Health Psychology MSc

Equipping you with a sound knowledge of theories and practical issues relevant to health psychology.

Why Surrey?

Health psychology applies the theories, methods and techniques of psychology to issues of health and illness. These are integrated into the psychological processes related to the maintenance of health, the promotion of the psychological wellbeing of the physically ill, and the normal and pathological responses to ill health and stress.

Programme overview

You will consider the psychological and physiological responses of the individual to ill health, as well as the social and community contexts of health-related behaviours and the systems for healthcare.

You will be equipped with a sound knowledge of theories and practical issues relevant to health psychology and also a good understanding of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to research.

The programme, which is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), provides the academic component (Stage 1) on the route towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

Module overview

Compulsory modules

Quantitative Research Methods

In this module, you will develop the skills to conduct and assess quantitative research effectively.

Qualitative Research Methods

In this module, you will develop the skills to conduct and assess qualitative research.

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.

Conducting Health Psychology Research

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

Chronic Conditions

This module provides you with advanced knowledge and understanding of theory and practice, in particular relating to chronic illness/disability such as cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disorders, pain, arthritis and diabetes.

Psychological Aspects of Healthcare

This module covers psychological factors that influence the patient’s passage through the healthcare system.

Maintaining Health Throughout the Life-Span

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

Optional Modules

You also choose one optional module from the following:

  • Aspects of Experimental Psychology
  • Crafting Research: Linking Theory and Methods
  • Ergonomics and Human Factors
  • Inquiry and Design
  • Psychological Neuroscience: Psychophysics & fMRI
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Health Psychology
  • Psychology of Sustainable Development

Full-time students: Four modules per semester in total

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

Teaching and assessment

Teaching hours

Lectures: 12–14 hours per week in term time.

Seminar Series: Between six and ten hours per term over the duration of the programme.

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


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 complete seven compulsory modules and one optional module. You will also be required to present a dissertation comprising an original piece of empirical research within an area of health psychology. This will be approved and supervised by one of the School’s academic staff.

Health Psychology at Surrey

The core philosophy of Health Psychology at Surrey is to train students in the scientist-practitioner model. The MSc Health Psychology programme will lay the foundations for you to become a Chartered Psychologist, and will provide you with a thorough and critical understanding of the knowledge base, theories, findings and research methods relevant to health psychology. This includes an understanding of evidence-based science, the ability to design, conduct and analyse empirical psychological research, and the development of analytical and problem-solving skills.

As scientists, graduates must demonstrate a range of subject-specific and transferable skills and knowledge. These include competence in report writing, group-working skills, and the ability to think critically. This philosophy can be traced throughout all constituent parts of the modular programme offered to our students.

You will be encouraged to act as data gatherer, synthesiser and presenter. Teaching is delivered in both the traditional lecture format and by the less formal workshop style, by internal and external health professionals, and students are exposed to a variety of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The University of Surrey has developed a route to the Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology, which will fulfil the BPS criteria for the award of Chartered status in psychology. This programme involves candidates undertaking a course of study leading to the PhD in Health Psychology with Stage 2 training. Students who have successfully completed their MSc (Stage 1) are eligible to proceed to Stage 2 training. Students will further develop practitioner skills and learn to apply knowledge of research and theory to problems encountered in the wider context, including healthcare, home and work settings.

Some recent examples of dissertation topics include:

  • The long-term physical and psychological health effects of spousal bereavement in older adults: a qualitative investigation
  • Investigation to examine the effects of isometric exercise and body scanning on cigarette cravings and withdrawal in a real-world setting
  • Patients’ experiences of having outpatient hysteroscopy: the impact of anxiety and seeing the procedure
  • Predicting people’s experiences of health and illness following a cardiac event
  • Discourses of evidence and experience: the professional construction of medical expertise and healthcare practice
  • Do different health beliefs lead to seeking and taking complementary and alternative medicine? An explorative study into the beliefs of employees from a pharmaceutical background

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 School’s 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 courses 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, by 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.

Health Psychology Research at Surrey

The Health Psychology Research Group is involved in research in a range of health-related areas including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, diet, exercise, fibromyalgia, obesity, risk perception communication, and smoking.

There are a number of ongoing funded and unfunded projects within the Health Psychology Research Group which cover a range of areas.

Projects include:

  • Food intolerance in primary care
  • Exercise and smoking
  • The psychological consequences of obesity surgery
  • Choice and control: when is choice a good thing?
  • Using Smartphone apps to assess how workers unwind post-work
  • Sustained behaviour change
  • The association between work-related rumination and evening and morning salivary cortisol secretion
  • The role of recovery from stress on alpha-amylase and leukocytes production
  • The role of the home environment in explaining children’s diets

The University is at the centre of international research projects in the areas of social, environmental, health, occupational, developmental and cognitive psychology, and neuroscience.

The School has strong links with European and other international researchers through the Social Psychology European Research Institute (SPERI), the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre (FCBHRC) and the Clinical Neuroscience Research Team (CNRT) which are based in the School. A number of members of the School are also members of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, studying cognitive, health and occupational aspects of sleep restriction and its effects on performance.


Career prospects for students of this programme are very good, with graduates working in a variety of careers allied to medicine.

Some examples of where graduates of this programme have gone on to work include:

  • Trainee clinical psychologist, Black Country NHS Trust
  • Residential care officer, Community Homes – Intensive Care and Education, Reading
  • Compensation analyst, Hewlett Packard, Bracknell
  • Assistant psychologist, NE Essex Mental Health Services NHS Trust, Colchester
  • Aids Council carer, Papworth Trust, Cambridge
  • Trainee health psychologist at the Queen Elizabeth Foundation

Some students have remained in the School of Psychology and undertaken research for a PhD.

Other students remain in the School and become full-time research officers, working on one of the many research projects we have which are supported by the research councils, government, industry or the charitable trusts.

Graduates have also chosen to move to other universities to undertake research (as PhD students or research officers), as the Surrey MSc provides students with a recognised and thorough grounding in research methods.

Open days

Our MSc Heath Psychology open days will give you the chance to meet with academic staff and current students, learn a bit more about the course and ask any questions you may have. For more information and to book a place, please contact

Professional recognition

British Psychological Society accredited
Economic & Social Research Council

Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for research training and accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Professor Mark Cropley

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

A first or 2.1 honours degree (or recognised equivalent qualification) in psychology.

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 £7,000 £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

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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