MSc in Health Psychology

University of Stirling

Program Description

MSc in Health Psychology

University of Stirling

Although people live longer and are currently ‘healthier’ in many ways than before, this has not led to a sense of improved health or wellbeing for all members of society. Health Psychology improves wellbeing by applying psychological theories, methods and research to the promotion of health, prevention and treatment of illness and disability, analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation. A small number of NHS-funded bursaries are available to cover tuition fees and other expenses.


‌British Psychological Society

From the September 2003 intake, successful completion of this course fulfils stage one of the requirements towards Chartered Membership of the Society and full membership of the Division of Health Psychology.

Course objectives

Students on this course will understand and critically evaluate the theoretical basis of health psychology and apply this knowledge to understanding health, health behaviours and health care issues.

The course has a strong experiential focus – it includes contributions from health care practitioners and allows you to carry out a brief placement in a health care setting normally arranged by the student with help/support from the course team.

You are encouraged to carry out research in health care settings where possible.

This MSc is designed to meet the British Psychological Society’s requirements for Stage One training towards professional Health Psychologist status. Via formal teaching and practical experience, you will acquire relevant skills and core competencies as a basis for professional training in health psychology (Stage Two), or other applications of psychology to health issues.

What makes us different?

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in Psychology or related subject. A qualification recognised by British Psychological Society ( giving Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership is preferred.

Students accepted without a BPS recognised qualification and intending to progress to BPS Stage Two training towards practitioner health psychologist status will be required to undertake an accredited Psychology conversion course following this programme. See Psychology (accredited conversion course)

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Structure and content

The course comprises the following modules in Semester 1:

  • Perspectives in Health Psychology: Introduces and provides a context for different theoretical approaches within health psychology. It promotes critical understanding of the relationship between biological, psychological and social approaches to health and illness, health behaviours and health care in relation to specific topics such as stress, cardiovascular disease and pain.
  • Applications of Health Psychology: Communication, Systems and Context: Helps you develop critical understanding of the way health care is delivered in the National Health Service (NHS) and other settings. You will evaluate psychological interventions and examine the relationship between health care providers and clients. The module will develop understanding of the professional role of the health psychologist, multidisciplinary working and sensitivity towards ethical/professional issues. It includes a brief experiential placement in a health care setting normally arranged by the student with help/support from the course team.
  • Analysis Methods in Psychological Research (I): Develops understanding and application of quantitative analysis.

The following modules are taken in the Semester 2:

  • Analysis Methods in Psychological Research (II): Develops understanding of when and how to use qualitative analysis, such as thematic analysis and phenomenological analysis.
  • Individual, Social and Cultural Differences: Develops awareness and critical appraisal of the influence of individual psychological, social, cultural and biological differences on health, illness, health care provision and usage. Topics include personality, lifespan, gender and cultural factors which influence health and health behaviours (such as alcohol use and sexual behaviour).
  • Approaches to Illness, Disability and Coping: Applies health psychology theories and models to understanding specific illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It also includes an evaluation of factors which promote wellbeing in people with acute or chronic illness or disability and the role of interventions to improve wellbeing.
  • Research Project (MSc only): In this module, you will carry out your own supervised empirical research project in an area of health or health care which interests you, allowing you to integrate theoretical approaches with practical research methods and techniques learned. The investigation is conducted and reported to publishable standard.

Delivery and assessment

The modules are taught in two- to three-hour seminars which include lectures, workshops, and practical or experiential sessions. You need to complete and pass the six modules above to be awarded the MSc Health Psychology. Assessment is by formal exams and coursework (including oral presentations, essays, group work and critical reviews of research).


  • Strong experiential focus – placement and dissertation.
  • Grounded in research evidence.
  • Research active and enthusiastic team based in Centre for Health Behaviour Change.
  • NHS funded bursaries.

Psychology at Stirling is one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. It ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014) and is one of only seven non-Russell group universities to do so (Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, Sussex, Essex, St Andrews and Bangor; source Times Higher Education magazine). Its quality of research publications ranked third in Scotland after Aberdeen and Glasgow. Furthermore, the relevance of its research activity to society received the highest possible rating which only four other psychology departments in the UK achieved (REF 2014 results).

Psychology at Stirling University is small enough to fully involve MSc students in our lively and collegial community of research excellence.

Your three-month full-time dissertation is supervised by leading UK academics.

The following commendations were received by the BPS at their recent Accreditation Through Partnership visit in November 2015:

  • The programme’s approach to teaching research methods, and especially quantitative approaches, is excellent and achieves an impressive level of student engagement.
  • The overall design and ethos of the programme promotes the development of in-depth, critical thinking skills, and emphasises the application of health psychology to ‘real world’ settings, both of which shone through when speaking to the students.
  • Members of the programme team are readily accessible to students and provide them with a flexible, individualised, and engaging training experience that clearly meets their needs.
  • Similarly, the administrative staff team are crucial to the effective delivery of the programme, and to students’ positive, high-quality experience of the programme.
  • The learning environment and resources that are in place for students help to create a clear sense of identity for health psychology within the Division and the Faculty. The optional lunchtime seminars are an example of this, and student enthusiasm for these is impressive.

Career opportunities

Health Psychology is one of the fastest growing areas of applied psychology and this Master’s course provides the first stage of professional training towards becoming a health psychologist. Students intending to go on to become qualified health psychologists can achieve this via working in health care or in academic posts. Scotland is unique in offering a two-year NHS-funded training course for Stage Two health psychology trainees. There are opportunities in many areas, for example, health education or health promotion, or in community-based health improvement projects. Skills gained might also be used in working with patients with specific conditions, such as cancer or chronic pain. The course might also be used for professional or personal development for individuals with a psychology background working in health.


Our students learn great transferable skills through carrying out observational placements in health care settings and dissertations that often involve delivery of an intervention. They also carry out presentations, learn communication and interviewing skills, and behaviour change techniques.

Industry connections

Our students carry out placements in health care contexts – this can include the NHS, third sector (charities) or industry settings.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Cost & Fees


  • Overseas £14,600 Discontinuous study - £1,623 per 20 credit module
  • Home/EU £6,200 Discontinuous study - £689 per 20 credit module

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all taught postgraduate courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies.

Last updated January 16, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
6,200 GBP
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Home/EU: £6,200 - Overseas: £14,600