This course is no longer accepting applications for 2021 entry.

Course overview

This is a part-time distance learning course, designed to give you greater flexibility. It is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in psychology, who do not have a first degree in the subject. It will give you the breadth of knowledge you need, while enabling you to explore your interests in greater depth. 

In the School of Psychology, we are transforming lives and shaping the future with our teaching and research. Our work has real-world impact. For example, our research is contributing to better treatment of autistic people in the criminal justice system, and greater understanding of why drivers often fail to see motorcyclists at junctions.

One of our greatest strengths is the breadth of topics we specialise in. This is reflected in our research areas, which include:

This means we are able to offer a wide range of modules and research projects, giving you the opportunity to focus on your unique interests.

An on-campus version of this course is also available. 

Why choose this course?

Top 10

in the UK for research power

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Research project

in a wide range of fascinating topics

More than £1 million

annual research income

from research councils, the EU, Government, charities and companies.


by the British Psychological Society


Core modules

Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology

You’ll learn about the scientific, historical, and philosophical underpinnings of psychology as a discipline, which will demonstrate the inherent variability and diversity in the theoretical approaches to psychology.

By the end of the module, you will have a good knowledge and critical understanding of the influences of history on psychological theories.

Personality and Individual Differences

You will explore psychological explanations of personality and individual differences. In particular, the major personality theories are considered in detail and the application of these theories to areas such as abnormal psychology, criminal behaviour, and health are discussed. IQ is also covered and the evolutionary bases of traits. Complementary and alternatives to trait approaches are discussed.


Neuroscience and Behaviour

This module will cover issues in neuroscience and behaviour that are particularly relevant to understanding the biological bases of psychological functions.

Among the topics to be covered are psychopharmacology, psychobiological explanations of mental disorders, dementia, sexual development and behaviour, and methods of studying neuropsychological processes.

You will also examine the effects of brain damage on mental functioning including amnesias, agnosias, and aphasias, among other topics.


Social and Development Psychology

Examine theories and experimental studies of social processes and human development.

Topics relating to social processes will include:

  • social cognition and social thinking
  • conformity and obedience
  • intergroup behaviour
  • theories of attraction and relationships
  • prosocial behaviour and intrinsic motivation
  • self-determination

Human development topics are also explored in depth such as the:

  • development of phonology
  • importance of social referencing in early language acquisition
  • atypical socio-cognitive development in people with autism


Empirical Research Project - Psychology (Conversion) MSc

You will undertake an independent research project over the summer. You will be supervised by a research-active academic. This is your opportunity to further your knowledge in a particular area.

Cognitive Psychology 2

You will examine in greater depth - perception, language, human memory, thinking, and problem-solving.

For each topic, you will explore existing theories and contemporary issues to enable you to take an interdisciplinary perspective.

Statistical Methods 4

This module will cover the basic concepts and assumptions with respect to univariate and multivariate statistics, as well as issues relating to field studies, ethics, the reliability and validity issues as well as basic qualitative techniques. The module will cover ANOVA, post-hoc tests, power, multiple linear regression, factor analysis, the nature of causality and field designs (both experimental and quasi-experimental), ethics, the reliability and validity of measures and field designs, as well as exploring some basic issues in questionnaire design and qualitative methods.

Practical Methods

This module supports the development of practical and conceptual skills necessary for running experiments in psychology and interpreting data.

Skills include:

  • experimental design
  • interpretation of summary data
  • analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
  • implementing experiments with the computer-based user-interface PsychoPy
  • writing up appropriate reports
  • working independently as well as in groups.

Optional modules

Clinical Psychology

This module will introduce you to the concept of abnormal psychology and the application of psychology in clinical settings. The module will illustrate how psychological models are developed and how they are applied in developing interventions. The emphasis will be on examining theory and evaluation of interventions for a number of disorders/clinical issues.

Neuropsychology of Action: The Body in the Brain

This module examines the psychological and neural basis for the planning and control of human action. You will be introduced to scientific research through guided exploration of the neuropsychological bases for human action. You will experience the multi-disciplinary nature of research into human behaviour and, by the end of the module, will understand how a single issue can be addressed from multiple perspectives including: experimental psychology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, and functional brain-imaging.

Understanding Developmental Disorders

This module explores how psychologists study and understand disorders of cognitive development. The course focuses largely on disorders which include impairments in attention, memory and/or executive function. Disorders covered include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, reading disorders and Down Syndrome. 

Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging

You will examine the deficits seen in individuals who have suffered brain damage. You will learn about the impairments to language, memory, perception, attention, motor control, executive control, and emotion.

This module evaluates both the clinical and theoretical aspects of these syndromes. In particular, you will evaluate the implications regarding how the healthy brain functions.

Cognitive Development and Autism

This module will cover modern versions of nativist and empiricist theories of cognitive development. It will also give an overview of current theories which have been proposed to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will provide an evaluation of these theories using behavioural, clinical and neurophysiological evidence from a range of domains including: Sensory and visual processing; drawing and musical skills (savant skills); social and emotional processing; imitation.

Forensic and Mental Health

The area of forensic mental health is extremely pertinent in both the criminal justice system and mental health services, as well as the integration of the two. It is a growing area of research in psychology and it is a popular area of work for many psychology graduates.

The module will concentrate on offending behaviours, typical categorisation of those who commit crimes or harm themselves, standard interventions for offenders and the neuroscience of offending. It will also cover the current research on specific offending behaviours, and examine the role of the criminal justice system and health service in dealing with individuals who offend.

