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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 (www.hscrecruit.com) and job pages in newspapers.

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

No.

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?

Full-time only.

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. Thereafter they must attend lectures every Thursday (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.