Psychological Therapy in Primary Care



This Master’s course, delivered jointly by the Universities of Stirling and Dundee, was designed by National Health Service (NHS) professionals and clinical academics to train people to deliver evidence-based psychological therapies to adults in Primary Care.

Mental Health Services across the UK are facing a growing demand for therapeutic services for common mental health disorders. The NHS commitment to delivering evidence-based treatments means that the theoretical focus of this training is cognitive behavioural therapy. Students of this MSc will study a curriculum jointly devised by NHS clinicians and clinical academics at the University of Dundee Medical School and the University of Stirling's Division of Psychology, whilst undergoing training and clinical supervision within the NHS. The course will develop your knowledge of the prevalence, diagnostic criteria, presentation and treatment of common mental health disorders within a Cognitive Behavioural Framework.

Key information

  • Degree type: MSc
  • Study methods: Online, Full-time, Campus based
  • Start date: January
  • Course Director: Dr Freda McManus (Psychology; Stirling)Dr Will Goodall (Department of Psychiatry; Dundee)

Dr Will Goodall
Joint Course Director
c/o Psychology
University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 466839/1382 632410

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Course objectives

This National Health Service Education for Scotland (NES) funded  MSc is designed to extend the knowledge of the theoretical foundations of human behaviour and psychological disorders, and to develop the necessary competences to deliver evidence-based psychological therapies to treat common mental health disorders in adults in a primary care setting.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Applicants should hold an Honours degree in Psychology (at upper second class or above) conferring the Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society. Applicants for this course should be aware that they are also applying for employment with the NHS and therefore must be eligible for, and have appropriate personal qualities suited to employment in the NHS. Recruitment will be jointly undertaken by representative senior academic and NHS staff.

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: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Application procedure

Recruitment is carried out by the Universities of Dundee and Stirling, jointly with the NHS. Recruitment for 2016 will begin in July 2015 with the application process opening on Friday 24 July 2015 and closing at midnight on Friday 14 August 2015. Application will be via UKPASS (the UCAS Postgraduate Online Application System) in July/August. As part of the UKPASS application process, applicants will also be guided through the NHS forms which are required to be completed for this course. For further details see where there is a link to the online application forms that will become live on Friday 24 July 2015. Interviews will be held on 5-7 October 2015.

Course Administrator

Mrs Karen Forbes
Division of Neuroscience
Medical Education Institute
Mail Box 6
Ninewells Hospital & Medical School

Tel: +44 (0) 1382 383020
Fax: +44 (0) 1382 383647

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course comprises five taught modules and a sixth research module. The first three modules are University of Dundee supervised while the second three are University of Stirling supervised. All modules are core and there are no optional modules:

  • Assessment, Diagnosis and Formulation: This overview of the assessment process enables you to conduct clinical assessment and formulation of common mental health disorders in primary care.
  • Professional and Ethical Issues: This module develops your understanding of the principles and practice of appropriate professional conduct in the National Health Service (NHS).
  • Research Project: A supervised systematic review of the scientific literature chosen to answer a clinically relevant question in the context of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for common mental health problems in adults.
  • Principles and Methods of Psychological Therapy: This module helps you develop and maintain collaborative working alliances and deliver a range of psychological interventions appropriate to common mental health disorders.
  • Common Mental health Disorders in Primary Care: This module develops understanding of use of theoretical and clinical knowledge of the presentation and evidence-based treatment interventions for common mental health disorders.
  • Research, Evaluation and Outcome: This module equips you with the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate relevant published literature.

You are allocated an NHS clinical supervisor who oversees and provides guidance on your clinical activity. You are also allocated a University-based supervisor from the course team (who reviews clinical performance) and a University-based research supervisor.

Delivery and assessment

Modules will be taught via a combination of clinical workshops and seminars and supported by material in an online learning environment. NHS employers provide appropriate study facilities including computers and internet connection to allow you to carry out academic work on-site. Clinical activities and delivery of therapeutic interventions will be supervised and guided by an NHS clinical supervisor in the NHS setting, who will provide guidance on all aspects of clinical competence according to agreed guidelines. Ratings of clinical competence will be based on taped evidence of practice in the NHS setting and observations of the trainees’ clinical interaction with patients.

The course will comprise 50 percent academic study and 50 percent practical clinical placement work. Academic assessment will be by case reports based on NHS clinical work, an essay, examinations and a dissertation. In addition, the successful completion of the first three modules listed above depends on the receipt of a satisfactory assessment of clinical competence from your NHS clinical supervisor. Assessments of clinical competence are made six months and nine months into the course. At these points, any unsatisfactory clinical competence will be highlighted and a programme of remedial action provided that must be undertaken successfully by the end of the modules. A further final assessment of clinical competence will be made at the beginning of December. A minimum rating of satisfactory is required at this point.

Modes of study

Full-time: 12 months registered with the Universities of Stirling and Dundee. Clinical skills training is conducted both in supervised NHS placements and via face-to-face skills workshops at the universities. This training is supported by material in an online learning environment. You must attend one or other of the universities for three or four days per month for nine months of the year, in addition to a two-week period during January.

Study method

Online and by attendance at the Universities in line with an annually determined timetable; Full-time

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The course is designed to enable a graduate to work as a Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP) in the NHS. Recent graduates have also gone on to work in other clinically related posts in both the private sector and public sector across the UK.


This is a professional training course designed to equip graduates with both the clinical and professional skills to work safely and competently in a modern NHS. The development of the abilities to meet a range of performance targets safely, while responding constructively to clinical supervision and in accordance with professional and ethical guidelines, is essential for a successful graduate. Many of these qualities are clearly valuable wherever our graduates may eventually work.



You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Scholarships & funding

The fees statement above is not applicable for this course.

Applicants to this programme simultaneously apply for employment by the NHS and if accepted, their tuition fees are paid by NHS Education for Scotland.

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