Cross-Cultural Psychology MSc
- Course Content
- Special Features
- Teaching & Assessment
- 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?
This course 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. 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.
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.
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 of importance.
We also 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 School in order to offer a truly inter-disciplinary perspective.
Teaching on the course is by renowned international experts on culture and ethnicity, with the Brunel teaching team being complemented with visiting speakers from around the world. Recent invited lecturers have included specialists from the US, Hungary, Russia and Finland.
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Course director: Professor Robin Goodwin
Most psychology programmes around the world teach a set of 'basic psychological findings'. Such findings are 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. 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. This course considers the way in which psychological findings may differ across societies, and explores some reasons for this variation. It also aims to provide course participants with the skills necessary to conduct their own research with different ethnic groups and in different cultures.
You will undertake a variety of modules focusing on cross-cultural psychology and research methods modules leading to a dissertation (up to 15,000 words).
Core modules introduce you to the particular methods and skills employed by psychologists working in the cross-cultural area as well as providing you with an introduction to the major areas in which cross-cultural variations have been observed. They focus on cross-cultural psychology and aim to introduce you to the particular methods and skills employed by psychologists working in the cross-cultural area. In addition they provide you with an introduction to the major areas in which cross-cultural variations have been observed.
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 (Methods for Cross-cultural Research module). 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.
Modules are subject to variation and students are advised to check with the School on whether a particular module of interest will be running in their year of entry.
Cross-Cultural Variations in Psychological Finding 1
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.
Cross-cultural Variations in Psychological Findings 2
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: 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.
Recent published dissertations include
- Exploring attachment to the "homeland" and its association with heritage culture identification
- Values and love styles in Turkey and Great Britain: An intercultural and intracultural comparison
Typical modules may include:
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.
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.
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.
Established in 2001 this 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. 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. Guest lecturers from around the world supplement classes taught by the following course team:
Professor Robin Goodwin (degree convenor) specialises in the study of relationships and culture, particularly in fast-changing cultures, such as the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, and in China. Present projects include the production of videos for national Georgian television and a study of Chinese migration across Europe. He organised the major International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology conference in the UK in 2001.
Dr Tara Marshall's research examines the influence of culture and gender on romantic relationships. In particular, she studies 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. She is also 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.
Students taking the course full time typically attend 2 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 1 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. Previous students are now working in major international organisations, such as the WHO. Others are continuing their studies, taking PhDs at leading international universities.
This course will prove especially useful to those who wishing to deploy their skills in international government and non-governmental agencies. In addition other major issues, for example that of cross-cultural attitudes and behaviours in relation to health and health care, are considered increasingly important by both local and national governments, as well as international agencies, in implementing desirable policies and practices.
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.
UK/EU students: £6,250 full-time; £3,125 part-time
International students: £13,000 full-time; £6,500 part-time
Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.
Normally a good Honours degree with substantial Psychology or relevant Social Sciences content from a UK institution; an equivalent overseas qualification; or an equivalent professional qualification.
English Language Requirements
- IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
- TOEFL Paper test: 580 (TWE 4.5)
- TOEFL Internet test: 92 (R20, L20, S20, W20)
- Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT 65% (min 60% in all areas)
Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.