Foundation in Applied Psychology Practice


2022/23 Part-time Postgraduate course


Postgraduate Certificate


Faculty of Life and Health Sciences


School of Psychology


This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.

Start date:

September 2022

Applications for this course have closed.


Designed to prepare Psychology graduates to become part of Psychology workforce in HSCTrusts. All fees funded by DfE.


Co-designed with the five Heads of Psychology service leads in the NHS (Northern Ireland), Ulster School of Psychology staff (Applied Psychology team) and QUB School of Psychology (Doc in Clinical Psychology team), this programme provides Psychology graduates with a foundation to prepare them for employment in the NHS. The course delivery will be shared 50/50 with QUB and Ulster academic staff, with funding shared between QUB and Ulster students. After this, it is the intention of both institutions to run the course for a further three years (where the students will self- fund if DfE funding is not extended).

The closing date for applications is the 25 April 2022.

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About this course


This course aims to enhance students' knowledge of the application of psychological theory in a health and social care setting and helps them to appreciate and develop skills of professional practice. Students who have completed the programme will be able to apply their knowledge of behaviour change principles to analyse behaviour and identify intervention goals and will possess basic skills of psychological assessment and formulation. They will demonstrate knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of concepts of mental health and mental ill health (across the lifespan), and will be familiar with a range of behaviour change interventions and therapeutic modalities. In addition, they will be aware of issues relating to working in complex systems and will be sensitive to team dynamics and team culture.

The course has a list of aims, which are as follows:

To provide psychology graduates with a foundation to prepare them for employment in psychology services in the NHS.

To enhance knowledge and skills in the application of psychological theory in a health and social care setting.

To help psychology graduates appreciate and develop skills of professional practice.

To meet these course aims and the relevant learning outcomes, there are two 30 credit modules to complete; one in semester 1 and the second in semester 2.

Module 1: PSY721 Professional Issues and therapy processess in applied psychology (30 credits, semester 2)

Module 2: PSY722 Psychological assessment, formulation and intervention in applied psychology practice (30 credits, semester 2).

See learning outcomes, content and assessment for each module below:

Module 1: PSY721 Professional Issues and therapy processess in applied psychology (30 credits, semester 2)

Learning outcomes:

Successful students will be able to:

1 Knowledge, understanding and critical appraisal of models of healthcare delivery in mental health services.

2 Systematic understanding of issues for clinical practice related to equity, diversity, professionalism and ethics.

3 Critical understanding of behaviour change principles and adaptation of motivational interviewing using evidenced approaches.

4 Ability to develop hypotheses based on clinical information which can be re-evaluated in light of new information, and be able to evaluate methods to outcome evaluation.

5 Ability to interpret and critically evaluate issues related to working in complex systems and identify best practice for developing psychological safety in teams.

6 Ability to identify and evaluate common factors in therapeutic approaches which are modifiable for different client groups.

7 Ability for emotional self-regulation, cultural competence and self-reflection when considering complex clinical cases.

Content*Each session is 3 hours in duration ·

Session 1 HSC/NHS and Mental Health Services,

Session 2 Trauma informed practice

Session 3 Ethics, Equity and Boundaries

Session 4 Handling information and Report Writing

Session 5 Reflective Practice/Professional Regulation

Session 6 Working in Teams

Session 7 Principles of behaviour change

Session 8 Positive Behavioural Support

Session 9/10 Motivational Interviewing 1 and 2

Session 11 Common factors in psychological therapy

Session 12 Outcome evaluation/clinically significant change

Assessment for module 1:

1) A reflective practice report (1500 words) outlining the need for reflective practice to aid professional development as a psychology practitioner, and providing evidence of learning or increasing self-awareness arising from the programme, and of generalisation of that learning to psychological practice. Use of key professional and ethical resources will also be assessed.

2) Video Case Presentation.

A pre-recorded presentation (10 minutes) with write up (1000 words) outlining the approach to a case study presentation in terms of behavioural support, behaviour change, and outcome evaluation. Reference to common factors and ethical issues will also be expected to be considered.

Module 2: PSY722 Psychological assessment, formulation and intervention in applied psychology practice (30 credits, semester 2).

Learning Outcomes:

Successful students will be able to:

1 Apply a critical understanding of psychological theory and principles to health and social care contexts.

2 Demonstrate knowledge and critical appraisal of behaviour change principles, in addition to the theory and application of a range of therapeutic modalities.

3 Demonstrate knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of concepts of mental health and mental ill health and a range of clinical mental health presentations.

4 Synthesize and apply their knowledge of behaviour change principles to analyse behaviour and identify intervention goals and be able to review approaches to outcome evaluation.

5 Demonstrate basic skills of psychological assessment, including risk assessment and psychological formulation, and be able to develop hypotheses based on clinical information which can be re-evaluated in light of new information.

6 Demonstrate knowledge, and competence in using ‘common factors’ to engage with and gather information from people


*Session 1 Theoretical basis of mental health

Session2/3/4 Considerations across the lifespan (peri-natal, childhood adolescence, attachment issues, adult mental health, trauma informed approaches.

Session 5/6 Psychological Assessment /Psychometric assessment- WISC/Nepsy etc Session 7/8 Psychological Formulation (multiple perspectives including PTSD)

Session 9 Risk assessment

Session 10/11 Psychological techniques (Compassion Focused therapies/Schema Therapy etc)

Session12 Assessment (Case Study presentations) and module review

*Each session is 4 hours in duration Please note: There will be a range of specialist visiting speakers from the local Trust's invited to discuss specific topics or provide case study analysis.

