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The MSc in Political Psychology is an exciting new programme exploring the relationships between political and psychological processes. It combines modules from the School of Psychology and the School of Politics and International Relations to offer a unique interdisciplinary focus on key current issues in political psychology.
This programme explores the relationships between political and psychological processes. There is now a growing interest among researchers and policy makers in the psychological underpinnings of individual and group behaviour in the political arena. This programme is one of the very few in political psychology in the UK, and is designed to provide you with an advanced understanding and training in the psychological roots of political behaviour.
Befitting a field that is growing in importance and relevance, the programme will provide a unique interdisciplinary focus on key current issues such as the nature of political ideologies, support for socio-political systems, perceptions of government, justice and inequality, beliefs in political conspiracies and political conflict and violence.
Students entering this programme will gain a rigorous training embracing cutting-edge theories and models, alongside research and analytical skills with a strong focus on quantitative methods. The programme thus provides an excellent grounding for students interested in a variety of careers, including survey and consumer research, marketing, public relations, political communications and government.
The programme combines modules from the School of Psychology and the School of Politics and International Relations, whose staff members work in the fields of social psychology, public opinion and international relations. As well as offering a range of modules, the programme involves a research project conducted under the supervision of expert staff from the two Schools.
Watch an additional video about Taught MSc Degrees in the School of Psychology and find out about the excellent support we give to our students.
As a student within the School of Psychology at Kent, you benefit from our supportive, dynamic and diverse environment for creative research and learning.
Conducting both basic and applied research in several areas, Psychology at Kent is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research. Our long-established international reputation in social psychology is complemented by our strengths in cognitive, developmental and forensic psychology. We attract excellent visiting scholars and postgraduate students from both within the UK and overseas.
Some of our PhD students are self-funded, and others are funded by grants or awards either from the School, UK or their countries of origin. Some are also paid to undertake part-time teaching within the School. We have a strong track record of attracting ESRC research studentship funding, which involves partnerships with external organisations such as Age UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and collaborative studentships with partners such as People United.
The School of Politics and International Relations is a leading school within the discipline, with strengths in several areas related to political psychology, notably conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation and the analysis of public opinion. The School boasts a wide range of postgraduate courses, along with a dynamic programme of visiting speakers, including policy makers.
In the Research Excellent Framework for 2014, the School was rated a top 20 department for research power. In addition 94% of our research has been ranked as world leading or of international significance. The School was also ranked joint first in the UK for our research impact, with 100% of our impact case studies evaluated as being either outstanding, or having very considerable impact.
You are more than your grades
For 2021, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
A final degree classification (grade average) of at least a 2.1 or Merit in the UK system (the second highest classification after First/Distinction). Results from institutions in other countries will be assessed individually according to this standard. However, applicants who do not meet this criterion are still welcome to apply, and their individual circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.
Applicants with undergraduate degrees in psychology or political science are preferred and those with related social sciences or science degrees are also considered. If it is in a different subject, or if it is not accredited by the British Psychological Society, please ask your academic referee to complete the Pro forma for Political Psychology and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This programme includes a one-year statistics sequence which you must normally pass in order to receive your award. The teaching assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
Therefore, your existing degree transcript should note that you have taken and passed a minimum of one term each in statistics and social science research methods courses (or two terms of a joint statistics and research methods course).
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
The MSc in Political Psychology is composed of five compulsory modules and one optional module. The compulsory modules are Statistics and Methodology (SP801), Political Psychology (SP860), Advanced Topics in Intergroup Relations (SP813), Public Opinion: Nature and Measurement (PO956) and a supervised empirical or theoretical dissertation (SP861).
View this year's timetable. Please note that timetabling and modules may change from year to year.
Modules are taught by both the School of Psychology and the School of Politics and International Relations.
The modules below are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
This module complements the core programme module ('Political Psychology') by providing students with a detailed introduction to the nature and study of public opinion. Opinion and attitudes are central to the choices that citizens make and to the way they behave, which in turn are core outcomes in politics. Yet the nature and formation of those attitudes are complex, and shaped by a range of individual and contextual factors, which are central subjects within psychology. This module therefore brings together perspectives from both political science and psychology, in helping students to understand how citizens form attitudes and opinions, the processes and considerations that underpin attitude formation, the factors and actors that influence these formative processes and the effect that citizens’ attitudes have on their behaviour. The module will also consider the principal ways in which we identify and measure public opinion, notably through surveys. Underpinning the module will be the central question of whether the nature of citizens’ opinions are consistent with the assumptions and demands of modern democratic states.
