Postgraduate Factfile: Health Psychology MSc

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Course at a glance

Mode of study: Full Time (1 year) & Part Time (2 years)
Start date: September

  • British Psychological Society accredited for applicants with Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) and for Stage 1 Training in Health Psychology
  • Academic team includes RAPPS Approved Supervisors for trainees continuing onto the BPS Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology
  • Teaching is via small groups which means you can expect a high level of academic and pastoral support set within a friendly and informal atmosphere 
  • Access to world-class facilities in award-winning Tom Reilly Building

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Course overview

The primary goal of health psychology as a discipline is to contribute to the understanding of how physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual factors influence health and illness within a sociocultural framework.

Recent advances in psychological, medical, and physiological research have led to a new way of thinking about health and illness. This conceptualises health and illness as the product of a combination of factors including biological characteristics such as genetic predisposition, behavioural factors such as lifestyle, stress, health beliefs, and social conditions such as cultural influences, family relationships, social support.

Utilising this framework, the primary goals of health psychology are centred on:

  • understanding the causes of health conditions, promotion and maintenance of health
  • the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of physical and mental illness
  • the study of psychological, social, emotional, and behavioural factors in physical and mental illness
  • the improvement of the health care system
  • and the formulation of health policy.

This MSc is suitable for anyone with an interest in how psychology affects health and illness behaviours, and how it can be used to enhance wellbeing and encourage healthier lifestyles. It is also suitable for those intending to or currently working with clients with chronic illnesses, as it examines issues of coping and adjustment and relationships with caregivers. It covers all aspects of health across the lifespan which makes it suitable for those working with children as well as adults.

The programme emphasises the application of psychology to health in different contexts and settings, identifying how psychological approaches can be used to understand and change the way people think and behave in relation to health, illness and health care issues. You will investigate individual differences in health and to review a range of health conditions applying the theoretical and practical aspects of health psychology.

A multidisciplinary approach

This programme is underpinned by a strong emphasis on both psychological investigation and consideration of ethical and professional issues. You will study two modules exploring the methods used in health related research. These include the theoretical underpinnings of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies in addition to training in the use of these methodologies. You will also produce a thesis giving you an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of research principles at an appropriate intellectual level.

This successful BPS accredited programme, draws on a multidisciplinary approach to health, covering the main areas of Health Psychology:

  • Contexts and perspectives in Health Psychology: historical overview and current theories and approaches in health psychology
  • Awareness of related disciplines: medical sociology, medical ethics, medicine, behavioural medicine, health policy, health economics, medical anthropology
  • The impact of social and cultural factors: epidemiology of health and illness; Causes of mortality / morbidity; behavioural epidemiology; Bio-statistics; inequalities in health; social capital, empowerment and advocacy
  • Biological mechanisms of health and disease: psychoneuroimmunology; physical systems underpinning behaviour: dietary, sexual etc; circadian rhythms
  • Health-related behaviour: theoretical models; protective / promotional behaviour; behavioural risk factors; socio-cultural factors
  • Health-related cognitions: efficacy and control beliefs; attributions; social and individual representations; symptom perception, the perception of pain; perceptions of risk; decision making by health care psychologists, by patients / clients etc; Mood and cognition; Health beliefs and attitudes
  • Individual differences in health and illness: personality factors in health and illness; dispositional optimism / pessimism; locus of control; self-efficacy; negative affectivity; emotional expression and health; stress, health and illness; causes / consequences of stress; models of stress; stress management

Professional accreditation

Health Psychology is a relatively young, but rapidly growing discipline. In order to become a Health Psychologist, students must have the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership from the British Psychological Society and fulfil a number of requirements:

  • Stage 1 training involves the satisfactory completion of a BPS accredited Masters programme in Health Psychology
  • Stage 2 training involves a minimum of two years spent acquiring a range of supervised competences

This programme meets this requirement and is BPS accredited for applicants with Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) and for Stage 1 Training in Health Psychology. The academic team also includes RAPPS Approved Supervisors for trainees continuing onto the BPS Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology.

Staff expertise

Staff in the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology produce high quality research in a range of areas in Psychology and Applied Psychology, including Health Psychology, Appetite, Human Factors, Cognition, Neuroscience, Mindfulness and Wellbeing, and Substance Abuse. For further information, go to:

How will I be assessed?

A range of methods are used throughout the programme to assess the learning outcomes of individual modules. These include: essays, reports, seminar papers, exams, project work and an empirical dissertation. This assessment strategy attempts to ensure a reasonable spread of assessments over the duration of the programme.


What do past and present students say about the course?

