BSc (Hons) Psychology

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Delivery type

Heriot-Watt's BSc Psychology course in Edinburgh is accredited by the British Psychological Society – an accreditation required for anyone who wishes to pursue a career as a professional psychologist.


Got questions about this programme?

Contact our enquiries team.


Psychology uses scientific methods to examine key themes in the relationship between mind and behaviour. Through psychological study, we can explore the influence biology has on behaviour; the way humans develop from early infancy to adulthood; and the way people perceive the world, think, solve problems and make decisions.

At Heriot-Watt, we begin with a problem and consider how psychology can help us address it with practical solutions for the real world. We have four specialist research labs which facilitate the work of academics and students alike.

Heriot-Watt’s BSc Psychology degree is informed by the work and knowledge of research-active academics whose expertise in psychology covers three key areas:

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

During this degree you will study Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Individual Differences, Psychobiology, and Social Psychology. You will develop advanced skills in research, data gathering, data analysis, and report writing. You will also build your creativity, leadership, teamwork, communication, presentation, and problem-solving abilities. In Year 4 you will undertake your own research project.

Heriot-Watt’s psychology courses in Edinburgh are world leading.

Go Global with Psychology at Heriot-Watt University

Our BSc Psychology degree is taught across Heriot-Watt University’s three main global campuses in Edinburgh, Dubai, and Malaysia. This means our students can easily transfer for one semester or more across our campuses and continue to study the same content whilst enjoying extremely beneficial life experiences. At least two years must be studied at the Edinburgh campus in order to gain BPS Accreditation.

The Psychology Society

The Psychology Society is a student-run group for everyone interested in psychology. It holds regular social events like laser tag, wellbeing walks, and pub quizzes. It also teams up with the academic department to run informal psychology discussion nights in the student union. Our staff regularly bring their research to members of the public with performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they present their research in unique and engaging ways.

Voluntary Research Assistant project

At Heriot-Watt University, undergraduate psychology students have the chance to get involved in research being conducted by academic staff and PhD students through our Voluntary Research Assistant project.

Psychology degree career prospects

Our Psychology courses in Edinburgh develop a unique combination of interpersonal and transferable skills that are very attractive to employers. Our graduates have an excellent track record in gaining employment across business, teaching, counselling, nursing, marketing, and social work. Many of our students go on to work in clinical psychology, counselling, educational psychology, forensic psychology, and as health and occupational psychologists.

The BSc Psychology degree has been restructured in recent years to give students the chance to focus their studies on the areas of psychology that interest them most. For example, you can make choices from a range of optional courses to follow specialist pathways for health, education, social work or business.

Teaching style

Teaching is mainly through lectures. But, this Psychology degree also includes lots of tutorials, which means that you can really get to know our staff. Assessment is a mixture of coursework and exams.

Global College pathway for this degree

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, have a look at Heriot-Watt Global College, where you can follow an accelerated pathway which will get you onto the second year of this degree.


The British Psychological Society - Accredited

The BSc Psychology degree at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and qualifies Honours students for graduate registration with the Society. This is required for those wishing to take professional courses and qualify as professional psychologists (e.g. clinical, forensic, occupational or educational psychologists) in the UK. 

Students must study at least two years of their Psychology course at the Edinburgh campus in order to qualify. Students can submit an individual application for graduate membership of the Society if they do not meet the two years criteria.

Find out more about Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society.

Course content

Year 1

Semester 1

  • Introduction to Psychology 1
  • Research Methods & Analysis 1
  • Academic Skills in Psychology
  • Option

Semester 2

  • Introduction to Psychology 2
  • Research Methods & Analysis 2
  • Becoming a Professional
  • Option

Course Information 

Introduction to Psychology 1 and 2 will bring you to the frontline of the current knowledge on the human mind, by introducing to core concepts and theories of Psychology. Developed skills: scientific terminology, critical thinking for applied research.

Research methods and analysis 1 and 2 introduces students to Psychology as a science; why, and how, we use scientific methods including statistical analyses. Developed skills: transferable data processing, ethical and methodological approaches, descriptive statistics.

Academic skills for Psychology develops skills, which will help maximise your performance and knowledge-acquisition. Developed skills: general research and information searching, digesting and appraising written information, presenting and time-management.

Year 2

Courses cover social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, intelligence, and research methods. Students also select optional courses (one per semester).

Semester 1

  • Philosophy and History of Psychology
  • Research Methods & Analysis 3
  • Human Development and Intelligence
  • Option

Semester 2

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Research Methods & Analysis 4
  • Social Psychology
  • Option

Course Information

Cognitive Psychology explores individual and joint contribution of cognitive systems, ranging from those that enabled us to form representations through those that promote adaptive behaviours. The knowledge acquired will facilitate learning in courses of Stages 3 and 4.

