MSc in Health Psychology


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The MSc in Health Psychology starts students on the path to becoming a Chartered Psychologist and provides training in the applications of psychological theory and research methods.


Course information

The MSc in Health Psychology is a one-year taught programme run in collaboration with NHS Fife and the School of Medicine and the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at St Andrews. Upon successful completion, you will be equipped with the necessary skills to embark on your Stage 2 training or to facilitate research at MPhil or PhD level.

The programme is intended for graduate psychologists who wish to apply theoretical knowledge from their initial degree into a qualification that can launch them into a career of health psychology working for a health care provider or into health-related research.


  • Successful completion of the course provides a Stage 1 Professional Training for Chartered Health Psychologist status with the British Psychological Society.
  • Students have the opportunity to undertake placements in clinical settings, participating in at least 12 clinical placement visits (students will be required to meet travel costs of approximately £120).
  • Students can access numerous labs including: the Coding Room (for communication research), the Prep and Consultation labs (for behavioural health-related research) and the Simulation Lab at the School of Medicine (for running experimental studies and conducting face-to-face or telephone interviews).
  • Taught by experienced teaching staff who have active research programmes in an area of health psychology.
  • Continuous assessment linked to theory modules based upon realistic problems facing health psychologists.

Teaching format

The programme consists of two full-time semesters of taught modules followed by an independent research period which finishes in the submission of a 5,000-word dissertation. On average, the Health Psychology cohort makes up around 10 to 12 students per year.

Students will take six compulsory modules. Teaching is delivered through:

  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Individual supervision
  • Computer exercises
  • Practical observation.

Assessment approaches include:

  • Thesis
  • Peer-assessment
  • Written assignments
  • Presentations.

Students will have access to a broad, well-qualified and experienced team of academic and health psychologists from both Schools of Medicine and Psychology. In addition, students will be assigned a supervisor who will provide advice and support on the research dissertation project.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details about each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue, which is for the 2020–2021 academic year and therefore some elements may be subject to change for 2021 entry.


Semester 1 

  • Quality of Life, Communication and Chronic Illness: quality of life in health care settings, and the issues of caring for an increasing number of patients within modern health services with chronic conditions. 
  • Theories of Health Psychology and Behaviour Change: covers the context and perspectives of health psychology, including a historical overview and current theories and approaches in health psychology.

Semester 2 

  • Biological Systems and Development: introduces the importance of biological and developmental systems to the understanding of people's perceived and actual health status, including methods of assessing health behaviour and intervening to change health behaviour.
  • Health Information, Prevention and Decision Making: the issues of provision of information and surrounding the decisions made by the general public about their health care.
  • Methods of Data Analysis in Psychology: advanced training in research design, statistics, qualitative methods and modelling.

Whole year

  • Generic Research and Professional Skills in Psychology: introduces students to the various skills and issues that are important to academic psychologists irrespective of their particular area of research.

Research project and dissertation

Students will conduct and report a research project from a health psychology perspective. Projects may comprise field or laboratory-based studies.

The research project will be planned during both academic semesters and written during the summer. It will involve two to three months of data collection and will be written up as a 5,000-word dissertation, in an appropriate scientific journal style, to be submitted by a date specified in August.

Students will be assigned a supervisor who will provide guidance during the planning, research and writing phases.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.

Conferences and events

The School of Medicine has a busy programme of conferences, workshops and visiting speakers from universities in the UK and from abroad.

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience hosts a weekly seminar programme. These seminars include public lectures, open school discussions and papers presented by a variety of guest lecturers from the UK and abroad. Following the seminar, a drinks reception is held in the staff common room.


Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews. 

Entry requirements

  • A 2.1 undergraduate Honours degree in Psychology. This must be recognised by the British Psychological Society for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency. 

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining why you would like to take the MSc and how your studies to date have prepared you for the course (300 words)
  • Sample of academic work including management and analysis of data (no longer than 2,000 words)
  • Two original signed academic references
  • Academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

After the MSc

Research degrees

Many Health Psychology graduates go on to the Stage 2 qualification route to become qualified Chartered Psychologists of Health Psychology or obtain a studentship for a health-related PhD programme.

The Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council provide funding for doctoral training in health, biological and related sciences covering up to four years funding and, in some cases, accommodation fees.


Students enrolled on the MSc Health Psychology go on to employment opportunities in the NHS Psychological or Public Health Services or join health services research programmes.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Last updated Sep 2020

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About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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