Master of Social Sciences in the field of Psychology

Building on the success of launching the highly sought-after Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology programme since 1978, in 2015, we decided to upgrade the Postgraduate programme to become the Master of Social Sciences in Psychology (MSocSc(Psy)) programme.

The goals of the MSocSc(Psy) programme are to:

a) provide university graduates with an opportunity to acquire solid foundation in psychology with a strong understanding of psychology theories and research methods;

b) bring students to a level where they should be eligible to apply for graduate membership of the Hong Kong Psychological Society. Also, they should become eligible to apply for programmes leading to the degrees of MSocSc in Clinical Psychology and in Educational Psychology, as well as the research postgraduate degrees in psychology, if they have successfully completed all compulsory courses and the dissertation course.

c) help students develop research competence in psychology, preparing them well for advanced professional training and a career in psychology and related fields.

The Department of Psychology offers a postgraduate programme leading to the degree of Master of Social Sciences in Psychology.  English is the medium of instruction.

Curriculum (Regulations and Syllabus of 2021/22 is subject to the University’s Approval)

1. The curriculum shall be one academic year for full-time study and two academic years for part-time study.

2. For the “dissertation” option, candidates are required to complete eight compulsory courses and a dissertation. For the “non-dissertation” option, candidates are required to complete eight courses, a capstone project in psychology and an elective course from the elective course lists of this programme.

Compulsory Courses

PSYC7301 Introduction to research methods in psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7302 Research and quantitative methods in psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7303 Biological psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7304 Cognitive psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7305 Developmental psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7306 Personality psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7307 Social psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7309 Abnormal Psychology (6 credits)

Elective Courses

PSYC7310. Human neuropsychology (6 credits)
PSYC7311.  Internship in psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7312.  Introduction to concepts and approaches of therapeutic psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7313.  Introduction to health psychology and wellbeing (6 credits)
PSYC7314.  Professional ethics and issues in psychology (6 credits)
PSYC7315.  Psychological testing and measurement (6 credits)
PSYC7316.  Special topics in psychology (6 credits)

(Note: Not all the elective courses listed will necessarily be offered every year)

Capstone Experience Courses

PSYC7308.    Dissertation in psychology (12 credits)
PSYC7317.    Capstone project in psychology (6 credits)

3. Dissertation option: Full-time candidates are required to take four courses in each of the 1st and 2nd semesters, in addition to a full-year dissertation course. Part-time candidates are required to take five courses in the 1st year and, in addition to the dissertation course, three courses in the 2nd year of study.  Any variations from this pattern are subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

4. Non-dissertation option: Full-time candidates are required to take five courses in each of the 1st and 2nd Part-time candidates are required to take five courses in the 1st year and five courses in the 2nd year of study.  Any variations from this pattern are subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

5. For the compulsory and elective psychology courses, candidates are required to participate in the problem-based inquiry for each course. In preparation, they should complete the required assigned readings and are encouraged to engage in self-directed learning by reading additional self-selected relevant materials.

6. Candidates who are enrolled in a capstone experience course are required to conduct a capstone project or write a dissertation on an approved topic under the supervision of a faculty member in his/her final year of study. The capstone project report or dissertation shall be presented not later than June 30 of the final academic year of study.

7. Candidates who had taken similar courses in a programme which is designed to bring the degree holder up to the standard of a graduate majoring in psychology will not be approved to take similar courses listed under (1). They shall apply for course exemption. If approved, they are required to take one of the postgraduate seminar courses (PSYC7021, PSYC7022, PSYC7023, PSYC6025) or one elective course from the elective course list of this programme in lieu of each exempted course.

Course Descriptions 

PSYC7301.    Introduction to research methods in psychology (6 credits)

This course adopts a practical approach to teaching the analytical aspects of research techniques in
psychology.  It is designed to provide students with the basic background in research design and data analysis.  The logic of statistical inference and scientific explanation, the merits and limitations of quantitative approaches to the study of psychological phenomena, and research ethics will be discussed.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7302.    Research and quantitative methods in psychology (6 credits)

This course is designed to extend students’ quantitative and research skills so that they are prepared to conduct their own independent empirical research.  It will build on what students already learned in PSYC7301 to cover more advanced quantitative methods commonly used in Psychology.

