Master of Research in Psychology




The MRes programme provides training in a set of analytical and practical research skills that will thoroughly prepare students to continue on to a PhD. The programme is ideal for students who are thinking about continuing their studies to PhD level, but it is a highly flexible course that will be useful for many different career paths. The centrepiece of the program is an independent research project culminating in a dissertation.

Course overview

'I recently completed the MRes last year - I really enjoyed the ability to take part in a wide variety of research and the sense of community the MRes group had. My project was on face perception, and I'm now taking this onto a PhD here at York'

The focus of the course is on acquiring the knowledge and skills to design, conduct, evaluate and disseminate psychological research. You will acquire these skills through seminars, practicals, independent study, and through hands-on experience in one of the research labs in the Department. The course structure is highly flexible and allows you to either sample research from different fields, or concentrate in a research area of your interest. During the second half of the year you will put these skills to use in designing, running and reporting on your own independent research project. The empirical project is an opportunity for you to provide a scientific answer to your own research question, or to explore an area of research that you may be thinking of taking further in a PhD. Many MRes projects have led on to further PhD research, and several have been published in international peer reviewed journals.

Backgrounds of applicants

The typical candidate for the programme is a person who already holds an Honours degree in Psychology or a cognate discipline. Many of our students are international and come from countries including China, Hong Kong, India, USA and Canada.


Destinations of graduates

Many graduates from the programme have moved on to PhD positions. Others are pursuing career paths within clinical psychology or are using their psychological skills in industry.


Course content

The course combines taught courses in research methods and research skills with opportunities to study a wide range of topics at MSc level. Students also undertake a substantial empirical project with a member of faculty, providing them with extensive hands-on research experience.

AutumnSpringSummer / vacation
Research Design and Statistics
20 credits

Practical Skills in Psychological Research
20 credits

Empirical Project
80 credits

Advanced Issues in Experimental, Cognitive and Social Psychology
20 credits

Specialist Option
20 credits
Specialist Option
20 credits

Optional component

Specialist options are selected from a set of available taught courses or Advanced Modules offered from the faculty in the department. These modules are roughly organized in strands, so that you can choose  to concentrate in an area of research such as Language, Memory, Cognition, Perception and Action, and Social Psychology, or take modules from different fields. This means that you can have one or two taught modules and your dissertation conducted in the same research area, or you can choose to learn about different fields.

Information about assessment

Modules are assessed through a variety of different assignments and exams including laboratory reports, programming exercises, multiple choice questions, critical analysis of published papers, short essays on a range of topics, and a dissertation and poster  based on the Empirical Project.

Empirical project

The empirical project enables students to participate in the design and implementation of a theoretically-motivated piece of pure or applied research in Experimental Psychology interpreted in its broadest sense. Many of the projects are published in academic journals.

Here are some examples of recent projects completed by students on this course:

  • Katie Wheat used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to study phonological encoding during the early stages of visual word recognition at the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC). The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
  • Tracey Ward examined the relationship between deception detection and visual thresholds in a study entitled "Deceit in the Blink of an Eye: Can Processing Thresholds Predict Accuracy for Emotional Lie Detection?"

Research Design & Statistics

This course will follow closely Andy Field's book "Discovering Statistics Using SPSS". The course as a whole is an advanced 'refresher' course. It assumes a basic knowledge of statistics and experimental design, but starts from first principles. In this sense no common background is assumed. By the end of the course, you will be proficient in the more common statistical techniques used in experimental psychology, and for those techniques that we are unable to cover in detail, you will develop the confidence to find out about them through reading those parts of the Field book which won't be covered on the course.

Topics covered

  • Introduction to statistical models: the mean and the variance
  • Correlations
  • Regression
  • Comparing two means: t-tests
  • Analysis of Variance I: the basics
  • Analysis of Covariance
  • Analysis of Variance II: factorial and repeated measures
  • Nonparametric tests and categorical data

Advanced Issues in Experimental, Social and Social Psychology

This module will increase students’ knowledge and understanding of advanced issues in Experimental, Cognitive and Social Psychology through a focus on applied questions. Topics will range from psychological research on human factors to social and cultural factors.   

