Psychology - Health Psychology – Master of Science

Understand the application of psychology to health issues with the MSc (Psychology - Health Psychology). Explore health promotion and policies, the meaning of health and illness, and how to analyse treatment structures.

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Not open to international students

Specialise in Psychology - Health Psychology for your Master of Science at Massey

Note: The School of Psychology is facing unprecedented demand for postgraduate Psychology specialisations. This qualification has now been closed for the 2022 intake.

Note: This qualification may have an on-campus or in-person requirement and therefore requires that students submit a current My Vaccine Pass on enrolment.

Health psychology is the application of psychological knowledge to understanding:

  • the experience of health and illness,
  • what is good health care, and
  • how to improve health promotion and health-related policies.

Massey’s MSc (Psychology - Health Psychology) addresses these goals with a broad view of health and wellbeing that integrates theory, research, and practice. Students develop strong understandings of the interactions between biological, psychological, social, economic, and cultural aspects of health and wellbeing and how these might be harnessed to improve health outcomes.

The MSc (Psychology - Health Psychology) is right for you if you plan to work in health, public health, or community settings. What you will learn in this qualification has both research and practical applications, including those supporting Māori, Pasifika and the diverse communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

You’ll gain knowledge and skills relevant to a wide range of professional activities in the health sector.

Further study

If you are interested in pursuing research careers you are well qualified for entry into doctoral research in health psychology upon completion of this qualification . 

If you are interested in becoming a registered psychologist you may apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Practice subject to taking specific psychological intervention and assessment courses and relevant work experience.

A Master of Science in Psychology - Health Psychology is a good fit if you:

  • are interested in taking a psychological lens to understanding health issues
  • are a critical thinker who wants to improve and support health and wellbeing 
  • want to understand, generate, and apply health-related knowledge.

Planning information

If you study full-time, you’ll take 120 credits per year or 60 credits per semester. 

The Master of Science (Psychology - Health Psychology) is a parts-based qualification. That means you must complete the first part, before moving to the second. 

You must achieve a B+ grade average in Part One to progress to Part Two.

Professional pathway to registration

We recommend you take:

175730 Professional Practice in Psychology (15 credits)

Other courses with psychological assessment and interventions will also be useful, such as:

175782 Clinical Psychology Assessment (15 credits) or 256754 Assessment in Educational Psychology

175783 Clinical Psychology Interventions (15 credits)

Restricted Courses

The following courses have a restricted number of places available:

  • 175719 Applied Criminal Psychology
  • 175721 Child and Family Therapy
  • 175722 Principles of Clinical Neuropsychology
  • 175730 Professional Practice in Psychology
  • 175734 Child Clinical Neuropsychology
  • 175751 Neuropsychological Rehabilitation
  • 175761 Theory and Practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • 175781 Clinical Psychopathology
  • 175782 Clinical Psychology Assessment
  • 175783 Clinical Psychology Interventions

You are welcome to enrol in these courses however, selection for these courses will not be made until mid-January. Applicants who are initially unsuccessful in securing a place are welcome to apply to the waitlist for possible vacancies via your student portal.

You will gain access to the student portal once you have applied and have been accepted to Massey.

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas, and Postgraduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Prerequisites
Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Corequisites
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Restrictions
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Part One

Compulsory courses

Choose 30 credits from
Course code: 175738 Psychological Research: Principles of Design 15 credits

An advanced study of the principles of research design in psychology. The course will provide a conceptual orientation to the integrated components of the design process. Through a meta-theoretical framework, various approaches to design will be explored to enable advanced engagement with psychological research from scientific, interpretivist and/or indigenous perspectives.

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Course code: 175749 Health Psychology Practicum 15 credits

Practical experience of at least 120 hours working in a community health agency under supervision. Students will participate in the design, implementation or evaluation of a health intervention, and critically reflect on their practice in relation to relevant theories and methods.

Corequisites: At least two of 175744, 175743 and 175739 Restrictions: 175879

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Choose at least 30 credits from
Course code: 175739 Health Psychology: Understanding Health and Illness 15 credits

An examination of how psychological factors enhance physical health or increase the risk of illness and disease. Theoretical and methodological aspects of etiology are given particular emphasis using examples from such areas as cardiovascular diseases and psychoneuroimmunology.

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Course code: 175743 Health Psychology: The Social Context 15 credits

An examination of psychological theory and research on how social context shapes the experience of physical health and illness. An emphasis will be placed on the individual's understandings of health and experience of illness, and a critical consideration of research methods appropriate for examining these issues.

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Course code: 175744 Health Psychology: Promoting Health 15 credits

An analysis of psychological theories and methods as applied to health promotion and disease prevention, and consideration of their applications at group, community and population levels.

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Subject courses

Course code: 150714 Ta Te Māori Rangahau Korero: Māori Research Methodologies 30 credits

An examination of methodologies appropriate for research within Māori communities, iwi, hapu and whanau. Emphasis will be placed on accessing relevant information held in public repositories, on the internet and on computerised databases. The identification of frameworks for research in Māori contexts, ethical issues, and research design form important aspects of the course.

