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Psychology PhD


About the course

Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.

MPhil degree option
An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.

Research profile
Research topics for PhD study in Psychology are broad in scope and include cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, evolutionary psychology, social and cross-cultural psychology, and health and well-being. Research within the division is supported through a well-resourced infrastructure including MRI, EEG, TMS, and eye-tracking facilities, cubicles for testing, hardware and software resources, psychometric test library, and other specialist equipment. 

Our research strengths are in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cross-Cultural Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology. Research in these areas is structured around two new and vibrant research centres: Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and Centre for Culture and Evolution. PhD students can be part of these centres, and benefit from the knowledge and methodological expertise from staff members, as well as use the relevant infrastructure (e.g. fMRI, DTI. EEG, TMS, and eye tracking).

Find out more


All research degrees are administered by the Postgraduate Research Programmes Office in Colleges. Once you have identified your area of research and a potential supervisor, you can complete your application online. Please use the contact details below for enquiries. You may also approach your potential supervisor directly.

College of Health and Life Sciences
Tel: +44 (0) 1895 268161

Dr Lucia Garrido - Psychology PGR Officer
Tel: +44 (0)1895 265555

Dr Predrag Slijepcevic – Department PGR Director
Tel: +44 (0)1895 266302

Special Features

  • As a member of the cross-HEI Combined Universities Brain Imaging Centre (CUBIC), Brunel jointly owns and operates a 3T Siemens MAGNETOM TIM Trio MRI scanner (with Royal Holloway, Surrey & Roehampton) installed in a purpose-built lab suite and run with the support of a specialist MRI technician. Established in 2003, through a £1.5 million university investment, this research-dedicated system has recently (2012) undergone a £400,000 upgrade and now offers high resolution, real time fMRI, MR spectroscopy (3D Chemical Shift Imaging), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for 3D white matter tractography.
  • Within the Division of Psychology, there are the following facilities: (1) a dedicated EEG laboratory (288ft2) houses 32- and 64-channel (MRI compatible) Neuroscan EEG systems, (2) a dedicated visual psychophysics laboratory equipped with display systems and a VSG 2/5 stimulus generator (Cambridge Research Systems), (3) eye-tracking facilities (Eye Link 1000: SR Research Ltd), and (4) cubicles for behavioural testing.
  • Through collaborative arrangements across the University, researchers in Psychology also have access to (1) a Magstim BiStim2 TMS and tDCS systems for brain stimulation/modulation research, (2) a NX12 [TC]² 3D Body Scanner for anthropometric measurements, and (3) Brunel’s BITLab £2 million virtual reality centre, with facilities for motion capture and animation. Other facilities include an extensive collection of AV, laboratory and computing hardware resources, psychometric test library, specialist equipment and laboratories for participant photography/video, and infant research.
  • A training programme will be provided by the College to assist students with achieving targets.  The programme will include the underpinning principles such as philosophy of science, research integrity, ethics and specialist methodology.  Sessions in core, specialist and advanced research methods will prepare students for an independent research career. Students will also enrol in the Graduate School Researcher Development Programme which ensures all students are equipped with generic research skills including presentational skills and impact activities. 

Facts and Figures

  • In the 2014 REF, 59% of our overall research activity was rated as either “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. Our research environment was rated as 100% “internationally excellent”. In terms of impact of our research on wider society, 73% of our submission (in areas such as screening for dyslexia and health promotion) was rated as 4*, i.e., outstanding in terms of its reach and significance. We were assessed as having an “exemplary strategic approach to impact”.
  • Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008.  The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
  • Recent grants were awarded by the Welcome Trust, British Academy, Bial Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust.

Teaching and Assessment


Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Browse all potential supervisor profiles further here.

Each student will be allocated a supervisory team consisting of the principal supervisor, second supervisor and a Research Development Advisor. The supervisory team will set teaching and learning targets and advise the student how to achieve them. The progress of each student will be assessed by the supervisory team at regular meetings and by a formal Progress Review Panel at 9 months for full-time students (18 months for part-time students) and then annually.  All academic supervisors receive university supported training in the supervision of PhD students.



Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:

  • Research within the academia which may lead to the career path of a University Lecturer
  • The career progression within the bio-pharmaceutical sector
  • The career path within the government agencies (e.g. Department of Health, Public Health England) or international agencies (UN, WHO, IAEA etc.)
  • Career path within NHS including specialist research laboratories.

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 2016/17 entry

Home/EU students

Full time: £4,121
Part time: £2,060

International students

Full time: £17,200
Part time: £8,600

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

Entry Criteria 2016/17

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree and additionally, for a PhD, a Master’s degree or equivalent. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study: IELTS 7.0 (with no less than 6.0 in any section). This applies even if English is the native language of your home country. An appropriate level of English language competence is also expected as listed below. Find out which alternative English language qualifications we accept. Applicants may also be required to attend compulsory in-sessional English language support. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.

Potential research students are encouraged to contact members of staff in the area of interest to receive guidance on how to focus the research proposal.


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

International and EU Entry Requirements

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: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 70% (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.