University of Chester

Programme Specification
Principles in Cognitive & Behavioural Approaches MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Principles in Cognitive & Behavioural Approaches

Principles in Cognitive & Behavioural Approaches

University of Chester

Department of Psychology, University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

I year full time / 2 years part-time

6 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Psychology

1. Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

2. BABCP KSA Framework

3. BABCP  Core Curriculum

Although not accredited by BABCP the course has been designed in accordance with BABCP KSA criteria for demonstrating core professional equivalence.


Friday 1st November 2013

The course has a cognitive and behavioural theoretical base with a preference for approaches with the soundest evidence and where cognitive and behavioural techniques are integrated into the therapy.  

The programme aims are twofold. Firstly the course aims to equip students with a critical awareness of CBT in terms of science, theory and competent practice. Secondly the course content has been mapped against the BABCP Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes framework (KSA); thus it is intended that this programme, when followed by the necessary supervised clinical experience, will enable individuals to demonstrate core professional equivalence; and thereby equip individuals to meet the entry criteria for the professional MSc in CBT. It is not expected that all students will complete the KSA portfolio and so course content has not been restricted to these benchmarks alone in order to provide a wider and more generic learning experience.

In relation to these aims, it is important to note that to meet BABCP KSA benchmarks individuals must provide (a) evidence of relevant training; (b) self-study, and (c) clinical supervisor references. This programme is limited only to helping students to evidence the training and self-study components. 

For students using this course to contribute to their KSA portfolio, the following steps represent a potential career pathway in which the foundation in cognitive & behavioural approaches bridges the gap between undergraduate status to entry and qualification from the MSc in Cognitive & Behavioural Therapies:

Step 1. Undergraduate psychology degree (3 years). 

Step 2. PG/Dip or MSc Principles of Cognitive & Behavioural approaches (9-13 months).  

Step 3. Dedicated mental health work experience (3 year full time equivalent minimum) and completion of KSA portfolio.   

Step 4. Entry to Professional MSc in CBT (Note all offers for places on MSc in CBT are subject to (a) meeting minimum entry criteria; (b) a successful interview, (c) available training places).   

Step 5. Successful completion of MSc in CBT (2 years) resulting in eligibility to apply for BABCP accreditation as a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist.

It is important to note that the programme is by definition a preparatory training for the MSc in Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies; and to that extent students are not expected to achieve clinical competence, or use the qualification from this course as a licence to practise CBT.

For students not wishing to go on to further training in CBT, the knowledge gained will have relevance to a range of other psychology-related training and career opportunities, especially those related to clinical and/or counselling psychology. In addition, the programme also has a clear emphasis on equipping students with the kinds of transferable skills demanded by employers in today’s job market.

Knowledge and Understanding

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:
·Demonstrate a critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature relating to CBT.
· Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the principles of CBT and the evidence base for the application of CBT techniques
· Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of CBT for depression and anxiety disorders

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:
· Demonstrate a critical understanding of the theoretical and research evidence for cognitive behavioural models and an ability to evaluate the evidence
· Demonstrate a critical understanding regarding adapting CBT sensitively to ensure equitable access for people from diverse cultures and with different values.
· Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ‘scientist practitioner’ model
Practical Skills

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:
· Demonstrate a critical awareness of the professional and relationship skills required to practice in a mental health setting.
· Demonstrate a critical awareness of the competences required to conduct cognitive behavioural assessments.
· Demonstrate a critical awareness of the competences required to practice CBT.
· Develop a critical awareness CBT evidence based treatments protocols.
Key Skills

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

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:
  • Communicatea critical understanding regarding professional and relationship skills, and the science theory and practice of CBT by means of presentations, essays, and critical commentaries.
  • Demonstrate numeracy skills through critically discussing research data
  • Demonstrate information literacy and technology skills through the retrieval, translation and presentation of research data using a range of multi-media tools.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of personal learning and performance through reflective essays and use of peer feedback.
  • Demonstrate working with others through group projects and presentations and class based role play work.
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills through assignments that address the management of complex and high risk clinical situations.

