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Psychiatry (MSc)

Please note that this course is currently under review. Therefore the details shown are subject to change and indicative only. The review is expected to be completed by July 2019. This page will be updated after that date and will then represent the basis on which the University intends to deliver the course.

The MSc in Psychiatry at Cardiff University aims to offer students from all backgrounds a well-rounded masters level postgraduate education.

Psychiatry is a fascinating and important area of medicine.  Due to the nature of psychiatric illness (which may often be present/co-morbid with other conditions and/or affect the way people behave in a variety of situations), improved knowledge of Psychiatry would benefit professionals working in fields supplementary to Psychiatry and/or likely to come into contact with psychiatric illness on a regular basis.  The programme will be of benefit to such professionals and also to medical doctors training to be Psychiatrists or Psychiatric Specialists. 

The programme aims to provide students with:

•        An in-depth knowledge of the basic science, characteristics and presentation of psychiatric illness. 

•        An understanding of how psychiatric illness is managed and the appropriateness of specific management plans. 

•        The ability to critically appraise, synthesise and evaluate research relating to psychiatric illness. 

•        A developing critical independence and intellectual integrity with specific reference to Psychiatry. 

The programme is a valuable and detailed introduction to the main types of psychiatric illness but does not at any stage entitle anyone enrolled or graduating from it to call themselves a Psychiatrist or Psychologist or to prescribe drugs or to otherwise manage psychiatric illness (if they could not previously do so as specified by their specific registration or licence to practice). 

Students accepted onto the programme working in a field supplementary to Psychiatry may be able to further their careers and work in more informed relationships with Psychiatrists where appropriate.

For students accepted onto the programme who are also medical doctors eligible to train and qualify as psychiatrists: the programme aims to provide the academic component of general professional training and facilitate passing the MRC Psych examinations. 

For students accepted onto the programme who are already Psychiatrists: depending on the module options taken, the programme aims to prepare psychiatrists for advanced training in a psychiatric subspecialty, or to work as consultant intellectual disability psychiatrists.

Distinctive features

This is the only MSc Psychiatry course in the UK which covers the entire syllabic curriculum of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

All the teaching material is delivered via our virtual learning platform, Learning Central. Students can work at times of their choosing, anywhere with internet access. Live tutorials, group tasks and discussion groups will enable students to be part of a learning community.

The course material is specially prepared and supported by dedicated academic and technical staff. Teaching includes over 380 online presentations and additional resources including simulated patient interviews, expert academic interviews, live tutorials, novel eLearning presentations, quizzes, coursework, discussion groups, short projects and access to eBooks.

All course text books and other materials are available online and supported by the School of Medicine electronic library team. Student learning will be directed and supported by a course tutor.

There are a number of online presentations in addition to the MSc course which go into more detail than is required for the MSc and are suitable for students studying for the Royal College exams.

In addition we have a number of short mock MRCPsych type exams. The mock exams and full explanations of the answers are available online. The course includes over 70 example CASC style interviews

The course covers UK specific topics such as the Mental Health Act and various aspects of forensic psychiatry but these will not feature in exam questions (but may come up in coursework).

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year
ModeFull-time - distance learning
Other ways to study this course

Admissions criteria

Students wishing to enrol on this programme will normally possess an initial degree in medicine awarded by a recognised Institution.

Graduates from the following areas of study would also be considered: psychology, nursing or any healthcare related subject or a biological science. Graduates from other disciplines may also be considered – please contact us for more information at

At the discretion of the University, non-graduates may also be admitted on to the module provided:

  • You have held, for a minimum period of two years, a position of responsibility relevant to the course


  • In exceptional circumstances, you are deemed to be able to demonstrate equivalent skills that are sufficient to meet the demands of the course.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

During the one year course you will take Modules to the value of 180 credits.

The classification of your degree is based on the grades you achieve in the Modules that you take but the weighting of the modules with regard to your final classification is 50% for the six taught modules combined and 50% for the dissertation module.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

You will take six compulsory 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module during the one year course. The first six modules will give you the knowledge and ability to carryout research and write a 20,000 word dissertation which comprises the final 60 credit module

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 is fully eLearning and is taught entirely online, through the medium of English. All course material will be delivered using Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment – Learning Central. The principal method of teaching is by simulated patient interviews and doctor-doctor discussions based on clinical cases. These are the starting points for you to question your existing understanding and extend your knowledge and skills through active and continuous learning.  These videos are supplemented by online lectures, links to eBooks and a range of external web sites. Formative questions are set throughout the course and may be integrated within presentations, placed at the end of presentations or may be stand alone.

To watch all the presentations and do the required reading takes about 10 hours a week (full-time) and coursework should take around 2 hours a week (full-time) over a total of 30 weeks. The amount of revision and extra reading you do is up to you.

We have a suggested timetable and the course is presented in a set order. However, you can study whenever you want to at your own pace and watch presentations in any order - they are listed alphabetically on our website. We aim for complete flexibility.

How will I be supported?

