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Frequently Asked Questions

Each year how many students do you accept on to the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (clinical specialism)?

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

Are tuition fees for successful applicants on the course funded by DHSS?

Ordinarily yes. DHSS normally funds 80% of tuition fees for the 10 students who are successful in gaining entry to the course. The students only pay the remaining 20% of tuition fees.

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

Applicants must meet three essential criteria in order to be considered for the selection process. These are as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. The applicant is currently employed, or will be by the time of course entry, as an Assistant/ Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”), within a healthcare setting.
  3. 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 three essential criteria for the course?

Yes, this needs to be stated explicitly otherwise the application will not be considered for selection.

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

Yes, see essential criteria above. Jobs that are just clinically-related (e.g. care assistant, helpline worker) are not suitable, whereas jobs that are clinically-applied (e.g. Assistant Psychologist, Behaviour Support Worker) are suitable. The Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (clinical specialism) is a course that aims to increase the clinical assessment and therapy skill set of individuals already employed in a therapeutic capacity. As such, course assessment involves evaluating students’ learning and skills in delivering clinical assessments and interventions via written coursework. Individuals not employed in a clinically-applied capacity will not have the level of therapeutic access to clients and patients required in order to pass the Diploma/MSc coursework.

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

Not necessarily. The course was 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, we also accept applications from individuals who are not Assistant Psychologists, but their job involves the level of clinical work that would be considered “equivalent” to an Assistant Psychologist.

Determining what profession 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 all the essential criteria for the course (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 required to complete the coursework requirements.

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 – which is vital for this type of application.

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 apply?”

How do I get an Assistant Psychologist post?

Check through the usual health service recruitment websites ( and job pages in newspapers.

Does the course arrange Assistant Psychologist posts upon acceptance into 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. The essential criteria must be met in the same way. It must be highlighted, therefore, that because securing an employment post as an Assistant/Associate Psychologist (or “equivalent”) is an essential criterion, non-EU international applicants are likely to require a work visa.

Can individuals working in the Republic of Ireland apply?

Yes, but applicants must meet the three essential criteria.

Can voluntary/honorary Assistant Psychologists apply?

Yes, but applicants must meet the three essential criteria. Such applicants should also take care to outline clearly their personal and professional experience in their application and the nature of their current post.

How many hours do you need to be working in your post to meet the essential 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 in order to be considered for selection (e.g., typical caseload).

What are the time and teaching commitments of the course?

All attendance at teaching classes/lectures is compulsory. 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.

Are their interviews in the selection process of applicants?

No. The application and personal statement of every applicant is evaluated and rated by a panel of course staff. The 10 highest-scoring applicants are offered places on the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism).

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 ( for further details on calculating course costs.

It should be noted that 80% of Diploma year fees are paid for by the QUB School of Psychology and DHSS. Students only have to pay 20% of their fees for this year.

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 2015 fees were priced at £28.11 per CATS point. The Diploma year comprises 120 CATS points and so fees are £3373.20 (i.e., 28.11 x 120). However, because QUB and DHSS pay 80% of this fee, students only paid the remaining 20%, i.e., £674.64. The MSc year comprises 60 CATs points and so students paid £1686.60 (i.e., 28.11 x 60).

What is the content of the course modules?

In the Diploma year, students complete four modules: Clinical Presentations, Psychological Assessment, Low Intensity Interventions and CBT, and Foundations of Clinical Practice.

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:

Does the Diploma/MSc in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism) course arrange scholarships or placements?


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

Students should be supervised by a qualified clinical psychologist. Frequency and duration of supervision should be at a standard level for an Assistant/Associate Psychologist according to BPS guidelines. This amounts to 1 hour formal supervision per week.

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.