Course overview

Why don't people eat healthily? How do people adjust to getting a diagnosis for a chronic condition? Can psychological factors influence how well someone recovers from surgery? On our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited Health Psychology MSc you'll develop an understanding of the key theoretical models and research in the field, alongside the role of the health psychologist. Our course has a unique focus on career development and planning and professional skills in health psychology.

You’ll be taught by internationally-recognised research-active staff who bring their expertise in key areas of health psychology to your learning experience. The passion and enthusiasm of the course team was just one of the seven commendations we received as part of our accreditation along with student support and the professional skills and career development opportunities we give our students.

At Nottingham you'll learn with a real focus on your individual career pathway, helping you to take the next step on your career journey in psychology.

Come and join us and learn more about the MSc Health Psychology with an online course overview and Question and Answer session via Microsoft Teams with the Course Director, Dr Heather Buchanan (and current MSc Health Psychology students). We have sessions every month find out more and book your place.

Why choose this course?

Seven commendations

Received when we achieved our BPS re-accreditation in 2015

Network with graduates

Every year we hold a careers event with previous graduates to help students network

Unique expertise

You'll be taught by a course team with unique research expertise such as how the internet and social media can be used to manage chronic conditions

Course content

You'll study across a number of compulsory modules designed to give you a broad knowledge of health psychology as a professional discipline, the key theoretical models and research in the field, alongside the role of the health psychologist.

The course takes place over three semesters, autumn, spring, and summer. Typically taught modules are delivered in the autumn and spring semesters with the summer used for the research project, however, this will be dependent on your mode of study.

If you choose the MSc route, you'll take all of the compulsory modules for a total of 180 credits.


Chronic Illness 20 credits

This module begins by introducing students to the diverse ways in which psychological factors alter biological processes central to health and well-being.

Topics include:

  • an overview of key biological systems
  • the role of psychological factors in influencing vulnerability to new diseases
  • the role of psychological factors in disease progression
  • the application of health psychology to chronic illness, associated disabilities and both treatment selection and treatment outcomes
Context and Perspectives in Health Psychology 10 credits

This module seeks to develop an appreciation of:

  • historical and current perspectives in health psychology
  • the role of the health psychologist and associated professional issues
  • current perspectives in European and international health psychology and an awareness of related disciplines, eg behavioural medicine
  • the impact of gender, social and cultural factors on health and illness.
Further Medical Statistics 10 credits

A comprehensive understanding of statistical concepts and methods is essential for understanding current public health research and developing effective public health practice. Increasingly, knowledge of, and the ability to apply, more advanced statistical methods using statistical software, is key to being able to analyse and interpret the complexity of public health data. In the further medical statistics module, we introduce many of the more advanced statistical methods and analyses being used in the public health domain, and provide the skills needed to use these methods to analyse and interpret real-world data.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills in using a variety of regression methods which allow us to explore the effects of individual and multiple factors on different health outcomes in different study designs. You are introduced to the important statistical concepts needed to understand the theories underlying these methods, but the focus is on practical application to real-world datasets, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try different methods and strategies of multivariate analysis in different public health contexts. We cover considerations of missing data and methods such as time series which is increasingly used for the evaluation of public health interventions. We use the freely available R statistical software throughout, building on the skills learned in the Medical Statistics module, and gaining confidence in the use of this software for managing and analysing complex data.

The ability to understand quantitative research findings and information, where more advanced statistical methods have been used, is important across all graduate public health careers, whilst the skills in analysing and interpreting complex quantitative data are crucial for careers as public health analysts, epidemiologists, or information specialists.

We bring together medical statisticians and epidemiologists working across a huge range of public health and clinical domains, with expertise in applying advanced statistical and epidemiological methods to a wide variety of national and international health datasets.

We thoroughly enjoy teaching this module and enjoy finding ways to stimulate your interest in statistics. We show how they can be used to address real public health problems, and we love to watch students, some of whom come to the module with innate trepidation about their ability to work with numerical data, gradually build their confidence in their ability to use the software and to apply complex methods. You will explore and generate new insights from data, and hopefully a genuine love of statistics.