The first week of the course consists of an introductory unit. This will take you through all aspects of the course and includes basic psychology, basic pharmacology and basic psychiatry to bring all students up to speed. During this week there is a live online tutorial with the Course Tutor again aimed at making sure students can access the course and understand how it all works.

In addition to e-mail and online tutorials, you will be supported by a personal tutor for help and support with academic and pastoral needs. There is extensive online material and handouts and links to eBooks and external web resources. You will be assigned to a group tutor who will act as the first line of contact and answers all academic queries or passes them on to the course team. We expect tutors to answer all queries within a few days, maximum a week. The course team usually answer e-mail queries within 24 hours.

The course materials include a suggested order of viewing of the presentations, recommended pace of progress, directed reading details including eBooks and external web sites and pointers to the syllabus and learning outcomes for each presentation.

One-to-one discussion with the course tutor is available by e-mail at any time and by Skype with prior arrangement. The course tutor will be available to answer questions on any aspects of the course.

An eLearning technician will be available for you to contact directly with all technical problems.

You will be allocated a nominated supervisor when undertaking your dissertation, who will correspond regularly to discuss progress, provide advice and guidance, and give written feedback on drafts.


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.

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment.

Formative feedback is given following completion of the embedded questions and mock exams. Further feedback is given during live tutorials.

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve.  All feedback should directly link to the Module grading / assessment criteria.

Summative feedback will be given following the completion of all coursework.

How will I be assessed?

The assessments have been chosen to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriately tested and provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate they have met them.  Specific module assessment methods for each module shall be determined by the relevant Board of Studies and are detailed within the relevant Module Description.

The course includes over 1000 questions embedded within presentations. In addition there will be a formative MOCK exam for each module.

Coursework will be set for each module (Module coursework) and for each unit of study (Unit coursework) within the modules. Therefore, there will be three pieces of coursework per module.

At the end of the year, students will undertake a separate summative examination for each module undertaken during that year. 

The MSc dissertation stage will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation.

What are the learning outcomes of this course/programme?

Knowledge & Understanding:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate:

  1. An ability to explain basic science related to the presentation and management of mental illness including behavioural science, human development, neuroscience, genetics and psychopharmacology.

Intellectual Skills:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate:

  1. An ability to explain the incidence/prevalence, aetiology, classification and progression of these illnesses.
  2. Recognition and evaluation of the signs and symptoms presented by a patient and determine the differential diagnoses and most likely illness.
  3. The ability to select the most appropriate management plan from a given range of possible options, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, for these illnesses, justify their choice and explain the likely outcome.
  4. The ability to critically appraise psychiatry literature, including appraisal of statistical methods, related to all aspects of these illnesses. 
  5. The ability to synthesise and evaluate a wide range of research material of different quality and conclude what the true state of knowledge in a specific area is.

Transferable/Key Skills:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate:

  1. The ability to successfully undertake academic medical writing and work independently to study a specific area of Psychiatry.

Both medically qualified and non-medically qualified students enhance their professional standing and employment prospects by gaining a university qualification. It is expected that medically qualified students will continue to work in their local health services while taking any opportunity to carryout research.

All graduates will be well placed to carryout research or undertake further research training.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Additional costs

Students living or working in Britain are expected to travel to Cardiff to take the written exams. This will require you to pay the cost of your travel.  Some students chose to stay overnight in Cardiff before the exams and the cost of this accommodation should be considered.  Full time students will sit three exams on one day and a further three exams on the following day. Therefore, some students may choose to stay overnight between the two exam days. Prospective students should take both travel and accommodation cost into account.

Students living or working outside of Britain can take the exams at centres in their home country. This may be at a British Council venue or another suitable exam venue such as a local university. The venue will be arranged by the MSc course team after consulting with each student concerned; each student will have the final choice of venues which are approved by Cardiff University. 

Full time students will take three exams of 1.5 hours each on one day and a further three exam of 1.5 hours each on the following day. The fee for exam venue will usually be between £200 and £400 in total for all six exams. Some students may choose to stay overnight near to the exam venue before the exams and/or between the two exam days and the cost of this accommodation should be considered.  The cost of your travel to the exam venue should also be taken into account.

Suitable exam venues and the approximate cost can be determined before you commit to the course.

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

What the student should provide:

All students need access to a fast broadband internet connection and a suitable computer. Student with a slow or intermittent connection to the internet may experience delays in the loading of web pages and videos. The minimum recommended requirements are:

Internet speed:                    3 mb/sec broad band or faster

Operating system:               Windows 7 or later; Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later

Processor and memory:      Intel core i3 or better;  2 GB ram or better

Videos cannot be downloaded or provided in other formats. All web pages, presentations and eBooks are viewable on iPads and most other mobile devices as well as Windows and OS X based computers. However, while some mobile devices may be suitable for completing online coursework, we recommend the use of a desktop or laptop computer for this purpose.

All required reading in the form of eBooks and eJournals will be available online from the University library. eBooks and eJournals can be downloaded for offline reading.

There are no formal placement or study abroad opportunities associated with this programme.