Environmental Psychology MSc

Designed to give you advanced knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice in environmental psychology.

Why Surrey?

As populations grow and competition for space and resources increases, society’s most pressing issues will need to be addressed by those who can work in collaboration with cognitive, occupational and social psychologists, as well as architects, educationalists, environmental scientists, engineers, landscape architects and planners.

Programme overview

How do individuals and groups react to different environmental situations (home, office, hospital, street, shop, and so on)? What psychological processes are triggered by our environment, and how do they affect our perception, attitude and actions? How can individuals and groups change their environment so that it provides a more stimulating, less stressful and more enabling setting in which to live? How are our identities tied up with place? How might sustainability in environmental policy be better informed by current research?

Our MSc Environmental Psychology programme will help you gain advanced knowledge and understanding of theory and practice in environmental psychology. You will also acquire a range of research skills that will give you the confidence and ability to undertake environmental psychology research in a professional setting.

While prior experience in this field is not essential, previous applicants have come from areas such as psychology, sociology, geography, architecture, planning, landscape architecture, interior design, transport, environmental policy and management. Experience of working with, or membership of, environmental groups may also be valuable.

Module Overview

Programme Structure

The programme is modular and is offered in both full-time and part-time modes. One module (22 contact hours) provides 15 credits. You will be required to complete seven compulsory modules and (in Semester 1) one optional module, and to present a dissertation comprising a piece of empirical research within the area of environmental psychology.

C - Compulsory, O - Optional
Modules Credits MSc Semester
Preparation for Academic Research in Psychology 15 C 1
Qualitative Research Methods 15 C 1
Key Questions in Environmental Psychology: People and Places 15 C 2
Inquiry and Design 15 C 1
The Psychology of Sustainable Development 15 C 2
Quantitative Research Methods 15 C 2
Ergonomics and Human Factors 15 C 2
Conducting Health Psychology Research 15 O 1
Social Change and Influence 15 O 1
Maintaining Health Throughout the Lifespan 15 O 1
Psychological Neuroscience: Electrophysiology 15 O 1
Dissertation 60 C -

Full-time students: Four modules per semester in total

Part-time students: Modules split across two years as agreed with the Course Director

Compulsory Modules

Preparation for Academic Research in Psychology

This module aims to provide students with the basic skills of research design, data analysis, publishing and ethical conduct, and to prepare students with the skills they need to produce a dissertation report of publishable standard.

Qualitative Research Methods

This module focuses on different qualitative research methods such as discourse analysis and multiple sorting tasks.

Key Questions in Environmental Psychology

This module introduces you to the major theoretical formulations and models in the area of environmental psychology related to people and places, such as privacy, personal space, place attachment and environmental restoration.

Inquiry and Design

This module attempts to integrate research training with the theories and findings of environmental psychology. The module will be organised around a series of case studies based on research that has been undertaken in the School, such as: ‘Assessing the visual impact of buildings’, ‘Crime and design’, ‘Conflict between different countryside user groups’ and ‘Learning in museums’.

The Psychology of Sustainable Development

This module aims to provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the methods, theory and practice of environment behaviour research as related to sustainability and quality of life issues. It includes factors such as environmental values and attitudes, consumer behaviour, attitude change and environmental education.

Quantitative Research Methods

This module focuses on different quantitative research methods such as factor analysis, multiple regression and multidimensional scaling.

Ergonomics and Human Factors

This module aims to provide students with advanced knowledge and understanding of theory and practice in relation to ‘Human–Machine Interaction’ and ‘Design of Environments and Work: Health and Safety’. Through the knowledge and skills acquired in these areas, you will further your development as an evidence-based practitioner.

Optional Modules

Conducting Health Psychology Research

This module provides you with advanced knowledge and understanding of methods, theory and practice in different types of assessment techniques used in Health Psychology research.

Social Change and Influence

This module provides you with an advanced understanding of current theories and conceptualisations of social change and influence, including facilitators of and constraints on change.

Maintaining Health Throughout the Lifespan

This module provides you with advanced knowledge and understanding of methods, theory and practice in developing and maintaining health throughout the life span.

Psychological Neuroscience: Electrophysiology

This module gives you a good theoretical background on electrophysiological methods (electroencephalography EEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation TMS) and their usage in psychological research.

Teaching Hours

Lectures / forums: 12–14 hours per week in term time

Outside speaker seminars Between six and ten hours per term over the duration of the course

Supervision: Up to nine hours per term over the duration of the course

Self-study hours

Approximately 130 hours per module across eight modules.


Funding is now linked to continuation funding for a PhD – that is, successful applicants to the Economic and Social Research Council will be given a grant for the MSc year and then further support (subject to satisfactory progress) to enable them to undertake a PhD.

Occasionally students receive financial support from industry through sponsorship. This would involve students undertaking a piece of research for their dissertation which would be of interest and value to industry or commerce, in return for which they will be given a grant by the commissioning company. In the past, this sponsorship has ranged from £500 to £6,000. This is mutually beneficial to both the student and sponsor, and allows the student to undertake a ‘real’ piece of research that has practical or policy implications, whilst receiving a sum of money to assist with fees and subsistence costs.

