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MSc in Mental Health Science

This MSc looks at the biological and psychological underpinnings of mental health science. Examine anxiety, depression, psychosis and dementia from a biopsychosocial perspective. You’ll gain advanced knowledge and understanding of contemporary topics in mental health science, acquiring the skills to critically evaluate literature, discuss issues and communicate your understanding. In addition, you’ll plan and carry out an academically rigorous research project, plus develop skills and knowledge relevant to further research, employment and professional practice.

Key features of the course

  • Develops knowledge and understanding of key topics in mental health science (stress, anxiety, depression, psychosis and dementia).
  • Explores current issues and research at the forefront of mental health science.
  • Develops skills that are essential for a critical understanding of mental health science and relevant to professional practice.
  • Culminates with an in-depth individual research project in an area of mental health science.

Masters degree

Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
2.75–7 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Introduction to mental health science (S826)

This online module introduces mental health science from biological, psychological and social science perspectives, focusing on stress, anxiety and depression and develops postgraduate study skills.

See full description

60 27 Jan 2024 FINAL

60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Core topics in mental health science: psychosis and dementia (SD816)

This module takes an interdisciplinary ‘biopsychosocial’ approach to understanding psychosis and dementia, focusing on diagnosis, causes and interventions.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023
Or, the discontinued module SD815.

60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
MSc project module for MSc in Mental Health Science (SXH890)

Plan and carry out an independent research project (from biological/psychological perspectives) related to your postgraduate mental health science study.

See full description

60 04 Nov 2023
Or, the discontinued module SXH810.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards Stage 1, reducing the number of modules you need to study. However, you won't be able to count it towards Stages 2 or 3. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Master of Science in Mental Health Science. You’ll be entitled to use the letters MSc (MHS) (Open) after your name.

If your masters degree is awardable with a distinction or a merit, the qualification regulations explain how you can achieve these.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.

Entry requirements

Please note that registration on this qualification is dependent on confirmation of successfully meeting entry requirements. Your place will only be confirmed once entry checking is complete. If you have any questions regarding your suitability for study, please contact the MSc Admissions Panel.

Entry to this qualification will typically require a minimum of an honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science or a science-related subject (including psychological sciences, health science, mental health nursing or medicine).

If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of that study or experience. Your case will be referred to our MSc Admissions Panel. Depending on your previous qualifications or experience, some background study may be necessary prior to registering for this qualification or its constituent modules. For further advice, please contact the MSc Admissions Panel.

Please note that this qualification is in three stages. Introduction to mental health science (S826) should be studied as the first module, and the compulsory project module as the final module in the qualification.

All teaching is in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for study at postgraduate level. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.

How long it takes

You can complete this degree within three years, and up to a maximum seven years of starting the first module.

Career relevance

This qualification is directly relevant to research and employment in the fields of medical and psychological sciences (neuroscience, psychology, health sciences). It will develop the critical skills and knowledge that are relevant to employment within the health sector, life sciences, medical and related fields, and to inform and strengthen professional practice.

The programme is designed for those seeking to expand their knowledge and understanding of mental health from an interdisciplinary ‘biopsychosocial’ (neuroscience, psychology and health science) perspective. It is suitable for those who wish to move on to doctoral training, as well as those who are working in clinical roles who wish to further inform and strengthen their professional practice.

This qualification is suitable:

  • for those with a personal or professional interest in mental health science, who wish to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of mental health conditions, and cultivate key practical and professional skills required for employment and to strengthen professional practice
  • for those who are working in or planning to work in this field (practitioners or policy makers)
  • for those seeking employment as graduate research workers
  • for those wishing to pursue research careers (and careers in academia) and progress to PhD study (e.g. doctoral research in neuroscience, psychology, health sciences and fields allied to medicine)
  • as a stepping stone to a career in clinical psychology, or pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology
  • as professional development or for clinical roles in the NHS or other healthcare settings (including mental health nursing, behavioural therapy, psychological counselling etc.) that require specific expertise in this field (focusing on mood and affective disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and the dementias)
  • for graduates who are established in their field of work, and use the qualification as evidence of professional development (e.g. for promotion to more senior positions, or who may wish to take their career in a more specialist direction)
  • for clinicians (including GPs) who wish to specialise further in this area (Mental Health) as part of their continuing professional development
  • for others who may wish to take this course and move on to a leadership role or more senior positions in healthcare settings or policy-related roles in local or national organisations, or to move into the private sector (scientific publishing, education, teaching and advocacy, human resources, occupational health, management, consultancy or roles in pharmaceutical/life sciences industries).

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.