This module provides a postgraduate-level orientation to both basic and advanced contemporary statistical and methodological issues in psychology. The methodological issues considered include qualitative research methodologies; experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational research designs in the laboratory and field; and the fundamental issues in psychological measurement including reliability and validity. The statistical techniques taught include univariate and multivariate descriptive and inferential statistics; basic and advanced topics in ANOVA and ANCOVA; linear and logistic multiple regression; some scaling methods; classical test theory, factor analysis; fundamentals of structural equation modelling (path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, multiple-group analysis), and some item response theory.
This module provides an opportunity to study at an advanced level the literature on intergroup relations. The module builds upon knowledge gathered in the undergraduate degree on social and personality psychology. It will stress how social-psychological and personality theories in combination can explain intergroup processes. Emphasis will be placed on applying theoretical models and empirical findings to the analysis of real-world problems. Topics that will be addressed include social identity and social categorization, social inequality, prejudice, intergroup conflict and innervations to improve intergroup relations. The module relies primarily on research in social and personality psychology, but we will also consider perspectives from other fields, such as political science and sociology. This module relies heavily on student presentation, participation and student discussion.
This module provides an opportunity to study at an advanced level the literature on political psychology. The module will stress how psychology and political science in combination can serve to analyse and explain political processes. Emphasis will be placed on applying theoretical models and empirical findings to the analysis of real-world problems. Topics that will be addressed include political ideology, social justice and inequality, political engagement and extremism, political leadership and perceptions of government and authority. This module relies heavily on student participation and discussion.
The course provides an overview and a framework for considering the field of international conflict resolution. The students have the opportunity to explore conflict resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, collaborative problem solving, and alternative dispute resolution. The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches in conflict management with the scientific study of conflict and cooperation. Across the term students will be exposed to a range of different theories and approaches to conflict management and be required to practically apply the course content in a number of simulations.
The course provides an overview and framework for considering the evolving field of international conflict resolution with an emphasis on negotiation and mediation. The module will focus primarily on the practical as well as on the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, or more broadly third party intervention in conflicts. Its aims are to give the students an overview of the main problems involved in negotiation and mediation (broadly defined), but also to give them a chance to work individually and in groups on case studies and material related to the resolution of conflicts. The course is designed to introduce the students to theories of negotiation and bargaining, discuss the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem solving real cases of international conflict, and allow them to make use of such techniques in role playing and simulations.
The module draws from comparative politics, international relations, and political thought to analyse the past, present, and future of the democratic national state, the dominant form of political system in today's world. It addresses questions such as: Why are some states federal and others unitary? What explains the resilience of nationalism? Does economic integration leads to political disintegration? Why has regional integration gone much further in Europe than elsewhere? Is multi-national democracy possible? The module first charts the emergence of the modern state and its transformation into a national and democratic form of political system. Subsequently, it explores some key aspects of the formation, structuring, restructuring, and termination of states such as the unitary/federal dichotomy, processes of devolution, the challenge of secession, the question of the connections between the economic environment and the number and size of states, the phenomenon of supra-state regional integration, and the connections between nationality and democracy. It concludes by assessing the challenges facing the democratic national state in the 21st century and their likely trajectory in the foreseeable future.
This module provides an understanding of current conceptual debates in Social Psychology together with an appreciation of how practitioners apply behavioural principles in their field of work. The module focuses on the application of conceptual and methodological insights to significant real-world problems, as well as the development of new theoretical approaches based on the lessons learned from applied research and practice.
This module provides an opportunity to study the literature on group processes at an advanced level and familiarises students with current theorising and research on the psychology of groups and teams in organisations. The module introduces theoretical and empirical background, and uses these to help students develop ideas for further research and practice.