Assessment:  100% coursework.

Prerequisites:  PSYC7301.


PSYC7303.    Biological psychology (6 credits)

This course provides an introduction to biological aspects of behaviour.  The topics include: biological bases of behaviour, development, learning, memory, and abnormal psychology; the nervous system; processes of brain maturation; psychophysiology.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7304.    Cognitive psychology (6 credits)

This course covers how humans learn to deal with information from the environment in everyday life.  Topics include various aspects of perception, attention, memory, and language, and thinking.  Students will be involved in conducting experiments on cognitive functioning as part of the coursework.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7305.    Developmental psychology (6 credits)

This course covers current issues in developmental psychology and their applied implications.  Students will actively solve problems and conduct mini projects related to selected topics in human development. There will be an emphasis on understanding basic concepts and theories of human development, research methodology and issues in developmental change, as well as biological, environmental and cognitive influences on development.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7306.    Personality psychology (6 credits)

This course will critically examine a number of theories.  The relationship of specific theories to practical applications, personality assessment and psychotherapeutic techniques may be included.  The major aims of the course are to provide a survey of the breath and complexity of this field and to provide a perspective from which to examine assumptions about human nature and the evaluation of behaviour.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7307.    Social psychology (6 credits)

This course gives an overview of the field which studies the behaviour of individuals in social contexts.  It covers topics in social thinking (e.g., social perception, social judgement, relationship between attitude and behaviour), social influence (e.g., cultural influence, conformity and obedience, persuasion, and group dynamics), and social relations (e.g., prejudice, aggression, interpersonal attraction, and altruistic behaviour).  Current research issues in social psychology will form part of the discussion, and students will be guided to apply the knowledge in real-life situations.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


PSYC7309.      Abnormal psychology (6 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the modern concepts of psychopathology.  It covers topics on the core features, conceptualization, and treatment of major groups of mental disorders.  Relevance in everyday life, cultural issues and ethical dilemmas will form part of the discussion.

Assessment:  100% coursework.


Elective Courses (Subject to the University’s Approval)


PSYC7310. Human neuropsychology (6 credits)

This course aims to provide an overview of basic functional neuroanatomy and clinical neuropathology. Literature in neuroscience and clinical neuropsychology will be reviewed and discussed. Neuropsychological assessment approaches will be introduced.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


PSYC7311.  Internship in psychology (6 credits)

Students will have an opportunity to i) learn to do research as an intern in ongoing empirical research projects under a teacher’s supervision in the Department of Psychology, OR ii) engage in an approved non-paid student-initiated internship in local organizations that can provide students an experience that is relevant to the skills and knowledge of the discipline of Psychology. For research internship in campus, students are required to spent 10-12 hours per week assisting various research activities. The internship includes participating in lab meetings or meeting individually with the supervisor, reading relevant theoretical and empirical articles, assisting in ongoing empirical research projects, and writing an internship report. Information about research projects offering internship placements and application procedure will be available in the Psychology Department webpage.  For internship in local organizations, students are expected to apply psychology knowledge (including models, theories and/or concepts), critical thinking, and analytical skills acquired at the University to analyze real-life situations.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


PSYC7312.  Introduction to concepts and approaches of therapeutic psychology (6 credits)

This course provides a theoretical and experiential foundation for counselling and further training in the mental health profession. Major theoretical approaches in psychotherapy are surveyed and critiqued. Experiential learning is used to help elucidate some of the course material and facilitate reflection. Topics covered also include basic counseling skills and practice, ethics, diversity and cultural values, indigenous and community-based models, and outcome and process research.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


PSYC7313.  Introduction to health psychology and wellbeing (6 credits)

This course will provide a critical overview of both the psychological and social aspects of human health and wellbeing. Students will gain some foundations in understanding the role of psychology in the health context. Topics covered in this course include health behaviors, coping with health-related stress, social support and health, psychoimmunology, management of chronic illnesses, and patient-practitioner interaction etc.

