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Course content

Why Surrey?

Our innovative MSc Health Psychology programme applies the theories, methods and techniques of psychology to issues of health and illness.

These are integrated into the psychological processes related to the maintenance of health, the promotion of the psychological wellbeing of the physically ill, and the normal and pathological responses to ill health and stress.

Programme overview

Our MSc Health Psychology programme will equip you with a sound knowledge of theories and practical issues relevant to health psychology.

You will consider the psychological and physiological responses of the individual to ill health, as well as the social and community contexts of health-related behaviours and healthcare systems.

The programme will equip you with a sound knowledge of theories and practical issues relevant to health psychology, in addition to a solid understanding of quantitative and qualitative approaches to research.

The programme, which is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), provides the academic component (Stage One) on the route towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

Example module listing

The following modules 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.

Educational aims of the programme

The aims of the programme are:

  • To provide students with advanced knowledge and understanding of theory and practice in Health Psychology in accordance with the 15 competence requirements pertaining to Stage 1 of the British Psychological Society criteria for achieving Chartered Status in Health Psychology
  • To train students in the informed and systematic application of the research-practitioner involving problem analysis and formulation, intervention design and evaluation
  • To enable students to harness relevant theory and evidence in the integrated formulation of a wide range of commonly encountered health problems and issues
  • To produce students equipped with the basic interpersonal, technical and creative skills required for the effective analysis and formulation of health problems, and for the effective design, implementation and evaluation of health interventions
  • To prepare students for professional work pursued in a highly responsible, self-regulated, self- efficacious and politically sensitive fashion
  • To facilitate self-reflection in support of personal and professional development via constructive feedback

Programme learning outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas: 

Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Health psychology as an applied science
  • The relevance of theory to professional practice
  • Theory and evidence pertaining to the core areas as detailed by the british psychological society: context and perspectives in health psychology, epidemiology in health psychology, biological mechanisms of health and disease, health-related behaviour, health-related cognitions, individual differences, stress, chronic illness/disability, lifespan, gender and crosscultural perspectives, health care contexts, applications of health psychology, research methods, empirical research project, measurement issues and professional issues
  • Basic and advanced research design and methods of investigation (qualitative and quantitative), data analysis principles and techniques
  • The contemporary economic and political context of health care work
  • Place and value of health psychology within an interdisciplinary framework

Intellectual / cognitive skills

Students will be able to:

  • Critically assess and comment on both published and unpublished sources of research and commentary on health psychology issues
  • Critically weigh up the contributions and limitations of health psychology in addressing various problems and issues
  • Analyse and theoretically formulate various problem scenarios and issues pertinent to the practice of health psychology using a range of models and theories consistent with the principle of integrative practice
  • Design, conduct and evaluate health psychology research and researchbased health psychology interventions
  • Analyse and take into consideration the economic and political context of a health problem or issue in the process of designing and implementing tailormade interventions
  • Reflect on particular case examples (hypothetical and real) with a view to informing theory development/elaboration in an iterative fashion

Professional practical skills

Students will have the skills to:

  • Select, design, implement and evaluate a wide range of research techniques pertinent to research and research-based practice in health psychology
  • Acquire some preliminary skill in designing research-based health interventions
  • Analyse and interpret quantitative and qualitative data in a competent and critical manner
  • Present/communicate their work in a professional manner for both academic, non-academic and business audiences, in both written and verbal (one-to-one, group) formats
  • Apply problem-solving strategy and techniques
  • Prioritise work, multi-task and manage time under pressure

Key / transferable skills

Students will be able to:

  • Communicate ideas, principles, theories and problem formulations by oral, written and visual means
  • Elicit high quality information and data from field sources
  • Operate within a problem-solving research-based practitioner framework
  • Conduct oneself in a professional (accountable, responsible), self-regulated and constructively critical fashion
  • Use interpersonal and social skills as appropriate
  • Apply analytical skill in a problem solving context
  • Use information technology
  • Pursue continuous improvement via self-reflection and other forms of professional and personal development activity

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.


Visit the Health Psychology MSc page on the University of Surrey website for more details!

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