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Doctorate in Educational Psychology

This Professional Doctorate programme will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to qualify as a practicing Educational Psychologist.

This fully funded, doctorate programme aims to provide you with an advanced level of knowledge in educational psychology and, upon completion of the course, you will be qualified to practice as an Educational Psychologist.

You will also be eligible to apply for registration as a practitioner psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for Chartered EP status.

You will spend each year of study in practical fieldwork placements in local authority (LA) Educational Psychology Services as well as attending university-based sessions within the Cardiff University Centre for Human Development (CUCHDS) - our dedicated developmental psychology centre.

This programme provides you with the opportunity to develop your critical and reflective skills to the relevant theories and approaches which comprise the subject. By the end of the three years, you should:

  • Have a detailed knowledge of educational psychology, its key theories and the findings which support or challenge those theories.
  • Have an ability to use your knowledge of the subject in original and creative ways.
  • Have the ability to conduct research within different paradigms.
  • Be able to apply your research findings in creative, novel ways.
  • Adopt a psychological, change-focused approach to the issues and concerns of:
    • children as they develop from babies though to adults
    • the parents, carers, teachers and other professionals who contribute to the development of the children in their care
    • the organisations and systems within local authorities which employ educational psychologists.

The programme provides a wide-ranging overview of issues and practices in educational psychology. Within this broad framework, you will be encouraged to develop your own particular strengths and theoretical perspectives.

Programme aims

The aim of the programme is to offer knowledge and expertise for a career as an educational psychologist (EP), via doctorate-level study. Completion of the programme confers eligibility to apply for registration as a practitioner psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for Chartered EP status.

Applicants should note the following:

  • Cardiff University has in place a Policy for Determining Applicants’ Fitness to Practise and Eligibility to Pursue Regulated Programmes of Study. This policy will be followed where information is disclosed or received about applicants, which suggests that a fitness to practise assessment is required.
  • Eligibility to enrol on the programme, if offered a place, is dependent upon satisfactory completion of an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check, i.e., one that does not reveal any information that suggests a trainee would be unsuitable for work with children, young people and vulnerable adults.
  • The HCPC carries out its own health and character checks to determine whether individuals are fit to practise and can be included on the Register. So passing all elements of this programme does not guarantee automatic inclusion on the HCPC’s Register.

Distinctive features

  • Fully funded by the Welsh Government, with trainees receiving a bursary for all three years
  • You will undertake three placements across Wales and England, which are negotiated prior to commencing the course. This provides you with greater flexibility and enables you to plan and prepare effectively
  • This programme is underpinned by a psychologically informed framework for educational psychology practice called COMOIRA (The Constructionist Model for Informed and Reasoned Action: Rhydderch & Gameson, 2008; 2010; 2017) which was developed within the Cardiff DEdPsy Programme itself
  • Based within the Cardiff University Centre for Human Development (CUCHDS), an active, psychological and stimulating research environment
  • Gradual approach to carrying out and reporting research, an element of the Programme which trainees have reported to be ‘well scaffolded’ and ensures that they are equipped to fulfil the requirements of the thesis and to pursue research post-qualification
  • Small, cohesive group of tutors who have a diverse range of experiences and professional backgrounds within the field of educational psychology

Key facts

Accreditations The British Psychological Society
Mode of study Full-time
Qualification DEdPsy
Full-time duration 3 years
Part-time duration Not available
Start dates September

The Doctorate in Educational Psychology programme is a three-year full time professional training course comprising of both university and practice elements. The term commences each year on September 1 and runs through until approximately the end of July.

As well as attending university based sessions, each trainee will experience three different placements within LA Educational Psychology Services (one each year). University sessions and placements are generally undertaken in ‘blocks’.

  • Year 1 starts with pre-induction activities that aim to broaden experiences and knowledge within the field of educational psychology. This is followed by approximately twelve weeks of university based activities and teaching. In February of Year 1, trainees will commence their first year placement. This placement ends in approximately June, at which point trainees return for more university based activities.
  • During Year 2 and 3, trainees spend most weeks on placement, with a week of university based activities planned in term one and two. During term three, trainees finish placement in approximately June, and then return for more university based activities.

