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Psychiatry (MSc)

We're committed to delivering programmes that are innovative and relevant, providing the best learning outcomes and career prospects for our students. In light of this, we're currently reviewing some elements of this programme. As such, the details shown are subject to change and indicative only. You can still apply now. We'll update this page and contact all offer holders when the review is complete to confirm any changes.

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.

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). 

Distinctive features

  • 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
  • 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
  • The course covers UK-specific topics, such as the Mental Health Act and context-specific considerations in relation to the sub-specialties of Psychiatry

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2020
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.

English language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5 in all subskills or equivalent 

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

This part-time MSc runs over three years. During this time, you will take six compulsory 20-credit modules and complete a 60-credit research dissertation.

As a part-time student, you will be expected to dedicate 10-16 hours a week to your studies. This includes time spent watching and interacting with recorded lectures and videos, consulting supplementary materials, engaging with online tutorials and working on your module coursework.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

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.  

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 taught entirely online, and course material will be delivered using our Virtual Learning Environment. 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.

Virtual tutorials and other live support sessions will be scheduled during all taught modules, with live sessions providing the opportunity for students to explore material in greater depth with course lecturers and tutors.  

How will I be supported?

All modules within the programme are delivered entirely as distance-learning via our 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 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 you 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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 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 designed to ensure that the intended learning outcomes for the course are met and will provide you with the opportunity to enhance your clinical and research skills.

The coursework assignments developed for each module have been designed in line with the latest research and will enable you to develop the necessary skills to apply in a range of clinical, research and academic settings.

During each of the six taught modules, you will have three coursework assignments to complete and submit at the end of each respective module.

The nature of the coursework varies between modules but will include clinical case reports, academic essays, group (multidisciplinary) projects and personal reflections.

Upon successful completion of the taught modules, you will progress to the dissertation stage, where you will be assigned a supervisor and expected to submit a research dissertation project of 15,000 – 20,000 words.

The classification of your degree will be directly influenced by your performance throughout the year, as assessed through the coursework assigned during each of the taught modules and your final dissertation.

The taught modules combined and the dissertation project carry equal weighting, with the six taught modules combined contributing 50% to your final award and the dissertation contributing to the remaining 50%.   

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.

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 (2020/21)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

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

EU students entering in 2020/21 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 (2020/21)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

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

Additional costs



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.” 

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 PhDs, further training in preparation to be clinical psychologists, and a range of jobs relevant to psychology and psychiatry.

This MSc programme enables you to demonstrate that 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).

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