Why choose this course
Health psychology is a rapidly evolving area of practice and research, that’s becoming increasingly relevant in modern society. Through our combined professional training and methodological-based research, we’re helping to improve people’s lives.
At Surrey, we investigate the processes influencing behaviours and behaviour change in health promoting contexts with a focus on exercise uptake, smoking cessation and weight management. We address issues of comorbidity, examine the onset and management of both common and rare chronic conditions, and evaluate responses to stress-inducing situations.
You’ll benefit from our expertise in qualitative and quantitative methodologies, subjective measures, and objective and biological assessments of health. We’ll train you in advanced and innovative research methods, preparing you for your career.
On successful completion of this PhD, you’ll have the Stage 2 requirements needed to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as a Health Psychologist.
What you will study
During your Stage 2 training you’ll cover five core competencies, including ethics, behaviour change, systematic reviews, research, and teaching and training. You’ll investigate these by completing individual research and developing a work portfolio.
In your first year you’ll complete four compulsory training courses covering quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, professional academic skills, and teaching and training. You’ll also familiarise yourself with relevant literature, create a research plan, develop your methodological and analytic skills, and complete your first study.
Throughout your studies you’ll gain a solid grounding in research methods and improve your communication skills to effectively convey your findings. You’ll collect data and analyse this, completing a detailed literature review and then writing up your PhD thesis. Depending on your research project, data collection can take place in schools, hospitals, laboratories or online.
Current students are researching topics including:
- Cognitive, emotional and physiological factors implicated in the recovery-from-work process.
- Symptom perception and the cross over between physical and mental symptoms.
- The role of illness-related rumination in psychological and physical health outcomes in those living with cancer.
- Weight bias and weight management.
As part of your training, you’ll complete a work placement with one of our partners, giving you the opportunity to develop your consultancy skills.
You’ll be taught through a combination of placements, seminars, research and individual study.
You’ll have a confirmation assessment to formally review your project. If you're a full-time student, this will take place around 12-15 months into your studies or 24-30 months if you’re studying part-time. You’ll be required to submit a written report and successfully complete an oral examination.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with two examiners.
You will also submit a portfolio to reflect the work completed for the required competencies. This will be completed with the support of Dr Bridget Dibb and will be evaluated by an external examiner.
In addition to the confirmation process you’ll have six-monthly progress reviews with your supervisors. These meetings are an opportunity to reflect on your progress, discuss successes and challenges and set targets for the next six months. These reviews will be monitored by postgraduate research directors and recorded on your student record.
You’ll also have one formal meeting with your supervisors every month and can expect to have more frequent meetings between these. The regularity of these will depend on the nature and stage of your project.
Each year we run a postgraduate research conference where you’ll be able to present your work and network with fellow researchers. You can also attend external conferences that are relevant to your area of research.
Careers and graduate prospects
On successful completion of this PhD, you’ll have the Stage 2 requirements needed to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as a Health Psychologist. You’ll also have the requirements needed for the Graduate Basis of Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society (BPS).
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
Our research investigates:
- Chronic illness, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and coronary heart disease.
- Health behaviours, including eating, exercise and smoking.
- Help seeking, including risk perception and symptom perception.
- Illness cognitions, including identity, treatment expectancies and risk.
Our academic staff
For the research component of your PhD, you’ll have two supervisors from the School of Psychology. For the Stage 2 elements, you’ll be supervised and supported by registered Health Psychologist and Chartered Psychologist, Dr Bridget Dibb. All your supervisors will give you academic guidance and tuition, helping you develop your research ideas and plans, consider your theory and methods, and analyse your work. They’ll read and comment on your draft work, giving you honest and constructive feedback. They’ll provide you with pastoral support and advice, referring you to more specialist services where necessary.
Our facilities have recently undergone a £5 million investment, giving you access to the latest equipment, including a four-room virtual reality suite to simulate real-life scenarios, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, where you can perform neuroimaging and observe the brain in action, and two observation laboratories.
With our equipment you can conduct experiments using electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). You'll also be able to monitor eye tracking and physiological measures such as earlobe temperature, heart rate and galvanic skin response, in our laboratories and remotely, using mobile data loggers.
Applicants are expected to hold a upper second-class honours degree (65 per cent or above) in psychology (or a related discipline).
Students must also:
- be a graduate member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) or hold the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC)
- hold the BPS Stage 1 Qualification in Health Psychology (e.g. MSc Health Psychology).
View entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Start date: April 2021
Start date: July 2021
Start date: October 2021
Start date: January 2022
For fees payable in 2020/1, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2021 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.