Study MSc Political Psychology in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Hi, my name’s Dr Lesley Storey and I’m the course director for the Master’s programme in Political Psychology here at Queen’s University Belfast. Political psychology is a growing academic discipline which uses concepts of psychology to help us understand political issues and problems. We place a strong emphasis on trying to apply theory to practical issues so topics that are included in the course are topics such as political violence political voting behaviour, and trying to understand political leadership and trust as well as inter-group conflict and co-operation. It’s a pretty unique programme. There aren’t many political psychology programmes. My background is political science and I wanted to do something more interdisciplinary. Our students are trained to a high level in both qualitative and quantitative work. We also make sure they have a good understanding of professional skills and research ethics and this equips them to go on to do empirical research of the highest level. The best things are the skills they teach you. They taught us to check your sources, things relevant to research, make sure things are valid. It’s all very applicable to whatever we do. I could very easily adapt to this new thinking, of academic research . We offer the only taught Master’s course in political psychology in Europe. The course is taught by active researchers who are doing internationally acclaimed work. These include Professor Rhiannon Turner, who has done internationally acclaimed research on the contact hypothesis. and Dr Laura Taylor, who is looking at how conflict affects children, families, and communities. She’s doing this research, not just here in Northern Ireland, but also in Croatia and Columbia. I was so shocked that I could work with Rhiannon Turner, because she was literally one of my great role models as an academic. Also my primary advisor, Dr Taylor, is great and she provides the political approach to the issues that I’m interested in. I love that the teachers have very different backgrounds. Also the classes here are very small – just 10 to 12 people, very interactive. It’s a classroom environment that gives us a lot of room to express our opinions. We’re all able to share things about our home countries and learn things about each other, and everyone else’s perspectives that made it a very international experience without being overwhelming. Being based here in Belfast means we’re actually able to look at how we can apply theories of practice here on our doorstep, and to see how the benefits of political psychology can be applied to a post-conflict society both here and internationally. Political psychology is very unique and this is a great place to study it. Being able to see the real-life side of things that were in all of my papers and books was one of the exciting things about being here. Our course doesn’t offer a fixed career path. This is partly because we have students coming from a wide variety of academic disciplines and also each year we have a strongly international cohort. Our students return to their home countries to do work in a variety of different areas and professional contexts. These include political polling, working for a political party, international and domestic civil service and also working for non-profit organisations. Many of our students also go on to do PhD work and this is not just here at Queen’s but also at universities around the world. Essentially I would love to become involved in policy making within Belfast or Northern Ireland or in other areas with conflicting communities. I’ve already got a PhD place here for the next four years. I wanted to do the PhD because I wanted to know more about studying psychology, working within psychology. My final objective would be creating a political psychology department in Spain so all the Spanish students who wanted to study political psychology could do it.

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