Assessment: 100% coursework


PSYC7314.  Professional ethics and issues in psychology (6 credits)

The purpose of the course is to provide a general ethical guidance to cover typical situations encountered by professional psychologists. Models of ethical decision making will be introduced, discussed, and applied. In addition to the Code of Professional Conduct published by local professional bodies (e.g. the Hong Kong Psychological Society), a number of ethical codes, guidelines, and standards of practice will be reviewed.

Assessment: 100% coursework


PSYC7315.  Psychological testing and measurement (6 credits)

This course surveys the major concepts and techniques in the field of psychometrics, and provides students with some hands-on experience with commonly used tests. Topics covered include: the context of testing and measurement; the testing process; test standardization; reliability and validity; intelligence and its appraisal; personality assessment; special domain testing; occupational applications; large-scale measurements; ethics and prospects.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


PSYC7316.  Special topics in psychology (6 credits)

This course provides an opportunity to study in some depth an area of psychology of interest to students and a staff member alike. Individual topics may have special requirements for eligibility. Students taking this course may select one topic from a list of topics to be announced in the semester immediately prior to that in which they are taken.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


Capstone Experience courses


PSYC7308.      Dissertation in psychology (12 credits)

A candidate should conduct an independent empirical investigation of a psychological problem under the supervision of a faculty member.  A successful dissertation should represent the result of the candidate’s research which displays some originality and demonstrates a sound understanding of the field of study and the appropriate research methods.  The dissertation should be about 8,000 to 10,000 words in length (excluding tables, figures, bibliographies, and appendices).  The title of the dissertation shall be submitted for approval not later than March 31 of the final academic year of study, and the dissertation shall be presented not later than June 30 of the final academic year of study. Candidates shall submit a statement that the dissertation represents their own work undertaken after registration as candidates for the degree.

Assessment:  100% coursework


PSYC7317.   Capstone project in psychology (6 credits)

This course comprises an independent research study in an area of psychology of the candidates’ choice, subject to availability of supervision. Students will conduct a research project or read within an area of study, to be agreed with their instructor, and write an extended essay or research project report. The essay or project write-up should be about 4,000 to 5,000 words in length (excluding tables, figures, bibliographies, and appendices) and should follow the practice of communication in top psychology journals.

Assessment: 100% coursework.


1)     To be eligible for admission to the programme, a candidate shall hold

(a)     i)   a Bachelor’s degree of this University; or

ii) another qualification of equivalent standard from this University or from another University or comparable institution accepted for this purpose;

(b)   preferably have more than one year work experience;

(c)   satisfy the examiners in the qualifying examination and interview if shortlisted; and

(d)   comply with the regulations for the degree of Master of Social Sciences.

2)    The University’s English language requirements are as follows:

Applicants with qualifications from a university or comparable institution OUTSIDE Hong Kong where the language of teaching or examination is NOT English are required to obtain:

(a) a score of 550 or above (paper-based test) or 80 or above (internet-based test) in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); or

(b) a minimum overall band of 6 with no subtest lower than 5.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or

(c) grade C or above in either the Overseas General Certificate of Education, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, or the Cambridge Test of Proficiency in English Language.

TOEFL applicants should request the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send an official score report to the University (TOEFL code 9671) direct. The scores are valid for 2 years.

  • One year full-time OR   Two years part-time
  • For each core course, students have to attend a 2-3 hours’ weekly class. Classes are offered primarily in the weekday afternoons. No classes are offered in evenings or weekends. Please visit here for the timetable of current academic year.

Full-time (one year):  HK$143,000

Part-time (two years): HK$80,000 per academic year

Financial assistance is available for full-time postgraduate students.  Enquiries should be made to the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency (http://www.wfsfaa.gov.hk/sfo/en/index.htm ) or HKU scholarships opportunities (http://www.scholarships.hku.hk/Pages/info ).

Application

The next class will commence the study in September 2021.  Applications can be made online at http://www.aal.hku.hk/tpg (will be opened soon) until 11 January 2021 (12:00 noon).

Programme information, regulations and syllabuses can also be obtained from this website.  For application procedure and technical difficulties in completing the on-line application form, please contact the Academic Services Office at tpgadmissions@hku.hk.

