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Course content

Common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, account for one-third of all primary care consultations in the UK. The impact of these on individuals, families, communities and healthcare resources is recognised at a global level.

Our part-time MSc in Primary Mental Health Care (a pathway of the Advanced Practice Interventions for Mental Health (APIMH) programme) aims to equip primary care professionals with the knowledge and skills to improve services for these individuals.

A key strategy to address current and future challenges of this immense area of need is to equip those working in primary care in both existing and new roles with relevant knowledge and skills to enhance access to and the effectiveness of services and care delivery through evidence-based, innovative approaches.

Our course is directly relevant to clinical practice and uses a bio-psychosocial framework so you can develop knowledge and skills in evidence-based interventions, including cognitive-behavioural approaches, collaborative case management and community engagement.

You will learn how to offer high-quality, evidence-based interventions and contribute to service developments that promote socially inclusive mental health care for individuals, families and communities.

The first year of the pathway (PGCert) meets the national competencies for IAPT Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) and is a mandatory requirement, funded through an NHS contract, for newly appointed PWPs.


The course aims to enhance access to, and the effectiveness of, mental health and social care services that are evidence-based, multidisciplinary and focused on the needs of patients/service users and their carers.

The course will equip students with the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to enhance their own practice (PGCert) and the practice of others, as well as contribute to innovations and developments in mental health care and service delivery (PGDip/MSc).

Teaching and learning

You will participate in a range of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, small group work, student-led seminars, problem-based learning scenarios, online learning and clinical simulations.

There is a strong emphasis on skills development through the use of role play, experiential exercises and analysis and elements of supervised practice and practice mentorship to achieve practical skills outcomes for some course units.

In addition, you will undertake independent study to further develop and consolidate your learning. All pathways involve sessions by users and/or carers who are seen as essential contributors to student learning as experts by experience.

The course involves attendance at the University for part of the week and the rest is spent in clinical practice. In Year 1, you are required to identify a suitable practice supervisor/mentor to oversee and assess the clinical and/or practice work required for the programme and pathway.

Students working within an IAPT service are expected to receive supervision from supervisors who have completed IAPT Supervisor Training. This is an accredited five-day training programme currently provided by the University and is an essential requirement for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) seeking accreditation with the BABCP on qualification.

Coursework and assessment

We use a variety of assessments within each course unit and across the course as a whole. All assessments require you to integrate knowledge and understanding and apply this to your own area of practice relevant to the outcomes of each unit and the focus of each pathway.

Assessment methods include essays, case studies, seminar presentations, literature reviews, recorded clinical simulations and/or recordings of actual client interactions. For some course units, you are also required to submit practice supervision/or practice mentorship records.

Course unit details

The course consists of pathway-specific and core/compulsory course units. Pathway-specific units focus on the following themes:

Year 1

  • Evidence based interventions in Primary Mental Health Care
  • Engagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems

Year 2

Core course units are shared with students studying other pathways and programmes but retain a pathway-specific focus through group work and assessments. Core course units focus on the following themes:

  • Research and Evidence Base for Practice and Different Approaches and Methods Used in Social Research
  • Long Term Conditions (LTCs) in Primary Mental Health
  • Developing Practice and Managing Change

On completion of the taught units (PGDip), successful students who meet progression requirements are able to continue onto their research dissertation for the MSc. The dissertation enables you, with the support of an individual supervisor, to undertake an extended written piece of work that focuses on a specific aspect of primary mental health care practice in the form of an extended literature-based review.

Year 3

The Year 3 dissertation consists of a 12,000 to 15,000-word dissertation that undertakes an extended literature-based review/proposal for practice development.

Course collaborators

This course has been designed in collaboration with practice colleagues and is delivered by nationally renowned and published experts in the field. The pathway has an excellent track record of working with service user and carer organisations as an integral part of the teaching team.


The course is based in a building housing seminar rooms, IT facilities, interpersonal skills laboratories and lecture theatres.

You will also be able to access a range of facilities throughout the University.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 

Career opportunities

This course is for:

  • existing practitioners across the north-west who are employed in the NHS, as well as other statutory/voluntary services contributing to the work of the NHS;
  • trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (as part of the 'Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies' (IAPT) initiative) who are employed in the NHS in Greater Manchester, as well as other statutory/voluntary services that have been commissioned to provide an IAPT Primary Mental Health Care Service.

The first year of the pathway (PGCert) is automatically undertaken as part of these roles.

PWPs who have already completed the PGCert in Primary Mental Health Care since 2004, and have their employers' support, may enter the pathway at Year 2.

Visit the Primary Mental Health Care (APIMH Pathway) (MSc/PGDip) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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Recipient: University of Manchester

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