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MSc Psychology Conversion Courses – A Guide

Are you a budding psychologist but don’t have an undergraduate degree in Psychology? Then an MSc Psychology might be the ideal Psychology conversion course for you.

Completing an accredited version of this programme means that you can register as a chartered Psychology practitioner. In the UK this involves becoming a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS), even if your Bachelors degree is in an unrelated subject.

There are a few different options you can choose from if you want to convert your undergraduate degree to an accredited Psychology qualification. As well as an MSc Psychology, your options include a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP). This page will explain some of the differences between them.

We’ll also cover the essential information you need to know before applying for an MSc Psychology, such as entry requirements, course structure and funding.

Or, if you simply want to begin your search for a Psychology conversion course – have a look at the courses listed on FindAMasters.com.

What is an MSc Psychology?

An MSc Psychology is a psychology conversion course designed to help non-psychology graduates gain the skills needed to register with the BPS. Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the BPS is vital if you want to pursue a career in psychology in the UK.

If you take a BPS-accredited MSc Psychology, you’ll study modules that cover the core areas of psychology. These are defined by the BPS as:

  • Biological psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Individual differences
  • Social psychology
  • Conceptual and historical issues in psychology
  • Research methods

In addition to these, you’ll usually be able to take electives based on the research interests of your lecturers.


MSc Psychology
Type Taught
Subjects Education
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 1-2 years
Credits Value 180 CATS / 90 ECTS
Availability Worldwide

How much does an MSc Psychology cost?

Tuition fees are largely in line with the average cost of a Masters in the UK, which currently comes in between £6,000 and £7,000. However, some institutions charge more (or less) than this.

If you’re studying an online MSc Psychology, the tuition fees may be lower than a traditional version of the course.

What are the entry requirements?

Most universities require at least a 2:2 undergraduate degree to enrol on an MSc Psychology. This can be in any subject – including a psychology degree that wasn’t accredited by the BPS.

Universities usually also ask for applicants to have completed and passed 60 credits of psychology at undergraduate level. If you don’t have these 60 credits, you can study a Graduate Certificate in Psychology at several universities, which covers these credits and takes six to 12 months.

Our guide to Masters degree entry requirements has more information on university applications.

What about the Graduate Diploma in Psychology and other conversion courses?

An MSc Psychology is just one way of converting your undergraduate degree into a BPS-accredited qualification. Two other options are the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (PGDip in Psychology) and the Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP).

These are shorter courses, with a lower credit value and less focus on independent research.

Here are some of the key differences between the PGDip or GDP and an MSc Psychology:

  • The MSc Psychology programme takes 12 months of full-time study to complete, rather than the PGDip and the GDP’s nine months.
  • Usually an MSc Psychology doesn’t require 60 credits of undergraduate psychology study, unlike the PGDip and the GDP.
  • A hands-on research project and dissertation is often an important part of an MSc Psychology, but aren’t always part of a PGDip or a GDP.
  • Government-backed postgraduate loans are normally available to UK students taking an MSc Psychology. This isn’t necessarily the case for a PGDip or a GDP.
  • Apart from those differences, the actual content of the different courses is relatively similar, each covering the core topics of psychological study set out by the BPS. Similarly, none of the courses requires that applicants hold an undergraduate degree in psychology.

If you’re studying at a university that offers one of the diploma courses as well as an MSc Psychology, it might be possible to transfer between programmes.

Where can I study an MSc Psychology?

The MSc Psychology is offered across the United Kingdom. Several universities also run an online version of these courses, which is a great option if you have busy family commitments or want to work while you study.

Accreditation in Psychology doesn’t differ between UK nations (unlike Law), so it’s not a problem if you want to become a psychologist in Scotland but studied in England.

Worldwide, it’s common for universities to allow non-Psychology graduates onto postgraduate Psychology programmes. Australian universities also have a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, which follows the same principles and has the same function as the UK equivalent.

Are the GDP and the PGDip in Psychology internationally recognised?

Yes, both kinds of qualification are compatible with academic frameworks such as the European ECTS credit system. A PGDip is worth 120 UK CATS credits, which is the same as 60 ECTS credits, for example.

What’s it like to study an MSc Psychology?

You’ll cover the core areas of psychology as defined by the BPS, via a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and independent study. Sometimes these modules will be the same as those offered by the university at second and third year undergraduate level.

How is an MSc Psychology assessed?

You’ll usually complete a series of exams at the end of each term, along with written assignments and reports (both practical and research-based). If your MSc involves a dissertation or an extended research project, you’ll be assessed on this too.

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Last updated - 14/12/2017

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