Master of Science
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
School of Psychology
Applications for this course have closed.
Accredited therapy training, practice-relevant research methodologies, and the application of mental health theory across the lifespan.
The closing date for applications is the 30th April 2022.
The programme provides an opportunity for students to enhance their skills and knowledge in areas of applied psychology related to mental health practice and research. It trains and equips students wishing to:
In addition, the course has gained full BPS accreditation for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) training. This can be taken as one of the routes within the MSc programme.
The MSc Applied Psychology programme was shortlisted for three consecutive years as the gradireland 'Postgraduate Course of the Year'.
*Please note: This MSc programme is the same MSc Applied Psychology programme that was taught on the Magee campus of the University - it has now moved to the Coleraine campus.
In this section
The comprehensive syllabus of this MSc programme provides an opportunity for students to enhance their skills and competencies in areas required by all professional psychologists. This includes an exploration of the professional issues encountered in practice, the advanced research methods employed by scientist practitioners, and the techniques and theory associated with psychological assessment, formulation and intervention. The course also provides an in-depth consideration of psychological theory and research concerned with the aetiology, assessment and treatment of psychological problems across the lifespan.
Students are provided with a comprehensive knowledge of some of the major psychological therapies, (namely Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Family Therapy and Systemic Practice), and gain practical experience in their use - through live role play and video analysis in the School's skills labs, and experiential group work within lectures. On the PWP training route within the programme, students will have the opportunity to put these skills into practice within a clinical placement.
In addition, students undertake a Masters level research project, taking the study from inception and ethical approval, through to data collection, analysis, and writing up for publication. As the course is taught by both experienced researchers and practising clinicians, there is also excellent opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills that will be invaluable for applications and CVs, as well as gaining experience in interview techniques for further professional training and jobs in the field.
Finally, the MSc presents a further placement opportunity for students who have completed the course, in the form of a 15-credit standalone placement module ('Clinical Placement in Applied Psychology'). A selection of clinical placements have been secured in Psychology Services in the local Western Health and Social Care Trust, in specialisms including Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Paediatric Psychology, Older Adults, Personality Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Services. Students who enrol on this post-MSc module will be working as the equivalent of Assistant Psychologists on a voluntary basis in these services, providing valuable work experience to draw upon when applying for posts or further training in professional applied psychology.
Structure & content
To complete the Masters programme, students are required to successfully complete 180 university credits. Programme Routes: There are two different ‘routes’ that you can take during your time on the programme, depending on your interest or the experience you would like to gain from your training. These routes have been designed based on feedback from students, which has suggested that some people like to maintain a broad range of skills and experience, whereas others prefer to focus on a particular area of practice. The route you choose may depend on the kind of work or further training that you want to pursue beyond the MSc course itself (note that both routes include the carrying out of an MSc Research Project):
Full-time students will be able to enrol on either of the routes on the course (pending any selection procedures). Part-time students will be able to enrol on the main course route - unfortunately, part-time students cannot enrol on the PWP route, due to the structure of the training.
Route 1: There are a limited number of places on the PWP route, because of the limited number of clinical placements available. Therefore, the course team will be holding interviews for those interested in undertaking this route through the course. Please note:Due to the placement attached to the PWP training, and the supervision provided, there is an increased fee for the modules (worth 75 credits) associated with this training (other modules on the MSc course are charged at the standard rate) - more information on this can be found in the 'Additional Mandatory Costs' section of this prospectus entry.
Route 2: The main course route is open to all applicants.
Post-MSc Clinical Placement:For anyone interested in undertaking the 'Clinical Placement in Applied Psychology' (15-credit standalone placement module that takes place after the course), students enrolled on the programme will be given the opportunity to apply for this as they approach the end of their taught modules in Semester 2. Spaces on this module are limited by the number of placements available, and students will be interviewed before undertaking the module.
DurationOne year full-time
Mode of Attendance Depending on the route taken, there will be a slight variation in the days that students will be on campus or on placement:
Skills Block: All students will attend an initial skills block at the start of the programme – students on all routes will attend for 4 days of this block; PWP students also attend on the fifth day. Classes will then commence the following week, on the days outlined above.
Start time and finish time on taught days:
Each taught day will commence at 9:15am and run until 5:00pm. This applies to the days during the skills block and the days throughout each semester.
