Political Psychology - MSc

Open Event - 23 February

Join our next Postgraduate Open Event on 23 February to find out why you belong at Kent. You can choose to visit us in-person, or attend virtually.

Explore the relationship between political and psychological processes to develop an advanced understanding of the psychological roots of political behaviour. Our Master’s degree gives you an excellent grounding in political psychology and can lead to a career in survey and consumer research, marketing, public relations, political communications and government.

Overview

There is a growing interest among researchers and policy makers in the psychological underpinnings of individual and group behaviour in the political arena. This postgraduate degree is one of the few political psychology courses in the UK and explores how people engage with politics and the psychology behind this behaviour.

Our Political Psychology Research Group is actively researching the consequences of conspiracy theories, the impact of identity rhetoric, and how public opinion on social policy develops and changes over time, and how it shapes society.

Reasons to study Political Psychology at Kent

What you’ll learn

Our Master’s programme offers 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.

Entry requirements

Smiling female postgraduate student
You are more than your grades

For 2022, 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.

Entry requirements

A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree with:

a. Adequate level of academic achievement

A final degree classification (grade average) of at least a 2.2 or Merit in the UK system. 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 psypgadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

b. Statistics and research methods training in the social sciences

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:

  1. Means and standard deviations
  2. Distributions, hypothesis testing and statistical significance
  3. t-tests
  4. Correlation coefficients
  5. Variables and measurement

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).

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

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. 

Need help with English?

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.

Form

Find out more

This field is required
This field is required
Please enter a valid email address
This field is required
This field is required
This field is required
This field is required
This field is required
Please contact me by email or via social media with information about the courses available at the University of Kent, including information about relevant events, scholarships and other general information.
This field is required

If you would like further information about how the University of Kent will process your data, then please read our Privacy Notice.

Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Modules

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.

Compulsory modules currently include

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.

Find out more about POLI9560

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.

Find out more about PSYC8010

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.

Find out more about PSYC8130

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.

Find out more about PSYC8600

To provide students with an understanding of academic research and an ability to identify and utilise appropriate strategies and techniques for the purpose of individual investigation, research and practice within a subject specific area of their course route. This module will prepare students to undertake the dissertation module in Stage 2 of their course.

Find out more about PSYC9970

Optional modules may include

Canterbury:

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.

Brussels:

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.

Find out more about POLI8480

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.

Find out more about POLI9510

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.

Find out more about PSYC8170

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.

Find out more about PSYC8440

Compulsory modules currently include

All students undertake a supervised empirical research project relevant to their chosen MSc programme, and submit it as a typed dissertation of approximately 8,000 words.

For Cognitive Psychology/Neuropsychology, Developmental Psychology, and Social Psychology MSc-T dissertations, the project should be grounded in the area of psychology.

For Organisational and Business Psychology dissertations, the project should include an examination of an identifiable organisational or business issue or problem within the context of relevant psychological theory, such as social, organisational or business psychology.

For Political Psychology dissertations, the project should be grounded in the area of psychology or political science and informed by the other discipline.

The aim of the dissertation is to test the student's ability to plan, execute, analyse, and report a piece of independent research in the relevant setting. The dissertation requires detailed theoretical knowledge of the relevant discipline (or disciplines), 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. Supervision is provided by the principal teaching staff and by other appropriate staff with research interests in a student's chosen area. Students are advised to read the School's Ethics pages for information on submitting applications for ethical approval to the School and to relevant outside bodies.

Find out more about PSYC9990

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is mainly by coursework assignment (4-6,000-word essays), examination (for the Advanced Statistics and Methodology module only), plus the dissertation.

Programme aims

Our aims are to:

  • Foster your intellectual development by providing you with specialised interdisciplinary knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to political psychology and related disciplines, in order to take an effective role within the discipline.
  • Provide relevant statistical and methodological expertise, in order that you should be well equipped to make your own original contribution to knowledge.
  • Provide an excellent quality of higher education, with teaching that is informed by current research and scholarship and that requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge.
  • Provide a multidisciplinary approach, with input from the School of Psychology, School of Politics and International Relations, and elsewhere.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain:

  • a sound knowledge of a range of conceptual, historical, theoretical, and philosophical issues underlying the discipline of political psychology;
  • specialist knowledge and systematic understanding of the key issues in political psychology;
  • a sound understanding of the major research and analytic techniques and methodologies employed by political psychologists, including statistical analysis;
  • an understanding of the utility of psychology and political science to the application of political psychology within political organisations;
  • knowledge and understanding of the use of relevant communication methods for the research and application of political psychology. 

