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Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 2-3 years

UK/EU fee

£9,495 (2020/21)

International fee

£9,495 (2020/21)

Course level




Start dates

January, September, May



Online course description

Please note that due to the popularity of our BPS accredited courses we urge you to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are limited.

If you have an undergraduate degree in psychology, you can benefit from this flexible online Health Psychology Masters degree. Accredited by the British Psychology Society (BPS), this course provides you with stage one health psychology professional training. Successful completion of stage one health psychology training is a prerequisite for stage two training whereby trainees work towards achieving status as a Chartered member of the BPS (CPsychol) and a Registered Health Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The British Psychological Society Accredited Health Psychology logo

Our online MSc Health Psychology degree covers the theoretical and foundation professional issues in health psychology. It provides excellent preparation for many roles within the NHS, public, private and charity sectors. And since you’ll cover the latest research in this field and undertake your own research, it will also equip you to move onto a career in health psychology research or to study for a PhD.

Goldstandard teaching**Teaching Excellence Framework

Tutors that are experts in practice and research

You'll be taught by our team of research active psychologists, who have expert knowledge of health psychology theory, practice and research. You won't just be looking at the theoretical side of health psychology therefore; you'll also be exploring the issues faced by today's health psychology professionals. Their comprehensive knowledge and professional experience will really help you learn. And their strong research profile means that you'll be part of a vibrant department at the forefront of developments in health psychology.

Flexible study to fit around your lifestyle

Studying online gives you the flexibility to study at the most convenient time and place for you. Course modules still operate within a fixed semester but you can choose to study during the day, in the evenings or at the weekend rather than having to attend fixed lectures. If you are employed full-time or bringing up a family, this flexibility is invaluable.

What you will study

We will advise you of your study plan when you are invited to enrol.

To complete the MSc Health Psychology, you will need to complete all of the prescribed modules. The order in which you take them will be dependent on your start date (ie January, May or September). We will contact you with details of your study pattern before you need to register for enrolment.


Code: 7PS520

Psychology of Health and Illness

Underpinning much of the activity within health psychology is the understanding of the processes that relate to the maintenance of health, prevention of disease and the promotion of psychological well being. It is also essential to understand the links between psychological factors, behaviour, physiological mechanisms and ill health. This module aims to provide you with a broad knowledge base in these areas.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate how health psychology theory and research has aided our understanding of the influences on health-related behaviour
  2. Critically evaluate how psychological and physiological processes are associated with ill health

Module content

This module will cover topic areas such as:

  • Introduction to the psychology of health and illness
    • contexts and perspectives
    • socio-demographic factors in health and illness
  • Understanding and predicting health and health behaviour
  • Models of health behaviour
  • Attribution factors
    • locus of control
    • personal control and health care
    • learned helplessness
    • self efficacy
  • Biological and physiological aspects of stress
    • models of stress
    • coping with stress
  • Personality factors associated with health and illness
  • Psychological aspects of pain and pain management
  • Psychoneuroimmunology and the links between stress and the immune system
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS521

Health Promotion and Behaviour Change

Understanding the complex interplay between psychological, biological, environmental, social and political factors that influence health is a necessary skill for health psychologists. The aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of a range of factors that may influence health behaviour and behaviour change. In order to appreciate the potential role for health psychology the module will introduce students to current models and values that inform health promotion practice and provide the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully design and evaluate a health-based intervention.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the role of psychological theories and techniques in the promotion and maintenance of health
  2. Apply psychological theory to the design, development and evaluation of an intervention to modify a specific health related behaviour

Module content

The module will include learning material covering the following areas:

  • Mediators of health and health behaviours
  • Psychological principles and techniques of behaviour change
  • Health promotion theory, models & approaches
  • Health promotion in context
  • Design and evaluation of health promotion campaigns
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS523