Educational Psychology

This module provides an introduction to the contexts in which educational psychologists operate by examining the historical development of this profession within a set of major legislative and policy contexts, such as the recent drive to increase social inclusion. In particular, successes in, and barriers to, establishing a role as scientist-practitioners in educational settings will be explored.

The module will concentrate on assessment and intervention work with specific populations such as young people who display challenging behaviour in schools, vulnerable adolescents, and bilingual learners. Additionally, it will examine psychological approaches to group work with teachers and pupils as well as the application of system theory in helping transform aspects of schools and other organisations.

Developmental Dyslexia: Psychological and Educational Perspectives
This module will give students an in depth understanding of the characteristics of developmental dyslexia. They will also learn about the main theories used to explain the presence of this developmental disorder and their relative merits in explaining components of dyslexia. Students will also gain an appreciation of developmental dyslexia within the context of research and educational environments where reasons for assessment and identification of dyslexia may differ. Students will gain experience of: synthesising and critically evaluating information; the methods used to assess children and adults with dyslexia; and the educational and environmental accommodations made for those with a diagnosis of dyslexia. This module should benefit students with an interest in developmental, cognitive or educational psychology, and those wishing to pursue a career in child psychology, educational psychology, general teaching practice and/or special needs education.
Altruism, Cooperation and Helping

The course will cover theories and models of altruism, cooperation and helping form the perspective of psychology, economics and evolutionary biology. Among the theories examined will be reputation-based, strong-reciprocity, warm-glow and crowding and altruistic punishment from economics; kin selection, reciprocity, coercion, mutualism, cooperative breeding from biology; and empathy, personality, sexual selection and situational constraints from psychology.

You will consider why people sometimes don't help and actively try to benefit from others and apply these models to anti-social behaviour, and how we cooperate to inflict injury on other groups. It will also examine not just models of helping others, but also why people ask for help. You will finally look at how charities implement some of these principles and if they are successful.

The Visual Brain: Evolution, Development, Learning and Adaptation
The central theme of this module is to explore how the architecture and function of the visual brain has been designed and shaped by experiences over a range of timescales. The innate properties of the eye and visual brain that are present at birth have been designed over millions of years of evolution. The brain continues to physically change it structure and function within a lifetime  a property termed brain plasticity. Over the years of development, brain plasticity is the driving force for the maturation of different visual brain functions. Even well into adulthood, plasticity is retained in the form of learning, which can optimise performance for certain visual tasks and be exploited for therapeutic uses. Another prominent form of plasticity in the visual brain is that caused by adaptation effects of visual experience over the preceding tens of milliseconds to minutes. The module will examine the consequences of evolution, development, learning and adaptation for visual brain function and perception. 
Mechanisms of Learning and Psychopathology

Supported by lectures, seminars and tutorials, this module aims to provide you with an understanding of the mechanisms of learning and memory in human and non-human animals, and an analysis of pathological conditions involving these systems.

You’ll study topics that include:

  • perceptual learning
  • the contextual and attentional modulation of learning and behaviour
  • neuroscience-focused topics such as the role of the hippocampus in memory

Clinical topics include:

  • the acquisition of phobias
  • memory discords
  • the psychological side effects of cancer treatment
  • depression
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 21 July 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Lab sessions

Core modules are taught through accessing online lectures and sharing material with students from our undergraduate psychology courses. You will be supported through online contact with members of the teaching team. You will have access to relevant materials via our virtual learning environment, Moodle.

You will also develop practical skills through online lab sessions and join seminars with other postgraduates on the conversion course. These are delivered to smaller groups of up to 35 students.

Teaching is provided by academic staff, with additional support in online practical classes from PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

How you will be assessed

  • Exams
  • Coursework
  • Project work

Assessment is by written examination at the end of each semester, by practical and research project reports and written assessments. You will be given a copy of our marking criteria when you start the course and will receive regular feedback from your tutors.

You will need an average mark of 50% to pass the course overall – you won't get a qualification if you don't achieve this this. You must also pass the statistics and practical labs modules at 50% or above to progress to the research project, in addition to having a taught stage average of 50%.

Contact time and study hours

This is a part time course with scheduled teaching during the day. As this is distance learning you can study in your own time and on a flexible basis. Contact hours per semester may vary depending on what elective modules are taken. Contact hours can differ as some seminars are not weekly. One credit is equal to approximately 10 hours of work.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.


Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) and a maths qualification equivalent to at least a grade 4 (C) at GCSE.


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


All listed fees are per year of study.

Qualification MSc
Home / UK £10,500
International £10,500

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

We do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees. You may wish to purchase your own books which you would need to factor into your budget. 


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Psychology graduates can find rewarding careers in clinical, health, educational, and occupational psychology, and criminology. Psychologists are also welcome in many other contexts, such as human resources, management and marketing.

Our graduates have gone on to work for organisations such as the UK Government, the NHS and charities. 

MSc students may also continue onto PhD level.

Career progression

80.0% of undergraduates from the School of Psychology secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £32,000.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" Our postgraduate courses offer students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of our discipline and begin to explore specialist areas. We have a range of courses across the breadth of Psychology, delivered by leading experts in their respective areas. They offer a fantastic opportunity to develop specialist knowledge, research skills and highly transferable skills relevant to future employers. "
Dr Claire Gibson, Professor of Psychology

Related courses

This content was last updated on Wednesday 21 July 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.