MSc Health Psychology (incorporating PG Cert/PG Dip)

Why choose this course?

  • This course will help you to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to critically evaluate the fundamental theoretical, empirical, and practical applications of health psychology. The course provides the first stage of practitioner training towards becoming a chartered health psychologist and is a prerequisite for stage two training in health psychology.
  • Our MSc Health Psychology follows the core curriculum for the British Psychological Society stage one training in health psychology, which, with stage two postgraduate training, equips you for practice as a registered health psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). 
  • We have just had a BPS re-accreditation event and received 5 commendations (providing Stage 1 training towards Chartered Health Psychology status).
  • You'll learn about the practical, professional and theoretical issues in health psychology.
  • You'll explore the latest developments in health psychology research, so your knowledge will be relevant and up to date.
  • You'll have the opportunity to undertake empirical research within the field of health psychology.
  • You can choose to study this course on campus or online, whichever best suits your needs.

    MSc Health Psychology
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Fact file

Start date: September (full time or part time) or January (part time only)

Course length: full time: one year (two days per week), part time: two years (one day per week). If you study this course on campus full time, you’ll come into the University on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you choose to study part time you’ll come in on Wednesdays during your first year and Thursdays during your second year. If you study online, all of your resources are available online and there is no need to come to Derby to attend lectures.

Campus: Kedleston Road site, Derby Campus  

Faculty: Education, Health and Science

School: School of Science

This course is available to international students

About this course

The MSc Health Psychology programme has been designed to fulfill the knowledge base required of Masters programmes by the British Psychological Society as part of the qualification for Full Membership of the Division of Health Psychology and Chartered Health Psychologist status. In particular, the programme has four key aims and objectives for appropriately qualified students these are:

  • to provide you with the skills to critically evaluate theories, findings and methods relevant to the field of health psychology.
  • to provide you with the professional skills to work within multi-professional health care contexts.
  • to provide you with the necessary skills in order to design, conduct and analyse empirical psychological research in a health context.
  • to provide you with a knowledge base that is necessary and sufficient for the academic component of the route to becoming a chartered health psychologist.

Health Psychology has been defined as the 'aggregate of the specific educational, scientific and professional contribution of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the promotion and treatment of illness and related dysfunction.' (Matarazzo, 1980)

However, you won't just be looking at the theoretical side of health psychology on this course, you'll also be exploring and understanding the issues faced by today's health psychology professionals.

You'll take part in interactive lectures, group discussions, workshops as well as your own independent study.

You'll be taught by a dedicated team of Chartered Health Psychologists, researchers and practitioners who have expert knowledge of health psychology.

Full time students complete the course over one year (two days a week) and part time students over two years (one day a week). Teaching is delivered in ten week blocks during the autumn and spring semesters and supervision for the independent study is organised by negotiation during the summer period. You can study on campus or online.

British Psychological Society Accreditation

The course has been fully accredited by the BPS. In addition, the accreditation team noted the following aspects of good practice and wished to commend the course for:

  • The enthusiasm and commitment of the programme team
  • The support available for students with disability
  • Professional skills development and career advice
  • Student satisfaction with the programme and the staff
  • Clear and comprehensive induction programme.

Please be aware that the completion of this course does not enable you to join the British Psychological Society (BPS) as a Chartered Psychologist. At present the regulations allow for students who do not have a Psychology degree accredited with the BPS to study for the Masters in Health Psychology. If you think you may want to join the BPS as a Chartered Psychology then you would need to study for a Graduate Diploma prior to completing the MSc in Health Psychology. If you have any queries about this please contact the Programme Leader Dr Vicki Staples at

What you will cover

You will study these modules:

Psychology of Health and Illness (20 credits)

Fundamental to much of the activity within health psychology is understanding the processes that relate to maintaining health, preventing disease, and promoting psychological wellbeing to individuals who are physically ill. This module provides an overview of these essential areas. It is delivered face to face and online.

Health Promotion and Behaviour Change (20 credits)

You will explore a range of factors that may influence health across both whole life or for a relatively limited period. You will be introduced to current modules and values that inform health promotion practice and develop the knowledge and skills needed to design a health-based intervention and select and undertake the appropriate type of evaluation. This module is delivered face to face or online.

Health Care in Long Term conditions (20 credits)

This module will see you develop a critical awareness of the role of psychology in the onset, diagnosis, progression, and management of various long term conditions. You will also develop a comprehensive understanding of key issues related to the nature of patient interaction with healthcare providers and explore the role of the family and wider social environment in relation to health and illness. This module is delivered face to face or online.

