The MSc in Psychology (research) is a two-year programme that is focused on acquiring research skills in a particular field of psychology. The programme provides students with a rigorous training in the methodological and practical skills necessary to carry out scientific research on human behaviour. Students gain hands-on experience with how psychological theory can contribute to the analysis and solution of practical problems and how the application of existing theory guides further theoretical development. Students can specialise in the psychological subdiscipline of their choice, but are also trained in a broad multidiscipinary research approach.
Students can focus on one of the specialisations within the master’s programme:
Students who wish to expand their expertise in the domain of Brain and Cognition can choose from a wide range of elective courses offered within and outside the Institute of Psychology.
“We strongly believe in Kurt Lewin’s adage that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.”
“How can we translate the insights of psychological theory into practice? This simple yet crucial question underlies most of the courses we offer at Leiden University. To be able to change behaviour, you first of all need a firm theoretical basis that helps you under¬stand where it comes from.
It is not an easy task, however, to put theory into practice. To relate the complexities of daily life to psychological theory, you need to practise; you need to be able to simplify while maintaining enough detail to appreciate the uniqueness of the particular situation you wish to examine. You need to combine insights from different theories, and to approach the problem from different angles.
To do this, new skills have to be developed. To this end, our students practise in small groups where they discuss the difficulties they encounter, present their ideas, and conduct their own research, together with our professional staff.
The challenges are many. In my own specialisation, Social and Organisational Psychology, we study, for example, how people approach cultural diversity. When is it a threat? How can you make people realize that it also offers new opportunities? We can use our social psychological theories to find ways to reduce the threats and reap the benefits that lay ahead.
The focus on the symbiosis between theory and practice is evident in all our specialisations. We strive for a fertile environment where sound theory results in good practice. Take a look at what we offer, and join us if you share our enthusiasm!”
“Unconscious processes in the brain affect how we make decisions”
“I wasn’t really sure whether I wanted to carry on in the scientific world, so I had my doubts about doing this research master’s. In the end, my curiosity and enthusiasm for research tipped the balance. Once I’d made up my mind, I was happy to be accepted for the programme. The admission requirements may seem daunting, but they are important: it’s a tough programme and you have to be really motivated. I found the research master’s a completely different experience from the bachelor’s. You’re part of a small, close-knit group of students, so you have more one-to-one contact with the lecturers. That was something I really appreciated, and it also broadened my social network.
The most positive aspect of this master’s for me was the freedom of choice and the possibility of combining different subjects within the programme. You have a lot of room for individual choice alongside the general courses that are the same for students of all the different tracks. I wanted to look more closely at both social and economic psychology as well as neuroscientific research techniques such as fMRI, and I was able to put together my own master’s programme, combining all the areas I was interested in. In the second year I did a research internship at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, where I was involved in an fMRI study of how the hormone oxytocin influences economic decisions in a social context.
The internship fired my enthusiasm for further research and I am now studying for a PhD in Marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University), in partnership with the Donders Institute. My research focuses on consumer choice behaviour and how these choices can be influenced by unconscious processes in the brain. It’s an interesting subject because such knowledge can help motivate consumers, for instance in making healthier or better choices.
I would definitely recommend this research master’s if you’re interested in doing psychological research. It’s the kind of research that can be applied to many different fields, so you don’t need to narrow your focus down to one particular academic career. Some of my fellow students are now working in the business sector or in government and semi-government organisations.”