Questions about how individuals think, feel and act and how these might relate to wider social, cultural and economic issues, lie at the heart of studying psychology. Psychology is a key component in all aspects of social life, whether concerning learning and memory in education, individual and group decisions in financial and political systems, or inter-group conflict arising from public policy or migration. Psychology thus explores principles of human behaviour that link the social sciences. At the same time, as an empirical science, Psychology forms a critical bridge from economic and social research to the natural and medical sciences, both in methodology and academic scope.

Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology has a world-leading research and teaching profile. With themes spanning Social Psychology and Psychological Disorders, Developmental Science, and Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, the Department has broad-ranging academic expertise and superb research facilities. Experimental Psychology follows the laboratory science model in which postgraduate students are embedded in a host lab where they work closely with their supervisors and other lab members. Postgraduate students play a central role in the intellectual life of the department, bringing fresh research ideas and carrying out the majority of the experiments conducted here. The department’s aim is to provide students with the training, resources and environment to enable them to develop into the research leaders of the future.

OU Psychology is an international leader in providing and developing applied and critical social psychology, that draw attention to, and challenges, social injustices in areas such as gender, race, immigration, poverty and sexuality. Connecting theoretical movements include feminism, subjectivities, sociocultural theory, psychosocial studies, phenomenology, critical discourse analysis, narrative analysis, Q methodology and dialogical approaches. Psychology at the Open University has an internationally recognised reputation for developing theory and methodology, and applying psychology in a variety of settings with wider societal impact. The pathway will equip students to examine complex psychological phenomenon using both established and innovative social research methodologies to address these wider challenges

Special application deadline note: The application deadline for the Oxford stream of this pathway is the early January application deadline, 12 noon UK time on Friday 8th January 2021.

Oxford Psychology offers full-time 1+3 and +3 doctoral training routes. In the 1+3 route, students complete the competitive MSc in Psychological Research before moving on to doctoral studies (DPhil in Experimental Psychology). The +3 route is for research students who have completed an MSc that meets the ESRC 2015 Training Guidelines, or equivalent. Further information is available on the Department’s website.

OU Psychology offers +3 and +4 training routes, depending on prior training. The +4 route is for students with Master’s degrees that do not fulfil the ESRC’s 2015 Training Guidelines, while the +3 route is for those with Master’s degrees that have provided comprehensive research training.

Oxford Psychology students commonly engage in knowledge exchange with a range of non-academic partners. Recent internships have involved the Cabinet Office and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Students often undertake fieldwork in organisational and cultural settings (e.g. schools, organizations) as part of their training, allowing them to put theoretical knowledge and methodological skills into practice. Recent examples include projects with The Children’s Society (supporting children and adolescents who have experienced adversity), the Catch Up Trust (addressing literacy and numeracy problems that contribute to underachievement), the Down Syndrome Educational Trust (improving the quality of support and education for young people living with Down Syndrome), and the National Citizen Service (bringing together 16 to 17-year-olds of different backgrounds to address inter-group conflict).

Established OU Psychology non-academic partners include public sector and third sector organisations such as the British Psychological Society, British Association of Counselling Psychology, Refugee Council, Barnardo’s, Refugee Youth and Pink Therapy. Practice-based centres such as the Centre for Policing Research and Learning and the Belfast Mobility project provide students with opportunities for high quality and relevant partnerships that can support and enhance career trajectories.

Many graduates go on to work in Higher Education, and training and professional development in this pathway will also provide skills to work in senior roles in other sectors such as research, policy, government, consultancy, healthcare, and human resources.

Pathway leaders: Professor Brian ParkinsonDr Sarah Crafter & Dr Simon Clarke

Contact: &

Open University

School of Psychology
Structure of provision: +3, +4

University of Oxford

Department of Experimental Psychology

Structure of provision: 1+3, +3