Assessment for module 2:

1) Presentation [50%]

Recorded case study presentation A recorded case study presentation (10 mins with 5 min Q&A) with pdf submission of the power point presenation write up (1000 words) outlining the approach to a complex case study presentation in terms of assessment (including risk), theoretical formulation from multiple perspectives, and method of evaluation. Reference to common factors, ethical issues will also be expected to be considered. Marking criteria will be clear and explicitly explained to student prior to the presentation, and all assessors will use a rubric for marking.

2) Written examination [50%]

An online exam paper with 8 questions in which there will be an element of choice to answer 2 theoretical questions (2 in total). 1500 words for each answer. Submit with 24 hours (or as per the School policy).

Marking criteriawill be clear and explicitly explained to student prior to the coursework or the presentation, and all assessors will use a rubric for marking.

Feedbackwill be detailed around : 1) strength of the coursework/ presentation, 2) areas that need improvement.


Part time- fully online-15-20 hour per week commitment, teaching delivered 1 day per week (typically every Wednesday)

Start dates

  • September 2022

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching and assessment will be fully delivered online with at least one class (mixture of live lectures, interactive exercises to promote skill development, workshop or specialist visiting speaker discussing a case) delivered live each week. The core material (clinical presentations, therapeutic approaches, assessment, and formulation issues) will be introduced via online lectures, some pre-recorded lectures ( flipped learning approaches) and student-led group activities. Students will engage in self-directed study and online activity. There will be scheduled time in class for students to ask questions as well as discussion forums which will permit students to communicate with each other and with lecturers. Classes will be recorded to ensure flexible access to materials. There will be live group activities and offline group work as well as group presentation tasks. Online learning materials (directed reading and study packs) will permit students to prepare in advance for live sessions and to study in their own time. At least 15-20 hours of study effort will be expected each week from those enrolled on the course. A computer and Internet connection will be required. Students will be directed to read topics centred on specific clinical presentations and will be expected to engage in independent reading.

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:

Attendance and Independent Study

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.

Calculation of the Final Award

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.

Academic profile

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.


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.

In this section

Year one

Professional issues and therapy processes in applied Psychology

Year: 1

This module has been co-created with Heads of Psychology services from the Health and Social Care settings in Northern Ireland, and staff from QUB Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and staff from the Ulster Applied Psychology teaching team. Professional issues form the core of what Practitioner Psychologists do. Therefore psychology graduates wishing to enter into health and social care work settings need to have an awareness of the professional skills involved when working with complex clients, but also develop a deeper insight into professional psychology practice, in particular reflective practice, self-reflection, self-regulation, and cultural competence and issues around equity and diversity in health care settings. Furthermore, having a foundation in understanding the key common factors/ interpersonal skills which are essential to connect and effectively engage with clients are considered essential.

Psychological assessment, formulation, and intervention in applied Psychology

Year: 1

Developing a breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skill in relation to
commonly encountered psychological disorders and disabilities across the lifespan, in addition to their classification, aetiology, and underlying processes are recognised as being fundamental to the provision of effective and meaningful treatment interventions. This module considers multiple theoretical perspectives and considers some of current debates which are current within applied psychology practice. It also considers the assessment of clinical presentations, the psychological formulation (from mild, moderate to complex case scenarios), and the relevant (evidenced based) methods on intervention and prevention. Finally the essential common factors and the evidence for their critical importance to outcome review and evaluation are discussed.

Standard entry conditions

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.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must hold at least a 2:2 degree in Psychology, which confers eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) or the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). Applicants must be resident and settled in Northern Ireland. Applicants will be selected on the basis of their relevant experience and suitability for the programme.

English Language Requirements

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.

Exemptions and transferability

If the student wishes to continue on with their studies the following year, they can complete the remaining modules to gain the MSc Applied Psychology (Mental Health & Psychological Therapies), where some exceptions will be permitted (depending on which route they take- straight MSc route, or the MSc with PWP route).

Careers & opportunities

Career options

On successful completion of this post graduate certificate, students will have many options available to them. They will be at an advantage when applying for Assistant Psychologist positions in the NHS, but they can also apply to continue on with their studies to gain the MSc Applied Psychology (Mental Health & Psychological Therapies) at Ulster.

There are two routes available on the MSc programme at UU: the straight MSc Applied route, or the MSc with Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner PWP route (which is an accredited professional qualification with the BPS). Either option will mean that the student with PgCert can APEL 60 credits (ie exempt from completing twice) for the straight MSc route, and 30 credits if they opt for the PWP route.

Work placement / study abroad

There is no work placement linked to this course.

However, since the course is part time, and you may already be working, it is advisable that you are working in a relevant area so as you can enhance your opportunities to apply theory to clinical practice.


Start dates

  • September 2022

Fees and funding

Fees (total cost)

The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.

For modules commenced in the academic year 2022/23, the following fees apply:

Credit PointsNI/ROI/GB CostInternational Cost
5 £178.50 £426.65
10 £356.10 £853.30
15 £534.15 £1,279.95
20 £712.20 £1,706.60
30 £1,068.30 £2,559.90
60 £2,136.60 £5,119.80
120 £4,273.20 £10,239.60
180 £6,409.80 £15,359.40

NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.

Additional mandatory costs

The course fees are funded by DfE. The course is online so no travel fees.

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 the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

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.

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