Social Psychology MSc

Be part of a diverse group of students at the cutting edge of innovative attempts to apply social psychological theory to a range of current social issues.

Why Surrey?

The MSc Social Psychology looks at a range of topical social issues through the lens of social psychological theories in order to develop understanding and ideas for intervention. It is concerned with the scientific study of how we think about, influence and relate to one another.

The programme deals with, amongst other topics, issues of power and influence, the study of how individuals and groups interact to construct and maintain identities and how these are related to social change. Through this, the programme aims to provide you with an awareness of the historical and philosophical background of social psychology and an in-depth knowledge of contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches to the discipline.

You will be part of a diverse group of students at the cutting edge of innovative attempts to apply social psychological theory to everyday thought, emotion and behaviour in social contexts.

Programme overview

Programme aims

The Social Psychology programme aims to:

  • Provide you with advanced knowledge of the history and philosophy of social psychology, and a competent understanding of classic and contemporary theories, findings and methodologies in the field
  • Train you to engage in the practices that make up both ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ research
  • Engage and expand your ability to think critically and to discuss theories and findings about the social nature of human beings
  • Train you to formulate research problems, to select and apply appropriate methodologies, to interpret resultant quantitative and qualitative data, and to communicate your research effectively to a diverse range of audiences
  • Develop your interpersonal, technical and communication skills
  • Raise your awareness of related disciplines including sociology, anthropology, cognitive science and history to assist your engagement in cross-disciplinary dialogue
  • Enable you to link social psychological theories and empirical findings to social issues, with a view to understanding the practical policy implications of research, and research-led interventions in public life
  • Inform you about the procedures and practices of ethical research conduct

These educational goals are realised through teaching and learning strategies on both the taught modules and the individual dissertation, which aim to enhance your ability to become an active member of the social psychology profession.

Module overview

All modules are worth 15 credits, except for the dissertation module which is worth 60 credits. You are required to total the same number of credits across the two semesters.

You will also be required to present a dissertation comprising an original piece of empirical research within any area of social psychology. Your dissertation will be approved and supervised by one of the School’s academic staff.

Compulsory modules

You are required to complete five compulsory modules:

Social Change and Influence
This module provides an advanced understanding of current theories of social change and influence in social psychology and opportunities to apply these to diverse social change contexts.

Preparation for Academic Research in Psychology
This module is designed to equip students with the necessary generic insights and skills to undertake academic research in psychology, principally in preparation for dissertation work.

Quantitative Research Methods
This module is a lab-based/practical course intended to get students to use SPSS and understand the statistical principles underlying its use.

Qualitative Research Methods
The module examines the philosophical and practical basis of a range of qualitative approaches to psychological research and develops/refines students’ skills in the field.

Crafting Research: Linking Theories and Methods
This module aims to enable you to link theoretical and empirical questions to social issues and provide you with an in-depth understanding of the practical applications and action implications of social psychological theories and empirical findings.

Optional modules

In addition, you choose three modules from the following list:

  • Conducting Health Psychology Research
  • Maintaining Health Throughout the Lifespan
  • Psychological Neuroscience: Electrophysiology
  • Key Questions in Environmental Psychology: People and Place
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Social Cognition
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Psychological Aspects of Health Care
  • Aspects of Experimental Psychology
  • Ergonomics and Human Factors
  • Inquiry and Design
  • Psychological Neuroscience: Psychophysics & fMRI
  • Psychology of Sustainable Development
  • The Self & Relationships
  • Morality & Emotions

Full-time students: Four modules per semester in total
Part-time students: Modules split across two years as agreed with the Course Director


The MSc Social Psychology stimulates interest in a wide variety of research areas. Below is a list of recent dissertation titles, to give you an idea of the range of subjects and environments studied on the programme:

  • A qualitative exploration of accounts of ‘deradicalisation’ and ‘disengagement’ among former prisoners jailed for terrorism-related offences in Indonesia
  • Reactions of Irish people to outcomes of puberty suppression in children with gender identity disorder: the effects of general identity, psychological wellbeing and sexual orientation
  • Exploring language and identity through the reflective accounts of second-generation Asians: a qualitative study
  • Social memories of the Second World War: exploring the relationship between British identity and the European Union
  • Construction of national identities and the other in political discourses in the context of the intergroup conflict resolution in Cyprus
  • Explicit and implicit methods for measuring gender differences in sexual prejudice
  • Sexism and feminism: a not-so-ambivalent relationship
  • Constructing America: a qualitative analysis of presidential inauguration speeches
  • ‘If we all got together and understood and tolerated each others’ faiths, we could all work together for this country’: A qualitative exploration of the social psychology of interfaith relations from the perspective of Church of Scotland members in Glasgow
  • The dynamics of group membership and ascription of racial identity by the State through the lens of mixed ethnicity Singaporeans

Recommended reading

There is no requirement for you to have read up on social psychology prior to commencing the programme. However, when compiling your application, you will be asked what relevant reading you have done and you may find it useful if you are invited for interview.

The most important journals in which social psychologists tend to publish their work are:

  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • Advances in Experimental Social Psychology
  • Personality and Social Psychology Review
  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
  • British Journal of Social Psychology
  • European Journal of Social Psychology
  • Discourse and Society
  • Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology


Occasionally, students receive financial support from industry through sponsorship, negotiated by individual students. This would involve students undertaking 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 practice, though, most students are self-funded.

Social Psychology at Surrey

These are just a few of the questions explored and researched by the social psychologists at the University of Surrey:

  • Does gossip distinguish humans from animals?
  • Why can some people resolve conflicts but others cannot?
  • Why do people kill and die for their national identities?
  • Why do women seem to have gender more than men do?
  • How is society transformed by new genetic technologies?
  • Why do right-wing groups tell their most loyal members that they hate themselves?
  • How is ‘social integration’ described when ‘multiculturalism’ is debated in the media?
  • How do religious communities understand the possibilities and challenges of engaging with other religious groups?
  • What role do emotions play in how we think and act politically?

As psychologists, we study human action, emotion, cognition and discourse. As social psychologists, we understand human behaviour to be inseparable from its social context. We use a range of methodologies, including experiments, questionnaires, interviews and archival analyses. Our work is organised around investigating novel, surprising, creative explanations of the ways that people are. As the anthropologist Michelle Rosaldo put it, ‘social beings first, and individuals only second’.

The MSc Social Psychology features specialist modules which draw on classic and contemporary research to allow you to engage with a diverse range of methodological practices and draw on the programme team’s diverse professional skills.

Psychology at Surrey

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey is one of the most active and highly regarded psychology departments/schools 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, 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.

Social Psychology Research

The social psychologists at the University of Surrey have an international reputation in research and teaching. Students on the MSc in Social Psychology are encouraged to participate in the School of Psychology’s ongoing activities, particularly research seminars.

The social psychologists at Surrey have undertaken research for the EU, UK research councils, government departments and agencies, industry and commerce, and the charitable sector. They have attracted a large number of research projects to the School, including:

  • Social and behavioural consequences of AIDS/HIV (ESRC)
  • Cross-national studies of the social and psychological determinants of pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours (EU)
  • The 16–19 initiative project on the political and economic socialisation of 16–19 year olds (ESRC)
  • Monitoring and modelling consumer perceptions of food-related risks (MAFF)

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Patrice Rusconi

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

Normally a first or 2.1 honours degree in psychology from a UK university (or recognised equivalent overseas qualification). Degrees in related subjects (such as sociology) will also be considered. Applicants who meet these basic criteria will be invited to be interviewed in person or by Skype to discuss their interest in social 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

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.

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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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