University of Chester

Programme Specification
Family and Child Psychology PGCert
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate

Family and Child Psychology

Family and Child Psychology

University of Chester

Department of Psychology, University of Chester

Chester Campus (parkgate road)

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

3 Years

Annual - October



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Psychology

There is currently no benchmarking statement produced by the QAA for postgraduate psychology, only for undergraduate honours degrees. The QAA benchmark statements are being reviewed 2013-2015. Following a review in 2004 the BPS did distribute draft benchmark statements relating to specific areas of Applied Psychology at postgraduate level. While none of these directly relate to the areas of Family and Child Psychology they are a useful indicator of the knowledge and skills requirements needed for individuals working in areas of applied psychology and hence were referred to in the development of this programme. Furthermore analysis of the content of existing, competitor programmes were utilised in benchmarking. Finally, the QAA FHEQ guidelines were consulted and adhered to in the development of the curriculum.


Wednesday 16th September 2015

The aims of the programme are:

1. To give graduate students the opportunity to develop advanced knowledge and understanding of theories and methodologies relevant to  family and child psychology
2. To be informed by, and to contribute to, broader academic debates about the methods and approaches that underpin scholarship and practice within family and child psychology
3, To enable students to apply advanced scholarship to personal and professional contexts
4. To develop a range of practical and professional skills relevant to psychologists and general employability (e.g., self management, planning,  critical evaluation, critical reflection and communication skills)
5. To prepare students with suitable interests for further postgraduate study at Master/ Doctor of Philosophy Level.

Upon completion with respect to knowledge and understanding students will have:

  1. Demonstrated comprehensive and systematic knowledge of concepts and theories in family and child psychology
  2. Demonstrated the ability to critically appraise professional and ethical issues related to family and child psychology.
  3. Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the theoretical arguments surrounding research methods within the field.

Upon completion with respect to cognitive skills students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Critically evaluate primary sources.
  2. Critical reflection on one’s own learning and academic experiences.
  3. Demonstrate effective analytical reasoning in a range of contexts commensurate to level 7 study.

Upon completion, with respect to practical and professional skills:

See Sections 24a and 24c for more information about options and module combinations.

Option  1: CPD to update subject knowledge
1. Demonstrated the ability to carry out an observation of children in a nursery setting, and use the data to inform a project of personal or professional relevance (PS7304)
2. Demonstrated the ability to produce a literature review on a topic of interest, commensurate with level 7, including skills  such as literature searching, synthesis, development of a sustained argument and referencing in APA format (PS7306)

Option  2: Pursuing further postgraduate study or research
Demonstrated research skills commensurate to level 7, including data collection, handling and analysis; following ethical principles; survey methodology; producing a poster for dissemination; APA report writing; use of statistical software; qualitative  analysis (PS7301 and PS7302)

Option 3: Pursuing research and project management
Demonstrated research planning skills, such as writing a research proposal, costing a project , networking, applying for grants (PS7303)

Upon completion with respect to communication skills students will have:

  1. Demonstrated the ability to communicate effectively both in oral and written forms to different audiences.
  2. Demonstrated the ability to communicate academic arguments to non-academic audiences.


The postgraduate certificate runs over the autumn and spring terms, with the full-time programme taking place in one year, and part-time over two years (up to 3 years maximum study time). The programme is modular in structure and consists of three 20 credit taught. Each 20 credit module represents approximately 200 hours study commitment with typically 2 hours per week of staff/student contact time. The independent student study time for each 20 credit module is approximately 176 hours.

Option 1: CPD to Updating Subject Knowledge (i.e., PS7304, PS7305, PS7306)
A student already working in the area, undertaking the PG Cert for Continuing Professional Development, for example, may be mainly interested in updating subject knowledge, and therefore the three core content modules, PS7304, PS7305 and PS7306 offer an appropriate  pathway.

Option 2:. Preparing for Further Postgraduate Study or Research (i.e., PS7304, PS7301, PS7302)
Another student, taking the programme as a precursor to further postgraduate study or a research, might select PS7304 and the two research modules PS7301 and PS7302. 