The module builds upon knowledge of social psychology gained at undergraduate level and draws primarily on small group research in social and organisational psychology, but perspectives from other fields such as moral psychology and economics will also be considered. Seminar topics include social identity, group cohesion, status and leadership, creativity, social dilemmas, trust/distrust, as well as moral judgment and behaviour. The module involves a great deal of student presentation, participation and discussion.
The module will stress the integration of psychology and political science as a way to analyse and explain political processes. All students undertake a supervised empirical research project grounded in the area of psychology or political science and informed by the other discipline. The aim of the dissertation is to teach students the ability to plan, execute, analyse, and report a piece of independent research in the relevant setting. The dissertation will consolidate theoretical knowledge of psychology and political science, to foster an ability to integrate findings from the two fields, an appreciation of the ways in which that knowledge has been applied in previous research and practice, and the methodological and statistical skills to set up a scientific investigation.
Timetable: A research proposal is written and approved in the Autumn Term. All research with human subjects will require approval of the School of Psychology Ethics Panel. If appropriate, an ethical application is submitted to the panel (and, if required, outside ethics committees). The deadline for submission of dissertations is in July or August.
Assessment is mainly by coursework assignment (4-6,000-word essays), examination (for the Advanced Statistics and Methodology module only), plus the dissertation.
Our aims are to:
You develop intellectual abilities in the following:
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
You gain transferable skills in the following:
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Psychology was ranked 11th in the UK for research intensity.
An impressive 95% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The School of Psychology is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research, with an international reputation for excellence in social psychology (including group processes and intergroup relations); cognition and neuroscience; developmental psychology; and forensic psychology. We have staff who can supervise research degrees in all of these areas. The research environment is designed to sustain a strong, vibrant research culture, encourage collaboration, and unite staff and students with shared research interests. Our themes ensure critical mass and create a highly energetic and stimulating intellectual climate.
The School of Politics and International Relations has a strong international research profile in numerous areas, including: conflict and security, regional and comparative politics, and political and social theory. The School’s research is organised within four research centres: the Conflict Analysis Research Centre, the Centre for Critical Thought, the Centre for Federal Studies and the Global Europe Centre. The School also hosts the Comparative Politics Group, which includes various researchers pursuing empirical analysis of key issues within political science. Further details of the School’s research activities can be found here.
Research activity in the School of Psychology is supported by:
Much of our social psychology research is co-ordinated through the Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP), the largest research group in this area in Europe. The Centre attracts a stream of major international social psychology researchers, who regularly visit to work with our staff and are officially affiliated to the Centre. The Social Psychology group also includes the co-editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (Abrams).
Social psychology research at Kent is funded by a variety of British and international sources, currently and recently including ESRC, British Academy, Leverhulme, Age Concern, European Commission, European Science Foundation, Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Nuffield, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as government departments such as the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Social Psychology group includes the following themes:
This research is carried out in our social psychology laboratories, at schools and in business organisations. For example, research within this topic focuses on questions such as: how contact between members of different social groups is represented psychologically, how intergroup contact affects prejudice, when outgroups are seen as less human, when and why children show prejudice, and why organisational mergers sometimes fail.
Research on this topic combines theory-driven research and engagement with policy. It is conducted in real-life settings such as the workplace, and involves national and international surveys. For example, the research focuses on the well-being of elderly people in Britain, work participation and motherhood, and discrimination against different groups in society.
Laboratory studies and community-based research are conducted on this topic. For example, research focuses on co-operation in small groups, group decision-making, perception and influence of leaders, social communication and language, subjective group dynamics in adults and children, the dynamics of prison gang activity, and the impact of alcohol on group processes.
Much of this research is carried out in laboratories, through surveys and in clinical or other applied settings. For example, research has examined aggression, the adaptive functions of perfectionism, and consequences of mortality salience.
Research under this theme has an international reputation in the topic areas of Visual Cognition, Attention and Memory, and Language and Communication.
Research on this topic focuses primarily on the role of vision and visual perception in human performance. The fundamental aim of this work is to identify the cognitive processes and neurological mechanisms underlying various visual tasks. Studies involving neurologically healthy volunteers examine issues such as face recognition and identification, eyewitness testimony, person detection, emotion processing, episodic memory and pattern and motion recognition.
