Students Staff

Postgraduate research courses

The below information is in process of being updated. In the meantime, if you are interested in applying, you can contact Julie Peirson at

The Department of Psychology welcomes applications from students interested in pursuing a postgraduate research degree in psychology. We are top 20 in the UK for research [*based on Grade Point Average] with 90% of our research classed as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014). We have excellent research facilities in neuroscience, cognitive neuropsychology, vision, cognitive, developmental and social and health psychology. We have well-equipped, purpose built laboratories in the Centre for Brain Science, and are located in a friendly campus environment.

Research degree routes

If you wish to study for a PhD then you will initially be enrolled on a combined MPhil/PhD pathway. In your second year of study, depending on your progress, a decision will be made as to whether you will proceed towards an MPhil or a PhD.

Our Department is recognised by the ESRC as providing excellent research training. If you are an MPhil or PhD student then you will take two taught modules in research management and quantitative data analysis.

Course length

  • An MPhil involves a minimum of two years of full-time research, the product of which is a 50,000 word thesis on a topic which has an element of novelty.
  • A PhD requires a minimum of three years full-time research. The resulting thesis is 80,000 words in length and is expected to extend the understanding of a specialist topic beyond the current state of the art.
  • Following your two or three years of research, you are likely to need a further period of up to one year for writing your thesis. Reduced (completion) fees are charged during this time.

The MSc by dissertation involves a minimum of one year of full-time research, during which you will produce a 30,000 word dissertation. Students registered for this type of course usually have some prior experience in the area they wish to research, for example from work in industry or a project carried out during a first degree.

You have an option to upgrade to an MPhil or PhD by research if you make good progress.

Our research degrees can be undertaken on a part-time basis. A part-time PhD will involve at least six years of research, followed by one to two years for writing up. A part-time MPhil takes four years.

Find a PhD

If you already have funding, or are planning to self-fund, you may apply for a place at any time, our Supervision Areas are listed below. To be considered for a funded place, to commence in October 2018, you must hold an offer of study with us and you should approach a potential supervisor to discuss your application, in the first instance. If you have any questions about undertaking postgraduate research in our Department, please contact us.

PhD studentships

Studentships are available from a variety of sources. Our University is part of the SeNSS Consortium and the studentship competition is now open for studentships starting in the 2018/19 academic year. Please see below for information on how to apply. Announcements about University of Essex doctoral scholarships will be made shortly. Search our Scholarship Finder to find details of funding opportunities

How to apply

We welcome applications from candidates who have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class degree (or equivalent) in psychology or a cognate discipline. You will need to provide two academic references and a research proposal and already have the agreement of an academic member of staff to supervise you.

Supervision areas

We offer supervision in the following broad areas and more detail can be found here

  • Cognitive and Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive and Sensory Neuroscience
  • Social and Health psychology

In addition, if you are looking for an individual researcher, staff profiles can be found here

Supervision arrangements

You will meet with your primary supervisor regularly, and we recommend that meetings take place fortnightly. You will also submit reports to our supervisory board, twice-yearly if you are a full-time student and once a year if you are part-time.