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Applied Psychology (Mental Health and Psychological Therapies) - MSc

Course content


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:

  • Enter further professional training in Clinical, Counselling, Educational or Forensic Psychology;
  • Become more employable for positions in the public and private sector (such as Assistant and Associate Psychologist posts, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner posts, and Research Assistant/Analyst posts);
  • Pursue PhD research in the area of mental health.

In addition, the course has gained full AFT accreditation for Foundation Level training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, and full BPS accreditation for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner training. These can be taken as routes within the MSc programme.

This course is undergoing academic revalidation during 2016/17, and course content/modules are subject to change. 

Structure and content

To complete the Masters programme, students are required to successfully complete 180 university credits. Programme Routes: There are three different ‘routes’ that students can take during their time on the programme, depending on their interest or the experience they would like to gain from their training. These routes have been designed because feedback from students suggests 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 students choose may depend on the kind of work or further training that they want to pursue beyond the MSc course itself (note that all 3 routes include the carrying out of an MSc Research Project):

  • The ‘Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner’ route – This route incorporates training as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP), which is fully accredited by the British Psychological Society. PWPs work in primary care mental health services, delivering low intensity psychological interventions (with a CBT focus) for people experiencing mild to moderate emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. This is a well-established role in mental health services in England, and services in Northern Ireland are developing to include a focus on this way of working. Students taking this route will spend time on clinical placement during the course, arranged by the course team (more on this below).
  • The main course route, entitled ‘Mental Health and Psychological Therapies’ – This route offers a breadth of experience in theory and skills training, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Family Therapy & Systemic Practice skills modules, Advanced Research Methods, and a choice amongst key Mental Health and Professional Issues modules.
  • The ‘Mental Health with Family Therapy and Systemic Practice’ route – this incorporates elements of the main course route (e.g. CBT, Mental Health modules, research methods), as well as Foundation Level training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (fully accredited by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice). The training focuses on approaches implemented when supporting families, but also on how these approaches and concepts can be applied to working with individuals. Students on this route must have secured their own work in a therapeutic setting (to enable them to practice systemic therapy skills), including supervision by an accredited therapist.

Professional recognition

British Psychological Society (BPS)  

Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) against the requirements for qualification as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner.

Work placement / study abroad

The programme has a number of opportunities to connect clinical placement experiences with studies on campus. The BPS-accredited Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Training (which composes part of one of the course routes), includes a 9-month clinical placement in low-intensity psychological therapies services, arranged by the course team. The AFT-accredited Foundation Level Training in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (which composes part of another course route), includes a module that explores and assesses students' clinical experiences in this area of practice - placement for this module is arranged by students themselves. 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 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).

Career options

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, or PhD scholarships in Psychology across 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. Finally, students who undertake AFT Foundation Level Training will have completed Stage 1 of 3 in their training to become a qualified Systemic Psychotherapist.

Visit the Applied Psychology (Mental Health and Psychological Therapies) - MSc page on the Ulster University website for more details!





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Recipient: Ulster University

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