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MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology (Course Code BLPCM2)


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) introduces students to a broad range of issues in social and developmental psychology and provides them with an opportunity to conduct a substantial piece of research. A core value of the course is that psychology should be theoretically rich with relevance to real world issues. As such, the lectures cover key concepts and perspectives at the heart of social and developmental psychology and apply them to contemporary social issues, such as parent-child relationships in diverse types of families and communities, psychological adjustment, sexuality, culture, religion, music, entrepreneurship, and forensic investigation.

Students attend lectures during the first and second terms. Social psychology lectures focus on fundamental concepts in social cognition, personality and individual differences, gender, and social representations. Developmental psychology lectures focus on child development and adjustment in changing family and social contexts, developmental psychopathology, children and the law, and gender development.

In the third term, students take no formal classes but focus on conducting and writing up their dissertation research.

Throughout the year, students are expected to attend the regular seminars hosted on alternate weeks by the Department and the Centre for Family Research. They are also encouraged to attend other lectures and seminars throughout the University.

The MPhil examination is based on three submitted essays, research methods assessments, and the production of a 15,000 word dissertation.

MPhil programme structure


• Individual differences
• Social cognition
• Close relationships in childhood and adulthood
• Gender and development
• Forensic child psychology
• Traditional and new family forms
• Social interaction and representation


• Interviewing techniques
• Assessing families
• Questionnaire and interview design
• Psychometric testing
• Longitudinal research methods
• Qualitative research methods

Social Science Research Methods (compulsory)

The Department of Psychology and other departments of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences, together with the School of the Physical Sciences and Judge Business School, are participants in the Social Sciences Research Methods Centre (SSRMC). This provides our students with the opportunity to advance their understanding of many cutting-edge methodologies at the forefront of advances in social science. These include:
• qualitative methodologies
• structural equation modelling
• survey design
• path and time series analysis
• latent factor and latent class analysis
• exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis
• discourse analysis.


Students are assessed on the basis of submitted coursework, research methods assessment, and a dissertation. The coursework consists of: a submitted research proposal, the critical appraisal of a topical research paper and an essay that addresses a philosophical or methodical issue in the field, and the completion of assessments in Psychometrics and other research methods modules. The dissertation should demonstrate mastery of a substantive topic in social or developmental psychology and of appropriate research methods, and include some element of original data collection.

Continuation into the PhD programme

Students can apply to continue on the PhD programme. The preparatory work for the PhD proposal should be done in consultation with a supervisor.

Eligibility and application

Applications for graduate study in the Department of Psychology are made through the University's Graduate Admissions. We recommend that potential applicants take the time to familiarise themselves with the useful material on their web pages.

Academic requirements

Graduate work in Cambridge is intense and very intellectually demanding and so the University has high academic entry requirements. You are normally expected to hold or to be about to achieve:
• at least a 2.I honours degree from a UK university
• an equivalent standard from an overseas university (On a 4-point GPA, we require a minimum of 3.5 out of 4)
• a fluent command of the English language
• completion of any current training or education course
You are not required to provide GRE scores.

Conversion courses

The MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology is not a conversion course - applicants must have academic experience in the relevant field.

Progression from MPhil to PhD

Applicants applying for admission to the MPhil degree with the intention of continuing to the PhD upon completion should apply for admission to the one-year MPhil only in the first instance. It may be useful, if applicants are also applying for funding, to indicate any intention to continue to the PhD in a personal statement, or in their research proposal.


Applications must be received by the 28th April for candidates wishing to start in October.
If applicants wish to also apply for funding, applications must be sent earlier. Details are available on the funding pages of the Graduate Admissions website.

MPhil enquiries

Enquiries about the MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology should be directed to Rita Day (Graduate Secretary).


Find the answers to frequently asked questions.