Cross-Cultural Psychology MSc

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

  • Do people fall in love in the same way in every country?
  • What makes a good leader in Chinese and other non-Western societies?
  • How might we help migrants best settle into their new culture?

Brunel's course is the largest and longest running MSc course of its kind in the world, and the only MSc in Cross-Cultural Psychology in Europe.

The programme is specifically aimed at those who intend to pursue their psychological work in a number of different cultural settings, whether within Britain or overseas.

It provides you with an understanding of how basic psychological processes may vary across cultures, and gives you the skills necessary to conduct your own research with different ethnic groups.


Many societies have an increasingly multi-cultural nature, which is compounded by the increasing contact and interaction between societies with very different cultural traditions. These changes are raising profound sets of issues about how we, as individuals, understand each other, and how we act in relation to each other in different cultural settings.

The programme is designed for those with undergraduate degrees in psychology (and related subjects) who wish to gain a greater understanding of the role of culture in psychology, and for those already working in professions where psychology is important.

We welcome graduates in related subjects who are interested in learning more about culture and psychology, as well as students who might ultimately want to continue on a PhD programme. By including materials from across the social sciences, the course aims to utilise the complementary disciplines within the College in order to offer a truly inter-disciplinary perspective.


Admissions and Course Enquiries
Web: Admissions Enquiries Information
Tel (before application): +44 (0)1895 265599 (Course Enquiries)
Tel (after application): +44 (0)1895 265265 (Admissions Office)
Contact Admissions or Course Enquiries Online

Course director: Lecturer Tara Marshall

Related Courses

Course Content

Typical Core Modules

Foundations of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Main topics of study: controversies in defining culture; assessing culture; the development of cross-cultural dimensions (individualism/collectivism, the work of the Chinese Culture Connection, Trompenaars model, Inglehart's work, Schwartz's value circumplex) and a critique of cultural dimensions; the self-concept across cultures; emotion and motivation across cultures.

Advanced Topics in Cross-Cultural Psychology
Main topics of study: cultural variations in inter-group relations; national stereotypes; perception; bilingualism; theory of mind; well-being and happiness; personal relationships; acculturation; health and social change; cultural neuroscience; conceptions of the supernatural across cultures.

Cross-Cultural Research Methods
Main topics of study: the development of appropriate research strategies; sampling techniques; questionnaire and interview design and construction; piloting; content analytic techniques; diary methods; projective techniques; quantitative data analysis; data standardisation; ethical considerations; writing-up reports; developing proficiency with statistical software (SPSS).

Some recent dissertation topics include mediation strategies amongst Jews and Arabs in Israel and the UK; cultural predictors of loneliness and life satisfaction in Canada: a comparison between Canadian and Chinese; partner preferences amongst Hindu Gujaritis in Britain.

Typical Optional Modules

Foundations of Psychoanalytic Theory
Main topics of study: the origin and development of psychoanalysis; sexuality and the unconscious; neurosis, perversion, psychosis; the foundations of psychoanalytic technique; Freud's case-studies; the second topography; the work of Melanie Klein, Donald W Winnicott, Jacques Lacan; psychoanalytic theories of psychosis; psychoanalytic views on addiction; the so-called ‘new symptoms' in contemporary society.

Cognitive Neuroscience
How has neuroimaging increased our understanding of brain function? This module covers learning and memory, language and the brain, cerebral lateralization and specialization, the control of action, executive control and frontal lobes, emotional mechanisms, evolutionary perspectives, development, plasticity and consciousness.

Evolutionary Psychology
Main topics of study: cognitive adaptationism and domain specificity; environments of evolutionary adaptedness; cross-cultural human universals; selective impairments; social status and reputation; cognitive sexual dimorphism in mate preferences and jealousy; attractiveness and symmetry; gustatory adaptations, social exchange and co-operation; coalitional psychology; interpersonal and coalitional aggression; violence and homicide; spoken language; face recognition and prosopagnosia; functions of the emotions; kinship psychology (recognition, altruism, and inbreeding avoidance); gene-culture co-evolution. 