Research in this group examines various aspects of semantic, pragmatic and syntactic understanding. Research questions on healthy populations include the role of executive functions in successful language use and communication, how language influences attentional processes and perspective taking, anomaly detection, and the effect of interruptions on reading. Work on developmental populations examines issues such as how children learn to understand and produce sentences in their own language, and how they learn conversational conventions and self-repair. Research also examines developmental disorders of communication, including autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia. This research group has links with researchers in the School of European Culture and Languages, as part of the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies.
Forensic Psychology research at Kent and all forensic-related teaching operates through our newly constituted Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP). Current research is focused on bullying in prisons, prison gang behaviour, jury decision-making, child sexual offending, rape, rape proclivity, female sexual offending, theories of offender rehabilitation, firesetting, sexual harassment, violence, aggression and alcohol, and the infrahumanisation of offenders. Other areas of research include social cognition, social and moral emotion, and group process theory, all of which are applied to the study of offending behaviour or court process issues.
Forensic psychology research at Kent is funded by various national and international sources, which include: The British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, Home Office, Leverhulme, Ministry of Justice and the Nuffield Foundation.
Research may be carried out with staff or offenders/ex-offenders in a variety of settings, including prisons, youth offender institutions, secure mental health units and probation offices. Alternatively, research may take place with students or members of the community in our newly equipped laboratories.
Much of the research conducted by members of the Developmental Psychology group is conducted with neurotypical infants, children, and adolescents. However, we also take a lifespan approach to the study of development and conduct research with older adults. Moreover, a key focus of our research is on neuro-developmental disorders. Central research topics include:
Developmental group members are particularly interested in the expression and control of ethnic and gender prejudice, social ostracism and inclusion, conversational norms and group identity in children. We also conduct research on social aspects of older adulthood, in particular self-stereotyping and prejudice against elderly people.
Cognitive development is a major focus of many of our developmental psychologists. In particular, members of the Developmental Psychology group actively research topics such as the development of social cognition and theory of mind, language, information and sensory processing, and conversation and pragmatic skills.
Our developmental research also focuses on adolescence, as well as infancy, childhood and older adulthood. In particular, we are interested in the emergence of gang activity and antisocial behaviour during this period of development.
We also conduct cutting-edge research into neuro-developmental disorders, such as autism and language impairment, with a view to understanding the nature and basis of, and best ways to treat, these disorders.
The School of Psychology currently includes two formally constituted research centres, representing areas of concentration and excellence in research.
The Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP) was set up in 1990 to consolidate the School’s excellent international reputation for social psychological research into group processes and intergroup relations. CSGP is now a thriving international research community, including 15 full-time academic staff and a large number of research fellows and PhD students. The Centre also attracts a stream of major international group researchers who are officially affiliated to it and regularly visit to work with our staff. The Centre also edits an international journal, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
The main aim of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology is to conduct high-impact psychological research to further understand key forensic issues of social significance, and to lead to cutting-edge teaching and research opportunities for postgraduate students. Forensic psychology is an extremely popular and rapidly developing branch of psychology that seeks to understand the psychological processes underlying offending behaviour (including group processes), the reduction and supervision of offending behaviour (ie rehabilitation, treatment and management of community risk), victim responses to offending, the mechanisms underlying the criminal justice system more generally (ie jury decision-making and the courts), and attitudes to offenders and offender reintegration in society.
For information about the interdisciplinary links between psychological processes and politics, please see the Kent Political Psychology Lab website.
Full details of School of Psychology staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Information about expertise in the School of Politics and International Relations is available from their website.
You learn a set of skills that will allow you to pursue a career in areas such as:
Upon completing our Master’s courses, our graduates have also pursued doctoral study and academic careers at higher education institutions.
The School has excellent facilities for both laboratory and field research, including advanced laboratory and teaching facilities. Resources include:
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Child Development; Clinical Psychology Review. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
The online application form will ask you to provide the name and email address of one academic referee from your degree-granting institution. On submission of your application, they will receive a reference request by email.
To save time, we recommend that you notify your referee in advance. Their reference should describe their impression of your academic achievements, preparedness and motivation for postgraduate study in your chosen field, and personal qualities relevant to postgraduate study.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.
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