“I undertook the MSc in Health Psychology through an interest in understanding and helping to improve health behaviours, particularly within the area of weight management. The reputation of Liverpool John Moores University as a vibrant research and teaching community meant that it was always a first choice when deciding where to undertake the course. Overall the course was well organised, adequately varied and gave a good grounding of health behaviour within the rapidly expanding discipline. The teaching was exceptional and it was gratifying to be taught Health Psychology by experts within the field. 

"The MSc required a great deal of motivation and hard work to achieve the best standards expected by the teaching team. However, as a result I completed the MSc with a solid grounding in the principles of health psychology, research methods and application. The knowledge and interest I gained during the course has motivated me to pursue a career within the field. I am now working as a Stop Smoking Marketing Officer, volunteering for the local council as an Assistant Wellbeing Mentor and conducting research for a local weight management service. I am hoping to continue the work I started during the course, to look at smokers’ willingness to quit and increase physical activity in relation to perceived weight gain during smoking cessation.” Emma Brown, graduate 2012

“I completed the MSc in Health Psychology in 2012 and really enjoyed the range of topics that were covered. I liked how the course addressed the theoretical concepts of health and illness with practical lab classes. The lecturers were extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields and their approachable attitude made it a safe learning environment where questions could be asked and opinions given during class discussions. I really enjoyed my time on this course and would recommend it to anyone interested in completing their Stage 1 Health Psychology training. I now work as a lecturer and am thinking about applying for the Stage 2 training to enable me to become a Registered Health Psychologist”.   
Janine Carroll, graduate 2012

“I thoroughly enjoyed the MSc Health Psychology course! I found the course stimulating and the teaching outstanding. With an emphasis on practical application of theory to intervention and research the course provides a current and relevant grounding for a career in health services. I have been able to apply knowledge and skills gained from the course to my daily work in disability support, and I am now hoping to build upon the excellent training I have received at Liverpool John Moores and complete Stage 2 training to become a Health Psychologist”.  Katy Davis, graduate 2012

Why study this course at LJMU?

The programme is accredited by the BPS. A major strength is the breadth and depth of funded research, publication and practice that the programme team brings. Specialist areas include pain, stress, and models of health behaviour; each a core component of Stage 1 training.

The British Psychological Society requires that a student awarded an MSc in any branch of psychology should have a sound grasp of appropriate methodology and of data-handling skills. This is particularly relevant for a discipline such as health psychology where ethical and legal issues are of primary importance, and this is reflected across programme modules.

96% of research from LJMU submitted to the REF 2014 for the Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience category is considered world-leading or internationally important.

Introduction to the School

The School of Natural Sciences and Psychology has a broad and varied range of taught programmes across the Biological Sciences, Geography and Environmental Sciences, and Psychology.

At undergraduate level this encompasses ten undergraduate programmes, including Geography, Biology, Zoology, Animal Behaviour, Wildlife Conservation, Applied Psychology and Forensic Anthropology.

At postgraduate level, we offer an MSc in Health Psychology and a Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology plus an extensive choice of research opportunities across a number of established and emerging fields.

The School of Natural Sciences and Psychology is based in LJMU’s City Campus at the Byrom Street site, which is located in the heart of Liverpool city Centre. The School offers postgraduates excellent laboratory and research facilities. Psychology and Neuroscience moved into the purpose-built £26m Tom Reilly Building in 2010 and facilities include: appetite laboratories, Psychology testing labs and Neuroscience labs.

Staff research interests

Staff in the school produce quality research in a range of areas in psychology and applied psychology, including health psychology, appetite, human factors, cognition, neuroscience, public health psychology, personality and social psychology and substance abuse. The following link provides further information about research in the School:

Programme Director

  • Dr Helen Poole C. Psychol, AFBPsS

Academic staff

  • Professor Stephen Fairclough
  • Dr Paul Lattimore
  • Dr Lisa Newson  C.Psychol. AFBPsS
  • Dr David McIlroy
  • Dr Kanayo Umeh C. Psychol
  • Dr Mark Forshaw C.Psychol, C.Sci, FBPsS, FIHPE

Employment and careers

Health psychology graduates work in a variety of areas. Many go on to Stage 2 training and subsequently achieve Chartered Psychologist status and become HCPC Registered Health Psychologists.

Others work  in research and/or teaching. A growing number of graduates work in health education, health promotion, health administration and health audit. Others are involved in the organisational aspects of delivering health care work within the health service.

Map of UK

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

English for Postgraduate courses bursary

A bursary will be available for students who must complete the six week English for Postgraduate Studies course to improve their IELTS score by 0.5 prior to enrolling on their postgraduate taught or research degree at LJMU.

This bursary take the form of a tuition fee waiver, which will be deducted from your tuition fee when you enrol on your degree programme. You do not need to complete the online scholarship form in order to receive this bursary. Please note: If you are awarded this bursary you are not eligible to apply for an international scholarship.

