Questions about how individuals think, feel and act and how these might relate to wider social, cultural and economic issues, lie at the heart of studying psychology. Psychology is a key component in all aspects of social life, whether concerning learning and memory in education, individual and group decisions in financial and political systems, or inter-group conflict arising from public policy or migration. Psychology thus explores principles of human behaviour that link the social sciences. At the same time, as an empirical science, Psychology forms a critical bridge from economic and social research to the natural and medical sciences, both in methodology and academic scope.
Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology has a world-leading research and teaching profile. With themes spanning Social Psychology and Psychological Disorders, Developmental Science, and Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, the Department has broad-ranging academic expertise and superb research facilities. Experimental Psychology follows the laboratory science model in which postgraduate students are embedded in a host lab where they work closely with their supervisors and other lab members. Postgraduate students play a central role in the intellectual life of the department, bringing fresh research ideas and carrying out the majority of the experiments conducted here. The department’s aim is to provide students with the training, resources and environment to enable them to develop into the research leaders of the future.
The School of Psychology and Counselling at The Open University has a vibrant research culture that is noted to be an international leader in transdisciplinary and applied research. Our School houses three research streams: i) Culture and Social Psychology (CuSP); ii) Psychology of Health and Wellbeing (PHeW) and iii) the Forensic Cognition Research Group (FCRG) which form part of the Open Psychology Research Centre (OPRC). Psychology at The Open University produces psychological research that seeks to understand, transform and enrich the lives of individuals and communities by foregrounding methodological and theoretical pluralism with a commitment to social justice. Students will be equipped to examine complex psychological phenomenon as they unfold as part of social practices in real settings. Using established, innovative and creative social science research methodologies, students will develop research to address wider societal challenges. Postgraduate students play a central role in developing new ideas with a contemporary focus, examining the impact of exceptional and everyday situations through a psychological lens. The School of Psychology and Counselling provides students with first-class training and resources which will enable them to be future research leaders in distinctive and emergent social practices constituting and transforming everyday lives.
Oxford Psychology offers full-time 1+3.5 and +3.5 doctoral training routes. In the 1+3.5 route, students complete the competitive MSc in Psychological Research before moving on to doctoral studies (DPhil in Experimental Psychology). The +3.5 route is for research students who have completed an MSc that meets the ESRC 2022 Training Guidelines, or equivalent. Further information is available on the Department’s website.
OU Psychology offers +3.5 and +4 training routes, depending on prior training. The +4 route is for students with Master’s degrees that do not fulfil the ESRC’s 2022 Training Guidelines, while the +3.5 route is for those with Master’s degrees that have provided comprehensive research training.
Oxford Psychology students commonly engage in knowledge exchange with a range of non-academic partners. Recent internships have involved the Cabinet Office and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Students often undertake fieldwork in organisational and cultural settings (e.g. schools, organizations) as part of their training, allowing them to put theoretical knowledge and methodological skills into practice. Recent examples include projects with The Children’s Society (supporting children and adolescents who have experienced adversity), the Catch Up Trust (addressing literacy and numeracy problems that contribute to underachievement), the Down Syndrome Educational Trust (improving the quality of support and education for young people living with Down Syndrome), and the National Citizen Service (bringing together 16 to 17-year-olds of different backgrounds to address inter-group conflict).
The Open University has links with a wide range of local and national organisations such as the British Psychological Society, British Association of Counselling Psychology, the Centre for Policing Research and Learning, OpenDemocracy, Mind, and the Criminal Justice System. We frequently collaborate on commissioned projects and resources with the BBC. Students and supervisory teams have connections with large national organisations (e.g. the effect of using an Interpreter on the accuracy of witness accounts gathered from police interviews; exploring the role of online dating sites and mobile dating apps in sexual offending), NGOs and charities (e.g. exploring paternal perinatal mental health; therapy practice with people of size), local public policy makers (e.g. citizenship in public space in Athens), professionals in practice (e.g. young people’s participation in public law cases; expertise in applied face matching: training, examiners, super matchers and algorithms) and in international development arenas (e.g. the role of digital technologies in Kenya).
Many graduates go on to work in Higher Education, and training and professional development in this pathway will also provide skills to work in senior roles in other sectors such as research, policy, government, consultancy, healthcare, and human resources.