University of Chester

Programme Specification
Psychological Trauma (Studies) MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Psychological Trauma (Studies)

Psychological Trauma (Studies)

University of Chester

University of Chester


Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years

6 Years

Annual - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science

There are no specific Benchmarks for this programme but reference has been made to general guidelines for masters programmes.


Social and Political Science

Friday 1st January 2010


The general aim of the programme is to provide an intellectual setting within which participants can develop an in depth understanding of the nature and appropriate response to psychological trauma and to develop, and enhance their practical and analytical skills. 

Upon successful completion of the programme the student will have:

  • Developed a critical knowledge of the nature and current research related to post traumatic stress, post traumatic stress disorder and dissociation
  • Developed a knowledge of the range of therapeutic approaches to working with psychological trauma and current understanding of the effectiveness of these approaches
  • Developed a knowledge of managing traumatic incidents and intervening in organisations
  • Extended their cognitive skills through the development of professional, ethical and research skills as well as contributing to research within the area of psychological trauma.

These skills also relate to:

  • Transferable skills gained through the use of a variety of research techniques and methods appropriate to post graduate training in the social sciences and specifically in psychological trauma.  These include those demonstrated during the practical research and working with colleagues both individually and in groups.


Knowledge and Understanding

  1. Critical understanding of post traumatic stress.
  2. Knowledge of assessing, preventing and treating post traumatic stress disorder and dissociation.
  3. Develop understanding of the nature of post traumatic growth.
  4. Critical understanding of a range of counselling and therapeutic methods for working with psychological trauma.
  5. In depth knowledge of managing traumatic incidents and crisis intervention.
  6. Advanced knowledge and understanding of a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  7. Knowledge of philosophical, methodological and ethical issues in conducting research into psychological trauma.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  1. Systematically evaluate a wide range of research findings in the field of psychological trauma.
  2. Analyse information gained from the use of assessment methods.
  3. Make critical decisions in terms of responding to individuals who have experienced psychological trauma.
  4. Critically evaluate a range of research methods and make appropriate decisions about conducting research in the field of psychological trauma.

Practical Skills

  1. Using assessment tools with those who have experienced psychologicaltrauma.
  2. Formulation and presentation (live and written) of structured arguments.
  3. Critically appraise and apply research findings.
  4. Utilise debating skills.
  5. Using qualitative research methods.
  6. Using quantitative research methods.

Key Skills
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

  1. Communication skills written and oral - programme wide.
  2. Numeracy - particularly SO7108 Research Methods but also in presentations ofresearch evidence - programme wide.
  3. Information Literacy and Technology particularly handling and retrievinginformation from a wide range of sources - programme wide.
  4. Improving own learning and performance particularly the ability to be reflective - programme wide.
  5. Working with others - particularly in the modules SO7106 Post Traumatic Stress,SO7109 Responding to Psychological Trauma: TherapeuticPerspectives, SO7104 Managing Traumatic IncidentsandSO7105 Personal and Professional Integration of Trauma Theory.
  6. Problem solving - programme wide but particularly in SO7101 the Dissertation Module.

Transferable Professional Skills
Ability to work more effectively with those who have experienced psychological trauma or to manage traumatic events.


The MSc programme is studied over two years part time (a module is delivered as a block over four days). For the award of the MSc Psychological Trauma (Studies) students complete seven modules. These are: 

SO7106 Post Traumatic Stress which explores the current understanding of post trauma reactions; 

SO7116 Responding to Psychological Trauma: Therapeutic Perspectives which examines a range of possible therapeutic approaches to trauma; 

SO7108 Research Methods and SO7102 Applied Research Methods which enable students to acquire research skills and apply them to the area of psychological trauma;

SO7104 Managing Traumatic Incidents which  explores how traumatic incidents, particularly in a work context, are best prepared for and managed when they happen;

SO7102 Applied Research Methods which enables students to develop their research proposal.

SO7105 Personal and Professional Integration of Trauma Theory which provides the opportunity to integrate the work so far and apply it to student's individual area of interest. 

SO7101 the Dissertation Module which provides a medium for students to examine a particular area of interest related to psychological trauma.