Option 3: Practical and Professional skills (i.e., PS7304, PS7301, PS7303)
Another student, interested in developing a set of professional skills, might choose PS7303 rather than PS7302.

Other pathways are available based on students' interests and needs.

The three core content modules (20-credits each) cover theories and applications of family and child psychology. First, PS7304 Child and Adolescent Development addresses development through infancy, early and later childhood and adolescence (for example, social, cognitive, emotional and symbolic development). Second, PS7305 Family Psychology in Society, focuses on practical applications, such as the interface between psychology and social policy, and other relevant social, educational and legal issues, such as child protection, domestic abuse, deprivation and related interventions. Third, PS7306 Family Lifestyle and Transition focuses on the changing family, with change conceptualised as both diversity in the family unit, and the adjustment of family members to transitions within the life cycle, in relation to issues such as the transition to parenthood, and divorce.

PS7301 Researching Thought and Behaviour and PS7302 Practical Skills for Research cover quantitative and qualitative research skills relevant to family and child psychology, including methods of data collection which are
suitable for use in research with children and families. These modules also cover a range of quantitative and
qualitative methods of analysis, including the use of specialist software, such as SPSS. The final taught module, PS7303 Advanced Skills for Research and Practice aims to develop competence in research development and management, including the generation of research income, the development and costing of research proposals, networking and other relevant professional issues. PS7303 aims to develop a strong set of professional and skills, with employability and career advancement in mind.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PS7301 7 Researching Thought and Behaviour 20 Optional
PS7302 7 Practical Skills for Research 20 Optional
PS7303 7 Advanced Skills for Research and Practice 20 Optional
PS7304 7 Child and Adolescent Development 20 Comp
PS7305 7 Family Psychology in Society 20 Optional
PS7306 7 Family Lifestyle and Transition 20 Optional

The postgraduate certificate is awarded for the successful completion of three modules (60 credits), the compulsory module PS7304 and two others (PS7305, 306, 301, 302, 303)

The five optional modules can broadly categorised as:

(1) Core subject content ( PS7305, PS7306)

(2) Research methods skills (PS7301, PS7302)

(3) Advanced skills for research and practice (PS7303).


Candidates will normally possess an honours degree in psychology (minimum 2.ii) or a related discipline.  In addition, we are willing to consider applications from graduates from outside the social sciences who can demonstrate that they have sufficient interest and motivation to pursue studies in a field that is different to their first degree. Applicants whose first language is not English must have an appropriate level of English proficiency certification before applying (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL).

In line with university regulations, students who have successfully completed the Postgraduate Certificate will be eligible to continue their studies and complete the Postgraduate Diploma / full Masters degree.

In terms of benchmark statements we were guided by the descriptors for level 7 Masters degrees,  taken from FHEQ (2008, pp.20-21):

Masters degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:·        

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice.       
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.

Conceptual understanding that enables the student:·        

  • To evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline.
  •  To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

 Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:·        

  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.        
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

 And holders will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:        

  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility.   
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations.
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.


During the induction programme, students will be given a day of initial training and support for their learning. This will draw on expertise within the psychology department, the faculty's e-learning specialist, and representatives from the  Library Information Services (LIS) and Student Support and Guidance (SSG). The event gives a grounding in study and research skills., such as the library and its catalogue, Moodle, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), i.e., and Sharepoint. The session will therefore help to orientate students, and inform them about the support and facilities that are available at level 7.

All students are allocated a personal academic tutor (PAT) during induction. The PATs provide pastoral support and take an overview of the student's academic performance during the course. In addition to the support provided by PATs in typical situations, PATS will direct students to more specialised resources when appropriate, such as Student Support and Guidance (SSG). SSG can offer more specialised support and counselling for students, for example, in relation to personal or financial problems that they may face. International students are also provided with additional support from the International Office, which includes mentoring and 'buddy' programmes to help them settle into their new environment.