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Course code: 175718 Postmodernism and Psychology 15 credits

The course will focus on some of the ways in which the cultural phenomenon labelled as 'postmodernism' has impacted on/in psychology, with particular emphasis on the poststructuralist theories through which postmodern psychology is developing.

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Course code: 175719 Applied Criminal Psychology 15 credits

An advanced study of the aetiology of recurrent criminal behaviour with reference to cultural and ethnicity issues, familial and societal factors, and cognitive and psychopathological correlates. The underlying emphasis of the course is offender rehabilitation.

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Course code: 175720 Advanced Psychology of Women 15 credits

This course examines contemporary theoretical studies in the psychology of women. It is an advanced study of the history of women in psychology and critiques traditional approaches to research on women and girls. It includes three contemporary approaches focusing on specific areas of concern in the sub-discipline at present.

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Course code: 175721 Child and Family Therapy 15 credits

The course covers a variety of theoretical frameworks which are used in working with children and families. An in-depth case study approach will be used to develop students' skills in working with children and families. The course is designed to build on the students prior knowledge of developmental and abnormal psychology.

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Course code: 175722 Principles of Clinical Neuropsychology 15 credits

This course will focus on the principles of neuropsychological assessment, as they apply across the life span. Factors which influence neuropsychological functioning will be considered including neuroanatomy, cognitive functioning and the conditions that influence these factors.

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Course code: 175725 Advanced Social Psychology 30 credits

Identity, emotions, prejudice and attitudes are not things hiding in the person which the psychologist can 'discover' but are created by the language which is used to describe them. This course introduces students to discursive psychology in the context of social psychology. The 'turn to language' challenges previous notions of reality, truth, knowledge, objectivity and research methodology. Equal emphasis is placed on understanding both theory and practice.

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Course code: 175729 Psychology and Culture 15 credits

This course examines the wide-ranging influence culture has in people's lives, from their ideological beliefs and values to their behaviour patterns. How cultural influences have been considered in the theory, research, and practice of psychology will be examined.

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Course code: 175730 Professional Practice in Psychology 15 credits

The course provides an in-depth examination of the professional issues that impact on the practice of psychology. Models of practice, ethics, the statutes that affect practitioners, professional interrelationships and cultural issues are all analysed using a case-based approach.

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Course code: 175732 Psychological Well-being in Organisations 15 credits

This course examines the influence of organisational and work characteristics on staff well-being and performance. It covers stress and stress management, designing salutogenic workplaces, implications of disaster and crises for staff, families and communities, psychological aspects of promoting health and safety in organisations.

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Course code: 175733 Sustainable Livelihood 15 credits

According to the UN, Sustainable Livelihoods include not only access to shelter and food but also security, dignity, societal participation for groups and individuals. This course examines how workplaces potentially enable such capabilities, e.g., by respecting cultural foundations, enabling work-life-balance, providing decent work, and reducing inequality, through equitable partnerships between organizations along global supply chains, fair trade, living wages.

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Course code: 175734 Child Clinical Neuropsychology 15 credits

This course is designed to enable students to understand and use theories, research and skills involved in child neuropsychology. An emphasis will be placed on functioning in interdisciplinary teams.

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Course code: 175737 Occupational Psychology 15 credits

This course examines the relationship between people and organisations. Adopting a psychological perspective, it examines strategic aspects of staff development, job, social and cognitive approaches to task and role analysis, recruitment, selection, the training process, equal employment opportunities, industrial relations and performance assessment.

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Course code: 175740 Occupational Health Psychology 15 credits

The application of psychological principles and theory to health and managing hazards in occupational settings. Students will learn critical skills in psychological evaluation, appropriate for the environmental, cultural and political contexts of the New Zealand workplace.

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Course code: 175741 Psychological Assessment in Organisations 15 credits

This course investigates the application of the principles and theory of psychological measurement in organisational contexts. It covers the development of psychological tests, the implications of organisational factors for latent psychological constructs, test characteristics and test evaluation, and the application of psychological tests for processes such as selection, promotion, performance appraisal.

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Course code: 175746 Psychological Research: Quantitative Data Analysis 15 credits

An examination of how psychologists use quantitative data analysis techniques to address complex research problems involving multiple variables. Techniques including multiple regression, factor analysis and structural equation modelling are explored, with an emphasis on the relationships between analyses, research questions and design issues.

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Course code: 175747 The Psychology of Sport and Exercise 15 credits

The course will examine current psychological theories and related research in the sport and exercise domain. Specifically, the focus of the course is on how psychological factors influence involvement and performance in sport and exercise.

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Course code: 175748 The Psychology of Organisational Change 15 credits

This course examines psychological aspects of organisational change. It considers societal and organisational factors driving change and models of both planned and unplanned organisational change, illustrating these issues through the use of case studies of organisational change and psychologists' accounts of their experiences as change agents.

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Course code: 175750 Qualitative Methods in Psychology 15 credits

The course provides advanced understanding and skill development to enable students to undertake qualitative research in psychology.