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Typical Dissertations

Recent published dissertations include:

Special Features

  • Brunel's programme is the largest and longest running MSc course of its kind in the world, and the only MSc in Cross-Cultural Psychology in Europe.
  • Students join a thriving cross-cultural postgraduate research community, the largest of its kind in the UK.
  • Guest lecturers from around the world supplement taught classes. Recent invited lecturers have included specialists from the US, Hungary, Russia and Finland.
  • Follow us on Twitter @Brunelculture
  • Teaching on the course is by renowned international experts on culture and ethnicity:
    • Dr Tara Marshall's research examines the influence of culture and gender on social media use and romantic relationships. Recently, she has been studying cultural differences in the use of Facebook for keeping tabs on current and former romantic relationship partners. She also examines the ways that cultural differences in gender-role ideology affect self-disclosure, intimacy, commitment, and adherence to traditional dating and marital scripts in romantic relationships. In addition, she is investigating the ways that romantic relationships may facilitate or hinder adaptations to new cultural environments.
    • Dr Toshie Imada's research focuses on the interplay between individuals’ psychological processes and their cultural contexts. These processes include choice justification, social facilitation, cognitive appraisal, self-images, context sensitivity, as well as development and malleability of culturally specific cognitive styles. Her research also investigates cultural reproduction mechanisms by examining cultural products and practices including narrative communication.

Teaching and Learning

  • Students on the course study taught courses for two terms before conducting their own unique empirical research, which they often then present at international conferences in the field or publish in major cross-cultural journals.
  • Most psychology programmes around the world teach a set of 'basic psychological findings' - usually based on samples of students in the US and Northern Europe, and give us few clues as to how psychological processes vary across the world. Brunel's unique curriculum takes a broader approach to cross-cultural psychology. The research methods module will equip you with the tools and concepts to undertake project work in an international setting, providing you with a firm basis both in advanced techniques for analysis of data and the particular techniques required to conduct research across cultures.
  • A key feature of these modules is the poster presentation by the students, which is based on an analysis of key research papers in cross-cultural psychology and the student's own research proposals.
  • Two further modules are concerned with understanding issues of universality and cultural variability in psychological findings. Here, the inclusion of the expertise of a number of members of our staff mean that a wide range of topics can be presented and discussed, ranging from issues in perception and bilingualism to psychoanalysis and inter-group relations.


Students taking the course full time typically attend two days a week for two 12-week terms from the end of September to Easter, plus attendance at up to two exams late April/early May.

In the summer term students work (independently with tutor supervision) on their dissertations which are due for submission at the end of September. No formal attendance is required during the Dissertation period and, provided students do not need to use specialist facilities on campus and they maintain email contact with their supervisor, they are free to return home. Dissertations can be submitted by post at the end of September normally.

For students taking the course part time (over 2.5 years) students usually attend one day a week for two 12-week terms from the end of September to Easter each year. The summer term of the first year is free of commitments. During the summer term of their second year and the autumn and spring terms of the third year, part time students work (independently with tutor supervision) on their dissertations which are due for submission at the end of March of the third year.

Assessment is by coursework through the completion of term papers, seen examinations (given out at least a month before the examinations) and poster presentations. A dissertation of up to 15,000 words is then required. Students also give brief presentations in groups in class during the Findings courses. See a recent example.


Graduates from this course will have gained considerable knowledge and expertise in cross-cultural psychology, which will enhance their employability in a number of careers.

This course will prove especially useful to graduates wishing to deploy their skills within international government and non-governmental agencies, health and healthcare organisations.


Previous students are now working in major international organisations, such as the WHO. Others are continuing their studies, taking PhDs at leading international universities.

View examples of careers pursued by previous students on this course.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2015/6 entry

UK/EU students: £7,000 full-time; £3,500 part-time

International students: £13,500 full-time; £6,750 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements 2015/6

A UK first or 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a Social Sciences/Psychology related discipline. Applicants with a 1st class or 2.1 degree in a non related subject with relevant experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree will be considered on an individual basis

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Monday 24 August 2015