Students will be taught through a wide range of learning and teaching methods, enabling all students to reach their potential.  In line with University Policy the programme team will use the VLE to coordinate their teaching, using Moodle to distribute news and resources. Moodle is also used as an interface to Turnitin software for assignment submission and plagiarism detection.

Students will be taught primarily through small group teaching sessions, seminars, tutorials and workshops, allowing a more student-centred approach compared to traditional lectures. These structures will allow the team to use a broad range of teaching approaches, making their teaching generally more interactive and less didactic. Many sessions will be structured in a way that encourages classroom interaction and student participation, which will help to promote deeper levels of learning and understanding. Taught sessions will be supplemented with in-class tasks to aid learning and consolidation. Students' cognitive skills are developed further through assessment and through critical evaluation of published research throughout the programme.

Students will receive both summative and formative feedback throughout the course. The use of electronic submission and marking systems will allow students to submit and receive their feedback at times and from places that may be more convenient for them. The team will make use of the module spaces within the VLE to maintain communication between staff and students, something that is especially important when teaching takes place mainly on one day per week.

To enable students to study by day release, all teaching will be delivered on one day per week on this this programme. On this programme, 'part-time' therefore reflects the number of modules a student is taking during the year, rather than taking separate modules at different times. Therefore, as part-time students attend the same modules as their full-time counterparts, they will have the same levels of access to staff and resources as full-time students. Furthermore, specialist resources and facilities will be made available to both part-time and full-time students outside of normal teaching times as necessary, by arrangement with members of the teaching and/or technical staff.

Assessment on this programme is entirely through coursework, and includes essays, critical reviews, case studies and group presentations. Formative feedback will be provided in all modules and also on the assessments, including opportunities to discuss assignments and drafts in workshops and tutorials.


The programme is aimed at:

1.Graduates from the social sciences in the UK and overseas who wish to develop their conceptual
understanding of families and child development.

2. Graduates wishing to differentiate themselves from the growing number of jobseekers with a degree.

3, Graduates wishing to gain postgraduate experience as a precursor to applying to undertake professional
training to become a psychologist.

4. Graduates wishing to develop their research skills as a precursor to a research career and/or doctoral

5. Graduates employed in relevant professions, such as the fields of health, education, social welfare and
social policy looking for opportunities for continuing professional development and career advancement

6. Graduates hoping to find employment in fields such as health, education, social welfare and social policy.

A number of sources inform the University's approach to diversity and equality. The Department recognises its duty not to discriminate because of age, disability, gender identity or expression, race or ethnicity, religion or belief or sexual orientation in the educational opportunities it provides. The programme, as with the whole of the Department, conforms with relevant codes of practice and guidance, specifically when implementing the Race (2001), Disability (2005) and Gender (2006) Equality Duties. Guidance from the Commission for Equality and Human Rights , such as the code of practice for post-16 education, and the Equality Challenge Unit serve to inform programme developers of their duties and responsibilities. In practical terms, the Department works with colleagues from Student Support & Guidance, Learning Support Services and from Marketing Recruitment and Admissions to ensure the various agendas are taken into account. In addition, the Institution's Teaching and Learning Strategy (reflected in the Departmental and the Programme strategies) sets out specific aims as part of the diversity agenda. The programme team have little influence over who applies to the programme, but will provide support and guidance for students with for example, diverse abilities, through the formative approach to teaching and learning which is embedded in the programme. A departmental member of staff is a member of the University's Diversity & Equality Committee and works to ensure that the Department is kept up to date with developments.

Safeguarding children during the MSc Family and Child Psychology assessments

The University of Chester is committed to compliance with all those legal, statutory and regulatory requirements which pertain to safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults from harm. The University operates a web based application process to check whether the applicant has a criminal record, facilitated by the Disclosure and Barring Service. Students intending to carry out research with children or vulnerable adults (e.g., in their dissertation) should discuss the research fully with an appropriate tutor, and adhere to University procedures for obtaining ethical clearance for the research, as well as obtaining clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service, before undertaking the research. Failure to follow these procedures may be considered academic malpractice. The student is liable for any costs that are incurred in checking their criminal records.

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