1. Course Variations
    Nomenclature Duration Mode Of Attendance
    Ph.D. 3Yr FT
    Ph.D. 6Yr PT
    M.Phil. 2Yr FT
    M.Phil. 4Yr PT

Course Overview

Unlocking the secrets of the human mind is one of modern science’s greatest challenges. Psychology, the study of human behaviour, helps us to make sense of how we understand the world, what makes us laugh or cry, why we are conscious, and why we make the choices we do. Studying for a PhD or MPhil is a truly challenging and deeply rewarding experience, and Swansea University provides an excellent environment in which to pursue your research studies.

Key Features

A research degree gives you the chance to pursue a research project based around your own passions and interests, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career or boost employment prospects outside academia.  

Research degrees typically last from three years (full-time study) to six years (part-time) for a PhD, or two years (full-time) to four years (part-time) for an MPhil.  Key features include:

  • An environment in which you can develop and enhance transferable skills such as problem solving, independent thinking, project management, and critical thinking.
  • The support of two academic supervisors throughout your studies.
  • The availability of structured training, interdisciplinary seminars, dedicated research facilities and software from both the College and University.
  • Support from a dynamic community of research staff and students each pursuing their own lines of research.
  • Assessment by means of a thesis of up to 100,000 words which must demonstrate the student’s capacity to pursue original research and should represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject. This is then followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva). 

You can gain an insight into what studying for a research degree will involve, and hear about other students experiences, in our latest brochure

The most recent UK-wide assessment of the quality of research in HEI’s (the Research Assessment Exercise 2008), revealed that 80% of the research carried out by the College was of international or world-leading quality.  With our research into the health disciplines demonstrating outstanding quality in originality, significance and rigour, students can be assured that they will be immersed in the dynamic and supportive research culture needed for their studies.  


We invite applications in the following areas:

Clinical and Health Psychology

Researchers in this group look to apply the principles of psychology to both the physical and mental health of the population.

Learning and Behaviour

This group examines the mechanisms that allow behaviour and thoughts to adapt to the environment, and investigates the role of learning and memory processes in generating such flexible and adaptive behaviours.

Cognition and Perception

Our work in this field spans research into areas such as the perception, identification and processing of static and dynamic visual objects and events, or the inhibitory processes involved in memory and forgetting in both the theoretical and applied setting.

Brain and Behaviour

This research group is exploring the integration of neuroscience and behaviour. One such area is brain chemistry and the effect of eating, nutrition, and recreational drug use on cognition, mood and behaviour.

Evolutionary Behavioural Science

This group explores how evolution and the credo ‘survival of the fittest’ prevails within our current society, and goes on to influence our continued development and growth. 

Examples of student research include mindfulness attentional control in healthy eating; substance abuse factors affecting attention; glucose metabolism and its effect on cognition and mood; the representation of colour and shape in memory, and memory and reading in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Forensic Psychology

Researchers in this group are primarily interested in: 

  1. Personality disorder, offending behaviour, staff development and outcome measurement in practice. 
  2. Factors underpinning offending behaviour and to the prevention of suicide and self-harm, ass well as psychopathy and how the behavioural and psychological features of the psychopathic disorder lead to offending behaviour.
  3. Police investigative interviewing, false confessions, false memories and interrogative suggestibility

Find out more about some of the academic staff supervising theses in these areas:

Professor Mark Blagrove

Dr Simon Dymond

Dr Irene Reppa

Dr Kim Drake

Find out more about our Psychology Research Groups at Swansea

Entry Requirements

Applicants for the PhD programme would normally have, or be studying for a Master’s degree, while our MPhil programme requires a first or upper second degree in a discipline related to the proposed research project, or a relevant, approved postgraduate qualification.  In some cases, there may be opportunities for MPhil students to continue their studies as a PhD student.

We welcome applications by prospective students from around the world and look for evidence of previous study that is equivalent to the entry requirements stated above. The Postgraduate Admissions Office is happy to advise you on whether your qualifications are suitable for entry to the course you would like to study. Please email admissions@swansea.ac.uk for further information.

If English is not your first language you will need an acceptable pass in an approved English Language qualification to make sure you get the full benefit from studying at Swansea. We consider a wide range of qualifications, including the Swansea University English Test, the British Council IELTS test (with a score of at least 6.5 in each component). A full list of acceptable English Language tests can be found here.

Applicants to this programme would normally be expected to meet the minimum entry requirements indicated above. The College/School reserves the right to ask for higher academic grades and qualifications. Admissions decisions take into account not only prior academic qualifications, but also factors including the standard of the research synopsis/proposal submitted by the applicant, their performance at interview (if required), intensity of competition for limited places and relevant professional experience (where appropriate).

How To Apply

Details of the application process for research degrees are available here, and you can apply online and track your application status at www.swansea.ac.uk/applyonline.  As part of your application you should include a research proposal outlining your proposed topic of study.  Guidance on writing a research proposal is also available.

Applicants can expect to be interviewed following their application to discuss their topic of research and ensure they demonstrate the necessary level of commitment to their studies and training.

Please note that it is advisable that you contact us before submitting your application.  This will ensure we can identify appropriate supervisors, and where necessary work with you to refine your proposal.  If you would like to do this you should contact Maria Davis in the first instance at a.m.davis@swansea.ac.uk

If you're an international student, find out more about applying for this course at www.swansea.ac.uk/international/students/apply.

