Postgraduate research courses

We welcome applications from students interested in pursuing a postgraduate research degree in psychology. We are top 20 in the UK for research [*based on Grade Point Average] with 90% of our research classed as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014).

We have excellent research facilities including well-equipped, purpose built laboratories in the Centre for Brain Science, and are located in a friendly campus environment.

Research degree routes

If you wish to study for a PhD then you will initially be enrolled on a combined MPhil/PhD pathway. In your second year of study, depending on your progress, a decision will be made as to whether you will proceed towards an MPhil or a PhD.

Our Department is recognised by the ESRC as providing excellent research training. If you are an MPhil or PhD student then you will take two taught modules in research management and quantitative data analysis.

Course length

  • An MPhil involves a minimum of two years of full-time research, the product of which is a 50,000 word thesis on a topic which has an element of novelty.
  • A PhD requires a minimum of three years full-time research. The resulting thesis is 80,000 words in length and is expected to extend the understanding of a specialist topic beyond the current state of the art.
  • Following your two or three years of research, you are likely to need a further period of up to one year for writing your thesis. Reduced (completion) fees are charged during this time.

The MSc by dissertation involves a minimum of one year of full-time research, during which you will produce a 30,000 word dissertation. Students registered for this type of course usually have some prior experience in the area they wish to research, for example from work in industry or a project carried out during a first degree.

You have an option to upgrade to an MPhil or PhD by research if you make good progress.

Our research degrees can be undertaken on a part-time basis. A part-time PhD will involve at least six years of research, followed by one to two years for writing up. A part-time MPhil takes four years.

Find a PhD

If you already have funding, or are planning to self-fund, you may apply for a place at any time. Please search the postgraduate research finder to contact a potential supervisor directly. If you wish to be considered for a funded place to commence in October 2017, eligible projects are listed in the PhD project availability document. You are advised to apply for a place as soon as possible. You cannot apply for funding until your place has been confirmed. If you have any questions about undertaking postgraduate research in our Department, please contact us.

PhD studentships

Studentships are available from a variety of sources. Our University is one of just 21 ESRC Doctoral Training Centres, enabling us to offer studentships. University of Essex doctoral scholarships are also available.

How to apply

We welcome applications from candidates who have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class degree (or equivalent) in psychology or a cognate discipline. You will need to provide two academic references and a research proposal. You should contact a potential research supervisor, and agree a research proposal before submission.

Supervision areas

  • Cognitive psychology: memory structures and processes; attention (visual, spatial and multi-sensory); visual information processing; the neuropsychology of memory; individual differences in thinking and reasoning; cognitive neuropsychology of memory and language; face and voice processing; language and literacy acquisition; cognitive development of executive functions, concepts and categories; cross-cultural differences and the interaction of language and thought.
  • Sensory and cognitive neuroscience: visual perception and visual dysfunction; visual stress; colour vision; perceptual interactions between vision and touch; neural correlates of emotional states; functional significance of EEG; TMS and cortical plasticity; the cognitive neuroscience of emotion; processing biases in anxiety and depression; A range of techniques in brain stimulation, neuroimaging and electrophysiology (TMS, NIRS, EEG) is available in our Centre for Brain Science.
  • Social psychology: social cognitive theories of health-related behaviour; attitudes, decision-making, intention-behaviour relations and self-regulation; volitional strategies and habit; norms of social fairness; social perception and stereotypes; culture and physical health; culture and social relationships; the psychology of liberty; evolutionary psychology.

Our staff have a wide variety of research interests. Please feel free to contact a member of staff directly to discuss your proposed area of research.

Supervision arrangements

You will meet with your primary supervisor regularly, and we recommend that meetings take place fortnightly. You will also submit reports to our supervisory board, twice-yearly if you are a full-time student and once a year if you are part-time.