Each module (excluding the dissertation module and independent studies module which involves independent work under supervision) is approximately 200 hours of study time with 30 contact hours.  The MSc is awarded for successful completion of 180 credits across the taught modules together with the dissertation.  The Post Graduate Diploma is awarded for successful completion of 120 credits and the Post Graduate Certificate for successful completion of 60 credits. 

Students who opt for the route of a Post Graduate Certificate may choose to take any three of the following modules: SO7 106 Post Traumatic Stress, SO7116 Responding to Psychological Trauma: Therapeutic Perspectives, SO7108 Research Methods and SO7104 Managing Traumatic Incidents or any two of these modules plus the module SO7107 Psychological Trauma Across the Lifespan. (This module is only offered if there are sufficient enrolments) 

Students who opt for the route of the Post Graduate Diploma must take SO7106 Post Traumatic Stress, SO7116 Responding to Psychological Trauma:  Therapeutic Perspectives, SO7108 Research Methods, SO7104 Managing Traumatic Incidents and SO7105 Personal and Professional Integration of Trauma Theory and one of either SO7102 Applied Research Methods  or SO7103 Independent Studies Module.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SO7101 7 Dissertation 60 Comp
SO7102 7 Applied Research Methods 20 Comp
SO7103 7 Independent Study Module 20 Optional
SO7104 7 Managing Traumatic Incidents 20 Comp
SO7105 7 Personal and Professional Integration of Trauma Theory 20 Comp
SO7106 7 Post-Traumatic Stress 20 Comp
SO7107 7 Psychological Trauma across the Life Span 20 Optional
SO7108 7 Research Methods 20 Comp
SO7109 7 Responding to Psychological Trauma: Counselling and Therapeutic Perspectives 20 N/A
SO7116 7 Responding to Psychological Trauma: Therapeutic Perspectives 20 Comp

60 credits at Level7 entitle the student to a Postgraduate Certificate
120 credits at level7 entitle the student to a Postgraduate Diploma
180 credits at Level7 entitle the student to a Master's degree
Optional Modules relate to exit awards only.

Candidates for the MSc in Psychological Trauma (Studies) will possess a good honours degree in any discipline or equivalent qualification and relevant experience of working in the field of psychological trauma.   Applicants might include psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, doctors, nurses, social workers, members of the emergency services, the armed forces, aid workers the military and disaster response team members.   Applicants may also be new graduates who have a particular interest in the trauma area and wish to enhance their knowledge and career prospects. Applicants may be interviewed by a representative of the programme team and where distance is an issue the interview may be conducted by telephone or skype. Given the demanding nature of working in the field of psychological trauma particular reference will be made to applicants own current and past experiences of traumatic events and how these have been, or are being managed.  Applicants will also be expected to be able to identify appropriate support mechanisms available to them in relation to the personal impact of their work with psychological trauma.

The area of psychological trauma currently has no specific benchmarks in place and indeed the creation of this programme was in part triggered by a wish to begin to establish appropriate learning criteria for those working in the field of psychological trauma.  Reference was made to leading practitioners, who work with psychological trauma on a daily basis, in the design and validation of this programme. An similalrly convened advisory Group periodically reviews the programme to ensure graduates are appropriately prepared for work in the trauma field.

Students are given the opportunity to experience input from members of the course team and acknowledged experts (national and international) in the field.  They also experience seminars, workshops, experiential activities, group discussion, video input, web-based learning, and individual and group based research projects.

An active electronic community is encouraged to enable students to continue their learning in between the taught blocks.  The University Intranet provides electronic access to some presentations made so students can revisit (for a specified time) a lecture once the module is completed.

Student's knowledge, understanding and skills is assessed by coursework that includes essay, project work and the research dissertation.

Formative assessment takes place through presentations made by students including theoretical and case related material.

Graduates from this programme will be suited to careers where psychological trauma is a major component such as disaster planning, specialist areas of psychology, psychiatry, social work and nursing, in the emergency services, in rescue and support work in disaster areas and in the military. Graduates will also be suited to careers in consultancy and research and will have the potential for doctoral level research.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.


The Programme has an Advisory Group made up of employers in the area of psychological trauma which meets periodically to  oversee the content.

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