Advanced Qualitative Methods

During a period of increasing debate about the nature of psychology and of science in general the field of psychology has developed rapidly. As well as examining a range of qualitative research issues and evaluating their significance for psychology, this module seeks to develop understanding of a variety of qualitative data generation and analysis methods. The module will focus around such developments as the incorporation of phenomenological and social constructionist ideas, both of which have led to new ideas in psychology and a shift in focus in some areas of psychology from the general to the specific.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate deep understanding of, and the ability to critically evaluate, the role of qualitative methods within your chosen area of study
  2. Demonstrate competence in choosing, applying and reporting qualitative data generation/collection and analysis techniques in the context of research within your chosen area of study

Module content

The module will include learning material covering the areas such as the following:

  • An introduction to qualitative methods in health psychology
  • Phenomenology
  • Thematic analysis
  • Methodologies and methods: interviewing, focus groups, naturalistic and online data sources, data from the media, ethics
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)
  • Discursive and narrative approaches
  • Social Constructionist approaches
  • Transcription and data analysis
  • Writing qualitative health psychology reports
  • Oral Presentations of qualitative reports
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS524

Living with Long Term Conditions

The aim of this module is to provide you with a critical awareness of the role of psychology in the onset, diagnosis, progression and management of various long term conditions. Furthermore this module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of key issues related to the nature of patient interaction with health care providers. Finally, the role of the family and wider social environment in health and illness will be explored.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate psychological theories relevant to the provision of health care
  • Critically evaluate the role of psychology in the onset, diagnosis, progression and management of long terms conditions

Module content

This module will cover topic areas such as:

  • Incidence & range of long term conditions
  • Diagnosis and adjustment to long term conditions
  • Coping & long term conditions: individual and social factors
  • Outcomes: measures
  • Interventions: psychological
  • Caregiving: stress, gender roles, spousal, familial and non-familial caregiving
  • Stigmatised conditions & identity: mental illness & physical disability
  • Long term conditions across the lifespan
  • Breaking bad news: dying, death and bereavement
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS525

Professional Skills in Health Psychology

This module is about health psychologists in professional practice; how they work, what they do, how they are trained, and the skills they use, as well as contextual and policy issues that influence health psychologists in practice. In a series of interactive workshops, we explore and evaluate some of the key issues for professional practice and professional development. The module is also intended to support your own professional development, and a series of reflective activities are designed to enable you to reflect on, and plan for, your own professional development as health psychologists.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate a range of professional issues in the practice of health psychology
  • Critically reflect on personal and professional development in the context of health psychology

Module content

  • UK and international training models
  • dissemination and communication
  • professional development planning
  • health psychology consultancy
  • behaviour change competencies
  • health psychology teaching and training
  • formative assessment planning and feedback, health policy
  • health practice ethics
  • social and ethnic diversity
  • respect and trust in healthcare
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS537

Advanced Quantitative Methods in Health Psychology

This module will provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the methods and practice in different types of assessment techniques used in Health Psychology research. Through a series of lectures and practical exercises, using real-world data, this module will equip you with a wide range of conceptual, methodological and statistical skills that will allow you to turn a research question in Health Psychology into a rigorous quantitative study, to develop an in-depth knowledge and to advanced skills related to the design, implementation and evaluation of health-related research and psychometrics. This module will provide you with a research knowledge base that is necessary and sufficient to prepare you for further training to become a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and/or Practitioner Psychologist with the Health Care and Professions Council.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Design, explore and evaluate a psychometric scale
  2. Analyse and interpret advanced statistical techniques using appropriate software for statistical analysis (SPSS)

Module content

The module will include learning materials covering the following areas:

  • Psychometrics
  • Measures of quality of life and their applications
  • Planning, implementing, and evaluating an intervention
  • Advanced quantitative methods including mediation and moderation
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS992

