Psychology MSc - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course is a conversion course that is suitable for graduates who have not studied psychology as a first degree. Successful completion provides the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership by the British Psychological Society, which is an essential first step towards becoming a chartered psychologist. It also supports careers where professional insights in human behaviour are valuable such as social work, public services, advertisement, general management and Human Resources. 

This course provides in a compact form the same grounding in psychological science as a three-year undergraduate course but at a masters level of skill and knowledge. As a result, this conversion course is both challenging and demanding.The British Psychological Society

This course is not suitable if you have already studied psychology at undergraduate level. Instead, you may wish to consider MSc Psychological Research Methods.

The course has three parts, consisting of

a) the six core areas of psychology, which include social psychology, individual differences and developmental psychology, as well as cognitive psychology, biological psychology and conceptual and historical issues in psychology

b) qualitative and quantitative research methods and statistics

c) the Masters Project, which provides an opportunity for in-depth research into an area of psychology near to your personal interests and career aspirations. The research elements of the course are supported by Sunderland’s thriving Health Sciences and Well-being Research Beacon that explores many different aspects of mental health and health behaviours

At the end of the course, you could choose to undertake the further study that is required to become a chartered psychologist. Alternatively, your understanding of psychology will help you in sectors such as advertising, social work, public services, general management and Human Resources.

We also offer a full-time MSc Psychology.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

  • Everyday Motivations and Biases (30 Credits)
  • Experimental Design and Analysis in Psychology (30 Credits)
  • Non-experimental Design and Analysis in Psychology (30 Credits)
  • Cradle to Grave: Stability and Change (30 Credits)
  • Master Project (60 Credits)

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. The research aspects of the course are supported by Sunderland’s thriving research programme. Our tutors’ specialisms include social psychology and evolutionary psychology, and the University carries out research into health behaviours and mental health. 

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

There are around three hours of contact time a week.

Assessment methods are a combination of exams and coursework including essays, reports and seminar presentations.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

The University has specialist psychological and computer laboratories, plus dedicated space (the ‘sandbox’) for psychology students to develop ideas collaboratively. The course is based at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, on the banks of the River Wear and less than a mile from the seaside.

 Our specialist facilities include:

  • Cognitive Laboratory
  • Visual Psychophysics Laboratory
  • Linguistics Laboratory
  • Computing Laboratory
  • Multimedia and Games Research Room

University Library Services

The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources.

Learning environment

Sunderland offers a vibrant learning environment with an international dimension thanks to the presence of students from around the world. At the same time, the University is fully plugged into relevant industry organisations, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people.

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in the David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s Library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


The Reg Vardy Centre

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's, St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

Sunderland's typical offer will be a 2:2 honours degree.

We usually require applicants to hold at least a second class honours degree in any subject. This course is designed to be a conversion course for those who do not already hold the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society. It is therefore not suitable if you have already achieved an honours degree in psychology.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Tuition fees for part-time postgraduate students are £300 per 10 Credits.

Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

On completing this course you will be equipped to apply for the further postgraduate training that is required to become a chartered psychologist. There are nine types of psychology in which it is possible to become chartered: clinical, educational, forensic, occupational, counselling, sport & exercise and health psychology, as well as neuropsychology and teaching/researching in psychology.

As an example of salaries, clinical psychologists within the NHS typically have a starting salary of around £30,000, progressing up to more than £80,000 for higher level posts. Salaries in private hospitals and private practice will vary.

Equally, the course prepares you for employment in a broad range of sectors. The insights, rigour and methodology of psychology are valued in roles in management, advertising, marketing, Human Resources, the police force, the prison service, social care, health services and teaching.

In addition, a Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

The University has a large number of part-time students at postgraduate level and we offer a lot of support and flexibility. Many part-time students are also supported by their employers, who see postgraduate studies at the University of Sunderland as a good investment in a better qualified workforce.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

"Sunderland's Psychology Department will teach you to use evidence to establish the truth from myth."

Matthew Watson

Dr Matthew Watson - Academic

Lecturer, Psychology

“Did you know that you make most of your decisions unconsciously? Or that women prefer the smell of T-shirts that have been worn by attractive men?

"Psychology is full of interesting and quirky findings about the way people think and behave. It is also plagued by many popular misconceptions: people do use 100% of their brain not just 10%, dreams don’t have any hidden symbolic meaning and men don’t fancy their mothers.

"The Sunderland Psychology Department contains many research-active psychologists who will teach you how to use evidence to establish the truth from myth.

"The degree covers topics from religion, language, and self-control, to how evolution has shaped human behaviour. You will also learn the skills to be a researcher culminating in a research project of your own.”

"The staff are very supportive and approachable."

Jemma Learmouth

Jemma Learmouth - Student

"After school I went to Sixth Form and struggled with the lack of support. Still wishing to progress with my education and go to university, I was fortunate enough to find a Level 0 Course in Psychology, with the course being provided at Shiney Row College by the University of Sunderland.

"After feeling lost in the education system, I was made to feel welcome and put at ease straight away. Even though the course was held at Shiney Row College I felt part of the University from day one. Having successfully passed the course, I am attending the University of Sunderland studying Psychology at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St. Peter's.

"Now in my first year, I feel settled after my early introduction to University life. The staff are very supportive and very approachable; they always try to keep everyone engaged with interesting subjects to appeal to everyone.

"The facilities are fantastic with several libraries which one is open 24 hours a day. The Psychology Department has invested time and money into an activity room called the 'sandbox', which is only available for Psychology students where we can relax and study. After graduating, I hope to pursue Occupational Psychology."

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Admissions Tutor:

Dr Matthew Watson
Tel: 0191 515 3541

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

Follow the Psychology Team on Twitter: @PsychUni_of_Sun

The details

Course Name Psychology
Classification MSc
Course Mode Part-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 19 September 2016
UK/EU Fee £300 per 10 Credits
Intl Fee £See entry requirements page

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree in any subject

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