Psychiatry (MSc)

The course is suitable for medical and other health professionals wishing to gain an in-depth knowledge of current thinking and practices within psychiatry. The MSc in Psychiatry is a distance learning course in relation to teaching, but there is a requirement to travel to Cardiff, or another exam centre, for the final exams.

The MSc Psychiatry is a distance learning course for psychiatrists and graduates from other academic or clinical backgrounds, and can be undertaken from anywhere in the world. 

This three-year, part-time course aims to:

  • Provide the academic component of general professional training and facilitate passing the MRCPsych examinations.
  • Develop students’ critical independence, intellectual integrity, and practical skills with specific reference to psychiatry.
  • Enable doctors to become well informed, clinically proficient eclectic psychiatrists, OR to give non-medical graduates an in depth knowledge of the field of Psychiatry and its practice, to enable them to further their careers in a field supplementary to Psychiatry and work in more informed relationships with Psychiatrists where appropriate.

The course is delivered online, with a requirement to travel to Cardiff, or another exam centre overseas, only for the final exams. 

The course aims to offer students from all backgrounds, a well-rounded postgraduate education. We aim to provide psychiatrists, regardless of geographical location, an understanding of current psychiatric thinking.

We also aim to provide first-class teaching in psychiatry for students from other academic or clinical backgrounds, which will allow them to understand the work of psychiatrists and to work alongside them, within a similar field or to carry out research in this area.

Distinctive features

All course material is delivered using Cardiff University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central. Course teaching material will include online video lectures (webcasts), a variety of other e-learning material, videos of simulated patient interviews, quizzes, group discussion and group problem solving, formative assessments and course work in the form of open book short answer questions and projects.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration3 years
ModePart-time - distance learning
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

In addition to satisfying the requirements of the Cardiff University General Entrance Requirement, at the discretion of the relevant Board of Studies, applicants:

  • Will normally possess an initial degree in Medicine, other health sciences, biological sciences or psychology, awarded by a recognised Institution.
  • All psychiatric trainees working full-time or part-time in NHS posts are eligible to apply for the programme.

At the discretion of the relevant Board of Studies, non-graduates may also be admitted on to the programme provided:

  • The applicant is able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Head of School or nominee that they have held, for a minimum period of two years, a position of responsibility relevant to the Programme which they intend to pursue.


  • In exceptional circumstances, the applicant is deemed to be able to demonstrate equivalent skills that are sufficient to meet the demands of the Programme the applicant intends to pursue, and be approved as such by the Head of School or nominee.

All students must register initially for the MSc.

The MSc consists of three stages: T1 (first taught stage), T2 (second taught stage) and R (dissertation). 

Stage T1 (first taught stage)
This stage lasts for one academic year, and consists of two 30-credit modules, totalling 60 credits, at Level 7.

Stage T2 (second taught stage)
This stage lasts for one further academic year, to a total of two academic years for stages T1 and T2, and consists of a further two 30-credit modules at least to the value of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of at least 120 credits at Level 7.

Stage R: MSc research dissertation stage
This stage lasts for one further academic year, to a total of three academic years for the full MSc programme (stages T1, T2 and R), and includes a dissertation of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of at least 180 credits at Level 7 to complete the MSc programme.

The total normal duration to complete the full MSc programme (stages T1, T2 and R) is three academic years on a part-time basis, from the date of initial registration on the MSc programme.

You may exit after stage T1 with a postgraduate certificate (Postgraduate Certificate), if you have gained at least 60 credits, including any ‘required’ modules.

You may exit after stage T2 with a postgraduate diploma (Postgraduate Diploma), if you have gained at least 120 credits, including any ‘required’ modules.

Your dissertation, which will normally be no longer than 20,000 words and supported by such other material as may be considered appropriate to the subject, will embody the results of your period of project work. The subject of each student’s dissertation will be approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies concerned or his/her nominee.

The dissertation is worth 60 credits and, in combination with the Postgraduate Certificate/Postgraduate Diploma taught stages, will be weighted 50% for the purpose of calculating the final mark:

Stage Weighting

  • Taught modules (Stages T1 and T2 combined) 50%.
  • Dissertation (Stage R) 50%.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

Module titleModule codeCredits
Organic Illness and Substance MisuseMET45030 credits
Psychosis and Mood DisordersMET45130 credits

Year two

Year three

Module titleModule codeCredits
DissertationMET45460 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

The course material is especially prepared and supported by dedicated academic and technical staff. Teaching materials include over 370 online presentations including:

  • Simulated patient interviews.
  • Expert academic interviews.
  • Live tutorials.
  • Novel eLearning presentations.
  • Quizzes.
  • Course work.
  • Discussion groups.
  • Short projects.
  • Access to eBooks.

Each taught module will include:

  • Video webcasts of live lectures which include lecturers slides.
  • Sound only webcast of live lectures which include lecturers slides.
  • Specially made e-learning presentations using one of several available eLearning programmes.
  • Formative quizzes using questions formatted like the summative examinations at the end of the year. 
  • Other formative quizzes.
  • Set online reading.
  • Suggested online and other reading.
  • Group online discussion forums.
  • Videos of simulated patient interviews coupled to written information and formative quizzes.

