Environmental Psychology MSc

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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.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

Example module listing

The following modules 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.


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 Ministry of Defence
  • Home Office
  • The Environment Agency
  • The Countryside Agency
  • Surrey County Council
  • 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


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 ofpsychological 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.

Educational aims of the programme

The aims of the programme are as follows:

  • To provide students with theoretical and qualitative/quantitative methodological expertise to conduct environmental psychological research by training them in the informed and systematic conduct of basic and applied research involving the critical reading of theories and empirical findings
  • To provide students with an in depth knowledge of contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches to the discipline
  • To enable students to link theoretical and empirical questions to social and environmental issues and to provide them with an in depth understanding of the practical applications and action implications of environmental psychological theories and empirical findings
  • To provide students with the skills to evaluate possible interventions in a variety of environmental domains
  • To offer opportunities to develop the basic interpersonal, technical and creative skills required for the effective analysis and formulation of problems into research questions and, where appropriate, testable hypotheses

Programme learning outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

Students will have an understanding of:

  • Contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches to environmental psychology
  • The practical applications and action implications of environmental psychological theories and empirical findings
  • The principles of research design
  • Quantitative and qualitative techniques and strategies to manage and analyse psychological data
  • Ethical considerations when undertaking research and framing interventions

Intellectual / cognitive skills

Students will be able to:

  • Critically assess and comment on sources of research relevant to environmental psychology
  • Critically evaluate the contributions and limitations of environmental psychological theories and research methods in environmental behaviour issues
  • Evaluate actual and potential psychologically informed interventions in a variety of environmental domains
  • Design, conduct and evaluate environmental psychological research
  • Apply insights from environmental psychological theory and research to other domains of psychology

Professional practical skills

Students will be able to:

  • Communicate work in a professional manner for academic and non-academic audiences in written and verbal formats
  • Apply problem solving techniques to environmental and psychological topics effectively
  • Use effective learning strategies
  • Analyse and interpret environmental psychological theoretical analyses and quantitative and qualitative empirical evidence in a competent and critical manner

Key / transferable skills

Students will be able to:

  • Communicate theories and methods in relation to environmental psychology by oral and written means
  • Use information technology effectively
  • Manage own personal development

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

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: To be confirmed
  • Part-time: To be confirmed

Start date:

Sep 2017

Entry Requirements

A UK first or 2.1 honours degree or equivalent in a social or design science discipline, understanding, experience or a passion for environmental, planning or architectural issues.

We also accept students with a background in design disciplines, architecture or planning, as well as environmental engineering. Applicants without a degree, who have significant relevant experience, will also be considered.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, 6.5 in each component (or equivalent)

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 2017 £7,500 £19,000
Part-time Sep 2017 £3,800 £9,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 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


The Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence

For all (with the exception of MBA) postgraduate taught courses starting in September 2017 within the Surrey Business School and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management we are offering all applicants who hold a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent the opportunity to be awarded between £2,000 and £4,000 through the Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence Scheme. Download a flyer or read more for eligibility and to apply.

For more details

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

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

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.

Find out more


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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