Research Project in Health Psychology

It is intrinsic to the award of MSc that you present evidence of your capacity to conduct a substantial piece of independent empirical research that builds clearly upon your prior learning and which draws upon appropriate methodologies. The aim of this module is to allow you to conduct a mini systematic review of health psychology literature and conduct an original empirical study. For the empirical project, you will identify a research issue, review existing literature on the topic, formulate pertinent research questions and explore these questions through the application of contemporary psychological methodologies and appropriate data analysis and scientific write-up.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to locate and critically evaluate relevant contemporary and classic sources in order to identify pertinent areas for health psychology research and articulate appropriate research question or hypothesis
  2. Design a piece of health psychology research and demonstrate awareness of and competence in applying all relevant ethical guidelines and principles
  3. Conduct a feasible and ethical empirical study to address pertinent research question(s) and analyse and interpret the findings of the study to form coherent conclusions about the research question(s)
  4. Present your findings in a way that is consistent with the standards of presentation and clarity expected of a professional research report within the field of health psychology

Module content

The module contains a taught programme and a programme of research supervision and support for independent scholarship. The taught programme covers:

  • Models of supervision
  • Systematic reviews, meta-analysis
  • Psychological measurement tools, scale development, psychometrics
  • Research proposals, development of study materials
  • Research ethics, research governance
  • Dissemination including writing for publication, oral and poster presentations

For each student the nature of the supervision and support for independent scholarship content of the module is largely defined by the model of supervision adopted and the scope and nature of their research question and its investigation. 

The programme team will help students explore and discuss topics prior to final decision as to the focus of the independent studies to be undertaken. 

More information
60 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

Pace of study

We recommend about 20 hours of study per week to complete one 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester. If you aim to study two modules in one trimester, we recommend 40 hours of study per week.

Assessment method

This course is assessed through 100% coursework with a range of methods, such as essays, research reports, presentations, group work and practical reports.

Who will teach you

Ainslea Cross

Dr Ainslea Cross
Programme leader

Dr Ainslea Cross is the Academic Lead for Health Psychology and is a Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychology Society and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

View full staff profileView full staff profileExplore all staff on this courseExplore all staff on this course
Student wearing headphones at a laptop participating in an online webinar

Study Psychology Online Webinar

Monday, 7 December 2020 11.00 - 12.00

Join this webinar to discover more about studying Psychology online at Derby. The webinar includes a 30 minute presentation from Dr Elaina Taylor, Lecturer for Psychology.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

Entry requirements

Applicants are required normally to have at least a 2:1 Honours Degree in Psychology, which is recognised by the British Psychological Society for Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC). A 2:2 Honours Degree may be accepted if the applicant has relevant work experience or can demonstrate an ability to study at Level 7 through the completion of other postgraduate study.

Are you an overseas student?

If you are an international student with a degree that is not accredited by the BPS or is accredited by a different association, you can apply independently to the BPS to see if your degree can be recognised. For further information or guidance, please contact us.

English language qualification

If English is not your first language, or you have not successfully completed your highest level of qualification in English, you will need an English language qualification. For this course you will need at least one of the following:

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2020 and August 2021.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £1,055 7 (six 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module) £9,495

2021/22 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2021 and August 2022.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £1,055 7 (six 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module) £9,495

About your fees

This figure would be the total cost of this course in the current academic year. However, please note that fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase if your course lasts longer than one year.

However, please also note that you can receive a 5% discount if you either:

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from three payment plan options:

Masters funding options

Depending on where you are from in the UK or EU, and on your pace of study, you may be eligible for a postgraduate student loan. Accessible through Student Finance, this is a non-income based loan to help with living costs and tuition fees whilst studying your masters programme.

How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply now

Documents to support your application

You'll need to provide:

*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:

A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website.

Application deadlines

All of our online courses have set start dates throughout the year. We require time to review your application and get back to you with a response before your course starts. Take a look at information regarding applying for an online course to see full details of deadlines and term dates.


As well as developing core health psychology knowledge on this course, you'll have the opportunity to develop your personal, academic and professional skills. We will also give you an introduction to a range of health psychology professional competencies in areas such as teaching and training, research and consultancy.

It’s this valuable content that has enabled previous graduates to:

The level and academic credibility of this qualification has enabled many graduates to pursue other, non-psychology related graduate professions, such as teaching and management.

Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

Contact usContact usFrequently asked questionsFrequently asked questions

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