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Course code: 175751 Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 15 credits

This course is designed to enable students to understand and use theories, research, and skills involved in neuropsychological rehabilitation. This course will review interventions that arise from neuropsychological evaluation. An emphasis will be placed on functioning in interdisciplinary teams.

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Course code: 175761 Theory and Practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy 15 credits

This course provides a broad overview to the theory and practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Early research foundations and current empirical support will be examined. In addition to gaining an understanding of the generic cognitive model and its variants, practical experience in the use of basic assessment instruments and procedures for effective behavioural and cognitive intervention will be gained through demonstrations and roleplays.

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Course code: 175778 Principles of Social Therapy 15 credits

A consideration of the key elements and objectives of Social Therapy.

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Course code: 175781 Understanding Mental Distress 15 credits

This course builds on undergraduate study of clinical psychology to provide an advanced understanding of mental distress across the lifespan. The focus is on recognising the most common experiences of mental distress and understanding their etiology using evidence-based theoretical frameworks, emphasising psychological approaches. Attention is given to recovery and lived experience perspectives, and contextual and cultural influences on understanding the experience of mental distress. A case study approach is taken to provide opportunities for applied learning.

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Course code: 175782 Clinical Psychology Assessment 15 credits

This course will examine a variety of standard objective and subjective clinical assessment instruments, and their use in diagnosis and treatment across the lifespan. Topics covered include cognitive, emotional and behavioural assessment; diagnosis-specific and population-specific instruments; and diagnostic interview systems. Principles of test administration, scoring and interpretation as well as ethical issues surrounding psychological testing will also be covered.

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Course code: 175783 Clinical Psychology Interventions 15 credits

The course emphasises empirically validated treatments and integration of psychotherapy research and practice across the lifespan. The course covers behavioural and cognitive-behavioural interventions, experiential and brief dynamic psychotherapies as well as other factors in therapy (e.g., the roles of therapist, client, and culture).

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Course code: 231704 Hauora Māori 30 credits

This course provides an overview and analysis of hauora Māori perspectives. Historical and contemporary contexts and challenges are used to discuss Māori approaches in public health, with reference to Māori knowledge and Māori leadership. The course focuses on developing critical consciousness for becoming advocates and champions for Māori health through Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led practice.

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Course code: 231705 Pacific Health 30 credits

This course provides an overview and analysis of Pacific health. Topics include: Pacific concepts of health; health effects of migration, urbanisation, demographic transition and economic development on Pacific people in Aotearoa and the Pacific; Pacific health promotion models and Pacific health policies. Pacific case studies will illustrate how providers can contribute effectively to Pacific development and improved Pacific health outcomes.

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Course code: 231706 Occupational Health 30 credits

This course provides an overview of the contribution that exposures in the occupational environment make to adverse health outcomes in the general population, and the appropriate methods of identifying and preventing occupational hazards. Topics include occupational diseases, industrial hygiene and exposure assessment, specific methods of occupational epidemiology, biological and chemical hazards, work physiology and ergonomics, exposure standards and regulatory practice.

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Course code: 231707 Environmental Health 30 credits

Critical reviews or applied research on advanced topics in Environmental Health.

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Course code: 253750 Counselling Theory 30 credits

A study of the theoretical bases of counselling. The course examines the place of counselling in society, its philosophical foundations, empirical status and major principles. Particular emphasis is given to selected approaches.

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Course code: 253755 Culture and Counselling 30 credits

An examination of the significance of culture in counselling. A multicultural perspective is adopted but with particular attention to the context in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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Course code: 279703 Social Policy Studies 30 credits

A critical review of social policy in New Zealand with particular emphasis on policy processes, institutional frameworks, social policy delivery systems, outcomes.

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Part Two

Choose 120 credits from
Course code: 175894 Thesis 120 Credit Part 1 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

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Course code: 175896 Thesis 120 Credit Part 2 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Corequisites: 175894

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Course code: 175899 Thesis 120 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

Entry requirements

To enter the Master of Science (Psychology – Health Psychology) you will have been awarded or qualified for:

  • the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in the intended postgraduate subject, or equivalent, with a minimum B+ average in the majoring 300-level courses, or
  • the Bachelor of Science with Honours, in the intended MSc subject, having achieved a B+ grade average over the contributing courses, or
  • the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology in the intended MSc subject, having achieved a B+ grade average over the contributing courses, or
  • the Postgraduate Certificate in Science and Technology in the intended MSc subject, having achieved a B grade average over the contributing courses and a B grade in an approved research methods course.

If you have a Bachelor of Science (Honours), Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology, or Postgraduate Certificate in Science and Technology as outlined above, you may apply for credit towards Part One of the qualification in accordance with the limits specified in the Recognition of Prior Learning regulations.

You must submit an approved research supervision plan with your application. This means you need to secure the agreement of a suitable supervisor for your agreed research topic. 

You will need to provide verified copies of all academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University.

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

With the Master of Science (Psychology - Health Psychology), you'll get the skills to apply your health psychology knowledge in:

  • public health agencies
  • community agencies
  • health-related research
  • policy analyst or adviser roles.

Related study options