Trainees are assessed through various submissions each year. These include academic assignments, research tasks (including a final thesis) and a fieldwork portfolio.

Approach to learning

Trainees and tutors bring to the programme a wealth of experience and knowledge. It is the task of the programme to build on this expertise. It is assumed that all those involved, as a consequence of their undergraduate and/or postgraduate studies, come to the programme with a comprehensive knowledge of psychology.

During each year trainees are supported to be responsible for their personal growth, to develop further their psychological knowledge and understanding, to use such knowledge and understanding to underpin all the work they do, and to reflect actively on the experiences they have in the field and in the University.

Throughout the programme, the emphasis is on psychological perspectives on problems and issues. With the support of the programme, trainees will be expected to:

  • adopt a change-focused approach
  • view issues/problems holistically
  • recognise the interactive nature of contributory factors.
  • understand the importance of the process in reaching solutions to problems, as well as the end-product
  • locate assessment, intervention and evaluation firmly within the change-focused process
  • work to develop psychological formulations in collaboration with children and young people, parents, school staff and other service users
  • demonstrate the extent to which theory underpins practice
  • demonstrate an understanding of the ethical implications of actions.

The programme team takes pride in the diversity of the teaching approaches used, something which has been positively evaluated by our trainees. At the core, we take a constructivist approach - supporting students to construct meaning based on their prior knowledge and experience, developing ‘sense making thinking’ but also ensuring that learning is social and that our learners are key agents in this process.

As well as sessions led by the programme team, teaching also includes collaboration with professional speakers, alumni and stakeholders from a variety of disciplines and contexts

Course content

Teaching on the Educational Psychology Professional Doctorate programme consists of six themes:

  • Research Methods in Educational Psychology
  • Processes and Methods of Assessment
  • The Psychology of Learning: Managing Change
  • The Psychology of Behaviour: Managing Change
  • Understanding and Working with Organisations, Systems and Groups: Managing Change
  • The Role of the Educational Psychologist (EP): Managing Change

Additionally, a rich and varied programme of mini conferences is provided each year, which allows for flexibility in addressing the constantly changing context of educational psychology practice. Each conference ensures that there is an appropriate mix of speakers, including national level speakers, service users, alumni and professionals working in the field. Topics have included:

  • Post-16 Work
  • Responding to Crises
  • Tribunal and Expert Witness Work
  • Bilingual Issues and Cross Cultural Issues
  • Children in Care
  • Welsh Language Issues
  • Working with SLD / PMLD and special schools


To aid continuity, all trainees are allocated a member of the programme team as their professional tutor upon commencing the course. The professional tutor provides supervision, guidance and support relating to both university and placement activities. Trainees are able to seek and organise supervision with their professional tutor as and when required. The programme team aim to stay in contact. Additionally, trainees are allocated with a separate research tutor, who will support them with research related work, including their final thesis.

Whilst trainees have named supervisors, they can also approach and seek supervision from any member of the programme team.

The programme team are aware that undertaking the three-year doctorate can at times be challenging for trainees, both practically and emotionally. As such, they strive to provide a supportive and non-judgmental ethos, where trainees can seek and receive pastoral support as and when required.

The programme team embrace the BPS guidelines for supervision, offering this as a psychological process that enables a focus on personal and professional development ensuring a confidential and reflective space for the trainee to consider their experiences and learning, as well as their responses to these. This is understanding of supervision is integrated with COMOIRA, providing a congruent approach to supervision whilst recognising that there will be individual needs.

In addition to university based supervisors, trainees are also allocated a fieldwork supervisor (FWS) on each fieldwork placement. This FWS supervises the trainee’s work and development on placement and links with the trainee’s professional tutor at the University. The University provides training for all FWS.


In Year 1, there is continuous assessment of theoretical and practical work. In Year 2, as well as continuous assessment of practical work, a small scale research report and related documents are assessed. In Year 3, there is continuing assessment of practical work and trainees submit a 35,000-45,000 word research portfolio, including a thesis.

The Doctorate in Educational Psychology programme is situated within the Cardiff University Centre for Human Development (CUCHDS), and trainees will find themselves part of a simulating, active research environment, situated alongside masters and PhD students undertaking cutting edge research with members of the public.

