Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology Program Requirements

The SPDP Cluster at Western University is oriented toward training graduate students in how to conduct high-quality empirical research. This research training concentrates on the psychological theories, principles, and research methods relevant to understanding developmental processes, individual differences and the behaviour of individuals and groups in social contexts.

Enrolling in graduate studies in the SPDP cluster at Western means being part of a research-intensive, supportive, and cooperative research group. Our primary goal is to train graduate students to become excellent researchers who, upon graduation, will obtain highly desirable positions in academic and non-academic settings in which psychological research skills are required. This research training mainly follows an apprenticeship model in which students develop strong skills in conducting high-quality empirical research, conceptual thinking, and scientific writing. In addition to the research conducted with their primary supervisor, students are encouraged to collaborate with at least one other faculty member during their graduate training to enable broad training in a variety of methodological approaches and research issues. Our students are also encouraged to take the initiative in planning and conducting their own research and to collaborate with fellow graduate students.

For students who are interested in pursuing their graduate studies in social, personality, and developmental psychology at Western, the departmental website includes helpful information future students.

Coursework Requirements

Students in the SPDP cluster must successfully complete certain graduate courses offered by the department and within Western University. The minimum number of credits is 3.0 for the M.Sc., and 4.0 for the Ph.D.

M.Sc. Students (3.0 credits)

  1. a) Students in the Masters program are required to take two half-courses chosen from the list of “Fundamental” courses in statistics, experimental design, and computational foundations (1.0 credits total). This can be satisfied either by taking 9540 (a full year course) or by taking 9040 and 9041 (each a half course).
  2. b) Two additional substantive half-courses (1.0 credits total); typically a broad course in relevant “theories” related to the student’s area of study and a broad course in relevant “methods” (to be approved by the supervisor and supervisory committee). Note that “relevance” will be determined by the student’s specific research focus (e.g., social psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology).
  3. c) A weekly “brown-bag” seminar (.25 credits/term for a total of 1.0 credit across two years). This seminar showcases graduate student research and occasional work from visiting scholars. Students will be required to present their own research (either research results or proposed research) at least once during the course of the M.Sc.

Students may take more than the minimum number of courses over the two years of the M.Sc. program. The additional courses will normally be counted towards Ph.D. course requirements.

Ph.D. Students (4.0 credits)
a) Students must take four substantive half-courses (minimum) to fulfill the requirements of the Ph.D. in SPDP, with at least two half courses taken by the end of their first Ph.D. year. At least one of the four courses should come from the list of Advanced Measurement Courses, and one additional course from within the SPDP cluster offerings (substitutions based on relevance to the student’s specific research focus may be permitted at the discretion of the supervisor/supervisory committee). The specific courses a student selects will be determined in conjunction with the supervisor and supervisory committee. Note that not all courses are offered every year.

  1. b) A weekly “brown-bag” seminar (.25 credits/term for a total of 2.0 credits over 4 years). This seminar showcases graduate student research and occasional work from visiting scholars. Students will be required to present their own research (either research results or research proposals) at least twice during the course of the Ph.D.

Selected Graduate Courses

Fundamental Measurement Courses:

Psychology 9540 Research Design (full-year course)
Psychology 9040A/B Scientific Computing
Psychology 9041A/B Introduction to Statistics Using R

Advanced Measurement Courses:

Psychology 9343A/B Mathematical Modeling of Group & Individual Differences
Psychology 9542A/B Multilevel Modeling (MLM)
Psychology 9545A/B Test Construction and Survey Design
Psychology 9555A/B Structural Equation Modeling
Psychology 9556A/B Longitudinal Methods
Psychology 95xxA/B Meta Analysis

Research Methods-Related Courses:
Psychology 9223A/B Neuroimaging of Cognition
Psychology 9520A/B Computational Models in Psychology and Neuroscience
Psychology 9631A/B Research Methods in I/O Psychology
Psychology 9702A/B Research Methods in Social Psychology