Environmental Psychology at Surrey

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey was the first in the world to establish an MSc in Environmental Psychology, in 1973. Since then there have been well over 250 graduates of the programme from over 25 countries worldwide. It remains one of a few such postgraduate programmes in the world and the only one in the UK.

The MSc Environmental Psychology programme is part of a larger modular programme, thereby providing a flexible teaching and learning structure. The School of Psychology has a reputation for developing professional and innovative programmes reflecting contemporary societal concerns and employment opportunities.

Environmental Psychology at Surrey has always sought to be a multidisciplinary research activity. We are driven by psychological theories and methodologies, but draw on other social sciences, as well as the environmental and design disciplines. We investigate environment behaviour relationships at every spatial scale and environment, from personal space and office design, through neighbourhood renewal, to the public understanding of global climate change.

Psychology at Surrey

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey is one of the most active and highly regarded psychology departments in the country. We specialise in applied and policy-oriented teaching and research within a strong theoretical context. The international, interdisciplinary, policy and applied strengths of the School mean that students’ theoretical and methodological research puts them at the cutting edge of the discipline.

We are one of the highest ranked Schools in the country for graduates entering employment, and also one of the largest providers of postgraduate training in the UK.

The University of Surrey’s School of Psychology has been the centre for many cross-national studies and has attracted funding from research councils and local and national government departments, such as ESF, Defra, the MoD, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, Surrey County Council and the EU.

If you choose to study psychology at the University of Surrey, you will be provided with a combination of opportunities that would be hard to match elsewhere. We offer you a degree that provides a thorough grounding in the theories, methods and practice of contemporary psychology.

Our programmes lay particular emphasis on the application of psychology to real-world problems, and also consider issues related to professional practice in preparation for your career as a professional psychologist.

The basis of good postgraduate programmes is the research activity of staff, the incorporation of current research programmes in teaching material and a reciprocal relationship between theory development and applied research in everyday contemporary issues. We believe in involving all postgraduate students in the research life of the School through active participation in one of the research groups, attendance at research seminars and, where possible, an attachment to ongoing research projects. As a student of the School of Psychology, you will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year.


Environmental psychology researchers have always enjoyed collaboration with other disciplines. Current and recent research collaborations include an EPSRC funded research project on energy technologies in homes (REDUCE) with colleagues of environmental sciences (CES) and communications technology (CCSR), a DEFRA/ESRC-funded research programme on lifestyles in transition (SLRG) and a major ESRC funded research program on sustainable lifestyles (RESOLVE: research on lifestyles, values and the environment) both with colleagues from sociology, economics and environmental sciences.

We have long-established links with national and international academic institutions including the Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, the Centre for Transport Studies at the University of West England and the Department of Psychology at Bath University. The environmental psychology community is strongly international and this is reflected in the long-term active teaching and research collaboration we enjoy with the universities of Groningen, Madrid, La Coruña, Umeå and Rome. Students on the MSc programme are encouraged to take advantage of these links during their dissertations.

MSc students are actively encouraged to participate in ongoing research projects. Our recent research clients include:

  • Building Research Establishment
  • Surrey County Council
  • Eden Project
  • Defra
  • Environment Agency
  • Forestry Commission
  • European Commission
  • Rentokil Initial
  • King Sturge

Environmental Psychology Research

The Environmental Psychology Research Group (EPRG), of which students on the MSc in Environmental Psychology are automatically members, has been undertaking research for more than 30 years and has gained an international reputation. Research undertaken by the EPRG is both ‘fundamental’ (that is, contributing to the development of the discipline and our understanding of psychological processes) and ‘applied and policy-oriented’. Both government and business are concerned with effective policy development and delivery, and it is increasingly recognised that these can only be successfully achieved by informed evidence. Students on the MSc Environmental Psychology programme are encouraged to make their research not only useful, but useable.

Career Prospects

Recent graduates have progressed into careers in central and local government, undertaking policy-oriented research on a variety of environment behaviour (E-B) issues. Many of our graduates have become practice consultants, using their E-B research skills. This could be a specialist E-B practice or an architecture, planning, design or engineering practice where graduates with a sensitivity to people-environment issues and a training in E-B research can provide an important and unique set of skills and expertise.

Those who have a background in architecture, landscape architecture, planning or design often return to their profession, but with an enhanced range of skills.

Some examples of careers that our students have progressed to include:

  • Building Research Establishment, Watford – Environmental Psychologist
  • Scottish Centre for Environmental Design and Research, Aberdeen – Researcher
  • Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey – PhD student
  • Andersen Consulting, London (Client Services) – Analyst
  • Kingston University, Colour Design Research Centre – Research Officer
  • Woods Bagot International architectural firm, Sydney – Analyst
  • JMP Consultants – Transport Planning Consultant
  • Transport Research Laboratory – Transport Planning Consultant

Professional recognition

Economic and Social Research Council

Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for research training.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Birgitta Gatersleben

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:



Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £7000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £3,500 £9,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

GREAT Surrey Scholarships India

For for all postgraduate taught courses starting in February 2017 within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the University is offering graduates from India the opportunity to apply for one of three scholarships worth £5,000 through the GREAT Scholarships - India programme. 

For more details

Admissions Information

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Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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