School of Psychology

MSc Applied Psychology FAQs

Frequently asked questions

How many students do you accept each year?

Currently, a maximum of 10 students are accepted on the course each year.

What are the entry requirements for the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (clinical specialism)?

The Diploma/MSc has both essential criteria and desirable criteria. Applicants must meet essential criteria in order to be considered for the selection process. The criteria are as follows:

1. Essential criteria:

i. The applicant has a 1:1 or 2:1 honours degree in psychology, or its equivalent, from a recognised university course, which confers the graduate basis for registration with the British Psychological Society. Applicants that have a 2:2 psychology degree but also a postgraduate psychology qualification may be considered.
ii. The applicant demonstrates a satisfactory level of personal and professional competence required for the course, as evidenced in their personal statement

2. Desirable criteria

i.      The applicant is currently employed, or will be by the time of course entry, as an Assistant/ Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”) within a Northern Ireland healthcare setting.
ii.      The applicant receives, or has arranged to receive upon successful entry into the course, supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist

Do I need to state clearly in my application form and personal statement that I meet the essential criteria for the course?

Yes, all applicants must state explicitly that they meet the essential criteria otherwise the application will not be considered for selection.

If applicants also meet desirable criteria, they should clearly outline how they satisfy these in their application and elaborate on the details in their personal statement (e.g., description of their Assistant Psychologist post and the therapeutic work).

Do I need to be in a post that allows me to conduct assessments and therapeutic interventions on clients in a healthcare setting?

Not necessarily. If an applicant does not have such a post, the Diploma/MSc course will arrange a Voluntary Assistant Psychologist placement for them in a healthcare Trust. This placement is 2 – 3 days per week and is compulsory.

If the applicant already has such a post (e.g. Assistant/Associate Psychologists, Behaviour Support Workers) in which they conduct clinical assessments and therapeutic interventions, applicants can use this existing post as their “placement” in order to satisfy the practice requirements of the course.

It is important to note that having a post in which the applicant clinical conducts assessments and therapeutic interventions is a significant desirable criterion and should be highlighted in the application form and personal statement.

Do I need to have an Assistant Psychologist Post to apply?

No. This is a desirable criterion. The only essential criteria are as follows:

1. Essential criteria:

i. The applicant has a 1:1 or 2:1 honours degree in psychology, or its equivalent, from a recognised university course, which confers the graduate basis for registration with the British Psychological Society. Applicants that have a 2:2 psychology degree but also a postgraduate psychology qualification may be considered.
ii.      The applicant demonstrates a satisfactory level of personal and professional competence required for the course, as evidenced in their personal statement

Do I need to have an Assistant Psychologist Post to meet the desirable criteria for the course?

Not necessarily. The desirable criteria are:

i.     The applicant is currently employed, or will be by the time of course entry, as an Assistant/ Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”) within a Northern Ireland healthcare setting.
ii.     The applicant receives, or has arranged to receive upon successful entry into the course, supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist

The course was originally designed with Assistant Psychologists in mind, in order to give them added assessment/intervention skills that would help them become a more effective part of the clinical psychology workforce (see New Ways of Working; NIMHE, 2007). However, a number of other health professionals may also meet these desirable criteria because their job involves the level of clinical work that would be considered “equivalent” to an Assistant Psychologist.

Determining what profession/post involves clinical work that is “equivalent” is a difficult process and varies on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, it is up to individual applicants to outline very clearly in their application – and thereby assure course selectors – how they are “equivalent” and meet these desirable criteria (particularly how they are being supervised by a clinical psychologist). They should explicitly state their personal and professional experience, as well as how this experience makes them a good candidate for the course. These applicants should take care to clearly state how they have the level of access to clinical work that is “equivalent” (e.g., they have a clinical caseload of at least 6 – 8 clients with whom they are conducting assessments/interventions).

In the past, people in a number of professions have been deemed to meet this “equivalent” criterion, including Behaviour Support Workers, Social Workers, and Rehabilitation Assistants etc. These applicants were not normally supervised by a clinical psychologist, but outlined clearly in their application form how they had independently secured supervision by a qualified clinical psychologist.

What is does the “equivalent” part of “Assistant Psychologist (or equivalent)” refer to?