Applicants are required to upload the supporting documents to the e-form [link] by 23:59, January 13, 2021:

  • Complete official transcript of undergraduate studies (including studies undertaken in HKU) Graduate certificate of undergraduate studies [Mainland China applicants should also provide “學士學位證書”]
  • Complete official transcript of postgraduate studies, if any
  • Graduate certificate of postgraduate studies, if any
  • TOEFL / IELTS / Overseas GCE / IGCSE / Cambridge Test of Proficiency in English Language official score report. [only required from those applicants with qualifications from institutions outside Hong Kong where the language of teaching or examination is not English]

NOTES:

 [Transcripts, diplomas, certificates and other submitted documents which are not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation in English.  Certified translation may be provided by your home institution.]

Upon submission of the e-form, the applicants’ academic / professional referees will receive an email invitation to complete an online referee’s report.  The referees can follow the instruction in the email and submit the referee’s report by the deadline.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to take a qualifying examination to be held in late February 2021. Shortlisted applicants will be informed by email to submit originals or certified true copies of the supporting documents, i.e. copies of the documents that have been duly declared as true copies before a notary public (e.g. a Commissioner for Oaths at a District Office in Hong Kong ).  Please note that all original copies will NOT be returned.  Photocopies and scanned copies are NOT accepted.

If you are an overseas applicant, the copies of documents can be certified by the appropriate officials of your home institution.

For further information about programme admissions, please read through the materials in the below hyperlinks which are also available for viewing at the homepage of Taught Postgraduate Admissions of The University of Hong Kong.

Additional Information
Regulations & Syllabuses (Subject to the University’s Approval)
Supporting Documents

Qualifying Examination 

Shortlisted applicants will be asked to take a qualifying examination.  The qualifying examination will be held in late February 2021.

There will be multiple choice questions testing the basic concepts of psychology in the qualifying examination.  You may find the reference here: https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_introduction-to-psychology/.

Q1. Do I need to take IETLS or TOFEL?

According to the University’s English language requirements, applicants with qualifications from a university or comparable institution OUTSIDE Hong Kong where the language of teaching or examination is not English are required to obtain:

  • a score of 550 or above (paper-based test) or 80 or above (internet-based test) in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); or
  • a minimum overall band of 6 with no subtest lower than 5.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or
  • grade C or above in either the Overseas General Certificate of Education, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, or the Cambridge Test of Proficiency in English Language.

The scores are valid for 2 years

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Q2. Do I require psychology related work experience?

It is preferable to have more than one year work experience, but not necessarily psychology related.

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Q3. When and how can I apply for this programme?

Online applications for September intake can be submitted at http://www.als.hku.hk/admission/tpg during the application period from December to January of the following year.  Classes commence in early September.

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Q4. Can I take the MSocSc (Psychology) and another part-time Master programme at HKU at the same time?

Concurrent registration by a student of the University for any other postsecondary qualification either at this University or at any educational institution is not permitted, unless the approval of the Senate has been obtained in advance.

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Q5. What is the class schedule of full-time and part-time study?

All our classes are held in weekday afternoons, in which full-time takes 4 days a week while part-time takes 2-3 days a week (mostly from 3:30pm to 6:30pm).  No classes are offered in evenings or weekends.

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Information Seminar for September 2021 entry will be held with the following details:

Date:     5 December 2020 (Saturday)
Time:    10:30am – 12:00pm
Venue:  Zoom

Please click HERE for the Information Seminar 2020.

Please click here for more information.

Application procedure and admission-related enquiries:

Ms. Rosita TAM (Tel: (852) 3917 2375; Email: mpsyc@hku.hk)
Ms. Janice WANG (Tel: (852) 3917 7122; Email: mpsyc@hku.hk)

Programme and professional-related enquires:

Dr. Frances Jingwen JIN, Chief Examiner, Master of Social Sciences in the field of Psychology programme (Email: frances.jin@hku.hk )

Prof. Tatia Mei-chun LEE, Director, Master of Social Sciences in the field of Psychology programme (Email: tmclee@hku.hk)

HKU Psychology