Your module leaders are:

Dr Sonia Gran: “I thoroughly enjoy teaching this module as I see students appreciate the value of medical statistics in the field of public health and develop in their skills, knowledge and confidence. It is also great to see students choose career pathways that involve medical statistics after completion of this module."

Professor Sarah Lewis: “I love sharing my passion for statistics and epidemiology and their application to areas of medicine from tobacco and alcohol research, to older people’s research. I enjoy watching students grow in confidence and appreciation of the subject.”

Health Care Contexts 10 credits

This module develops an appreciation of key issues in the interaction between patients and health care contexts. These include:

  • communication in health care settings
  • the impact of hospitalisation on adults / children
  • preparation for stressful medical/ dental procedures
  • giving bad news
  • adherence to medical treatment
Medical Statistics 10 credits

Medical Statistics is the basic building block for Epidemiology and Public Health. It allows us to quantify the health of individuals and populations to compare health and health behaviours between different population groups, and compare the effectiveness of different treatments and interventions.

The course is taught from a very practical viewpoint, and we want to give you the skills to understand and do basic medical statistics. The module focuses on being able to present and describe different types of data, and to test for differences between two groups of either categorical or continuous data, as well as correlation and simple linear regression. You will be introduced to the freely available R statistical software, and learn how to conduct all the analyses using R. You will also gain experience in looking at how all these analyses are presented in research papers.

We assume no prior knowledge of statistics and slowly build student learning throughout the module. These skills are best learned from doing it, and every session is very practical with examples in the data analyses package to work through as well as examples from a wide variety of research papers.

This module is one that some students have most trepidation about coming into the masters course but it is so rewarding to see students’ fears disappear throughout the course as they build knowledge over the weeks. A previous student said on a module evaluation form, “I never realised statistics could be so easy”. It is very rewarding to see students learn and understand the basic concepts and know that we give them the skills to interpret data and analyses data in their future public health careers.

Your module conveners are:

Tricia McKeever – Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics

“This is such a rewarding module to teach and as convenors, we have worked hard to make Medical Statistics accessible for everyone as it is an important fundamental building block for people in public health.”

Sarah Lewis – Professor of Medical Statistics

"I love sharing my passion for statistics and epidemiology and their application to areas of medicine from tobacco and alcohol research, to older people’s research. I enjoy watching students grow in confidence and appreciation of the subject.”

Professional Skills in Health Psychology 20 credits

The module covers:

  • key professional skills within health psychology such as communicating with different health professionals and populations and presenting key research findings.
  • career development and planning, including CV development and interview skills.
Qualitative Methodology and Analysis 10 credits

The qualitative research approach is increasingly being recognised as making an important contribution to understanding people’s behaviour and health. As such, understanding and applying qualitative research methods and techniques is central to public health and global health practice. Our teaching provides an overview of how the approach can both hold its own, as well as complementing the quantitative approach. By understanding how people think and act and how the various systems in public health operate, qualitative research allows us to build a robust evidence base, to inform policy and practice to improve local, national, and global health outcomes.

The module introduces the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research, followed by designing and appraising qualitative studies across the research process. You will be supported to think critically about sampling and bias, including how we navigate these challenges to ensure our outputs are trustworthy. We then explore data collection methods and analytical approaches that we can use to help manage, synthesise, and report data collected. The module provides you ample opportunities to learn and read about, and undertake practical exercises relating to commonly used and emergent qualitative methods relevant to public health.

An appreciation of the qualitative approach is important across all graduate public health careers. The module equips you with the skills to design, implement, deliver, and report qualitative research endeavours, which is fundamental for all practice-based and academic public health.

We bring together world-leading qualitative methodological academic experts and make use of examples from various settings and populations, highlighting the versatility and value of qualitative research. This spans local, national, and global spheres, to inform and improve future public health initiatives and thus health outcomes.

We have a strong focus on research impact, with research communication skills being embedded within all the learning emphasising how we ensure our research reaches the right people, in the right format, at the right time – and the importance of engaging the relevant populations in the work we plan and do.

We enjoy teaching and sharing this module. It is wonderful to see students who often come to us with limited prior knowledge and/or experience of the qualitative research approach, immerse themselves in the journey. You quickly see them applying their learning to real practice in public health; either through planning their own qualitative studies or in their ability to manage, analyse and report qualitative data. This is when the goal of the module is realised – students leave equipped with the skills to become independent researchers.