Start time and finish time on placement days:
If you are undertaking a placement of any kind, then these days should be treated as full days in a professional work context.
Please note that, while unlikely, these details are subject to change.
The modules on the programme are delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, practical skills training, and student-led seminars. There is a strong emphasis on experiential learning and skills analysis. Assessment methods vary across the modules, dependent on their focus - students will undertake a selection of written assignments (essays, reflective commentaries, research reports) and assessed role-plays of clinical skills, as well as a smaller number of written examinations. All students will complete the MSc Research Project over the duration of their time on the programme.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.
A laid-back campus at the heart of a global tourist attraction.
Our Campus in Coleraine boasts a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities that are open all year round to students and members of the public.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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This module is designed to give students training in the advanced qualitative and quantitative research methods that are required for contemporary research in applied psychology. The major focus will be on research methods for mental health and health psychology. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be covered. Important issues such as data collection and research ethics will also be discussed.
The 'Research Project' module prepares MSc Applied Psychology students for identifying and completing a research project that is a core component of the Master's degree. This will involve familiarising and linking students with potential supervisors and their particular areas of expertise, exploring the types of research project that are available to students, such as those involving primary data collection, secondary data analysis, and Mini Systematic Review. It will highlight the ethical issues faced by psychologists when planning and conducting research, including a detailed exploration of the ethical review process. At the end of the module students will have demonstrated the ability to consider, develop, conduct, analyse and write-up a research project in the field of Applied Psychology.
This module is optional
This module aims to introduce students to therapeutic and psychological practice that operates from an inclusive values base, which promotes recovery and recognises and respects diversity. It emphasises the need to respect and value individual differences in age, sexuality, disability, gender, spirituality, race and culture, as well as the need to account for physical and sensory difficulties people may experience in accessing services, and to make provision for supporting these difficulties. The module underlines a clinical responsibility to respond to people's needs sensitively with regard to all aspects of diversity, and to maintain a commitment to equal opportunities for all and encourage people's active participation in every aspect of care and treatment. The module also places an emphasis on promoting understanding of social inclusion, the complexity of people's health, social and occupational needs, and the services that can support people to recovery. It underlines the importance
of recognising limitations to competence and role, and to direct people to resources appropriate to their needs. In addition, the module maintains an important focus on the role of supervision and reflective practice in applied psychology settings.
This module is optional
This module should provide psychology graduates with a breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and some skills in being able to contribute to the processes involved in helping a child or adolescent who presents with a mental health issue. The module provides a lifespan approach to the aetiology of childhood issues, and critically reviews a range of child mental health conceptualisations (e.g. attachment, self-harm). The teachings should be able to help the student have a working knowledge of assessment processes, formulation from multiple theoretical perspectives, and some relevant interventions (low and high intensity) relevant to children. Finally, the module explores developmental trauma and its biopsychosocial impacts which may persist into adulthood if not identified and treated with effective and meaningful interventions.
This module is optional
The Adult Mental Health Module attempts to solidify your understanding of the individual formulation approach to human distress. Beginning with contextualising where this approach sits within current 'western' approaches to understanding emotional difficulties in adult humans, we will look at alternative psychosocial approaches and digital technologies that attempt to understand the individual. Using the Assessment, Formulation, Intervention, Review framework we will explore processes for trying to understand the individual, the centrality of the formulation for guiding your decision making and how your interventions and review process are linked to your approach to formulation. Through exploring competing theories in depth, applying them to case presentations and engaging in self-reflection, it is hoped that you will develop a clearer understanding of the options available to the mental health practitioner.
This module is optional
In this module students will be introduced to family therapy and systemic practice theories and will be able to understand how problems, mental ill health and distress may be explained through the lens of systemic thinking. The main models of structural, strategic and Milan theories, along with their historical development will be explored. The process of systemic psychotherapy will be explained with opportunity to practice a systemic assessment, hypothesising and use the relevant intervention techniques, with example case studies. Issues relating to culture, the therapeutic relationship, power and gender in systemic practice will be discussed, along with case examples of how family therapy and systemic practice can be applied in various clinical settings.