Topics covered

  • Applied vision
  • Applied attention
  • Face processing
  • Social exclusion
  • Cultural transmision
  • Environmental psychology

Practical Skills in Psychological Research

The aim of this module is to give students hands-on experience with programming and data management skills. Students will learn to translate a phenomenon of interest into an appropriate experimental paradigm. In addition, students will learn how to manipulate complex data they acquire using software packages that are widely used in research laboratories around the world.

Topics covered

  • Basic programming in Excel 
  • Advanced features of Excel
  • Basic programming in Python
  • Using PsychoPy
  • Programing your experiment




You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Please note:The deadline for applications for this course is 31st July 2019. To be considered for September 2019 entry, you must have submitted your application by this date.

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If you have any questions about the course, please contact the course director, Gennari, Silvia .

Entry requirements

A degree or equivalent qualification, normally in Psychology, and normally at the level of an upper second class honours award.

For international applications, one of the following English language qualifications:

  • IELTS 6.5
  • Cambridge Proficiency: A, B, C. GCE/iGCSE A, B, C.

Current Project Opportunities

Project Opportunities

As an MRes student you can conduct your own independent research in any area in which the Department has expertise. Research areas may include adult cognitive psychology (language, memory, perception, action and attention), comparative psychology, social and personality psychology, and applications of psychology.

Here are some specific examples of research areas that you could get involved in as an MRes student.

Spatial cognition and memory

Dr Tom Hartley

Which visual cues contribute to memory for places? What factors influence individual differences in spatial memory?

Social behaviour and communication in chimpanzees

Dr Katie Slocombe

Social behaviour and communication in chimpanzees 


Dr Slocombe’s research focuses on chimpanzee vocal communication and in particular, the extent to which our closest living relatives can use calls to refer to objects and events in the external environment and the psychological mechanisms underlying call production. This behavioural work is conducted with both wild and captive populations of chimpanzees. 

Mechanisms of Action Perception

Dr Nick Barraclough

Mechanisms of Action Perception


Dr Barraclough’s research investigates the brain mechanisms underlying perception of motion, human actions and social stimuli. Some of his current projects include:



  • TMS studies of the neural networks underlying action understanding
  • Role of social context in dynamic coding of human actions 

Sleep, Language & Memory

Gareth Gaskell 

Professor Gareth Gaskell researches the role of sleep in learning and memory, particularly as it applies to learning language. They have two specific projects that make use of the department’s dedicated Sleep Lab:

  • How do we learn new words?
  • The role of sleep in learning. 

Perception and Attention

Karla Evans

Current projects by Dr. Evans includes: the study of audio-visual search in complex environments; effects of context on visual recognition memory; investigating the time course and role of non-selective (global attention) and selective (focused attention) processes in natural scene perception; big data visualisation and summary statistic perception, expertise in medical image perception. Depending on the topic students are interested in pursuing, they will have an opportunity to learn how to acquire and analyse data with the method most suitable to study the relevant topic with the aim of applying their findings to further our understanding of visual and multi-sensory awareness.


Person Perception based on Action Simulation

Steven Tipper

When viewing someone make an action, such as a gaze shift or grasping an object, similar processes are activated in the observer.  These processes are assumed to aid understanding of another person and predictions of their future behaviours. Behavioural techniques such as priming and electromyography (EMG) recording of facial muscles are mostly used.  The use of the latter EMG technique is an attempt to measure on-line changes in emotion which result from action observation.

Language, Memory and Cognition

Silvia Gennari 

Dr Gennari works on language production and coprehension and the representations of real world event in language and memory. 

For complete information, see also our list of faculty.

Student estimating length of strips of paper in lecture


For fee information please refer to the University's standard fees for Laboratory-based Taught Masters courses. Please note that it is the Taught (not Research) fees that apply for this course, and that it is Laboratory-based (not Classroom-based). Information about these fees can be found via the following link.

Who to contact

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