Some taught modules will include:

  • Formative coursework.
  • Group problem solving.

MSc dissertation
Studies at MSc dissertation level will largely consist of guided independent study and research, making use of the extensive learning and research facilities available. A project supervisor will be allocated to support and advise you on researching and writing up your specific dissertation topic. 

How will I be supported?

All modules are delivered entirely as distance-learning via Cardiff University’s virtual learning environment (VLE) Learning Central, where students will find course materials, links to related materials and assessments.

You will be allocated a personal tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs, who you can contact to discuss progress and for advice and guidance as needed. 

You will also assigned to a tutor who will be your principle point of contact for all course enquiries and course support. Students will be allocated a nominated supervisor when undertaking their dissertation, who will correspond regularly to discuss progress, provide advice and guidance, and give written feedback on drafts.

Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are made available through ‘Personal Development Planning’ and through scheduled online meetings with personal tutors.


Formative feedback will be communicated through electronic and written means in a timely manner. Summative feedback on assessment will be delivered within the timeframe set by the University.

How will I be assessed?

The taught part of the course consists of four modules, two in each year. Each module will be assessed by 30% coursework and 70% final examination.

Summative marks for course work will be awarded for each module as below:

  • By the group tutor for contribution to group discussion based on a marking scale.
  • Diagnosis Based Questions to be answered on an individual basis presented as a “virtual patient”. Students will demonstrate all the learning outcomes in the module they form part of, including in-depth knowledge related to a specific diagnostic classification.
  • Student created virtual patient completed individually, based on given simulated patient interview (video) including questions. Marks will be given for insight into the critical features of the differential diagnosis, management, underlying science and evidence base shown by the student, primarily through the formulation of questions and model answers.  Students will demonstrate all the learning outcomes in the module they form part of, including in depth knowledge related to a specific diagnostic classification.
  • Critical appraisal of a research paper. Students will be given a primary research paper and a systematic review and asked to critically appraise them. Marks will be given for demonstration of intellectual skills including analysis and evaluation.

Summative examinations will be held at the end of the year. Each module will have one two- hour class test consisting of multiple-choice questions, extended matching questions and free text response questions. 

The MSc dissertation stage will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation. Expectations for the format, submission and marking of the dissertation will follow the current Senate Assessment Regulations, supplemented where appropriate with additional requirements of the Programme/School/College and any specific requirements arising from the nature of the project undertaken.

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging in this Master's level course, you will have the opportunity to acquire and develop a wealth of skills and abilities you can apply to any professional setting.  In addition to greater conceptual understanding of current knowledge, issues and methods, you will have the opportunity to practise and develop abilities in critical analysis, the application of evidence based medicine and in dealing with complex issues systematically and creatively. 

Your studies should also help you develop your problem-solving and decision-making abilities by enabling you to utilise evidence effectively and communicate important concepts to colleagues and others. Through the research focused elements you will have the opportunity to develop and enhance skills in aspects such as literature review, critical evaluation, research design, research methodologies, data collection, data analysis and research principles.

Patient interview skills will be taught by webcasts and videoed simulated patient interviews coupled with formative questions.  Also, you will have the opportunity to learn: to communicate your views succinctly and clearly; to use web based resources and web based teaching methods; to understand the need for life-long learning; independence, self-motivation and self-reliance, planning, organising and management skills; team working especially in regard to inter-professional practice; respect and understanding for others, professional curiosity and development.

After fully engaging in this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand basic science underlying psychiatric disorders, their diagnostic criteria and management options available.
  • Appraise current theory and practice relating to the symptoms, diagnosis, etiology and progression of psychiatric illnesses.
  • Choose an appropriate psychiatric interview technique for patients suffering from psychiatric illnesses.
  • Choose an appropriate management plan from a range of possible options, both pharmacological and psychological, for different psychiatric illnesses and justify the choice.
  • Evaluate the evidence base of these management options.
  • Assess current data on the epidemiology of psychiatric illnesses to determine likely causal relationships.
  • Demonstrate the ability to differentiate between scientific research of different quality and conclude what the true state of knowledge in a specific area is.
  • Work independently to study a specific area of Psychiatry.
  • Critically appraise psychiatry literature and develop appreciation of the role evidence-based medicine plays in patient management.
  • Formulate a piece of academic medical writing.
  • Critically analyse and synthesise a wide range of research material.
  • Demonstrate the use of PubMed, Athens and Web of Science data bases.
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform a structured psychiatric interview which will be invaluable to all aspects of psychiatry and research.
  • Describe the signs and symptoms and explain the etiology, progression and treatment of common psychiatric disorders.
  • Consider different treatment options based on an understanding of psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques.
  • The ability to communicate your views succinctly and clearly.
  • Use of web based resources and web based teaching methods.
  • Life-long learning.
  • Independence, self-motivation and self-reliance.
  • Planning, organising and management skills.
  • Team working, especially in regard to inter-professional practice.
  • Respect and understanding for others, professional curiosity.
  • Professional development.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will need a reliable computer with high speed Internet access (and up-to-date virus and malware protection) and appropriate software.