This MSc programme in Health Psychology, which is accredited by the British Psychological Society, offers you the opportunity to expand on and apply your knowledge and skills to help solve some of the big health issues facing society today.
Health Psychology is the fastest growing field of psychology in the UK. This MSc programme aims to provide you with an understanding of theories and methods in this exciting field and the ability to apply them to play an active role in helping solve the health challenges our society faces.
Successful completion of the MSc Health Psychology confers Stage 1 of the BPS training requirements for Chartered Health Psychologist status.
Although the topics covered are diverse, the main areas of interest are:
Health behaviours - understanding and changing participation in health damaging and health protecting behaviours
Psychological aspects of illness and disability - examining the psychological impact of illness on individuals, families and carers, promoting positive 'illness behaviours'
Health related cognitions and emotions - investigating the cognitive and emotional processes which explain health and illness behaviours
Processes influencing the delivery of health care - studying factors that influence how health care professionals and organisations deliver care
Professional practice - training in key skills such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing and health coaching
What You'll Study
The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MSc programme which runs in September.
The MSc Health Psychology programme consists of an empirical research project, a literature review of an area of interest and seven taught courses which cover topics relevant to real world application.
Health Behaviour and Behaviour Change (PU5022)
Unhealthy and risky behaviours – such as a poor diet, sedentary behaviour, not attending screening programmes, or not taking medication as prescribed – are leading causes of suboptimal health and premature death, health care expenditure, and sickness absence. Health Psychology examines what drives these behaviours and how they can be changed. This course aims to provide students with the core knowledge and skills for developing and implementing effective interventions to promote healthier behaviours.
Applied Statistics (PU5017)
This course intends to develop the student's awareness of the fact that statistical techniques are integral to scientific research. Researchers must be able to specify a precise research question in statistical terms and then select an appropriate study design in order to carry out an effective research project. They must also be able to assess the adequacy of the research presented in scientific or medical literature. The same skills are also required for many MSc dissertation projects.
Research Methods & Practice for Psychology (PU5024)
This course teaches students in the field of health psychology how to conduct high quality behavioural research, how to become an informed consumer of research, and how to think and operate within a professional, ethical framework.
Health Psychology Research Review (PU5029)
This course aims to provide students with (a) an opportunity to complete a thorough and comprehensive review of the existing literature on a clearly defined topic in an area of interest to Health Psychology, and (b) the academic skills to search, synthesise and clearly present in writing a large amount of research evidence.
Working largely independently with the support of an academic supervisor, students on this course will produce a substantial literature review of a publishable standard. Reviews may be either narrative or systematic depending on the topic area.
Generic Skills (GS50M1)
course will improve your employability skills. I-SEE (Individualised
self-assessment to enhance employability) is a bespoke online resource developed to help identify your
strengths and areas needing improvement. The
self-assessment process allows you to identify development areas for
employability skills like communication, IT and numeracy skills and personal
attributes like creativity, organisation and timekeeping, flexibility, team
working. This leads to automated, tailored feedback and signposting to
self-study to assist in improving your CV. Reflection and an e-portfolio will
assist in articulation of these enhanced skills/attributes during mock
interviews. Some sessions are compulsory, but otherwise it involves self-directed
Illness, Disability and Interactions with Healthcare (PU5517)
This course aims to explore the
psychological side of illness and disability and learn how Health outcomes
(e.g. quality of life, death, disease) depend to a large extent on people’s
beliefs, perceptions, decisions and actions.
Over the course, students will learn how these factors can change how
symptoms are interpreted and reported, how risk is perceived, how illness and
disability are experienced, whether help is sought from medical professionals,
and whether recommended treatments are adhered to over time. Students will also study contemporary models
of disability and explore how disability behaviour influences health outcomes.
Health Professional Behaviour (PU5518)
This course examines how
the behaviour of health professionals can impact on patient care and service
delivery, and trains students in key professional practice skills such as
cognitive-behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing and health coaching.
Stress, Personality and Health (PU5524)
This course explores how stress
and personality can affect our health by influencing how we view the world, how
we react to situations and events (psychologically, physiologically and
behaviourally) and our capacity to cope in difficult circumstances.We are all individuals who respond differently to the environment around us and these individual differences can influence our health, positively and negatively. Stress and other individual differences such as coping, social support and personality will be explored in relation to health and illness. Understanding the relationship between these factors can explain the psychological influences on health and identify key areas for intervention.
Systematic Reviewing (PU5526)
course will equip students with the relevant skills to interpret and conduct
systematic reviews on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions.
will learn to formulate a clear research question and understand the principles
and main steps for undertaking systematic reviews. In particular, they will
develop an adequate search strategy;
critically appraise primary studies;
extract data from primary studies;
the main sources of heterogeneity among primary studies;
analyse findings from primary studies;
the quality of existing systematic reviews.