English language requirements

Entry requirements

Graduates interested in pursuing Health Psychology as a career need a good honours degree in Psychology (upper second class or above) and eligibility for GBC. Applications from those who show that they have some experience of working in health are welcomed.

Overseas students whose qualifications have satisfied the BPS conditions for Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) will be admitted in accordance with the University's regulations.

In addition, international students should hold IELTS English language at a minimum of 6.5 or equivalent.

Health professionals or graduates from related disciplines with an interest in psychology related to health are advised to contact the course director or admissions officer for further information.

The programme runs on Mondays and Wednesdays and can be studied full time or part time. Full time students attend both days for 1 year while part time students attend on Wednesdays in year 1 and Mondays in year 2.

Will I be interviewed?

No, an interview is not required.

Fees information

Tuition fees for full-time home and EU students for the academic year 2015-2016 are £5,500.

Part time fees are charged by the number of credits you are registered for per annum, at a rate of £30.50 per credit.
Tuition fees for International students for the academic year 2015-2016 are £12,000.

Students residing in the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey are classified as international students for fee purposes.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All full and part time students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or pay by instalments. If you need advice about how you will pay your tuition fees, please talk to LJMU’s Student Funding Team as soon as possible:, 0151 0151 231 3153/3154.

Sources of funding

LJMU Alumni Award

Final year undergraduates and alumni of the University are eligible to apply for a 15% reduction in their postgraduate tuition fees if they choose to progress onto a higher degree programme at LJMU. Both Home and international LJMU students and alumni can apply for this award (subject to eligibility criteria*).  Please go to for more details.

Postgraduate International Scholarships

LJMU offers scholarships for international applicants accepted onto taught masters programmes (excluding distance learning programmes) and research degrees. Current LJMU international students and alumni interested in pursuing postgraduate study and research at the University are eligible to apply for these scholarships along with new applicants. For further details, go to:  

English for Postgraduate Studies Bursary

A Bursary is also available for international students who need to improve their IELTS score prior to enrolling on their postgraduate course or research programme at the University. This course is run by LJMU’s International Study Centre ( For further details, go to:   

Earn While You Learn

Working while you study means you may be able to pay for your course without taking out any further loans or at least reducing the amount you need to borrow. Working while you study also gives you the skills valued by employers, such as managing your workload and prioritising your time.

LJMU’s Vacancy website ( can help you find graduate vacancies, sandwich/industrial placements, internships/ summer work, part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work-based learning placements. Over 1,000 local and regional employers regularly list opportunities on the website.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Many students fund their postgraduate studies via Professional and Career Development Loans. This is a bank loan which you will have to pay back once you’ve completed the course. However, while you are studying any interest on the loan will be paid for you by the Skills Funding Agency. PCDLs worth between £300 and £10,000 are available for eligible postgraduates to fund up to two years of study (three if the course includes work experience). The loan is split into course fees and living costs. Go to for more details.

Employer sponsorship

Some organisations and companies fund the cost of postgraduate studies for their employees as they recognise the value of having well qualified staff. Check out our courses and see if there are any on offer that could enhance your current career. Remember, employer support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can take other forms too, such as flexible working arrangements, day release and time in lieu of study.

Support for disabled students

Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs are designed to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. DSAs don’t have to be paid back and the type of support you receive will be determined by your specific needs not your household income. Please contact LJMU’s Disability team for further advice: 0151 231 3164/3165.

Council tax exemption

All full-time postgraduate students studying courses lasting one year or more are eligible for a council tax exemption certificate.

How to apply

Further information

Please contact the Faculty of Science on:
0151 231 2888
fax: 0151 207 3224
web: Faculty web site

If you have any queries relating to LJMU or university life in general please contact:

Course Enquiries
tel: +44(0)151 231 5090

Please apply via the online application form

LJMU's Admissions policy is in line with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy and applications are welcome from all candidates who fulfil the entry criteria. The university has a commitment to equality of opportunity and welcomes application from everyone regardless of age, disability, race or sex. The University is committed to widening participation and therefore will actively consider applicants who do not have a relevant degree but who are able to provide satisfactory evidence of their knowledge in the area. All applicants will be considered by the Recruitment and Selection Panel, if shortlisted applicants will be asked to attend for an interview.

International students

LJMU offers an extensive support system through its international office and study centre. An equivalence to the normal entry requirements is needed for entry. Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example with an IELTS tests or equivalent. Please note that because of UK visa restrictions, International students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis. Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.

Please Note: The University reserves the right to cancel, suspend or modify in any way the information contained in this leaflet.

Page last modified by Marketing and Corporate Communications on 20 February 2015.
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