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The University of Edinburgh: Psychology of Individual Differences

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
Telephone 0131 651 5002
Study type Taught


This unique programme offers an opportunity for intensive advanced training in the psychology of individual differences, gaining skills in the two key subdivisions in the study of human individual differences: personality and mental abilities (intelligence), and addressing the questions of how and why people differ from one another psychologically and how these differences matter in their lives.

Key research areas

Building on the research methods training, you will take courses on the theoretical and methodological aspects of individual differences.

Your MSc culminates in a research dissertation in a core research area: an original, publication-quality piece of research, undertaken in close collaboration with an academic working on the area of your dissertation topic.

The University of Edinburgh is uniquely positioned to offer this programme because of its long history of world-class individual differences research and teaching. Staff involved in teaching and supervision include internationally recognised researchers from our Individual Differences Research Group whose expertise covers topics such as:

  • the measurement, causes and consequences of personality traits

  • intelligence

  • positive psychology

  • primate behaviour

  • paranormal beliefs

  • Psychopathology

  • Genetics

  • Psychopathology

Psychology is rated 3rd in the UK by Times Higher Education for the quality and breadth of the research using the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).

What will I learn?

You will take courses on the theoretical and methodological aspects of individual differences research, and conduct an original research dissertation.

You will receive thorough training in advanced academic skills and research methods within psychology, including a comprehensive coverage of statistical modelling and research design using the R statistical language.

Is this MSc for me

This programme provides an understanding of advanced topics, methodologies and issues in the area of individual differences, as well as research design and management, and you can choose an optional course to customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.

It provides excellent preparation for further research and knowledge of individual differences, whether you choose to pursue this in further research or a professional career.

Reputation, relevance and employability

There are few MSc programmes dedicated to individual differences in Europe as well as in the whole world. The University of Edinburgh is uniquely positioned to offer this programme because of its long history of world-class individual differences research and teaching.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, having the opportunity to select option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Our students’ research projects are often published in academic or professional journals.

This programme has an excellent reputation amongst employers and further research opportunities. Many of our graduates have gone onto PhD training and academic careers as well as professional careers such as organisational psychology/ human resources.

We maintain close contact with professional organisations such as the British Psychological Society (BPS). All postgraduate students of psychology are automatically members of the Psychology Postgraduates Affairs Group (PsyPAG). PsyPAG provides support, communication and representation for postgraduates within the BPS. It also brings together postgraduate students from around the country.

Find out more about our community

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is home to a large, supportive and active student community, hosting events and activities throughout the year which you can join. You will have access to a range of research resources, state-of-the-art facilities, research, seminars and reading groups.


University of Edinburgh 


Be open to possibilities. Be open to the extraordinary.
The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 15th in the 2023 QS World University Rankings Our entrepreneurial and cross-disciplinary culture attracts students and staff from across the globe, creating a unique Edinburgh experience. Whatever excites you, whatever your ambition, whatever makes you ‘you’, we know one thing; nothing ordinary comes from this extraordinary place.

Our students have been making an impact on the world for more than 400 years. Each year is different – every …

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