This module is optional
This module aims to develop a knowledge and understanding of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and the skills necessary for its effective application. It will also develop student's psychotherapeutic skills in order to aid application of CBT techniques and strategies. On completion of this module, students (via online role play case vignette work) will have a sound understanding and some skill development on psychological assessment and engagement, understand the concepts of mental health and mental illness, diagnostic category systems in mental health, and a range of social, medical and psychological explanatory models. Within this broader context and in the specific framework of a stepped care model, the module will equip the student with the skills to recognise appropriate symptomology, understand how to engage a client in a positive therapeutic alliance and assist in making informed choices about their treatment. This will be done while acknowledging appropriate risks and managing them appropriately. Finally the module aims to provide students with an extended understanding of the cognitive model, how to move from assessment to cognitive model formulations/conceptualisations regarding not only mild/moderate mental health presentations (step care 1-3), but also some more high intensity presentations, as a way of making comparisons across the step care model.
This module is optional
In this module students will be introduced to family therapy and systemic practice theories and will be able to understand how problems, mental ill health and distress may be explained through the lens of systemic thinking. The main models of structural, strategic and Milan theories will be reinforced, and key practice-related issues will be explored. The process of systemic psychotherapy will be explained with opportunity to practice systemic skills and use the relevant intervention techniques, with example case studies. Issues relating to bereavement, domestic abuse, and child-focused practice will be discussed, along with case examples of how family therapy and systemic practice can be applied in various clinical settings.
This module is optional
The Psychological Assessment and Engagement Module assists you to understand the concepts of mental health and mental illness, diagnostic category systems in mental health, and a range of social, medical and psychological explanatory models. Within this broader context and in the specific framework of a stepped care model, the module will equip you with the skills to recognise appropriate symptomology, engage the client in a positive therapeutic alliance and assist them in making informed choices about their treatment. This will be done while acknowledging risks and managing them appropriately.
This module is optional
This module aims to support the student to gain advanced understanding, knowledge and competence (yet critical knowledge) of evidenced based low intensity CBT for common mental health problems, at step care level 2/3. The module will focus more so on the use of CBT interventions for depression and anxiety disorders, but will also consider the use of internet and self-guided resources, as well as psychopharmacological interventions. At all times, the module aims to prepare and consolidate the student's knowledge on when/where and how to refer clients for more intensive therapies, in addition to being aware of continual risk assessment and monitoring of clients welfare. This module forms part of the BPS qualification to become a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, providing evidenced based psychological interventions for common mental health problems.
This module is optional
This module aims to introduce students to therapeutic and psychological practice that operates from an inclusive values base, which promotes recovery and recognises and respects diversity. It emphasises the need to respect and value individual differences in age, sexuality, disability, gender, spirituality, race and culture, as well as the need to account for physical and sensory difficulties people may experience in accessing services, and to make provision for supporting these difficulties. The module underlines a clinical responsibility to respond to people's needs sensitively with regard to all aspects of diversity, and to maintain a commitment to equal opportunities for all and encourage people's active participation in every aspect of care and treatment. The module also places an emphasis on promoting understanding of social inclusion, the complexity of people's health, social and occupational needs, and the services that can support people to recovery. It underlines the importance of recognising limitations to competence and role, and to direct people to resources appropriate to their needs. In addition, the module maintains an important focus on the role of supervision and reflective practice in applied psychology settings.
This module is optional
This module aims to equip students to practice from an inclusive values base, which promotes recovery and recognises and respects diversity. It emphasises the need to respect and value individual differences in age, sexuality, disability, gender, spirituality, race and culture, as well as the need to account for physical and sensory difficulties people may experience in accessing services, and to make provision in their work to mitigate these. The module underlines a clinical responsibility to respond to people's needs sensitively with regard to all aspects of diversity, and to maintain a commitment to equal opportunities for all and encourage people's active participation in every aspect of care and treatment. The module also underlines the importance of managing client caseloads, operating safely and to high standards, and using supervision to aid in clinical decision-making. It highlights the need to recognise limitations to competence and role, and to direct people to resources appropriate to their needs. In addition, the module maintains an important focus on social inclusion - including return to work and meaningful activity or other occupational activities - as well as clinical improvement. There is therefore an emphasis on promoting understanding of the complexity of people's health, social and occupational needs and the services which can support people to recovery.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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The closing date for applications is the 30th April.
Applicants must hold at least a 2:1 degree in Psychology, which confers eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership with the British Psychological Society (BPS) or the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).
Those with a 2:2 are welcome to apply, but preference will be given to those who have some additional relevant clinical experience to add to their CV.
