Applied Psychology - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Master of Science in Applied Psychology

The Master of Science in Applied Psychology (also known as APSY, Industrial and Organisational or I/O) is one of the oldest and most recognised applied psychology degrees in New Zealand. Our programme has a long and rich history with formal course work starting in the early 1950's.

Students seeking qualifications in Industrial and Organisational Psychology complete a two year Master of Science in Applied Psychology. Part I consists of courses totalling 120 points (1.00 EFTS), and Part II consists of courses totalling 120 points (1.0 EFTS), including APSY660 Dissertation (90 points).

Each year, we admit up to 15 students. The majority of incoming students are recent psychology and business graduates from New Zealand, Asia, and Europe. A smaller number of students are HR professionals who aim to enhance their education. The acceptance into the programme is competitive and based on applicants' past achievements.

For more information about applying for APSY degree, please see our Entry Requirements webpage and our Courses.

Our Students

During the last five decades, over 400 students have taken graduate courses in Industrial and Organisational psychology. Many of these students have decided to make occupational psychology their career by becoming HR professionals, organisational consultants, research analysts, or academics.

View results from a recent survey of APSY graduates here.


The Applied Psychology courses are intended to prepare students in the following competency areas:

  • APSY601 Advanced Industrial and Organisational Psychology Strongly Recommended for Part I
    The focus is on research and measurement problems as well as practical work and applications within the field of job analysis, and employee recruitment and selection.
  • APSY612 Performance Management and Appraisal
    This course will focus on the theory and application of performance and performance management research. Considerable attention will be given to the development of performance management systems in organisations. Topics such as criterion theory and development, performance appraisal methods, feedback, job evaluation and reward systems will be discussed
  • APSYC614 Leadership & Motivation in Organisations
    The main objective of this course is to familiarise the students with the content domain of leadership and of motivation in organisations. Both “classic” pieces and current research and theory will be examined. The leadership topics covered will include attribution theories, leader-member exchange, transformational leadership and ethical leadership. Motivation topics will include performance variability, attitudes, goal setting, and self regulation.
  • APSY615 Attitudes & Organisational Development
    This course focuses on a number of work related attitudes (e.g., organisational commitment, group cohesion, job satisfaction etc), theories that attempt to explain how these attitudes are related to organisational problems, the instruments that have been developed for their measurement, and how organisational development can change organisational attitudes and deal with problems. Organisational problems such as absenteeism, turnover, and safety, are a particular focus
  • APSY616 Small Group Theory and Team Building Not offered in 2017
    The purpose of this course is to familiarise the students with the main interpersonal and social factors that account for performance differences in groups and teams, and to examine the strategies developed by managers and team members that successfully enhance the quality of team processes. Topics covered will include conflict management, decision-making, diversity, and team leadership.
  • APSY617 Industrial and Organisational Psychology Measurement Issues
    The purpose of this course is to familiarise students with classical and modern measurement theories, and with the application of these theories to measurement development, data interpretation, and competent decision-making for recruitment and selection, performance evaluation, and employee development practice.
  • APSY618 Organisational Change: Directions for I/O Psychology Practice
    The purpose of this course is twofold. The first objective is to familiarise the students with frameworks and research (e.g. leadership, motivation, training, personality and individual differences) that inform organisational change planning and implementation. The second course objective is to provide students with the necessary knowledge and competencies to: a) critically analyse organisational change practices, b) identify psychological and interpersonal challenges faces by change leaders and employees, and c) facilitate organisational change implementations as I/O practicioners. Topics covered will include psychological mechanisms of change resistance and readiness, change leadership, and training for changing organisations.
  • APSY619 Boundaryless Work and Uncertain Working Conditions
    The course focuses on two emergent aspects of today's flexible perspectives: boundaryless work and uncertain working conditions. With boundaryless working conditions, boundaries are becoming less formalised in terms of space, time, and work content as compared to traditional working conditions. To a much greater extent than before, individuals are having to cope with, plan, and structure their own work and working conditions, as they assume greater responsibility for negotiating between working lives and life outside work. The second aspect concerns the uncertain and unstable working conditions that often emerge in association with temporary employment and more turbulent work situations. In this course, a strong emphasis is put on how individuals cope with these two general aspects, while also considering how organisations and human resource personnel can use their knowledge of these aspects to facilitate employee coping. The course is composed of a series of lectures and related class discussions that rely on student participation. In addition to the text books, readings will be assigned which expand on a certain topic or bring in other perspectives on phenomena studies in class.
  • APSY660 - Dissertation
    A supervised dissertation. Candidates enrolled in APSY660 Dissertation must present a report on the dissertation to the Registrar no later than the first Monday in February of the year following enrolment in the course. Students enrolled for the dissertation are also expected to attend a weekly professional seminar on organisational issues.
  • APSY790 - Applied Psychology PhD

The extent to which a student who completes an MSc in Applied Psychology is prepared for these work areas is dependent upon the particular choice of papers he/she makes while working towards the degree.

The MSc in Applied Psychology is awarded with First or Second Class (Division I and II) honours, or a pass. The class of honours is determined by grades achieved across the component APSY courses and APSY660 Dissertation, which is weighted as three courses.

Course Selection and Structure

2017 APSY Course Options

Students are free to select the courses they wish to complete within the following restrictions:

Part 1 students need to take courses totalling 1 EFTS (120 points). Part 1 students must take either PSYC464 or PSYC460. Both may be taken, and students thinking of going on to complete a PhD are encouraged to take both.

Part 2 students complete APSY660 Dissertation (.75 EFTS = 90 points), and any course(s) not completed during Part 1 to a total points weight of .25EFTS = 30 points.

Individuals wishing advice on course selection for a specific career orientation should contact Associate Professor Chris Burt.

Students should also carefully examine the APSY 600-level and PSYC 400-level course description material available for the current academic year before making enrolment decisions.