Your module leaders are:

Dr Manpreet Bains – Associate Professor in Qualitative and Mixed Methods Health Research

“I am passionate about teaching qualitative research methods to public health students. My expertise in qualitative research is vast and spans a variety of topics and settings in public health, spanning different global settings. Currently, much of my work centres on underserved and minority populations, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing my own experiences and hearing about students’ own experiences, which stimulates fantastic debates too!”

Dr Paul Leighton – Associate Professor of Applied Health Research

Protecting and improving individual and community health is simply too complex to rely upon the numbers alone! We need to understand the context and specifics of peoples’ lives and appreciate the challenges and circumstances that they face. Qualitative methods provide the tools to do this, engaging with people in a way that offers the sort of specific, rich, and detailed insight that can help us think more broadly about the challenges of public health.”

Research Methods for Applied Health 10 credits

Understanding and applying research methods and techniques is a key skill for public health and global health practice. In our research methods module teaching we give you a broad overview of the types of research techniques which are applicable to global public health. Research is a centrally important component of public health and global health practice as it allows us to build a robust evidence base which helps to inform policy and practice to improve local, national, and global health outcomes.

The module will take you on a journey through the process of designing, developing, implementing, and disseminating quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research methodologies specifically applied to public health settings.

You’ll learn to embed evidence-based research practices across all their other public health and global health modules to create critical research-informed arguments which will support the development of an independent research project.

Having an understanding and appreciation of research methods is important across all graduate public health careers and forms a fundamental building block for all practice-based and academic public health.

We bring together world-leading academic experts and contemporary case studies to highlight the intricacies of performing local, national, and global public health research to inform and improve future health outcomes.

We have a strong focus on research impact, with research communication skills being embedded within all the learning emphasising how we ensure our research reaches the right people, in the right format, at the right time.

We build on our academic successes being rated as 4* for Impact in Global Research in REF, to deliver highly relevant research-informed teaching, supported by wider learning and practice-based opportunities.

We are dedicated to teaching and sharing this module with our students as it is always wonderful to see students immerse themselves into the world of public health research, for some, this may be their first interaction with research, and we love seeing our students grow into independent researchers. We are always amazed by the creative ideas students have for targeted dissemination of research to public audiences, and the breadth of global experiences within the student group.

Your module leaders are:

Professor Emma Wilson – Professor of Public Health

“I love teaching research methods to the public health students, my particular expertise is qualitative and mixed methods research, and I really enjoy sharing my love for public health related breast cancer research with students through this module. I really enjoy interacting with the students to hear about and build upon their research practice in their local contexts.”

Professor Jo Leonardi-Bee – Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics

“I have always enjoyed academic research and supporting student research. As the Director of the Nottingham Centre for Evidence-Based Healthcare my particular expertise is in evidence-synthesis. I love supporting students to develop and perform systematic reviews and meta-analyses. I really enjoy seeing the students develop their research skills from this module into their own research project.”

Understanding, Predicting and Changing Health Behaviour 20 credits

It is widely accepted that the behaviours we engage in can have a direct impact on our health, well-being, and ultimately life expectancy. This module focuses on the role of modifiable health-related behaviours and explores what health psychology can bring to our understanding of behaviour. It helps us explain why some people may engage in a health behaviour whereas others may not, as well as how we might develop effective behaviour change interventions.

This module critically examines the role of health behaviour in the UK as well as its contribution to global public health priorities. It considers the application of several commonly used social cognition models (e.g., Health Belief Model; Theory of Planned Behaviour) to a range of health-protective (e.g., breast self-examination, physical activity) and health-compromising (e.g., smoking, alcohol consumption) behaviours.

The extent to which social cognition models can assist in understanding the key determinants of health behaviours is considered as well as their ability to provide a useful theoretical basis for behaviour change interventions. However, it quickly becomes apparent that these models have several limitations, and the module considers why more recent developments in the scientific study of behaviour change, may offer new and potentially more effective ways to design and evaluate behaviour change interventions.

