The course

Delivery
Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Taught
Location
Edinburgh
Entry date
September, January

The Masters in Business Psychology at Heriot-Watt University is the most established MSc of its kind in Europe, enjoying a well-earned reputation for producing graduates who can improve the performance and behaviour of individuals and teams.

Contact

Entry dates

This study programme has two entry points, September and January. If you are interested in applying, and would like to start in January 2021, this option will be available to new applicants and existing offer holders from mid-July.

Overview

Business psychology is a discipline often referred to as occupational psychology and organisational psychology.

The MSc Business Psychology will give you an in-depth understanding of the psychological mechanisms that drive positive behaviours and performances in the workplace.

Whether you're coming from an industry position or directly from an undergraduate degree, this long-established programme of study will equip you with an effective blend of knowledge drawn from the specialist fields of psychology, management and leadership.

The content on this one-year masters degree programme has been tailored to meet the needs of those working towards a number of job roles, such as business psychology practitioner, human resources manager, organisational development manager, coaching consultant, management consultant or leadership consultant.

You will develop commercial awareness and an understanding of global organisations which will allow you to recognise the impact of the economy, politics, globalisation and the changing labour market on the psychology of a workplace and performance of individuals and teams.

Key skills for improving performance

During the MSc Business Psychology you will explore different aspects of the psychological mechanisms behind workplace behaviour and gain the managerial skills that will allow you to enhance and improve performance of teams and individuals. You will build expertise in:

  • coaching
  • leadership
  • diversity
  • employment legislation
  • organisational change
  • organisational culture
  • marketing and consumer behaviour.

You will study the areas of psychology that directly apply to business settings, and explore some of the key psychological research methods that can be practised in the workplace.

By viewing the workplace through a psychological perspective, and by developing your analytical, critical thinking, and reflection skills, you will learn to recognise and improve seemingly intangible aspects of the workplace which, when appropriately managed, can directly improve business performance in terms of:

  • job satisfaction
  • wellbeing
  • leadership
  • organisational commitment
  • organisational culture
  • performance and productivity.

Specifically-designed group tasks and presentations will allow you to develop your interpersonal and communication skills, giving you the platform to implement your expertise and directly improve the performance of diverse groups of individuals and teams at any level within an organisation. 

Throughout this programme you will learn from a unique blend of research-led academic teaching and industry-focused practical exercises. For example, on the Psychology of Coaching course you will develop knowledge in the theoretical frameworks of this area of psychology whilst gaining practical insights into the tools and techniques of lecturers who are experienced coaching practitioners and consultants.

Specialist pathways

In addition to pure business psychology, Heriot-Watt University offers two specialist business psychology pathways at our Edinburgh campus:

MSc Business Psychology with Human Resource Management

Business psychology graduates often build extremely rewarding careers in human resource management within a range of industries. This is why Heriot-Watt has created this specialist programme which blends our world-class teaching and expertise in both disciplines to create a specialist, dual-focus programme.

MSc Business Psychology with Intercultural Communication

This new specialist pathway has been introduced to help undergraduates from the Arts and Humanities, Business Management and Psychology programme to position themselves as highly-employable candidates for multinational, global organisations. This MSc combines business psychology's specialist focus on leadership, diversity, organisational culture, and change with intercultural communication’s focus on written and verbal communication skills in cross-cultural, professional business contexts. The development of these specialisms will put graduates in the perfect position to make a positive impact on the performance, communication and culture of global organisations.

Student profile

“My experience at Heriot-Watt was made by the people around me. The most significant thing I learned during my postgraduate study is self-reflection and Kolb’s cycle of learning. For if we do not look inwards as well as outwards, we will never know how to get better and follow learning through into action.”

Jonathan Weinberg-Elliot, MSc Business Psychology, Improver and Founder at Team Improvus

Course content

Organisational Culture

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Considers how the culture in which a business operates can influence all aspects of its commercial practice, from the means by which it organises itself in order to address key markets and challenges to the manner by which it defines organisational roles; the approach to leadership taken by senior managers; and the strategic decisions that these managers make.

Social and Organisational Change

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Considers why organisational change is currently so prevalent, and promotes an understanding of psychological processes at the individual, team and organisational levels that can inform strategies to most effectively bring about organisational change.

Psychology of Coaching

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Describes those psychological principles informing different approaches to coaching and the associated professional issues, the role of coaching in business, and addresses practical issues relating to the introduction and management of a coaching programme into an organisation.

Introduction to Human Factors

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Introduces key principles in ergonomics, reviews some contemporary workplace ergonomic challenges and considers how design can be used to make work more rewarding, efficient, productive and therefore more profitable.

Psychology for Marketing

Semester 2 (mandatory)

Describes the application of psychological concepts and theory to particular commercial issues related to sales and marketing.  This includes the psychological processes that occur entirely within the individual, along with the interpersonal, and broader cultural groups within which (s)he operates.

Leadership

Semester 2 (mandatory)

Addresses what constitutes effective leadership and how leadership skills can be improved through an understanding of relevant psychological concepts and theories.

Diversity

Semester 2 (mandatory)

Considers the commercial implications of growing diversity in the workplace, and the optimal management techniques that can be used to harness this in order to enhance organisational effectiveness and profitability.

Research Methods

Semester 2 (mandatory)

Describes the most appropriate methods involved in carrying out scientific research in the often 'messy' real world context of business and some of the challenges that might be encountered along the way.  The course also provides explicit preparation for the MSc project.

The MSc Dissertation is undertaken between May - August.

