Professional Doctorate Health Psychology

Our experienced health psychologists and placement learning will prepare you to become an independent scientist-practitioner in Health Psychology.

Health Psychology

Key facts

  • Award DPsych
  • Start date January 2025
  • Duration Full-time: 36 months; part-time: 72 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus


Health and Care Professions Council, British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society accreditation logo for Health Psychology


Health Psychology can help to address health challenges affecting people’s day to day lives, prevent illness and foster health and well-being.

This course will train you to develop scientific and practitioner skills in Health Psychology, and to be eligible to become a health psychologist. It is based on real-world placement learning, and includes regular teaching and workshops. 

You'll acquire specific competencies as defined by the British Psychological Society. You'll also gain competence in carrying out a piece of high quality empirical research to a standard publishable in peer review journals.

Supervision is provided by the experienced and enthusiastic health team in Psychology. We have an excellent international reputation in the field of Health Psychology with a record of high quality research into health and health behaviour.

International candidates are expected to commence and undertake most of their training in the UK.

Top-up Research Doctorate in Health Psychology

The Professional Doctorate award is also available for study via a two year part-time top-up research doctorate route. Applicants who already hold a doctoral level (practitioner) qualification in Health Psychology via the British Psychological Society (QHP), and are eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a ‘Health Psychologist’ will be eligible to complete the research module for award of the Professional Doctorate degree.

Students following this route will be required to complete the ‘Applied Research in Health Psychology’ module, via one-to-one supervision.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • show an advanced knowledge of Health Psychology theory, research and methods;
  • develop, deliver and evaluate evidence-based health interventions;
  • maintain high ethical and professional standards in Health Psychology practice and research;
  • provide consultancy for individuals, teams or organisations;
  • design, deliver and evaluate training courses in Health Psychology.

Professional accreditation

On successful completion of this 'Stage 2' training, you'll be eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) under the protected title of ‘Health Psychologist’. 

You will also be eligible to apply for full membership of the Division of Health Psychology and can become a BPS Chartered Health Psychologist.

This Professional Doctorate Health Psychology degree is fully accredited and commended by the British Psychological Society.

Work placements

Placements are an integral part of this course and you can work in a wide range of settings, including the NHS, local government, health and social care, third sector (charities) or other organisations. In most cases you'll identify your own main placement, and this will need to be organised and approved as part of the application and admissions process. Placements can be paid or unpaid, in your own workplace or elsewhere, or can be carried out on a voluntary basis.

Placements must cover at least two broad areas of work. This could be one main placement supplemented by shorter pieces of work elsewhere, or by time split more or less equally between two placements, or they can be sequential over time.

International candidates are expected to start and undertake most of their training in the UK.

Examples of placements with our current trainees include:

  • working with a mental health charity, providing health behaviour interventions for clients and training staff who provide support for people with complex behavioural problems in GP practices;
  • providing training for hospital staff in motivational approaches and behaviour change, and contributing to staff well-being support;
  • working with people with learning disabilities;
  • working in primary care to deliver health psychology interventions.

Study abroad

Plans to undertake part of the qualification abroad should be discussed well in advance with the coordinating supervisor or course team.  For placements abroad, supervision requirements will be as for the existing course.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Applicants must:

  • hold a good (2:1 or above) honours degree in psychology;
  • be a graduate member of the BPS or hold the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC);
  • have successfully completed a BPS Accredited (Stage 1) MSc Health Psychology within the past 5 years to a minimum of merit grade or equivalent.

The University of Stirling has been operating a very successful MSc in Health Psychology since 2003. You can apply for a place on this MSc if you do not currently meet this entry requirement.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

Application procedure

Apply for Professional Doctorate

The online application process requires personal information and evidence of academic ability. It also gives you the opportunity to upload the following supporting documents:

  • University postgraduate taught application form (includes personal statement for all, and expression of interest for 'top-up' only)
  • CV
  • Academic transcripts (undergraduate degree, BPS Approved MSc Health Psychology),
  • Evidence of graduate membership of British Psychological Society
  • Names of two referees (one of whom must be academic)
  • Placement and Training Plans
  • (if applying for Recognition of Prior Learning) RPL evidence including written statement, certificate/award and transcript of results detailing prior learning

As part of the admissions process, you are asked to complete a Placement and Training Plan. This is to show us that there are realistic opportunities and plans for undertaking supervised practice as expected of a trainee health psychologist.

The closing date for applications is mid October (contact the programme administrator for more information -

If your application is acceptable, you will be invited for interview in early November. Those offered a conditional place on the programme following interview will work with the course team to ensure their placement is acceptable. The placement will be visited by a member of the team who will carry out the required checks. A series of other checks, including your Fitness to Practise, will be completed before your offer is finally confirmed.

Apply for Professional Doctorate

Apply for top-up doctorate

Applicants for the Top-up Doctorate should apply by submitting an expression of interest and selecting a research supervisor from the Health and Well-being Research area in the Psychology Division of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Your submission should include an outline research proposal, which will be discussed with your potential supervisor before taking forward your application.

Depending on the context and topic area of research, you may be asked to complete some of the placement documents and checks described above as part of your application. 

You will also be required to submit certificated evidence of:

  • successful completion of the British Psychological Society Qualification in Health Psychology (QHP);
  • eligibility for entry to the HCPC Register (Health Psychologist).

Apply for top-up doctorate.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 67 overall with a minimum of 62 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 94 overall with 19 in reading, 24 in writing, 20 in listening and 22 in speaking.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The course focuses on developing high quality practice and research skills and your capacity to work as an independent scientist-practitioner. It emphasises person-centred and collaborative ways of working, which are characteristic of Health Psychology approaches.

