Skip to content

Social Science Research Methods (Psychology) (MSc) Part-time

This programme provides advanced training in research methods across the full range of the social sciences and meets the training requirements for ESRC PhD funding. It provides students with a thorough knowledge of research design, data collection, and the principal methods of analysing quantitative and qualitative social science data.

The MSc in Social Science Research Methods (Psychology) aims to provide advanced training in research methods across the social sciences and particularly Psychology.

You will be offered a thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of how to construct effective research studies, of the variety of data collection methods available to the social scientist and of the principal methods of analysing social scientific data. You will also be introduced to the political and ethical frameworks within which social science research is conducted, and to some of the ways in which the results of social science research are disseminated.

This is a two-year, part-time course, leading to the award of MSc. It draws on the internationally recognised research conducted in the School of Psychology.

The course pathways have Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognition and they each provide the appropriate training basis for proceeding to a PhD. The course provides extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary study, the application of social research expertise for occupational career development, and the pursuit of substantive areas of interest at Master’s level.

The philosophical foundations of research training that are reflected on this course are broad based in that you will be expected to not only acquire an understanding of the basic theoretical and methodological applications within your individual domain of research, but to attain a depth and breadth of knowledge that facilitates future publication and dissemination of your own research findings and an ability to interpret and critically evaluate research findings derived across disciplinary boundaries.

Distinctive features

The formal research training programme in Psychology draws on the internationally recognised research conducted at Cardiff University.

We are one of the largest psychology departments in Britain, allowing us to offer well-resourced teaching and research opportunities in all areas of psychology, from neuroscience and brain imaging to environmental risk, social and developmental psychology, encompassing both basic science and applied aspects. Our teaching was judged to be 'Excellent' in the Teaching Quality Assessment.

We take pride that Cardiff educates UK and International students from all backgrounds. We offer a rounded academic student experience both socially and academically, with the opportunity to pursue a wide range of activities. The overarching objective of postgraduate research training employed within the School is to equip students with a level of competence, comprehension and understanding of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of their research so as to allow them to compete as international calibre researchers in the future.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration3 years
Other ways to study this course

Admissions criteria

You should normally have a 2:1 degree or above or an equivalent qualification. Alternatively, you may be considered for admission if you are able to demonstrate that you have held, for a minimum period of two years, a position of responsibility relevant to the programme, or, in exceptional circumstances, be able to demonstrate equivalent skills that are sufficient to meet the demands of the programme.

Where English is not your first language, we require an IELTS score of 6:5 or above (or an equivalent English qualification).

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if you intend to study at the University in person.

In addition to the standard application, you will be asked to produce an initial outline description of you intended research topic which will form the basis for assessing your application, together with the completed application form and references. The research proposal will also be the means by which you are paired with potential supervisors. It is strongly advised that you contact potential supervisors in advance.

Research proposal forms and further advice are available through the pathway convenor or the general SSRM office. Completed forms can be attached to an application or returned via email directly to the pathway convenor or SSRM office (see contact details).

Applications are considered on a rolling basis throughout the academic year but due to the popularity of the course, places fill up quickly. Prospective students are advised to submit their application in the spring.

The deadline for applications from international students for this course is 1st August.

The deadline for applications from home students for this course is 1st September.


Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

You will undertake six 20-credit modules. Five of the six modules are known as core modules, because they are designed to equip you with research skills and are followed by all students. The sixth module is specific to the particular pathway. For the psychology pathway this consists of research placements within the School of Psychology designed to provide more in-depth understanding of empirical research within the discipline of psychology.

In all modules you have the opportunity to engage with literature and research relevant to your Pathway (Psychology).

On successful completion of the taught component, you will prepare a dissertation (of a maximum 20,000 words) to be submitted by mid-September. The 60-credit dissertation component requires independent study. Dissertation topics are chosen by you in agreement with your supervisors.

Recent Psychology thesis titles on the course include:

  • Child salience and values: studying the effects of child primes on pro-social values.
  • The optimal dietary composition for weight loss amongst women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
  • Predictors of starting a family: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of longitudinal studies.
  • Using a personalised IAT (Implicit Association Test) to detect sexual identity and attitudes towards one's sexual orientation.
  • A victim of gender? An evolutionary exploration of homicide and the victim-offender relationship.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

Year two

Year three

Module titleModule codeCredits
DissertationPST00560 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

Your course is made up of scheduled learning activities (including lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical sessions) and guided independent study. You are expected to actively engage in all the educational activities on your programme of study, to prepare for and attend all scheduled teaching activities, and continue your development as an independent and self-directed learner.

For those continuing beyond the diploma to the MSc, the final part of the course comprises a dissertation (60 credits) for which students are allocated a tutor with whom they meet on a regular basis.  A research design and methods module is a compulsory module which contributes to preparation for the dissertation.  Dissertation topics are chosen by the students in agreement with their supervisors.

How will I be supported?

All modules within the programme make use of our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central, on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and information on assessment. You will be allocated a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor. It is expected that dissertation supervisors schedule regular meetings to discuss progress, provide advice and guidance, and give feedback on draft copies of dissertation chapters.


You will receive feedback throughout the year and for each module in a number of ways. Written feedback is provided on all submitted coursework and designed to help you improve the next piece of coursework, where applicable.

What skills will I practise and develop?

  By fully engaging with this course, you should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate existing knowledge, scholarship and research, and appreciate competing claims and theoretical perspectives.
  • Apply your knowledge and skills and show originality in your thinking by tackling both familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • As appropriate, evaluate, synthesise and interpret data, and be able to collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret data in the form of a project or dissertation.
  • Demonstrate high-level academic and personal skills applicable to your own research or scholarship, such as writing, oral presentations, problem solving and group work, and the use and application of information technologies in, for example, literature searches, research methods, and data analysis and presentation.

The course aims to provide knowledge and expertise suitable for careers in research and development, business, market studies, public agencies at international, national and local levels, education, teaching and other public services work, and voluntary organisations.

Due to the duration of this programme only Welsh and EU domiciled students who meet residency requirements (English domiciled students are excluded) are eligible for a postgraduate loan. See more information about eligibility for UK Government Postgraduate loans.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

No specific equipment required.