Transferable Professional Skills

On successful completion of the programme students will be able to demonstrate:
· IT skills
· Research skills
· Data management
· Debating skills
· Time management
· Team-working skills
· Written and presentation-based communication skills
· Effective listening
· Influencing skills
· Critical thinking and evaluation
· Critical awareness of working within professional frameworks
· Critical awareness of legislation guiding professional practice
·Critical awareness of relationship and interpersonal skills
· Critical awareness of competence based approach to working

The programme is studied over one year full time, or two years part time. It consists of six level 7 20 credit modules and a 60 credit dissertation module. Each 20 credit module represents approximately 200 hours study commitment with typically 28 hours of staff-student contact time. The course commences with an initial induction session. Thereafter teaching will be delivered one day per week over two trimesters.

Three modules will be delivered each trimester. The dissertation module is delivered across a third trimester whereby students will work under the supervision of a member of academic staff.  In Trimester 1: PS7210 provides a critical introduction to (a) concepts of psychopathology, and (b) theory, treatment methods, and empirical support for key models of therapy. PS7211 addresses preparation for professional issues and relationship skills. More specifically this module is intended to enable students to develop a critical awareness of the key professional and relationship skills required to work in a mental health setting. PS7215 covers psychological research methods and statistics. It is already validated as part of the MSc in Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies. Students whom successfully complete this module and later enrol on the MSc in CBT will be able to claim APL for this module. In Trimester 2: PS7212 provides a critical awareness regarding (a) the identification of depression and anxiety disorders, (b) competent conducting of cognitive behavioural assessments, and (c) the assessment and management of risk. PS7213 covers CBT core intervention techniques, and is intended to enable students to develop a critical awareness of the competences required to deliver the core skills of CBT. PS7214 provides a critical overview of evidence based CBT interventions. There is an emphasis upon the scientist practitioner approach to clinical practice, in which practitioners select clinical interventions with the strongest empirical support.  The dissertation module (PS7112) is validated across a range of postgraduate courses in psychology.

None of the modules on this programme of study are specified as having pre-requisites, however, we would make the following recommendations to students following a part-time pathway, in order to maximise their learning experience: 1. That PS7210 (Psychopathology and Models of Therapy) be completed before any trimester two modules (PS7212, PS7213 and PS7214) as this provide more generic, background information which these later modules build upon. 2. That students complete PS7210, PS7212 and PS7213 before (or concurrently with) taking module PS7214. 3. That students complete all taught modules before submitting the dissertation.


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PS7112 7 Research Dissertation. 60 Comp
PS7210 7 Psychopathology & Models of Therapy 20 Comp
PS7211 7 Preparation for Professional Issues and Relationship Skills 20 Comp
PS7212 7 Assessment Skills for Depression and Anxiety 20 Comp
PS7213 7 CBT: Core Intervention Skills 20 Comp
PS7214 7 CBT: Evidence based clinical interventions 20 Comp
PS7215 7 Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology 20 Comp

The award of Master of Science is awarded to students who successfully complete all six taught modules and the 60 credit dissertation module. The award of postgraduate diploma is awarded for the successful completion of 120 module credits. Students who successfully complete 60 credits have the option of accepting a postgraduate certificate as an intermediate exit award. Allthree modules from Trimester 2 must be successfully completed for the award of title PGCert Principles in Cognitiveand Behavioural Approaches. Should the student achieve 60 credits in any other combination of taught 20 credit modules then the title awarded would be PGCert Foundation in Mental Health. BABCP KSA Benchmarks are covered throughout the course. Students who do not complete all six modules may need to demonstrate their competency in some key benchmarks in other ways if they wish to go on to submit a KSA portfolio.

This programme is primarily targeted at the following individuals:

  • Psychology graduates looking to pursue a clinical career in mental health
  • Other graduates, who have limited clinical training and /or experience, seeking a clinical career in mental health
  • Diploma level counsellors lacking professional accreditation and/or sufficient training in CBT
  • Professionals from non-clinical backgrounds (e.g. teachers, police force) seeking a career change.

To be admitted onto the course, applicants must meet one or more of the following criteria:

1. Hold an undergraduate level degree qualification (minimum 2:2) in any subject

2. Hold a graduate level diploma qualification in counselling (or equivalent)

3. Have achieved a relevant professional qualification in another discipline (e.g. nursing) to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

In the case of those without a degree level qualification, students must be able otherwise to demonstrate their potential to study at a postgraduate academic level. For those without an undergraduate degree or a graduate level diploma, relevant work experience and CPD training courses may also be considered as equivalent for entry; these will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the admissions tutor.