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual abilities in the following:

  • Critical reflection on key themes with oral discussion and written analysis.
  • Critical thinking and creativity, in order to evaluate and generalise appropriately.
  • Ability to select and synthesise complex material through organising, developing, and evaluating relevance.
  • Systematic approaches to problem solving, individually and in groups.
  • Planning work and study independently and using resources in a way suited to further study or practice.
  • Communicating efficiently, persuasively and leading and cooperating within a team.
  • Managing a supervised dissertation

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following:

  • The use of major analytic techniques employed by political psychologists.
  • Evaluating and selecting appropriate methods for researching questions in political psychology.
  • Applying ethical values to research and practice related to political psychology.
  • Conducting political psychology research to address social and political issues.
  • Finding, recording, organising and contributing to knowledge on political psychology.
  • Understanding how psychological and political scientific theories and methods can be applied to political issues.
  • Communicating scientific research, theory, and practice across disciplinary, national, and ideological boundaries.
  • Applying theoretical approaches and specialised methodologies to a supervised dissertation

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • Numeracy: Data analysis skills to integrate numerical and other forms of information; understanding statistical analyses conducted by others in published works; understanding the limits of arguments based on quantitative analyses.
  • Communication: writing coherently, concisely, and in an organised way; oral discussion and presentations;
  • Working with others: reviewing the work of others; working cooperatively in groups and teams to recognise and maximise the contribution of self and others; understanding ethical issues and methods of obtaining ethical approval for research.
  • Personal development: exploring personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; autonomy; self-drive and self-management; respect for diversity in people.
  • Information technology: computer use for data analysis, research, word processing, reports, presentations, email, and bibliographic research.
  • Problem solving: identifying and defining problems; exploring and discriminating between alternatives; test solutions; scanning and organising data for abstract meaning and potential solutions.

Fees

The 2022/23 UK fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9300
  • EU full-time £14000
  • International full-time £18600
  • Home part-time £4650
  • EU part-time £7000
  • International part-time £9300

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 information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

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.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

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.

Research

Research areas

Research themes

The School of Psychology at Kent has a strong international profile for its research. As well as a long-established international reputation in social psychology, we have also established strengths in cognitive, developmental and forensic psychology.

Our academic community consistently attracts substantial research and innovation funding from UK research councils, European research programmes, charities, learned societies and businesses.

As well as generating theoretical innovations, the outcomes of our projects help health professionals, educators, charities, the public sector, government and commercial partners understand how people think, behave and interact to meet a range of personal, social and economic challenges.

Of relevance to students of this Master's degree, the Social Psychology Group conducts research into all areas of social psychology, with some work overlapping into organisational psychology and cognitive science.

The Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP) conducts research into the social psychological processes affecting group and intergroup relations. 

The School of Politics and International Relations is widely recognised for its strong international research profile in conflict and security, regional and comparative politics and political and social theory.

We develop relationships with a wide range of non-academic partners to enhance the relevance of our research outside higher education. We help to develop our researchers' skills, so their work reaches further and has more impact.

Our research is making a difference in the world. Our research on conflict resolution has enhanced professional training in the field and improved democratic participation in conflict-ridden societies.

Following the most recent Research Exercise Framework we were ranked in the top 20 for research impact in the UK by the Times Higher Education.

Staff research interests

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.

Careers

You learn a set of skills that will allow you to pursue a career in areas such as:

  • Policy development
  • Political consultancy
  • Public relations
  • Polling and electoral analyses
  • Conflict management. 

Upon completing our Master’s courses, our graduates have also pursued doctoral study and academic careers at higher education institutions.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School has excellent facilities for both laboratory and field research, including advanced laboratory and teaching facilities. Resources include:

  • three fully equipped colour video laboratories for face-to-face group research, together with ten satellite laboratories connected via remote-control CCTV and two-way audio links
  • 58 research laboratories, all containing networked computers
  • a further 80 PCs available exclusively to Psychology students, including a designated MSc computer-networked room providing full email and internet access
  • shared offices and a personal, networked computer for research students
  • a full range of computer-based experiment generators and productivity software installed on all the School’s systems
  • an upgraded laboratory suite with equipment for digital sound and vision recording
  • 4 Brain Vision EEG labs (including one for simultaneous TMS & EEG, and one portable EEG system)
  • 2 Trans-cranial direct current electrical stimulators (GVS, Magstim)
  • Neuroconn tDCS/tACS electrical stimulator with facilities for simultaneous EEG
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) PowerMAG Research 100 High Frequency Stimulator
  • 2 Tobii eye-trackers (Tobii X120 & Tobii T60 XL portable)
  • 1 Arrington eye-tracker
  • a suite equipped with Bio-Pac recorders to allow for a range of physiological measures to be taken during stressful and other tasks
  • specialist laboratories equipped for face processing and vision research
  • CRS ColorCal II Colorimeter/Photometer
  • CRS Audiofile for synchronized audio-visual presentation
  • numerous PC and Mac labs to run behavioural experiments
  • Mirror Stereoscopes for dichoptic presentation and stereo vision research
  • immersive virtual reality lab (including integrated eye-tracker)
  • a social cognition laboratory
  • creation in 2010 of the Kent Child Development Unit and research team focusing on how children learn about their world, about other people and about the language they hear around them.

Dynamic publishing culture

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.

Global Skills Award

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.  

Apply now

References

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.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us

bubble-text

United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MSc at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

For further information please contact the Programme Director, Dr Aleksandra Cichocka
E: Dr Aleksandra Cichocka

For informal enquiries please contact the Division of Human and Social Sciences Admissions Team
E: hssadmissions@kent.ac.uk

earth

International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk