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Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Research Methods (Developmental Psychology) is an ESRC-accredited Social Sciences & Health Faculty degree in which departments from across the University work together to deliver a tailored study programme that explores human development through a research lens.

It is primarily designed for students who plan to continue their graduate studies at PhD level in the broad area of developmental psychology or work as a research psychologist. It is also relevant for students wishing to pursue careers in applied areas, such as clinical or educational psychology.

Students intending to have a career as a research psychologist need to acquire a high level of research skills at postgraduate level. Research methods training, co-ordinated through the Durham Research Methods Centre, therefore forms a central part of the MA course, including both quantitative and qualitative research methods. One third of the course is also devoted to the dissertation which may be carried out in any area of psychology related to development. The taught course modules include both generic and subject level components, providing an introduction to broad issues and methodological approaches in developmental psychology and the social sciences.

Course structure

Core modules:

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices Across Social Research introduces the areas of contemporary social scientific research practice. You will develop an understanding of the intersection where philosophical, methodological and disciplinary contexts meet, including qualitative, quantitative, statistical, computational and historical programmes of research. You will also explore the various issues involved in the application of these methods inside and outside academia and will consider the ethical issues involved such as power and equality.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis supports your preparation for conducting qualitative research equipping you with the knowledge and skills to understand and appraise qualitative social sciences research, including different approaches to research and design and the analysis of qualitative data.

Advanced Developmental Psychology Review teaches the skills to create and deliver literature reviews as well as providing analysis of key topics in the field of developmental psychology, including research skills, data handling, writing styles and methods of presentation.

Research Design in Child and Clinical Psychology provides an introduction to the methods and design used in child and clinical psychology and offers practical training in the transferable skills relevant for professional and personal development.

Current Issues in Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology provides in-depth knowledge of current theoretical stances and methodological issues within the fields of developmental psychology and neurodiversity. The aim is for you to gain a broad understanding of typical development and then consider different development pathways.

Quantitative Methods and Analysis develops your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis and teaches you how to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets. You will also learn how to make appropriate statistical inferences about associations between social phenomena.

Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences teaches you a set of advanced statistical methods that are used across psychology and the behavioural sciences, equipping you with the skills to confidently identify appropriate statistical techniques and analyse data using relevant software across a range of different types of research.

The Dissertation enables you to design, implement, analyse and finally discuss an empirical project relevant to your field of study, giving you the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge you have acquired and to gain experience of collaborating with other researchers and undertaking research and project management. The Department provides excellent support and opportunities for conducting a significant piece of independent research.

Alternative modules (depending on prior knowledge and understanding) include: 

  • Advanced Ethnographic Research
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Simulating Data in R
  • Systematic Review
  • Computational Social Science
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Statistics in Health and Medicine with R


The course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes. Lectures provide key information on a particular topic, such as social and emotional development. Seminars are held in order that smaller group teaching can take place, with focused discussion on specific topics. Finally, practical and workshop classes allow you to gain direct experience, particularly in how to use statistical tools.

The balance of this type of activity varies as a function of the module. This is a one year course, with students having the summer term to work on dissertation related activities. You will typically attend approximately 12 hours a week comprising lectures, tutorials and seminars. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge, as well as conduct your dissertation. Independent study is a key element to the course, with complex factors raised in lectures that do assume some prior knowledge of the topic area.

The course is divided into three parts. One third, comprising three modules, is of subject specific topics related to developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology, including issues relevant to clinical/ educational work throughout development. Across these modules, the material is delivered via a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and discussions.

A further three modules focus on placing psychology in the larger framework of social science research and providing generic research skills, for example, qualitative and quantitative analysis skills.

The final third of the course is the dissertation, which reflects the culmination of learning and practical endeavours from throughout the course via the production of an independent and original body of research material. This is performed under supervision with a member of staff, with meetings varying in duration and frequency throughout the year as a function of the needs of the research project and student.

Assessment features examinations, written assignments, oral presentations, and the completion of a dissertation.

Entry requirements

2:1 in Psychology or Psychology related subject (or equivalent).

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,400 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £10,400 per year
International students £24,750 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our Masters qualifications provide the essential skills and understanding to progress to research at a higher academic level or to launch a professional career.

Our students enter the workplace with knowledge relevant to careers in psychology but also with the transferable skills in analysis and problem-solving that are valued by employers.

Such skills are highly sought after in a range of professions and our postgraduates have progressed to roles that include consultants, advisors, human resources professionals, talent managers, business analysts, market researchers, public relations professionals, marketeers, administrators, managers, civil servants, coaches, trainers and teachers.

In addition, the broad nature of the Department means that some of our postgraduates also qualify for careers in clinical and healthcare settings.

Department information


The Department of Psychology provides a world-class teaching and research environment for postgraduates who are interested in understanding more about the thoughts, feelings and motivations that lie behind actions and human behaviours and the processes that trigger them.

Our academic team are leading experts in their specialisms and provide outstanding supervision for postgraduate learning and research in key areas of psychology including Developmental Science, Cognitive Neuroscience and Quantitative Social Psychology.

Our range of taught Masters qualifications offer the opportunity to focus on a specific aspect of psychology be it biological, cognitive, social, developmental or neuroscience-related and to learn key approaches to the discipline including statistical training. For those who are interested in pursuing their own research interests we offer the MA/MSc by Research which offers a direct route to the PhD.

All postgraduate taught courses include a postgraduate dissertation in a chosen subject, supported by a member of staff with expertise in that area. Students also have access to state-of-the art technical, clinical and experimental facilities to support learning and research.

In the Department, we are proud to have passionate and committed teachers, who love their subjects and want to share that passion. We encourage collaborative working on new ideas so that together we can make new discoveries about human behaviour.

To find out more see our department pages.


  • We are proud to hold an Athena SWAN silver award, underlining our commitment to equality and diversity.
  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Psychology Department pages


Facilities in the Department are outstanding. They provide state-of-the-art support for postgraduate work in understanding mind and behaviour through high precision experimental methods and ecologically valid controlled environments.

Postgraduate students have access to dedicated laboratory space equipped with opportunities for training in eye-movement recording, motion capture and psychophysics.

Other specialist facilities include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and a number of laboratories.

The Department of Psychology is located close to many academic departments and University services, and is within walking distance of Durham’s historic centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

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Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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