Meet the Business Psychology team

Heriot-Watt University’s Psychology Department consists of highly regarded researchers and practitioners with expertise in key areas of Business Psychology which directs the course content into topics such as leadership, coaching, age diversity at work, language discrimination, family business coaching, leadership development, workspace design and socio-technical change.

Dr Dasha Grajfoner

Dr Dasha Grajfoner is the Programme Director of the MSc in Business Psychology, on which she lectures in Coaching Psychology and Leadership. She is also the Director of the Centre for Business and Coaching Psychology at Heriot Watt University.

Dasha is a Chartered Psychologist, Chartered Scientist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and an Accredited Coaching Psychologist (ISfCP) with a PhD in differential psychology, received from the University of Edinburgh.

Dasha’s main research interests are in leadership and executive coaching, positive psychology coaching, mindfulness, compassion and animal assisted interventions. She has worked as a Practitioner Coaching Psychologist, and is very keen to further the development of research evidence by building strong connections between research and practice. In her practice she predominantly uses elements of personal construct coaching, cognitive behavioural and positive psychology approaches.

She was previously the Chair of the Special Group in Coaching Psychology (2014-2016) and Conference Chair of the International Congress of Coaching Psychology.

Dr Sue Cowan

Dr Sue Cowan is the Course Leader for the Business Psychology courses Social and Organisational Change, and Organisational Culture.

Sue is the Head of the Psychology Department at Heriot-Watt University with an eclectic background which transcends Social Psychology, Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Occupational Psychology. Her recent work and interests are focussed on Organisational Psychology, particularly work and wellbeing, of which she is a leading researcher through Heriot-Watt’s Centre for Research on Work and Wellbeing (CRoWW). She has practitioner experience as the co-director of an independent consultancy company and has worked on projects for the UK and EU, bringing extensive expertise on the application of theoretical knowledge to business practice.

Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as both a Practitioner Psychologist and Health Psychologist, Sue holds the European Certificate in Psychology (EuroPsy) and has completed British Psychological Society and EFPA accredited courses in occupational testing. Sue is also an elected member of the Executive Committee of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.

Dr Mioara Cristea

Dr Mioara Cristea is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychology at the Heriot Watt University and the Course Leader for the Research Projects and a lecturer for Psychology for Marketing on Business Psychology.

Mioara’s main area of interest and experience is focused on applied social psychology (e.g., social influence and intergroup relations, social representations and communications, group dynamics) within traffic and transportation, health and marketing domains.    

She is a full member of the European Association of Social Psychology (EASP) and the French Association of Social Psychology (ADRIPS), and has a PhD in Social Psychology received from the University Alexandru Ioan Cuza of Iasi, Romania.

Dr Maria Garraffa

Dr Maria Garraffa is Lecturer in Psychology of Language at Heriot-Watt University and course leader for Introduction to Psychology, Diversity and Psychology of Language.

Her main area of interest is Language Acquisition in diverse circumstances, in both children and adults, with an emphasis on the relations between sociolinguistics and cognitive factors favouring the acquisition of languages. She is also interested in how to remove stereotypes and prejudice on speakers with non-native accents, developing both experimental techniques and intervention programs.

Before joining Heriot-Watt, Maria researched at Newcastle University, Edinburgh University, Universita' di Trento, Milano Bicocca and Universita’ di Siena.

Dr Terry Lansdown

Terry Lansdown is Associate Professor of Human Factors at Heriot-Watt in the School of Social Sciences and Course Leader for Introduction to Human Factors on Business Psychology.

Throughout his career, Terry has produced over 50 academic publications and secured more than £4.5m in funding from UK, EU and international sponsors. Terry’s research has focussed on two main areas, Driver Behaviour and Occupational Health & Safety. He is an active contributor on professional, academic and standardisation matters and has frequently undertaken public engagement activities via the TV, Radio and newspapers.

Guest lectures and educational trips

At Heriot-Watt University we ensure that you understand how the knowledge and skills you learn in class can be applied to the real world. On Business Psychology you will learn from psychology, leadership and coaching researchers and practitioners who share their research findings and practical experiences with you directly.

Dr Brian O'Neill, an occupational psychologist and leadership development consultant shares his expertise with guest lectures and seminars on Leadership Development

Dr. Louise Lambert, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Ethics at the Canadian University of Dubai presented on Positive Psychology, happiness and culture which was particularly linked to our Coaching course

Professor Ray Miller, Honorary Treasurer to the British Psychological Society, Professional Advisor for Psychology to NHS, and an experienced leader, speakers to students on how you should develop yourself as a leader.

Sharan Virdee, Equality and Diversity Partner at Heriot-Watt University, shares first-hand experience of promoting Diversity and Equality throughout the University. Sharon outlines her work at both the strategic and service delivery levels of the institution, explaining how she interprets national agendas to the legal context and organisational values of Heriot-Watt University to develop and implement policy.

You may also take part in a number of trips outside of the classroom to discover how the theoretical concepts you learn about can be recognised across society.

Entry requirements

For MSc entry, students will typically have a First or Second Class Honours Degree. Given the clear practical element of the programmes, we will also consider non-graduate candidates for the Certificate if they have a decade of experience in senior roles in business, such as management or other high-level work. We offer individual courses on a Continuing Professional Development basis to candidates without any previous qualifications. Satisfactory completion of the Certificate will make the student in question eligible for entry on to the Diploma, and assuming they are successful, the MSc.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Fees

Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time Part-time Per course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £7400 £3700 £925**
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £7400 £3700 £925**
Overseas £16400 £8200 £2050**

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.

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.

Additional scholarship information

Future Made for Success

You may be eligible for a fee discount of 30% on this programme. Find out more about Future Made for Success