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Health Psychology (MSc-Postgraduate Diploma)

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  • Objectives
    Students on this programme will understand and critically evaluate the theoretical basis of health psychology and apply this knowledge to understanding health, health behaviours and health care issues. The programme has a strong experiential focus – it includes contributions from health care practitioners and allows you to carry out a brief placement in a health care setting. You are encouraged to carry out research in health care settings where possible. This MSc programme is designed to meet the British Psychological Society’s requirements for Stage 1 training towards Chartered Health Psychology status. Via formal teaching and practical experience, you will acquire relevant skills and core competencies as a basis for professional training in health psychology (Stage 2), or other applications of psychology to health issues.
  • Entry requirements
    Entrance Requirements A Single or Combined upper second class Honours degree in Psychology and eligibility for Graduate Basis for Registration with the British Psychological Society. For the Postgraduate Diploma, graduates with an upper second class Honours degree from a UK university or equivalent, or with equivalent professional qualifications, will be considered.
  • Academic Title
    Health Psychology (MSc/Postgraduate Diploma)
  • Course description
    Structure and Content

    The programme comprises the following modules in the Autumn Semester:
        Perspectives in Health Psychology: This module introduces and provides a context for different theoretical approaches within health psychology. It promotes critical understanding of the relationship between biological, psychological and social approaches to health and illness, health behaviours and health care in relation to specific topics such as stress, cardiovascular disease and pain.
        Applications of Health Psychology - Communication, Systems and Context: This module aims to help you develop critical understanding of the way health care is delivered in the NHS and other settings. You will evaluate psychological interventions and examine the relationship between health care providers and clients. The module will develop understanding of the professional role of the health psychologist, multi-disciplinary working and sensitivity towards ethical/professional issues. The module includes a brief experiential placement in a health care setting.
        Research Methods I: This module aims to develop understanding of research methods and helps you to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate health related issues. The module includes principles of literature review, experimental design and data collection and offers knowledge and practical experience of statistical analysis to enable you to carry out a piece of empirical research to a publishable standard.

    The following modules are taken in the Spring Semester:
        Research Methods II: This continues the Research Methods module, focusing in more detail on qualitative research methods, such as thematic analysis and phenomenological analysis.
        Individual, Social and Cultural Differences: This module develops awareness and critical appraisal of the influence of individual psychological, social, cultural and biological differences on health, illness, health care provision and usage. Topics include personality, lifespan, gender and cultural factors which influence health and health behaviours such as exercise, alcohol and drug use and sexual behaviour.
        Approaches to Illness, Disability and Coping: This module applies health psychology theories and models to understanding specific illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It also includes evaluation of factors which promote well-being in people with acute or chronic illness or disability and the role of interventions to improve well-being.
        Research Project (MSc only): In this module, you will carry out your own supervised empirical research project in an area of health or health care which interests you, allowing you to integrate theoretical approaches with practical research methods and techniques learned. The investigation is conducted and reported to publishable standard.

    Delivery and Assessment

    The modules are taught in two- to three-hour seminars which include lectures, workshops, and practical or experiential sessions. You need to complete and pass the six modules above to be awarded the MSc in Health Psychology. Assessment is by formal exams and coursework.

    Coursework is varied, including oral presentations, essays, group work, a placement report and critical reviews of research.

    Career Opportunities

    Health psychology is one of the fastest growing areas of applied psychology and this programme provides the first stage of professional training towards becoming a Chartered Health Psychologist. Students intending to go on to become Chartered Health Psychologists can achieve this via working in health care or in academic posts. There are opportunities in many areas e.g. public health, health education or health promotion, or in community-based health improvement projects. Skills gained on the programme might also be used in working with patients with specific conditions, such as cancer, or with the elderly, or chronic pain patients. The programme might also be used for professional or personal development for individuals working in the health field. The University of Stirling has links with health care providers on a local and national level within Scotland. Student placements and research projects encourage further links to be developed with local health care services.

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