Human Development and Intelligence focuses on our formative years, from infancy through early childhood, highlighting some of the key achievements in our mental ability. The course will be of relevance to anyone interested in education, social work, and Health Psychology.

Social Psychology Technological advances; increasing globalisation and human migration have resulted in greater contact with people. Challenges discussed in course range from prejudiced beliefs, to obediently conforming to a specific ideology.

In Philosophy and History of Psychology you will learn about the origins of psychology, how it became a science, the different schools and ethical issues in theory, research and practice. It will help understand the role of psychology in the wider context of human science.

In Research methods and analysis 3 and 4 you will learn about quantitative methods and designs, planning, analysing and communicating research. The course will be for those seeking a career in academia and teaching, as well as government, charity or private sector research.

Year 3

Semester 1

  • Cognition across the Lifespan
  • Research Methods & Analysis 5
  • Cross-cultural Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology

Semester 2

  • Psychobiology
  • Research Methods & Analysis 6
  • Social Cognition and Personality
  • Applied Psychology: Health Psychology and Professional Practice

Course Information

Cognition across the Lifespan explore changes across the early years, adolescence, and throughout older age. Students will design lifespan appropriate interventions. Graduate destinations: childhood education, lifelong learning, social and health care services.

Psychobiology will take you on a journey in brain and behaviour, exploring the nervous system, relying on neuroscience techniques (MRI, PET, EEG).  Graduate destinations: Cognitive Neuroscience, Mental Health, Clinical Psychology and Neurodevelopmental Psychology.

Social Cognition and Personality will provide a framework to the study of personality with a focus on trait approaches and methods of measuring personality.

In Research methods and analyses 5 and 6, you will be introduced to advanced statistical technique and to critical evaluation of the research we need to understand in order to better design our own. Subject mastery: Critically appraise research and use to plan your own.

Year 4

Semester 1

  • Research Project 1
  • Approved Psychology Option
  • Approved Psychology Option
  • Approved Psychology Option

Semester 2

  • Research Project 2
  • Approve Psychology Option
  • Approved Psychology Option
  • Approved Psychology Option

Research Project 

Students work closely with a staff member in devising and conducting their research project in applied psychology. They also select six other psychology courses. Coursework applies the information from these to employment-related settings and 'real-world' problems.

BPS Approved optional courses:

  • Cognition and Emotion
  • Psychology of Education*
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation
  • Psychology for Business
  • Psychology of Ageing
  • Psychology and Mental Health
  • Neuropsychology
  • Advanced Social Psychology**
Course overviews 

*Psychology of Education: It's clear that ‘education' comprises teaching and learning, but how does one lead to the other, and what advise can we offer teachers if it doesn't? The course is critical venue to present applications within educational contexts.  Graduate destinations: Educational contexts (e.g., classroom assistants, teachers and Educational Psychologists).

**Advanced Social Psychology:  Take a moment and think of your behaviour when you are alone. Does your behaviour change when your friends are around?  In this course, we look at different theories explaining behaviour in social interactions between individuals and groups. Graduate destinations: Education, Marketing, HR Management, Occupational Psychology.

Discover Uni course data

Discover Uni provides data on each university's degree courses across a range of measures including student satisfaction, graduate jobs and salaries.



  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £18500
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £20000


These are the most common high skilled jobs students go into 15 months after graduating:

  • Welfare and housing associate professionals
  • Other Educational professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements 

Highers AABB (over two sittings)
A-Levels BBC - ABB
Int. Baccalaureate 29 points
BTEC DDM (Health and Social Sciences preferred)
HNC B in graded unit Social Sciences (Psychology, Research Methods/Statistics required modules)

Minimum entry requirements *

Highers BBBC
A-Levels BBC - ABB

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

• live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20)
• or are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements.

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (plus AABB at Higher preferably including Higher Psychology A)
  • A-Levels ABB - Psychology at A is preferred
  • Int. Baccalaureate 34 points
  • HNC A in Social Sciences graded unit (Social Sciences, Psychology, Research Methods/Statistics required)
  • HND AB / BA in Social Sciences graded units (Social Sciences, Psychology, Research Methods/Statistics required)
  • Global College Successful completion of Bachelors Degree Accelerator Foundation - Psychology

Additional information

• For all years, applications are welcomed from holders of non-school qualifications, mature candidates and overseas students.
• If you do not see your qualifications here please contact us at
• Please check that you meet our University-wide National 5/GCSE (or equivalent) English and Maths requirements.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2022 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £16,000

* 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.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.