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU International
Ph.D. Full-time £4,345 £17,700
Ph.D. Part-time £2,172.50 £8,850
M.Phil. Full-time £4,345 £17,700
M.Phil. Part-time £2,172.50 £8,850

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

Note: The UK/EU fee is indicative pending confirmation from UKRI

If your course starts in January, April or July 2019 please refer to the 2018/19 fee costs on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: It is now possible for some students to study part-time under the Tier 4 visa route. This is dependent on factors relating to the course and your individual situation. It may also be possible to study with us if you are already in the UK under a different visa category. Please visit the University information on Visas and Immigration for further guidance and support.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course, but in addition to tuition fees and living expenses most studies will also incur a further element of cost throughout your research. This could take the form of travel costs, hospitality to run a focus group, conference fees, etc. You should spend some time considering what other costs you may need to fund when designing your research proposal.

Occasionally postgraduate research studentships can be made available at Swansea University in specific areas. Details of current opportunities can be found at www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/scholarships


PhD: Typically three years in duration (full-time) or six years (part-time). Students undertake supervised research.

MPhil: Typically two years in duration (full-time) or four years (part-time). Students undertake supervised research. In some cases, there may be opportunities for students to continue onto a PhD.


PhD: A thesis of no more than 100,000 words is submitted, which demonstrates original research that contributes significantly to the subject area. This is then followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva).

MPhil: A thesis of no more than 60,000 words is submitted, which demonstrates original research that contributes significantly to the subject area.  This is then followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva).

Student Profile

Edwin Burns is a postgraduate researcher in the College of Human and Health Sciences:

"My research examines memory for faces in prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia is a face recognition disorder, otherwise known as face blindness, in which sufferers find it difficult to recognise subtle differences between faces. While we all have embarrassing moments where we might meet someone and fail to remember where or when we have previously met them, this is a daily occurrence for many people with prosopagnosia.

I think memory is a fascinating subject; the subjective experience of whom and what we are is built upon everything that we've ever experienced in the past. This interest was developed as an undergraduate while I worked in and EEG lab conducting research into memory for faces. After graduating I worked in autism research for a couple of years before deciding I wanted to return to study for a PhD. 

So far I've found some really interesting results from my initial experiments and now I'm driving on to complete more experiments which will enhance our understanding of processes involved in recognising faces.

I've loved every minute of postgraduate life. The excitement of finding out some result and knowing that you're the first person to have ever done so is indescribable, especially after you've spent months of reading, writing, planning, programming, processing, analysing and all the other little things required to get to that point.

I read a piece by a researcher listing some top tips for a successful academic life and one of them was that a PhD wasn't just a 9 to 5 job, it's a lot more than that. If you want to do a PhD you have to be prepared to work far more than just 9 to 5, but when you're doing work on something you find interesting, how can you call it work? It's far more meaningful and enjoyable than any job I've previously had."


The College of Human and Health Sciences has state-of-the-art facilities including:

  • Simulated clinical practice facilities and bioscience practice rooms, for realistic workplace experiences.
  • Specialised psychology laboratories hosting a sleep laboratory; computer controlled visual and auditory displays for work on perception, attention, memory and language; an eye movement laboratory; fMRI brain scanner; EEG facilities and a nutrition laboratory.

We also have access to many different facilities and further equipment at organisations that we work closely with, such as the NHS.

Other resources include:

  • Service Users and Carers Group which can help in providing essential advice or improving engagement between your research project and the user community.
  • Structured training programmes, interdisciplinary seminars from worldwide speakers, dedicated research/study facilities and specialist analytical software.

As well as being immersed in the vibrant research community of the College and its research groups, you will also be able to access wider support and advice through the research networks staff are involved in, such as:

Wales Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience

WICN is a multi-centre initiative which draws together psychology research from across the breadth of Wales to create a world leader in the study and application of cognitive and clinical neuroscience.

Older Person and Ageing Network Cymru (OPAN)

OPAN Cymru aims to improve the lives of older people through the integration of research, policy and practice across Wales.

Welsh Health Economic Support Service (WHESS)

WHESS provides health economic support at the early conceptual stages of proposal planning, in research funding applications, in research practice and in the dissemination of information.


Delivering high quality research is a key step in enhancing the health, social and economic well-being of all sections of society. It is essential that decisions on policy and practice are informed by the latest research findings and evidence available if we hope to improve organisational effectiveness and sustainability, social welfare and cohesion, and quality of life.

Through our cutting edge research, the College of Human and Health Sciences is bringing about real-life benefits for the health care, social care, voluntary and private sectors, ultimately leading to improvements for patients, users, practitioners, managers and policy makers.  

As a forerunner in the field, the College is well-placed to respond rapidly to changes in the delivery of care, whilst also establishing links with the main service providers in Wales, such as the NHS and Local Authorities.

Our research is delivered through discipline focussed research centres.  In doing so, we have secured funding from a number of prestigious collaborators and funding bodies in recent years such as the BIAL Foundation; Autism Speaks; Ministry of Defence; British Heart Foundation, the NHS and the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research. These collaborations have been crucial in ensuring research informs, and is informed by, the wider healthcare environment.

Examples of how our research has impacted health and social care services can be found here.