Advanced Qualitative Methods (20 credits)

To conduct and evaluate research in health psychology, you need to be familiar with a range of qualitative research methodologies. On this module you will explore techniques to help you with your research projects. It is delivered face to face and online.

Advanced Quantitative Methods (20 credits)

To conduct and evaluate research in health psychology you use a variety of quantitative research methods. During this module you will develop a critical understanding of a range of quantitative research methods and statistical techniques. You will look at how statistical tests are performed, analysed, and interpreted using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). This module is delivered face to face and online.

Professional Skills in Health Psychology (20 credits)  

The work of health psychologists relies on a broad range of professional skills and attributes. This module will see you develop your understanding of the professional issues surrounding your practice and building up your key skills for working in health psychology. This module is delivered face to face and online.

Research Project in Health Psychology (60 credits)

You will conduct a substantial piece of independent research. You will identify a research issue, review existing literature in the topic area, and formulate novel research questions. You will then test these questions through the application of contemporary psychological methodologies and appropriate data analysis and scientific write-up. This module is delivered face to face or online.

If you study this course on campus full time, you attend the University on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you choose to study part time, you attend on Wednesdays during your first year and Thursdays during your second year.

If you study online, all your resources are available online and there is no need to come to the University to attend lectures. 

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have or expect to obtain at least a 2:1 honours degree in psychology or a related subject.

We'll consider your reference and personal statement carefully, and we'll normally invite you to come in for an interview.

If English is not your first language, you will need to hold IELTS 6.5.


How to apply

UK/EU students

International students

Information for international applicants

Applying for a postgraduate degree

Fees and finance

2014/15 fees

UK/EU students

  • £495 per module (you usually take 9 of these modules in total)

International students

  • Full time: £10,955

*These fees apply if you're starting this course between September 2014 and August 2015. We recommend you check fee details with us though, as they can change. Costs can increase each year.

How you will learn

How you'll learn

We offer the course online or on campus to best suit your individual learning style.

You should be encouraged to develop autonomy in your studies;

Different students have different learning styles and that a range of learning opportunities should be provided for you;

Students and staff have the right to pursue their studies and to discharge their professional duties respectively in an academic environment free from direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation or religious belief.

How you're assessed

100% coursework.

Careers and employability

This masters degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society. Once you've completed the course you'll be eligible to undertake stage two training in Health Psychology which will allow you to become a Chartered Health Psychologist.

In addition to core health psychology knowledge you'll develop your professional skills. You'll be introduced to a range of health psychology professional competencies in area such as teaching and training, research and consultancy.

Previous graduates have gone on to qualify and work in a wide range of areas. Some have gone on to do stage two training whilst others have secured funded PhDs in health psychology related areas. Others have used their MSc in Health Psychology to gain places on clinical psychology training programmes or access other related training eg CBT and IAPT. A number of our graduates currently work in the NHS delivering services in areas of health promotion, mental health and chronic illness management. Many have also used their MSc to gain access to other graduate professions, such as teaching and management.

What our students say

"During my time on the MSc I received a great amount of support from both the lecturers and peers. This was provided on a one-to-one basis if needed and also in the form of the electronic forum provided on the University website. The degree itself is very well structured and covers a range of very interesting topics. Throughout the course there wasn't any aspect that I didn't enjoy. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone considering a career in any health area as it opens your eyes to other aspects within health care."

Debbie Williams, MSc Health Psychology graduate 2004

"I decided to undertake the MSc Health Psychology at Derby as I had thoroughly enjoyed the modules I had already taken at undergraduate level and had found them to be very interesting. I also felt it would be a useful sub-discipline of psychology to study further as it can enable a better understanding of health, illness and the health care system and can be used in an applied setting. I found the whole course rewarding, fulfilling and exceedingly interesting. The course staff were very helpful, enthusiastic, friendly, dedicated, and addition they were helpful in giving necessary advice and providing motivation when needed and made the whole area of health psychology very interesting and enjoyable to learn about. Completing the MSc has been one of the best investments I have made in my life both in terms of time, effort, and money, as it has led me to undertake a PhD in a related area, which without the MSc I would not have been able to pursue. For that I am very grateful to the staff and also the cohort of students I studied with."

Heather Semper, MSc Health Psychology graduate 2004

‌"I recommend most highly the MSc Health Psychology at the University of Derby, I think it completely achieves the difficult aim of preparing you to step out into the world of work armed with a considerable range of skills."

MSc Health Psychology graduate 2007