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Health Psychology (MSc)

Course Description

Health Psychology plays a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of the population. This course, based in the heart of London, was one of the first Masters in Health Psychology and has been accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) since 1999. It includes an innovative portfolio of assessments geared to developing transferable skills, and relating directly to the world of work. The course also provides the opportunity to gain work experience and apply your knowledge in a health psychology setting, whilst considering future career plans. The course is taught by a core team of enthusiastic and supportive research-active staff, with collaborative links to external institutions in London and beyond. Successful completion of the course (Stage 1) is a prerequisite for the further training (Stage 2) to become a health psychologist registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC).

We work with a range of specialists to provide additional professional training in areas such as resilience, coaching, and clinical practice.

Course content

The course will give you an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and applied bases of health, illness and disease. The main aim is to help you to develop the theoretical and methodological skills essential for conducting independent research and applying health psychology in practice.

We provide a coherent programme of study covering the content, methods and application of health psychology. In particular, the course emphasises the importance of an evidence-based approach to health psychology, and develops the core skills needed for Stage 2 training. Within the core modules, there is considerable flexibility for you to choose particular areas of study of interest.

Core modules

Core modules include two introductory modules:

This module takes a development approach to understanding relationships between psychology, biological and social factors that influence health and diseases through the lifespan. It emphasis the dynamics of change and a number of key topics are examined including children's health and the family context, normative transitions and life events, and vulnerability and resilience. Student-led panels explore the most current issues, controversies and methods within a lifespan framework.

This introductory module explores a broad range of topics in health psychology within a multidisciplinary framework. It considers the social and cultural context of health and illness, the importance of social cognition models in health care, and issues around communication and health care decisions. The module emphasises theoretical and methodological issues in health psychology research and application, including intervention design and evaluation.

Followed by:

Through lectures, seminars and practical classes, this module addresses the theoretical and practical issues involved in acquiring and analysing quantitative and qualitative data for health psychology.

This module examines a range of issues relating to health psychology practice, including client-related issues, ethical considerations, interventions, and professional development. You will have the opportunity to learn techniques such as mindfulness and motivational interviewing, with a range of practising psychologists contributing to the module. Personal and professional development is fostered through reflective practice and experiential learning, including designing and evaluating an individualised behaviour change intervention.

This module explores the role of individual differences (including social and cultural factors) in health and illness. It introduces the biological mechanisms by which stress can impact on physical and psychological health (psychoneuroimmunology), and how stress and well-being can be measured to enable evaluation of stress-management interventions. You will also explore the physiological and psychological correlates of acute and chronic pain, the theories and management of chronic illness, and the meaning and mechanism of action of the placebo effect.

This module is designed to enable you to realise your training in the context of a particular research problem or aspect of methodology. The area of work should bring together your occupational experience or preference with the substantive material covered during the taught components of the course. Projects are intended to give you maximum flexibility in selecting an appropriate area of application, and investigating and assessing potential research sources and their relevance to the existing field of knowledge.

This module will cover the areas of review writing skills, systematic review protocol, design critique, and grant application writing skills. Relevant professional issues will also be explored, including: inter professional working; research ethics; presentation skills; careers; portfolio development for project research; national and international perspectives on applied psychology; and practice specific issues.

Option module

This module provides the opportunity to apply psychology to a real world work situation. You will work in voluntary or paid positions in health-related settings to gain valuable work experience and develop skills which will help to prepare you for the workplace. Students who take this optional module will then take a 40 credit Research Based Project.

Associated careers

The course is a prerequisite for those wishing to pursue Stage 2 training leading to Registration with the HPC as a Health Psychologist. However, it also serves as a precursor to those wishing to pursue a PhD in Psychology, and other areas of applied psychology such as clinical or counselling. The majority of our graduates work in the health-related professions.

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

Entry Requirements

Normally you should have a good Honours degree that confers eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the BPS. However, we will consider candidates without GBC with some evidence of interest in the discipline. This can be demonstrated by your choice of undergraduate modules, undergraduate project area, or your work experience within health psychology or a related field. You may be invited for an informal interview.

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Recipient: University of Westminster
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