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  • Study Type

    Full time available

  • Subject Areas


  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    12 Months

  • Course Type


Course content

This 12-month course has a strong but not exclusive emphasis on cognitive behavioural therapy and on the application of scientific methods to health care and assessment. On completion of the course, and following agreed and appropriate supervision and continuing professional development, graduates will be competent in the assessment and treatment of adult patients suffering from a range of common mental health disorders typically presenting in primary care settings.

Why study Psychological Therapy and Primary Care?

The growing demand for psychological interventions for adults presenting with common mental health disorders (e.g. anxiety and depression) in NHS Primary care has been identified in a variety of studies by central government and professional bodies.

Following consultation with NHS stakeholders, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has supported the development of a new role for psychology graduates in NHS Scotland as Clinical Associates in Applied Psychology.

The Masters level training for this new role is designed to equip psychology graduates with the competence required to deliver the evidence-based psychological interventions required in circumscribed areas of practice defined by service need. The delivery of training involves a partnership, brokered by NES, between the Universities providing the academic components of the training programmes, the Universities of Stirling and Dundee, and the NHS which supports trainees in supervised clinical practice in the workplace.

Aims of the course

Specifically the course aims to:

create knowledge of the prevalence, diagnostic criteria, presentation and current psychological theories of common mental health disorders in adults.
create the ability to assess common mental health disorders by means of standardised scales, interviews techniques and observation.
foster the ability to develop clinical formulation based on information obtained from case notes, interviews, standardised scales and observation.
foster the therapeutic skills to deliver appropriate psychological treatments for common mental health disorders in Primary Care and evaluate progress and outcome of treatment.

Teaching & Assessment

This course is taught by staff from the University of Dundee and the University of Stirling. Students attend one or other of the universities for 3/4 days each month.

This course begins in January and runs until the following December.

How you will be taught

Modules will be taught via a combination of clinical workshops, seminars and distance-learning lectures delivered via the internet. NHS employers provide appropriate study facilities including computers and internet connection to allow you to carry out academic work on-site. Clinical activities and delivery of therapeutic interventions will be supervised and guided by an NHS clinical supervisor in the NHS setting, who will provide guidance on all aspects of clinical competence according to agreed guidelines. Ratings of clinical competence will be based on taped evidence of practice in the NHS setting and observations of the trainees’ clinical interaction with patients.

What you will study

The course comprises five taught modules and a sixth research module. The first three modules are University of Dundee supervised while the second three are University of Stirling supervised. All modules are core and there are no optional modules:

Assessment, Diagnosis and Formulation: This overview of the assessment process enables you to conduct clinical assessment and formulation of common mental health disorders in primary care

Professional and Ethical Issues: This module develops your understanding of the principles and practice of appropriate professional conduct in the National Health Service (NHS)

Research Project: A supervised empirical investigation, including critical literature review, conducted and reported to publishable standard

Principles and Methods of Psychological Therapy: This module helps you develop and maintain collaborative working alliances and deliver a range of psychological interventions appropriate to common mental health disorders

Common Mental health Disorders in Primary Care: This module develops understanding of use of theoretical and clinical knowledge of the presentation and evidence-based treatment interventions for common mental health disorders

Research, Evaluation and Outcome: This module equips you with the knowledge and skills to conduct clinical research

You are allocated an NHS clinical supervisor who oversees and provides guidance on your clinical activity. You are also allocated an University based supervisor from the course team (who reviews clinical performance) and a University based research supervisor.

How you will be assessed

The course will comprise 50 percent academic study and 50 percent practical clinical placement work. Academic assessment will be by case reports based on NHS clinical work, examinations and a dissertation. In addition, the successful completion of the first three modules listed above depends on the receipt of a satisfactory assessment of clinical competence from your NHS clinical supervisor.

Assessments of clinical competence are made six months and nine months into the course. At these points, any unsatisfactory clinical competence will be highlighted and a programme of remedial action provided that must be undertaken successfully by the end of the modules.


Since the inception of the course in 2005, the majority of graduates have been employed by the NHS in Scotland as CAAPs. However, the job situation for CAAPs is currently more competitive, as it is for almost all workers at the moment. Some graduates have gone into the private sector as therapists and some have been employed in other NHS posts that are related but have different job titles. Some graduates have gone on to work in England under the IAPT programme. It is impossible to make predictions about vacancies for 2014, however the requirement for all NHS Boards to provide psychological therapies within 14 weeks from referral by 2014 will require some services to consider their skill mix.

Students are funded by NHS Education for Scotland and are employed by the NHS.


Trainees’ fees and travel expenses will be covered, and salaries paid at agreed
national levels (A4C Band 6, first spine point, currently £26,041)

Visit the MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care page on the University of Dundee website for more details!




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