workshops highlighting the use of and justification for the research approaches taken.

The course will enable students to take the knowledge and skills developed throughout their programme—relating to theory, methodology and dissemination—and apply it. The workshops accompanying the placements will therefore consider their experiences of 'being a researcher', including any challenges encountered and how those were overcome, and their reflections on their research experience. The learning outcomes reflect the course aims of applying learning to the research process and develop hands-on research experience.

Specifically, this course aims to:

  • Promote understanding and knowledge about the development of research in terms of the questions addressed and the methods used within a real research setting
  • Develop and apply skills in the management, interpretation and dissemination of research

Psychological Interventions: The course provides a critical overview of interventions in Psychology. Students will gain knowledge about how psychological concepts and theories are used to develop interventions that are then studied within research settings, leading to further refinement of those concepts and theories. The course will demonstrate how interventions are translated 'beyond the lab' into real-world contexts. 

Students will develop an appreciation of the types of interventions studied and the interpretation of any observed benefits, and how to design testable interventions linked to theory. Students will also consider the challenges of interventions developed within controlled, experimental settings being applied in real-world contexts, as well as considering the factors that can affect intervention efficacy in those settings.

Specifically, this course aims to:

  • Promote understanding and knowledge about the development of psychological interventions targeting a range of outcomes in terms of their conceptual and theoretical underpinning
  • Develop skills in critically evaluating the evidence for intervention efficacy, in both experimental and applied settings
  • Explore the scope of existing psychological interventions and develop skills in proposing new interventions, including the processes for testing those in either experimental or applied settings

Research Methods in Psychology 2: This course will provide students with opportunities to learn and demonstrate critical ability to use a range of techniques and research methods applicable to advanced scholarship in Psychology and develop a proposal for their independent project. Building on Research Methods in Psychology 1 (C91RA), students will develop critical knowledge and understanding of: further qualitative and quantitative approaches and analyses, identifying a research question and developing a research proposal to inform their Independent Project in Psychology (C91IP), the research ethics process at Heriot-Watt University, and how to write core sections of a research manuscript.

Research with Impact: Whether at the level of individuals, communities or society, research in the social sciences is often directed towards improving lives. The course explores how research can have that impact. We will consider impact not just in terms of research affecting outcomes for people, communities and society, but also how people can be involved in the research process at every stage.

Students will consider user-engagement and participatory research, to understand the benefits, as well as challenges, of research being done with, rather than 'on', people. Students will develop an understanding of why people, often participants in the research we do, can be important and active contributors throughout the process. The course will then explore the ways in which research is disseminated, with a specific focus on knowledge exchange and public engagement. Students will also evaluate what it means for research to have impact, in terms of changes to policy or process for example, and importantly, how that impact can be evidenced.

Learning will involve exploring examples of user-engagement, dissemination and impact from across the social sciences, with different topics providing the focus week by week.

Specifically, this course aims to:

  • Promote understanding about the challenges and opportunities of participatory research
  • Improve knowledge about the range of dissemination tools available to researchers, and provide the skills to consider the appropriateness of those for different audiences and purposes
  • Develop skills in critically evaluating the evidence that research has had impact and how to design research with impact in mind

Semester 3

Independent Project in Psychology

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time
UK 10736
Overseas [footnote 2] 23248


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Entry requirements


For MSc entry, students will typically have a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Psychology or a related discipline from a BPS-accredited programme.

If the first language is not English, or a previous degree was not taught in English, evidence of English language ability will be required. 

The minimum English language requirement for entry to this programme is IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component lower than 6.0.

If you do not have IELTS 6.5, we offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement for this programme prior to commencing your studies:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum 5.5 in all skills)

Why Heriot-Watt?

Psychology facilities

Our Edinburgh-based researchers benefit from refurbished research facilities, comprising three expertise-specific research spaces

Edinburgh campus accommodation

Living on our beautiful Edinburgh campus is a great way to meet others from all over the world. Our student accommodation is within easy reach of the teaching buildings, sports facilities, catering venues and the Student Union

Living in Edinburgh

Historic and beautiful, a cultural capital that fuels the senses whether you love the arts or nature, nightlife or study life, Edinburgh is stimulating and inspirational and never, ever boring.

Health and wellbeing

Student Wellbeing Services aim to provide a range of support, guidance, activities and advice to help students to be their best, and get the most from their university experience. From counselling to coaching we'll sure you are fully supported.

Psychology Student Society

The Psychology society is a student run community who host a mix of academic and social events for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Psychology students.

Clubs and activities

At Heriot-Watt we have an extensive programme of over 90 sports clubs and societies to get involved in. You can try as many as you like or start one of your own!

Edinburgh Campus facilities

At Heriot-Watt University, we offer a wide range of services to help you deal with all aspects of your life with us, whether these be academic, personal, technical, financial or just plain fun!

Heriot-Watt Student Union

There's more to university life than simply getting your degree, and Heriot-Watt University Student Union is all about helping you to have the best possible experience while you study here.

Sport facilities

Oriam, Scotland Sports Performance Centre offers state-of-the-art sports facilities, for all levels of sport and ability

Your career

Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

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