Applicants who have completed overlapping qualifications or courses may be eligible to apply for APL for part of this course. International students must be able to demonstrate (a) how their home country qualification equates to these entry criteria and (b) that they meet University of Chester English-language proficiency requirements for post-graduate study (see ).

The design of the programme and development of learning outcomes have been informed by:  

1. The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications 

2. British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes Framework. 

3. British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies: Core Curriculum (2010)

Prior to commencement of the course, and during the induction programme, students will be offered a day of initial training and support for their learning. This will draw on the expertise within the team, from the faculty's VLE co-ordinator and in support functions such as Library and Information Services (LIS) . The focus of the event will be in providing an overview of the programme and giving initial training in study and research skills. Students will be introduced to the library and library catalogue and to the Sharepoint system and associated Personal Development Plans (PDPs). The session will therefore essentially help orientate students in terms of the support that is available for their learning and guide them in terms of the ways they may consider approaching their studies at level 7.

Students will each be allocated a personal academic tutor (PAT) during  induction. The PATs will all be experienced in providing support for students in relation to matters associated with their academic performance throughout their course. PATs will also use the resources provided by Student Skills Development and guide students to these when it is felt appropriate. PATs are also able to provide a level of pastoral care for their students. However, they are also able to guide students to Student Support and Guidance (SSG) when this is required. SSG can offer more specialised support and counselling for students in relation, for example, to personal or financial problems that they may face. International students, in addition to the support mentioned thus far, may also be provided with the additional support that is offered via the International Office. This offers mentoring and 'buddy' programmes to help students settle into their new environment.

Students' acquisition of knowledge and understanding will be facilitated through a wide range of learning and teaching methods. These will be diverse and will enable students of varying abilities to reach their full potential. The teaching team, a number with PGCertLTHE, will use their knowledge of learning and teaching methods to create a strong team teaching ethos with an emphasis on the critical evaluation and reflection required at level 7. 

The learning and teaching methods to be employed on this course include: 

  • Small group workshops, seminars, and lectures.  
  • Class presentations to facilitate sharing of material and ideas. 
  • DVD resources will provide students the opportunity to study examples of clinical sessions and clinical demonstrations of specific techniques. 
  • Expert and non-expert demonstrations of clinical work will be assessed using competency measures to aid development of critical awareness of clinical competence.  
  • Experiential and skills based workshops provide students with a first-hand experience of the therapist and patient perspective. 
  • Self-directed study to include general reading for the course and preparatory reading for each session.
  • Problem based learning to be facilitated through coursework.
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops to provide information/support on completing a KSA portfolio.  

In parallel with the learning and teaching strategy, the assessment strategy and methods focus on providing students with a critical understanding of (a) the professional and relationship skills required to practise in a mental health setting and (b) the science, theory and competent practice of CBT.  

Methods of assessment include: class presentations, open-book exercises, critical essays, problem based scenario portfolios, critical analysis of research, critical reviews of literature, clinical case study plans, competency based critical evaluation of CBT assessments and interventions. 

Graduates of this course will have attained a foundation-level knowledge in the underlying models, principles, and approaches in cognitive and behavioural approaches to therapy. This advanced knowledge in clinical, counselling and therapeutic aspects of psychology will be relevant for those graduates wishing to work in these areas of applied psychology, for example in health-related research or as assistant (clinical) psychologists. This postgraduate qualification may also strengthen an application for those intending to apply for doctoral-level training in clinical or counselling psychology.

This course is especially targeted at those wishing to pursue a career in cognitive behavioural therapy. In addition to generic theoretical understanding of the models underlying the practice of CBT, graduates will be able to demonstrate the theoretical components of the BABCP Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes framework. This will enable part-fulfilment of entry requirements onto BABCP accredited CBT training courses, such as the MSc offered at the University of Chester.

All graduates will benefit from the range of transferable and employability skills that are embedded within the curriculum. In addition to IT, research and writing skills, graduates will be especially prepared for employment relying on high level skills related to working with a diverse range of people.

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.

A number of sources inform the University's approach to diversity and equality including The Equality Act (2010). 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 to 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 and Guidance, Student Skills Development 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.

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