This course will aim to prepare you for working in multidisciplinary contexts, in the context of the Scottish and UK Government targets for improvement of the nation’s health. This acknowledges the interplay of biological, psychological, socio-economic and cultural factors.

Psychology at the University of Stirling has a long history of collaboration with local and national health care providers, and community groups. Course team members have been involved in many collaborative research projects, teaching and professional consultancy. Existing links to the local, national and international health and healthcare community will be fostered and developed in the Professional Doctorate. Stirling is also committed to increasing patient and public involvement (PPI) from the local community. We have PPI representatives on our Course Steering Group and will involve patient and carer groups as far as possible in different aspects of the course.


The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the academic year that starts in September 2024. Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details


This course primarily focuses on placement learning, to enable you to develop as an independent scientist-practitioner in Health Psychology. You will usually be working (either full-time or part-time) in a health-related setting(s) for the duration of the course. You will need to complete a minimum of two years full-time (or equivalent) professional practice.

Although most learning takes place in the placement, the course supports this with regular short blocks of teaching: around 20 core days (with additional sessions if required) in total over the first two years of the course. Each year will have three teaching blocks: in January, May and September.

Year 1

Induction week at the start of the course and two further blocks of teaching following an interactive format or skills-based learning, including sessions from HCPC-registered practitioner health psychologists or other guest lecturers (with professional registration). Teaching blocks include content relevant to the key competences of teaching and training, professional practice, psychological interventions, consultancy and research.

Year 2

The second year also includes three teaching blocks.

Year 3

Year 3 will primarily include one-to-one research and supervision sessions. You will be able to revisit teaching sessions from years 1 and 2 if required, and keep up your involvement with the course via regular research, training and peer support meetings.

Over the course you will have a BPS Registered Co-ordinating Supervisor who will be a member of the Health Psychology team at the University of Stirling. Throughout the course, you will be supported by individual supervision. Face-to-face meetings will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual, but will tend to be more frequent in the earlier stages of the qualification. You will also have workplace supervisors for the supervised practice element of the training.

You will study four modules in the course, described below. All modules are compulsory.


Assessment is by coursework and by research thesis which will be externally assessed and examined by viva voce. Formative feedback will be provided by the course team for all coursework before final submission. All coursework will be double-marked by a member of the course team. You will complete a portfolio of  coursework and practice for each of the taught modules. Research projects will be externally examined and subject to a viva. You must pass all modules and the viva voce to obtain the qualification. You are required to pass all taught credits before progressing to the submission of the research element of the award.

Feedback on assessment

You will normally receive feedback on coursework within three weeks of completion of the assessment. Feedback is usually provided electronically on formal coursework. Feedback and Guidance sessions with teaching staff are available on all modules. These provide regular opportunities to discuss feedback further. 

If you would like to know more about the way in which assessment works at the University of Stirling, please see the full version of the assessment regulations at:

Postgraduate – Taught

Postgraduate - Research

Classroom hours

There are approximately 20-33 core days of formal teaching delivered over years 1 and 2 of the full-time course. Additional optional sessions will be arranged over the course where opportunities arise. Formal taught materials will be available via SharePoint.

Course director

Dr Lesley McGregor, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology

Professor Vivien Swanson, Professor in Health Psychology

Key staff

Course Administrator: Mrs Nicola Hunt

+44 (0) 1786 466258

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023-24 fees

UK students

International (including EU) students

Full course fee £18,200 £36,600
Full-time annual fee (charged years 1-3) £6,067 £12,200
Top-up research doctorate (annual fee) £4,712 £17,300


2024-25 fees

UK students

International (including EU) students

Full course fee £18,600 £37,300
Full-time annual fee (charged years 1-3) £6,200 £12,433
Top-up research doctorate (annual fee) £TBC £TBC

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

This fee is charged as an annual course fee. For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fees policy.

Doctoral loans

If you're domiciled in England or Wales you may be eligible to apply for a doctoral loan from your regional body:

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding


Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

Careers in Health Psychology

Health Psychology is a flexible and broad field of study and this is reflected in the wide variety of work that health psychologists can do.  For example, within policy bodies, public health or clinical health services such as the UK NHS, and also in health and social care, in communities, workplaces and in the third sector (charitable organisations).

Examples of possible roles for qualified health psychologists are:

  • delivering health assessments and management strategies for chronically ill patients, for example, those with cancer or chronic pain;
  • providing rehabilitation or prehabilitation courses, e.g. for patients with coronary heart disease;
  • working to support patients and carers in patient support organisations;
  • behaviour change consultancy with primary health care teams in the community;
  • health education and health promotion in educational or industrial settings;
  • conducting evaluative research in order to provide a research evidence base for health policy decisions;
  • influencing health behaviours, for example in smoking cessation courses, weight reduction groups, or with sexual health care providers;
  • carrying out teaching and research for health care students in academic settings;
  • teaching and training NHS health and social care professionals such as pharmacists, dentists, social workers.

Employability skills

As a qualified health psychologist you'll make high level contributions to the health and well-being of individuals, groups and communities. You'll make informed and specialist judgments on complex issues and communicate effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences. 

You'll undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas, or approaches. 

You will show qualities and transferable skills, to enable you to exercise personal responsibility and work as an autonomous scientist-practitioner in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

Companies we work with

This course works collaboratively with a range of health and social care providers.

What our students said

Katie Heslop
Katie Heslop
Professional Doctorate Health Psychology
The combination of teaching blocks and placement-based learning allowed me to develop as an independent practitioner in the workplace whilst still benefitting from competency-based training at university.
Read Katie's story

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