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MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care

A professional training programme suitable for people who want to work in a modern and demanding NHS role as a Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology.

Psychological Therapy in Primary Care

BABCP logo  British Psychological Society logo

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc
  • Start date January
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months
  • Mode of study Full-time

Our MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care provides expert training in delivering evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to adults in primary care. Delivered jointly by the University of Stirling and the University of Dundee, it is designed by NHS professionals and clinical academics to give you the clinical and professional skills you need to work as a clinical associate in applied psychology within the NHS.

Mental Health Services across the UK are facing a growing demand for therapeutic services to treat common mental health disorders. The NHS commitment to delivering evidence-based treatments means that the theoretical focus of this course is CBT. The course has been jointly devised by NHS clinicians and clinical academics at the University of Dundee Medical School and the University of Stirling's Division of Psychology. You’ll undergo 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 CBT framework. You’ll develop the abilities to meet a range of performance targets safely, while responding constructively to clinical supervision and in line with professional and ethical guidelines.

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

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    Funded by National Health Service Education for Scotland (NES), this course is designed to extend your knowledge of the theoretical foundations of human behaviour and psychological disorders. It will help you develop the necessary competences to deliver evidence-based psychological therapies to treat common mental health disorders in adults in a primary care setting.

  • Work placements

    Clinical skills training is conducted in supervised NHS placements.

  • Faculty facilities

    The Psychology department has outstanding laboratory space fitted with high-quality equipment. It has excellent computing infrastructure, and both research and teaching activities are supported by in-house technical staff with computing, programming, electronic and audio-video expertise.

    We’ve invested heavily in research infrastructure, including our own Pre-School Playgroup, which provides an outstanding facility for developmental research and teaching. Purpose-built laboratory space has also been created to support human electrophysiology research (EEG/ERPs), health research (including GSR and heart rate monitoring), face research (including eye-tracking) and vision research (including stereoscopic displays).

  • Research

    We have one of the leading psychology departments in the UK, which ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014). It was one of only seven non-Russell group universities to do so, the others being Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, Sussex, Essex, St Andrews and Bangor (source: Times Higher Education magazine).

    Our quality of research publications ranked third in Scotland after Aberdeen and Glasgow. The relevance of our psychology research activity to society received the highest possible rating, which only four other psychology departments in the UK achieved (REF 2014 results).

    Our MSc students get involved in our lively community of research excellence.

  • Academic requirements

    Applicants should hold an honours degree in Psychology (2:1 or above) conferring the Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

    Alternatively, applicants should have successfully completed an MSc psychology conversion course at a level equivalent to a 2:1 and which confers Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

    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 senior academic staff and NHS staff.

  • Application procedure

    Recruitment is carried out by the Universities of Dundee and Stirling, jointly with the NHS. Applications for this course will be open for three weeks from Friday 24 July 2020 until 3pm on  Friday 14 August 2020. Interviews are in Stirling University from Monday 5 to Thursday 8 October 2020 inclusive.

    You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

    Visit the University of Dundee website for further details, including a link to the online application forms that will become live on Friday 24 July 2020. Interviews will be held during October 2020.

  • 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 sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with 56 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language 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.

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


The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Modules will be taught by a combination of clinical workshops and seminars and supported by online learning material.

    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. They’ll 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 trainee’s clinical interaction with patients.

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

  • Assessment

    The course is made up of approximately 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 will depend 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.

  • Classroom hours

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

  • Course director
  • Key staff

    Course administrator

    Ms Karen Langlands
    MSc PTPC/CBT Course Administrator
    Mailbox 17, Postgraduate Office, Level 6, School of Medicine
    Ninewells Hospital
    DD1 9SY

    +44 (0) 1382 383020

  • Fees and costs

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

    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

    There are typically five £1,000 bursaries to contribute towards fees or maintenance costs for students beginning a taught MSc course. All students formally accepted onto the MSc course are eligible to apply for these awards. Funding will be awarded based on both previous experience and academic record, but preference will be given to applicants intending to stay at Stirling to pursue a PhD following the MSc course.

    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.

    EU and overseas 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

The course is designed to give you the clinical and professional skills to work competently in a modern NHS environment as a Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP). Recent graduates have also gone on to work in other clinically-related posts in both the private sector and public sector across the UK.

  • Employability skills

    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. To be successful, graduates need to develop the abilities to meet a range of performance targets safely, while responding constructively to clinical supervision and in accordance with professional and ethical guidelines. Many of these qualities are valuable wherever our graduates eventually work.

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