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Health Psychology (MSc)

Course Description

Health psychology is an exciting and growing branch of psychology that applies psychological theory and research to behaviours and beliefs related to health and illness.

Health psychologists’ interests are firmly in line with government health agendas, and include the promotion of positive health behaviours in adults and children; reducing obesity, binge drinking, smoking and stress; and increasing psychological wellbeing.

The route to Chartered Psychologist status is through the attainment of an accredited MSc Health Psychology (stage 1 training), followed by supervised professional practice (stage 2 training).

USW’s MSc Health Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) as providing students with the knowledge and skills required for Stage 1 of your training in qualifying as a Chartered Psychologist and practitioner health psychologist.

The MSc Health Psychology is taught by registered practitioner health psychologists (who are also BPS Chartered) with many years of specialist teaching, research and clinical experience in a range of areas of health psychology. Specialist practitioners contribute a contemporary perspective as guest lecturers.

We have ongoing research collaborations with NHS clinicians that provide opportunities for students to have access to clinical populations for dissertation research projects and work experience placements. These currently include psychiatry liaison, pain management, eating disorders and cardiac rehabilitation.

See the website http://courses.southwales.ac.uk/courses/300-msc-health-psychology

Five BPS Commendations

The course recently received five commendations from the British Psychological Society who praised the relationships we have with external health and clinical practitioners, and the opportunities these provide to students; the programme’s development in relation to the health needs of the local and wider population in response to the priorities of the Welsh Government Department of Health; the high level of student support; the emphasis on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to prepare students for the reflective skills they will need in practice; and the opportunities provided to students by Psychology Plus (employability scheme).

Work Experience Opportunities

We have ongoing research collaborations with four Welsh Health Boards and NHS clinicians that provide opportunities for students to have access to clinical populations for dissertation research projects and work experience placements.

Pawb, our on-campus clinic offers a wide range of psychological services to the public. Students will be able to benefit from supervised voluntary experience and in-house research opportunities.

What you will study

You will study the following modules:
- Contexts and Perspectives in Health Psychology
- Research Methods in Health Psychology: Measurement & Professional Issues* Applications of Health Psychology
- Health-related Cognitions and Behaviour
- Stress, Health and Illness
- A Lifespan Perspective on Health, Illness & Disability
- Independent Research Dissertation

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching includes lectures, seminars and workshops, some of which will be student-led. There will be a variety of assessment activities such as examinations, essays, case study analysis, poster presentations and the design of a health promotion campaign.

The MSc Health Psychology provides students with opportunities for work experience in the School of Psychology’s own Psychology and Well-Being Clinic (PAWB Wales), in addition to research projects with our NHS partners on issues such as pain management, eating disorders and cardiac rehabilitation.

As well as our excellent dedicated teaching facilities, the University has recently invested in a new clinic facility that offers a wide range of psychological services to the public. The Psychology and Well-Being Clinic Wales (PAWB Wales) services include play therapy, health psychology, sport psychology, occupational psychology and behaviour analysis. Through the clinic, MSc Health Psychology students and trainee practitioners can gain access to real life training opportunities.

Work Experience and Employment Prospects

The Sc Health Psychology provides current, up-to-date theory, knowledge and skills related to therapeutic play and enables graduates to work as therapeutic play specialists in educational, healthcare or social care settings.

In addition, an understanding of play is key to current government education initiatives and course content addresses the Welsh Government’s Foundation Phase and other early years educational curricula. Hence this award offers excellent career development in the field of play, whether as a teacher or education specialist, play worker or play development officer, nursery manager, or work in health or social services.

Assessment methods

Assessment uses a variety of methods, including essays, diaries, research reports, presentations, portfolios of observations and clinical notes. There are opportunities for work placements.


As an MSc Health Psychology student, you’lll have access to the latest learning technologies, facilities and equipment, including excellent designated facilities.

These include observation and interview rooms equipped with two-way mirror, CCTV and audio and allow research and interview practice sessions to be conducted and recorded onto DVD. We also have a custom-built air-conditioned PC laboratory which provides access to specialist software for running psychology experiments and conducting careers guidance interviews. More specialist equipment is also available in our cognitive suite and more details about this are given below.

The cognitive psychology suite houses specialist psychology equipment. This includes eye tracking equipment which is capable of studying the eye movements of individuals whilst they complete cognitive tasks. The suite includes EEG (electroencephalogram) and ECG (electrocardiogram) facilities for recording electrical activity in the heart and scalp. There is also a driving simulator which is currently being used by postgraduate students to complete a study which examines the effects of stressors on driving performance.

As well as our excellent dedicated teaching facilities, the School of Psychology offers a wide range of psychological services to the general public. These are offered through our new PAWB Wales clinic facility and include play therapy, behaviour analysis, health and sport psychology interventions. The clinic activities support our wide range of postgraduate opportunities and undergraduate students can also get involved in some of the clinic’s work.

Visit the Health Psychology (MSc) page on the University of South Wales website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Admission to this course is through gaining an honours degree that confers Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC, previously known as GBR) with the British Psychological Society (BPS). This would usually be of class 2:2 or above in Psychology. It is not essential to have studied health psychology at undergraduate level to apply for this course.

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Recipient: University of South Wales

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