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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 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 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 eLearning MSc in Psychiatry in the world and the only MSc 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 MSc in Psychiatry - eLearning is a distance course. The course material is specially prepared and supported by dedicated academic and technical staff. Teaching includes over 370 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. Students can work at times of their own choosing, anywhere they have internet access. Live tutorials, group tasks and discussion groups will enable students to be part of a learning community.

All course presentations work well on iPads and other mobile devices.

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
Duration3 years
ModePart-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

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

In each year of the Programme, you will take Modules to the value of 60 credits. The classification of your degree is based on the grades you achieve in the Modules that you take in all three years

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.

Year one

You will take three compulsory 20 credit modules in year one, providing you with a solid base for the next two years of your degree Programme.  

Module titleModule codeCredits
Anxiety Disorders and DepressionMET46120 credits
Psychosis and Bipolar DisorderMET46220 credits
Behavioural Disorders and DementiaMET46320 credits

Year two

You will take three compulsory 20 credit Modules in year two.

Year three

You will take one compulsory 60 credit Module in year three which involves the research for and the writing of a 20,000 dissertation.

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 is fully eLearning and is taught entirely online, entirely 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 students to question their existing understanding and extend their 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. In more detail:

Online lectures and the formative questions embedded therein provide the information to allow the students to achieve learning outcomes 1 and 2 and test this achievement.

Online videos of patient interviews and doctor/doctor discussions along with the online lecture presentations allow the students to achieve learning outcomes 3 and 4.

Live interactive online group tutorial sessions will take place during the course where a group of students and their tutor can interact within a virtual classroom and work through a clinical problem solving exercise based around a research paper. These, along with online lectures, allow students to achieve learning objective 5.

Coursework in the form of open book modified essay questions based on Key Features allow the student to achieve learning outcomes 1 to 4 inclusive. Modified essay question assessments consist of a clinical case scenario followed by series of questions related to that scenario. Key-feature questions were developed to assess clinical reasoning skills. Key features are unique, essential elements in decision making which, alone or in combination, are the critical steps in the successful resolution of the clinical problem. Feedback on the student’s submission will enhance the students learning and aid in the achievement of the learning outcomes.

Coursework in the form of the student creation of scenario based modified essay questions allow the students to achieve learning outcomes 1 to 6. Feedback on the student’s submission will enhance the student’s learning and aid in the achievement of the learning outcomes.

Coursework in the form of critical appraisal of research papers and synthesis of information allows the student to achieve learning outcomes 5 and 6. Feedback on the student’s submission will enhance the student’s learning and aid in the achievement of the learning outcomes.

Discussion boards will specifically help the students to achieve learning outcomes 1 to 4.

Mock exams will allow students to test their achievement of learning outcomes 1 to 6.

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 the student on researching and writing up the specific dissertation topic.  A formative module on Research Methods will be delivered online via Cardiff University’s online learning platform, Learning Central™. While completing their dissertations students will achieve learning outcomes 1 to 7.

Time requirements

To watch all the presentations and do the required reading takes about 5 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?

All modules within the programme 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.

The first week of the course consists of an introductory unit. This takes students 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, students are supported by their personal tutor. There is extensive online material and handouts and links to eBooks and external web resources. All students are assigned to a group tutor who acts 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.

At the start of the course you will be allocated to a group of approximately 10 students and a group tutor. The tutor’s roles is to be the first point of contact for the course and to support in all aspects of the course. Where your tutor cannot help, they will direct you to another member of the course team which includes the course administrator and eLearning technologist.

All students are allocated a Personal Tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs, who will monitor their progress and discussion boards and provide a live online group tutorial for each unit of study where, in addition to the scheduled problem solving exercises, students will be able to ask more general questions which may be of interest to other students in the group.

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.

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.

We will also support you by:

  • being responsive to your enquiries
  • being available for support and advice
  • giving feedback and delivering marking in a timely manner
  • providing course materials that are clear, appropriate and correct
  • assessing course work both comprehensively and accurately
  • monitoring your progress with the aim of helping you to overcome any difficulties
  • stimulating you to think and learn!

How will I be assessed?

Assessment shall be conducted in accordance with the Cardiff University Senate Assessment Regulations for Taught Programmes. 

The assessments have been chosen to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriately tested and provide students 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.

Formative assessment:

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

Summative assessment:

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. There will be three types of coursework:

All “Unit” coursework will be of the “modified essay” form based on a clinical scenario, usually presented in the form of a videoed patent interview, or similar, followed by a series of questions. These will assess the students’ achievement of learning outcomes 1 to 4.

  • Part-time students

In the first half of the taught stage, “Module coursework” will be a project where students create an assessment based on a clinical scenario. This will assess the students’ achievement of learning outcomes 1 to 6.

In the second half of the taught stage, “Module coursework” will be critical appraisal of research literature. This will assess the students’ achievement of learning outcomes 5 and 6.

At the end of the year, students will undertake a separate summative examination for each module undertaken during that year.  Each exam will be 1.5 hours long and consists of 25 multiple choice questions plus modified essay questions with marks totalling 50. This will assess the students’ achievement of learning outcomes 1 to 6.

MSc dissertation:

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. This will assess the students’ achievement of learning outcomes 1 to 7.

Formative Feedback

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. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

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

Summative Feedback

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 improveAll feedback should directly link to the Module grading / assessment criteria.

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

What are the learning outcomes of this course/programme?

The Learning outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you and academic staff will focus on precisely what they want you to achieve within each Module. 

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.

This programme is particularly suitable for those wishing to increase their knowledge of psychiatry. Psychiatric clinical trainees in the UK will find this course helpful when studying for the MRCPsych exams.

Graduates of the programme have reported that they have gone on to pursue PhD’s, further training in preparation to be clinical psychologists, and a range of jobs relevant to psychology and psychiatry.

This Masters programme enables you to demonstrate you are taking the opportunity to develop your abilities in critical analysis, problem-solving, decision-making, finding and using evidence and in dealing with complex issues. Whilst we do not formally assess clinical skills or competencies in a face-to-face context (so the programme is not a substitute for a formal specialty training programme), studying at this level should help successful students demonstrate numerous academic skills that should be highly regarded in relation to their career development and progression. In particular, the programme offers opportunities to demonstrate the development of knowledge and skills in relation to the application of evidence-based medicine and the potential enhancement of services and governance frameworks. As such, it should provide evidence of commitment and potential that may assist you in relation to taking on greater responsibilities or perhaps seeking management, research, scholarship, or leadership roles. 

Please note that completing this course does not qualify you to practice psychiatry or call yourself a psychiatrist in the UK or elsewhere (as the ability to practice psychiatry is awarded by the relevant regulatory body in your location).

Due to the duration of this programme only Welsh and EU domiciled students who meet residency requirements (English domiciled students are excluded) are eligible for a postgraduate loan. See more information about eligibility for UK Government Postgraduate loans.

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. 

The exam venues will charge a fee for their service which must be paid by the student. Part time students will take three exams of 1.5 hours each on a single day. This fee is determined by the exam venue but it is usually between £100 and £200 in total for the time required for all three exams. Some students may choose to stay overnight near to the exam venue before the exams and the cost of this accommodation should be considered.  The cost of your travel to the exam venue should also be taken into account

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.

What the University will provide:

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.