All applicants, regardless of qualifications, are advised to use the space provided in the personal statement/additional information section of the online application process, to detail any experience that may be relevant to studying an MSc in Applied Psychology. This information may be used for selection purposes.
Applicants interested in pursuing Route 1 on the programme (Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner) will take part in a selection process, based on previous mental health work experience and an interview. This selection process specifically determines entry to Route 1, and does not affect the offer of a place on the MSc.
Only those with a primary degree in Psychology are eligible to apply. However, if you have a degree in another discipline, and feel strongly about making a career change into Psychology, you can apply to the British Psychological Society to undertake a Conversion Course in Psychology, which then gives you eligibility for Chartered Membership in the future. If you have successfully completed the conversion course, your application for entry to this programme will then be considered.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Those who have already undertaken professional postgraduate training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice or CBT may be exempt from undertaking the modules related to these therapeutic methods.
Those who have attained a PhD may be exempt from the Advanced Research Methods module.
Applicants in either of the above situations can enquire about Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) at the time of applying.
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Currently, our graduating students are successful in acquiring Assistant Psychologist positions, which with experience is allowing people to apply for Associate Psychologist positions. Others are successful in gaining entry onto Professional Doctorate programmes in Clinical, Counselling and Educational Psychology. Our graduates also secure posts in research and PhD scholarships in Psychology across the UK and Ireland. In addition, students who undertake the accredited Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) training strand within the course will be able to seek accreditation with the BPS for working as a PWP.
The programme has a number of opportunities to connect clinical placement experiences with studies on campus. The BPS-accredited Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Training (which forms a part of one of the course routes), includes a clinical placement in low-intensity psychological therapies services, arranged by the course team. In addition, the MSc presents a further placement opportunity for students who have completed the course, in the form of a 15-credit standalone placement module ('Clinical Placement in Applied Psychology'). A selection of clinical placements have been secured in Psychology Services in the Western Health and Social Care Trust, in specialisms including Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Paediatric Psychology, Older Adults, Personality Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Services. This post-MSc module is only open to those students who have completed the MSc at Ulster, and students who enrol on this module will be working as the equivalent of Assistant Psychologists on a voluntary basis in these services (length of placements are typically between 6 months and one year).
Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) against the requirements for qualification as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner.
Fees illustrated are based on academic year 22/23 entry and are subject to an annual increase.
If your study continues into future academic years your fees are subject to an annual increase. Please take this into consideration when you estimate your total fees for a degree.
Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply.
'Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner' Route:
In addition to the course fee for the MSc programme, those students undertaking the 'Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner' Route will be required to pay an additional fee for the specific MSc modules associated with this accredited training. This additional fee for the 2020/21 academic year will be posted here shortly (please note that there may be a difference in this fee for NI/GB/EU/International applicants).
Access NI check (£33 at time of writing); Graduate Membership of British Psychological Society (2019 fee of £57-88, dependent on income and when BSc was completed); Professional Indemnity Insurance ('Student level' – e.g. £60 for one year for BPS members living in UK); Travel Expenses associated with placement, for two days per week on placement in Semester 1, two days per week on placement in Semester 2, and possible placement time during the summer months (the expenses associated with this can vary, depending on the location of placement – where possible, student placements are allocated close to students’ place of residence).
‘Mental Health and Psychological Therapies’ Route:
There are no additional expenses/costs associated with this route.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees. See www.ulster.ac.uk/student/fees-and-funding/tuition-fees/tuition-fees-202223/ni-roi-students for most up to date costs.
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Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:
For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.
For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.
We look forward to hearing from you.
"The MSc Applied Psychology course has excellent content, logically timed and presented to the highest standard. The support for learning and also for personal life experiences in psychology is unbelievable and there is always a sense of belonging. The course team encourage us to do our best and help us to achieve this through all aspects of our professional lives" (Marie Robb, Graduate of the MSc Applied Psychology programme).
In two out of the past five years, the MSc programme has been nominated by the students and by the Students Union as 'Ulster Team of the Year', as part of the Ulster University Students Union Learning and Teaching Awards. From multiple nominations across the University campuses, the MSc programme team was awarded as the runner-up in this category on both occasions.
The MSc programme has also been shortlisted for the gradIreland 'Postgraduate Course of the Year' for three consecutive years.