Health Psychology Research Project (PU5909)
This course offers students the opportunity to complete a substantial piece of data-driven, empirical work within the field of Health Psychology, under the supervision of an experienced Health Psychology researcher.
Topics available will be varied but within the domain of Health Psychology. Students will identify a suitable topic area, develop a research protocol, design and implement an empirical study and write up the results in the format of a journal article.
We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
How You'll Study
The course emphasises active learning and repeated exposure to best practice. A variety of teaching methods are used to help students achieve the three main course aims of; understanding (lectures, tutorials, self-study), application (observation, placements, group work, practicals, problem based learning), and the development of a critical academic attitude (structured discussions, debates, critical review tutorials).
Much of the teaching is participatory and students are expected to consolidate all taught content by completing related tasks and activities and engaging in independent study.
There are different types of assessment throughout the programme including formative assessment (in class presentations or online quizzes) and summative assessment (assignments, presentations, written/oral tests/examinations, research review and thesis).
Why Study Health Psychology?
The programme has a strong emphasis on multi-disciplinary working which provides an excellent learning environment for future health psychologists.
The University's Aberdeen Health Psychology Group (AHPG) is an internationally recognised academic centre in Health Psychology. The group co-ordinates the MSc and various members of the research staff are involved in the teaching.
You will benefit from the AHPG's close working relationship with other disciplines and specialities (like epidemiology, health services research, health economics, pharmacy, exercise physiology, public health nutrition and academic primary care).
The programme runs from the Foresterhill Health Campus which includes a large teaching hospital, Medical School and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, providing easy access to facilities and specialists from a range of disciplines.
The MSc is embedded within a research-active Medical School which means that teaching and research projects reflect the real world workings of Health Psychology.
The School of Psychology at Aberdeen is ranked in the top twenty for research in the UK (REF 2014).
The University was ranked 1st in Scotland for its research in Public Health, Health Services (REF 2014).
The Medical School at the University is ranked in the top 10 in the UK.
Fees and Funding
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
For international students entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study.
Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Home / EU / RUK Students
Tuition fee for main award
Tuition fee for main award
In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.
University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme
The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More information can be found on our Finance and Funding page.
(Please note this cannot be claimed in conjunction with any other scholarship award.)
Applicants should possess a 2:1 or higher Honours degree in Psychology, recognised as Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) by the British Psychological Society.
International students with degrees NOT accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) must contact the BPS Partnership & Accreditation Team to ask for written confirmation that their degree is considered equivalent to a BPS accredited degree. Obtaining this may take several weeks.
All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.
Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Life Sciences and Medicine Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.
If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.
Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.
Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
CVan up-to-date CV/Resumé
Health Sciences Building
The Health Sciences building, located on the Foresterhill Health Campus, houses the purpose built Clinical Research Facility, researchers from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences and the Imaging Department which boasts state-of-the-art equipment
Foresterhill Health Campus
The Foresterhill Health Campus is one of the largest clinical complexes in Europe which includes the Medical School, large teaching hospital, the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health.
A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.
With an ageing population, an obesity epidemic and an associated increase in chronic health conditions requiring behavioural interventions, the demand for Health Psychologists is expected to rise further.
Health Psychologists, because they have studied the general theory behind human behaviour and behaviour change, can work in a variety of environments and organisations.
Many will find excellent jobs at the NHS as healthcare practitioners or in academia. Others may choose career paths in the consumer and marketing sector, in health related commercial organisations (e.g. weight management companies), in charitable organisations, or in any other setting where behaviour or behaviour change is a focus.
Completion of the MSc confers Stage 1 of the British Psychological Society’s requirements for training as a Health Psychologist so students will be eligible to begin Stage 2 training (two years of supervised practice) upon graduation. In Scotland, several funded 'Health Psychologist in Training' posts are advertised each year to enable graduates to complete their Stage 2 training while employed by the NHS.
One thing is sure: whatever route you choose, you will have a qualification that there is significant demand for.
We have excellent links with NHS Grampian and are co-located on the Foresterhill Health Campus with a large teaching hospital.
You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
Dr Julia Allan
Julia is Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. Her research focuses on the cognitive determinants and consequences of health relevant behaviours/ processes such as eating, physical activity and stress.
Professor Marijn de Bruin
Marijn is Chair and lead of the health psychology group in Aberdeen and is course co-ordinator of Health behaviour and behaviour change. Marijn's research focuses on designing, evaluating and synthesizing interventions to support a healthy lifestyle.