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Psychology of Advertising - MSc

Lancaster University    Department of Psychology

Full time & Part time See Course MSc 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time

About the course

Advertising is everywhere. Always transient, sometimes trivial, yet it can be incredibly powerful in changing our perceptions, our beliefs and our behaviour. Through this programme, you will develop an advanced understanding of how advertising affects the human mind, giving you unique and valuable insight into the industry.

This unique course provides an interface between theory and practice, understanding and skills, by giving you a thorough grounding in the psychology underpinning persuasion, in the context of how it is applied – and how it might be applied more radically – in the communications industry.

Read more about this course

Entry Requirements

2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in Psychology, Marketing, Advertising, Communications, Media, Journalism, Consumer Behaviour.

We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.

If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.

 Course Content

Where is Lancaster University


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Student Profile(s)

Maria Hellenthal

When I finished my studies in Business Administration/Marketing in 2006, I was well aware that my interest in doing research might bring me back to the university one day. However, at the time I decided to gain some professional experience first and accepted a position as a project manager in a marketing agency. During my time in this job, my interest in the behavioural aspects of my work increased steadily.

I became aware that an understanding of the psychology behind the consumers’ decision-making process, including media reception, presents a skill that is capable of improving the profitability of decisions throughout a company’s value chain.

Hence, I chose to leave my job as a marketer and joined the MSc program in Psychology of Advertising at Lancaster University. I was excited to find a program that was tailored to my interests. For example, the highly interesting lectures about psychological theories and findings in the field turned out to be very inspiring and valuable. In addition, the course required gaining skills centring on psychological research methods and data analysis, which present the basis for any academic research.

Regarding the academic staff and the Department itself I was happy to find a very friendly and supportive environment and I always felt that I was met with an open ear when it came to ideas or concerns. In fact, my whole experience in Lancaster strongly encouraged my plan to continue my academic career with a Ph.D. in Psychology. Meanwhile I have started a Ph.D. at City University London where I do research on memories and advertising effectiveness.

I have benefitted from my experience in Lancaster on many levels and I can highly recommend the program as well as the University as such.

Rebecca Strong

On completing my degree in psychology at the University of Lancaster, I decided I didn’t want to pursue a ‘traditional’ career path in the discipline, and so instead chose to enrol in the Psychology of Advertising Masters Programme. I was particularly interested in learning about how my skills and interests within psychology were transferrable to the advertising industry, and the career opportunities that this route made available to me.

The topics covered allowed me to continue to develop my psychological understanding whilst also teaching me about how these theories and their application are relevant to the ad industry, and it was particularly interesting to learn about the importance of understanding consumer behaviour in influencing advertising development. Gaining insight into how the practical application of psychological disciplines can benefit the advertising industry helped me to realise the career path I wanted to take, and I feel this course provided me with the skills and knowledge to enter the industry well equipped for a relevant role.

The most valuable aspect of the course for me was the optional commercial work placement. I conducted this at ZenithOptimedia, one of the top media planning agencies in the world, and this allowed me to gain invaluable experience and an understanding of how my skills could aid strategy and planning, and the opportunities available to me within the industry. As a result of this placement I was offered a full time role within the insights department, where I now continue to work as a social media insight specialist.

This Masters degree is a unique opportunity for those who are interested in how psychology can provide insight that drives advertising strategy to hone their skills and experience in preparation for this career path. The high standard of teaching and variety of topics covered ensured I felt fully prepared to pursue my career in research and insights within an agency.

Xiaoyu Wang

I had applied to the course of MSc Psychology of Advertising in Lancaster University purely for my personal interest in psychology. Then it became one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life.

At the beginning, I was quite worried about the courses as I am an international student and had no psychology background, but then I found out that, with supportive lecturers, even I can get involved in discussions in psychology topics and quickly catch up with my courses.

The modules in the first term were designed to cover wide range of theoretical knowledge in psychology, marketing, and advertising. We can have an overall view in this area and choose the parts we found interesting and do more research after class. In the second term, our modules were mainly focussed on research and experiment. We were also given the chance to have classes with students from other subjects. At the same time, we also had the opportunity to work as small teams for commercial projects in order to practice, and of course assess our research skills.

Doing the dissertation is the last assessment we had and also the most challenging module in this subject. We were appointed to different companies or organizations to do our own project, with full support from psychology department and supervisor. Hence I could completely focus on my dissertation even when I started living away from the campus.

After I completed my dissertation, I realized the limit of my knowledge and was not ready for further study in psychology, hence I went back to China to adjust myself. With the decent reputation of Lancaster University, I am hired by China Construction Bank, one of the top four banks. Although I haven't had the chance to apply my skills in my work so far, my work still benefits from the way of thinking which I learned from this subject.
If I got a chance, I would like to come back and study psychology in Lancaster again.

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