See answer to previous question “Do I need to have an Assistant Psychologist Post to meet the desirable criteria for the course?”

How do I get an Assistant Psychologist post?

Check through the usual health service recruitment websites (www.hscrecruit.com) and job pages in newspapers.

Does the course arrange Assistant Psychologist posts upon acceptance into the course?

No. However, the course arranges Voluntary Assistant Psychologist placement within a healthcare Trust for successful applicants who do not already have and Assistant/Associate Psychologist upon commencement of the course.

Should I apply for the Diploma or the MSc?

This is up to the applicant’s own discretion. The diploma is a 1-year course whereas the MSc is a 2-year course. See the course description for details on the content of both pathways. It is most important that you consider the following:

  1. The pathway you apply to (i.e., Diploma or MSc) is the pathway you will be registered on when you commence the course. This is difficult to alter during the course if you change your mind, so make sure that you think carefully about which pathway you are more interested in completing and apply to this course.
  2. Do not apply for both the MSc and Diploma – decide which one you would prefer to undertake and apply to this course.

Is the course full-time or part-time?

Part-time only. The diploma is a 1-year course whereas the MSc is a 2-year course.

Can individuals overseas/internationally apply?

Yes. However, it must be highlighted that successful applicants from overseas will be required to either have secured employment as an Assistant/Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”) in Northern Ireland at the time of applying or undertake a Voluntary Assistant Psychologist placement in Northern Ireland for a year upon commencement of the course. Consequently, non-EU international applicants are likely to require a work visa.

What are the minimum English language entry requirements for the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism)?

The course requires a minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.5. See QUB main website for further details on this process: http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/InformationServices/Services/IELTS.

Can individuals working in the Republic of Ireland apply?

Yes, but if their post is not based in a Northern Ireland healthcare setting, these applicants will have to secure employment as an Assistant/Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”) in Northern Ireland or commence a Voluntary Assistant Psychologist placement in Northern Ireland upon starting the Diploma/MSc course.

Can voluntary/honorary Assistant Psychologists apply?

Yes, but such applicants should also take care to outline clearly their personal and professional experience in their application and the nature of their current post if they wish to meet the desirable criteria of being an Assistant/Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”).

How many hours do you need to be working in your post to meet the desirable criteria?

Assistant Psychologists (or “equivalent”) can be working part-time or full-time when applying to the course. However, if working part-time or in a voluntary capacity, the applicant should state the volume of clinical work that they have access to (e.g., typical caseload).

Are there interviews in the selection process of applicants?

Yes. The application and personal statement of every applicant is evaluated and rated by a panel of course staff.  Short listed applicants are offered interviews for the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism) and the highest rated applicants from the interviews will be offered a place. Interviews usually take place three-four weeks after the closing of applications.

After I have made an application, when will I hear if I’ve been successful or not at securing a place on the course?

The deadline for applications is the middle of July – please see main Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism) website for the exact date. Applicants will normally receive notification of whether they have been successful in securing a place a month after the submission deadline (i.e., middle of August).

How much are the course fees for the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism)?

The course fees vary slightly year-to-year; however, they are charged at standard “postgraduate taught” part-time rates (i.e., set fee per CATS point). The Diploma is 120 CATS points. Please consult the QUB tuition fees link on the main QUB website (http://www.qub.ac.uk/home) for further details on calculating course costs.

It should be noted that students who are currently employed as assistant/associate psychologists or ‘equivalent’ by  the DHSS at the time of entry into the course may be eligible for bursaries equivalent to 80% of Diploma year fees paid for by the QUB School of Psychology and DHSS.

The MSc year (i.e., the second year of the course) involves only one 60 CATS points module and so fees are cheaper overall for this year; however, students pay 100% of fees.

By way of example, in 2016 fees were priced at £29 per CATS point. The Diploma year comprises 120 CATS points and so fees are £3480 (i.e., 29 x 120). For those students who may be eligible for bursaries, QUB and DHSS pay 80% of this fee, students only paid the remaining 20%, i.e., £696. The MSc year comprises 60 CATs points and so students paid £1740 (i.e., 29 x 60).

What are the time and teaching commitments of the course?