The module provides you with a comprehensive overview of the behaviour change wheel and how it may be applied to the design of health-related behaviour change interventions. It offers practical guidance on how to apply the behaviour change wheel and the COM-B model to real-world health behaviour problems (e.g., mask-wearing during the pandemic) and how to select relevant behaviour change techniques (i.e., the ‘active ingredients’ of an intervention) to bring about the desired change in the target behaviour. It considers the functions of interventions as well as how policy may support behaviour change. Finally, the model acknowledges the fact that we live in a technological world, and we consider how this can impact the delivery of behaviour change interventions.

We will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be able to diagnose a problem in terms of problematic health behaviour and design an intervention which is acceptable, feasible, theoretically informed, and measurable, which is a key skill within the public health domain.

You’ll be taught this module by experts who share a passion for the application of psychological theory and research evidence to the design and evaluation of behaviour change interventions. They draw upon many years of research and practice in the field to bring to life how contemporary real-world problems can be addressed through the scientific study and practice of behaviour change, giving you an enriched learning experience.

Your module convenor is:

Professor Neil Coulson – Professor of Health Psychology

“For me, this module provides such an exciting opportunity to showcase what psychological theory can offer public health. I particularly enjoy seeing students get to grips with key theories and then being able to work with them and develop imaginative and innovative behaviour change interventions.”

Independent Research Project 60 credits
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 Monday 31 July 2023.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Interactive lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

  • Poster presentation
  • Reflective reports
  • Mini systematic review
  • Research reports
  • Grant proposal
  • Research project
  • Exams

Your work will be assessed during or at the end of each module through a variety of means.

To complete a module and gain its credits you'll need to make sure you attend your timetabled sessions and get over the 50% pass mark.

To achieve the MSc, you'll need a total of 180 credits.

Contact time and study hours

We encourage you to think of the course like a full-time job and spend around 37 hours per week on it (including teaching time). Part-time students should consider it similar to a part-time job.

You're expected to work roughly 10 hours for each credit on the course including teaching and independent study. Therefore a 20 credit module should take around 200 hours to complete or around a total of 25 eight-hour days.


If you choose to study the full-time route, you'll learn over two semesters and a summer period totalling 12 months.

Teaching is usually delivered on Tuesday and Thursday. You'll have an average of 14 hours of contact time each week, however, the time and days of teaching will depend on your modules

Non-teaching days are intended for private study and research.


If you choose to study this course part-time, you'll learn the same course content over a period of 24 months.

Teaching will usually take place on either Tuesdays or Thursdays each week during the Autumn and Spring semesters. You'll typically attend teaching one day a week or about seven hours per week.

We try wherever possible to be flexible to help you manage your timetable.

You're expected to devote around two to three days per week to the course including attending teaching, private study, and research.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 in Psychology
Additional information

You'll also need proof of holding Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) either from your University or the British Psychological Society (BPS). If you've not studied an accredited course you'll need to take an accredited conversion programme or look at our other offerings.

Find out more about accredited conversion programmes.


If you have any course-specific questions, you can email contact the course director, Dr Heather Buchanan.

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

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £9,700
International £25,250

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

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

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses such as travel and accommodation.

You should be able to access the books and resources you need for the course through our libraries, however you may wish to purchase your own copies or get specific books.


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

Our graduates have gone on to varied and interesting careers and further study, including:

  • Research assistant/associate (exploring binge drinking; aspects of chronic illness)
  • Working for Health Psychology consultancy companies
  • PhDs and Doctorates (Health Psychology and Clinical Psychology)
  • Working in industry (pharmaceutical companies)
  • Working for the NHS (smoking cessations advisers and in pain management clinics)

Career progression

78.4% of postgraduates from the School of Medicine secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £28,505.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

British Psychological Society

This course is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This means you'll have completed Stage 1 of your training and can move on to a Stage 2 programme to meet the requirements to become a Chartered Psychologist (BPS) or Registered Health Psychologist (Health Care and Professions Council).

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" I find Health Psychology infinitely exciting. It's absolutely fascinating that psychological factors can have an impact on health, illness and care. At Nottingham we've got expertise that you won't get elsewhere and we'll teach you in an environment that's friendly and supportive but still academically challenging. We want to help you develop the skills you need as you begin your career. "
Dr Heather Buchanan, Course Director

Related courses

This content was last updated on Monday 31 July 2023. 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.