The Doctorate in Educational Psychology programme itself is committed to producing high quality, relevant and robust research in the field of educational psychology. Trainees on the Programme are encouraged to explore and advance their own interests and expertise through research as part of their thesis as well as completing focused, commissioned research for local authority partners.

The programme provides a gradual approach to carrying out and reporting research over the three years. Trainees have reported that this aspect of the programme is ‘well scaffolded’ and ensures that they are equipped to fulfil the requirements of the thesis and to pursue research post-qualification.

Below are examples of recent research titles from Cardiff University Doctorate in Educational Psychology Programme Trainees:

Collaborative research projects

  • Pupil Perceptions of the Impact of the ELSA Programme on their Wellbeing.
  • What factors enable or obstruct successful implementation of PALS?
  • What are pupils’ views on EP involvement?

Small scale research projects

  • Teachers’ perception of well-being in a through-school.
  • Supporting parents post-diagnosis: An evaluation of workshops provided for parents of children with a recent Autism Spectrum Condition diagnosis.
  • Social media, ‘Fear of Missing Out’ & primary school children: An exploration of primary school children’s social media use, their fear of missing out (FOMO), their perceptions of social media use & constructing ways forward.

Thesis projects

  • “Being an Autism Parent”: Mothers’ experience from initial concerns about their daughters to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder: An interpretive phenomenological analysis.
  • Teenage Partner Violence: Young people’s views on awareness, prevention, intervention and regaining one’s sense of wellbeing.
  • A Proposed Model for Predicting the Willingness of Mainstream Secondary Teacher’s to Support the Mental Health Needs of Pupils.

Successful graduates will meet all of the HCPC’s Standards of Proficiency and the BPS’s Required Competencies for Practitioner Psychologists. They are also eligible to apply for registration as Practitioner Psychologists with the HCPC and for Chartered status with the BPS.

Most educational psychologists in England and Wales currently work within Local Authorities. However, the profession is increasingly diversifying with a growing number of educational psychologists practicing independently or working within broader contexts such as the health sector.

All Cardiff University Educational Psychology Professional Doctorate programme graduates to date have found suitable employment, mostly working as educational psychologists in Local Authorities in England and Wales.


The Doctorate in Educational Psychology programme is fully funded by the Welsh Government, with trainees receiving a bursary for all three years. We occasionally offer self-funded places on this course, however, the application and selection process for these places is the same.

From September 2022 those trainees in receipt of Welsh Government Funding are required to remain working in Wales for two years post qualification.

See our latest PhD studentships and projects and find out more about other funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Students from the UK

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

We will be accepting applications from Monday 25 September 2023 until Wednesday 6 December 2023. Unfortunately, applications received outside these dates will be automatically rejected.

Applicants will be required to submit an application form using the online application system for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology.

To begin your application, please ensure that the application period is open and fill in the ‘Apply’ form.

Applicants will need to provide evidence that:

  • they have obtained their qualifications or expect to by 31 December
  • they are eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC)
  • they have relevant work experience. Please provide a breakdown of each period of employment and voluntary work with the corresponding number of hours per week spent in this role. This is often best presented in table format.

Please ensure that you complete the Personal Statement on the application form. The Personal Statement is essential in helping us to understand your skills, qualities and experiences and how you have applied psychology through your previous work experience. Please note that the Personal Statement will be used as part of the selection process and applications without a completed Personal Statement will be rejected.

In addition, applicants will need to provide an academic reference and a work experience reference.

Please contact Doctorate in Educational Psychology Enquiries to request the relevant forms and a guide to completing your application.

Open evenings

The 2023 open evenings have now taken place.

Please view the open evening presentation for further details.

All applicants must have the following entry requirements:

  • a qualification in psychology which confers eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS), usually by the December preceding the start of the programme.
  • one years’ experience working with children and young people (aged 0-25), based on full-time employment in educational, social services or community settings.

Qualifications and experience need to be obtained by 31 December.

English language requirements

IELTS with an overall score of 7.5 will be required.

Please read our English language requirements for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

Doctorate in Educational Psychology Enquiries


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