All attendance at teaching classes/lectures is compulsory. Ordinarily successful applicants will attend a 2-week teaching block (lectures 9.30am – 5pm everyday) in September/October and a 1-week teaching block in March. Thereafter they attend lectures most Thursdays (9.30am – 5pm) during term-time.

The teaching timetable means a sizeable amount of time will need to be taken out of students’ normal work hours in order to attend lectures. Applicants will need to negotiate this with their line manager and obtain approval for being released from work on teaching days. We would advise applicants to inform their line manager of these circumstances in relation to their application as early as possible.

What are the coursework requirements for passing the course?

Diploma: Students must complete a critical literature review, 2 case studies, and a clinical practice portfolio outlining their assessment/interventions with 6 clients they have worked with during the year.

MSc: In addition to the diploma coursework in their first year, MSc students complete a service-related research dissertation in their second year.

What is the content of the course modules?

In the Diploma year, students complete four modules: Clinical Presentations, Clinical Assessment and Formulation, Low Intensity Interventions and CBT, and Foundations of Clinical Practice. An overview of these modules is listed below:

Module PSY7058: Clinical Presentations

Aims

◦       Examination of the features and aetiologies related to commonly encountered clinical presentations across the lifespan

-  Types of lectures

◦       Anxiety Disorders

◦       PTSD

◦       Learning Disability

◦       Emotional behavioural presentations of childhood

Assessment

◦       Critical Literature Review (100%)


Module PSY7059: Clinical Assessment and Formulation

Aims

◦       Develop knowledge and skills related to utilising psychometric, interview, observational and other common methods of psychological assessment with a view to arriving at a psychological formulation of a given presentation

-  Types of lectures

◦       Framework for Psychological Assessment (Adult & Child)

◦       Psychometric theory and practice

◦       CBT assessment

◦       Assessment of cognitive and social functioning in learning disability

Assessment

◦       Clinical Assessment and Formulation report (100%)


Module PSY7060: Low Intensity Psychological Interventions & CBT

-Aims

◦       Fosters knowledge and core skills in utilising circumscribed cognitive behavioural interventions including self-help therapies, exposure therapy, relaxation and self-regulation, psychoeducation, modification of thinking and attributional styles, problem solving etc. in individual and systemic contexts and across the lifespan

-  Types of lectures (see p24 handbook for full list)

◦       Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (adult & child)

◦       Problem-solving therapy

◦       Self-help therapies

◦       Challenging behaviour interventions

Assessment

◦       Case study (100%)


Module PSY7061: Foundations of Clinical Practice

Aims

◦       Utilises in-service, supervised, experience with a specific clinical population to evidence the generalisation of academic teaching and training to clinical practice within a clinical practice portfolio

-  Types of lectures

◦       Specialism Casework (10 sessions)

◦       Reflective practice

◦       Supervision skills and processes

Assessment

◦       Clinical Practice Portfolio – 6 pieces of clinical work (100%)

The MSc year involves only one research module in which students complete a research dissertation. See below:


Module PSY7062: Dissertation

Aims

◦       Dissertation project takes the form of a service-related piece of research. The focus and topics for the research should normally arise from work undertaken in the clinical post where the student is employed, but can be standard research project on undergraduates

-  Types of research project

◦       A survey (e.g. client satisfaction)

◦       Audit/service evaluation

◦       Evaluation of an intervention

◦       Empirical research topic (e.g. Undergraduate study)

Assessment

◦       Dissertation Paper (100%)


How many hours supervision do you need to be receiving to do the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism)?

The course requires that applicants should have a least one hour of formal supervision per week or equivalent. This may include but not be wholly limited to group supervision. The model of supervision, as well as its frequency, content and format, should be in line with good practice guidelines (i.e., BPS Guidelines for the Employment of Assistant Psychologists; BPS, 2007).

Does the Diploma of MSc provide me with a professional psychology accreditation?

Currently, the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism) is primarily an academic qualification that does not confer accreditation as a practicing applied psychologist. However, the course does provide in-depth applied skills training (e.g., CBT training) and will be applying for accreditation when the BPS standards for accreditation of Assistant/Associate Psychologists are finalised.