Master of Social Sciences in the field of Psychology

General Office (Tel: 3917 2375, E-mail: )

The Department of Psychology has offered a highly sought-after Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology programme since 1978.  To build on this success, we are pleased to offer the Master of Social Sciences in the field of  Psychology programme starting in the academic year 2015-16 (to replace the Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology).  The programme is designed to:

a)  provide university graduates in fields other than psychology with an opportunity to acquire solid foundation in psychology with a strong understanding of psychology theories and research methods, and an ability to apply them in real life;

b) bring students to a level where they are eligible to apply for graduate membership of the Hong Kong Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society, and 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; and

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 the field of Psychology.  The curriculum is primarily designed for candidates with a bachelor degree in a discipline other than psychology.

The curriculum shall normatively be one academic year for full-time study and two academic years for part-time study.  The minimum and maximum periods of registration are respectively one and two academic years for full-time study, and two and three academic years for part-time study

For students admitted in 2020-21

For 2020/21 regulation and syllabus of the degree of Master of Social Sciences, please click here

  1. Students are required to complete eight courses and a dissertation as listed below:

Research methods and core psychology 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)

Research dissertation
PSYC7308 – Dissertation in psychology (12 credits)

  1. Full-time students are required to take four courses in each of the first semester and second semester, in addition to a full-year dissertation course.  Part-time students are required to take five courses in the first year and, in addition to the dissertation course, three courses in the second year of study.  Any variations from this pattern are subject to the approval of the Programme Director.
  2. For the research methods and core psychology courses, students 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.
  3. In addition to the eight courses, each student is required to write a dissertation on an approved topic under the supervision of a faculty member in his/her final year of study.  The dissertation shall be presented not later than June 30 of the final academic year of study.
  4. Students who had taken similar courses at the postgraduate level within the last three years may apply for course exemption (except for the dissertation). If approved, they are required to take one of the postgraduate seminar courses (PSYC7021, PSYC7022, PSYC7023, PSYC6025) in lieu of each exempted course.

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.  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.


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


2020/21 Course List

Semester Course code Course
I PSYC7301 Introduction to research methods in psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
I PSYC7303 Biological psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
I PSYC7304 Cognitive psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
I PSYC7307 Social psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
II PSYC7302 Research & quantitative methods in psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
II PSYC7305 Developmental psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
II PSYC7306 Personality psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
II PSYC7309 Abnormal Psychology ( 2020/21 Course Outline )
Full year PSYC7308 Dissertation in psychology ( 2020/21 Course Details )

General Office

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

For admission information, please go to this web page
MSocSc in Psychology

Director: Prof. Tatia Mei-chun LEE (

HKU Psychology