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Postgraduate study
Psychology (Top-up)

Psychology (Top-up) Doctorate

Upgrade your master’s qualification to doctorate level, becoming research active and advancing your career in a competitive job market.


Course overview

Aimed at Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered psychologists, you enhance your research skills, gaining an understanding of planning, conducting and writing up research that adheres to ethical principles and guidelines.

Our academic team are members of the Centre for Applied Psychological Science, bridging the gap between theoretical research and applied practice by providing evidence-based solutions to societal challenges. They support you to conduct and defend a research project that makes an original contribution to knowledge or professional practice within your specialist field of applied psychology.

This research project is aligned with your supervisors’ research area and linked to one of the department’s research themes. The capacity to generate independent research is a sought-after skill in professional settings, with researchers contributing new knowledge that enhances professional practice.

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Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Advanced Independent Work

You consolidate your learning experiences throughout the course through a self-initiated research project that significantly contributes to the development of new knowledge within the context of applied psychology, developing skills for publishing empirical work.

Advanced Independent Work Preparation

You ethically consider a research topic in applied psychology, critically appraise research knowledge in relation to the topic and formulate research questions for your proposed study involving systematic review methods.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

You learn through lectures, small group discussion and practical activities, both in person and online. Online sessions include short lectures, direct reading, individual learning activities, and group online discussion and activities.

How you are assessed

You are assessed through supervisor contact time, and tutor and peer led feedback during, both in person and online. Your summative assessment during the first module is a presentation and written proposal for your research project. This helps to prepare you for the final summative assessment of the Advanced Independent Work module which is the written thesis and associated viva voce.


Entry requirements

You should have:
• MSc (or equivalent) in the field of psychology
• be a Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC) registered practitioner psychologist (you will be required to maintain HCPC registration throughout the course)
• have a minimum of two years’ experience working in an applied psychology field of practice
• be engaged in current psychological practice
• have an agreed research supervisory team in place
• have an agreed research project plan that fits within the research themes of the psychology department staff, and which has been agreed by the research supervisory team.

Additional information:
You are expected to have a PC or laptop with microphone and webcam facilities, and reliable internet connection to be able to engage with the blended learning strategy of the course.

Identifying a research proposal of sufficient quality, with an agreed supervisor, is a requirement for applying. Follow these steps before applying:

1. Review research expertise within the psychology department and Centre for Applied Psychological Science and identify a potential supervisor whose research expertise aligns with your interests. If you identify someone with expertise that aligns with your interests, you should review some of their published work to get a sense of the work they do. Find out more

2.Contact the potential supervisor to discuss research ideas. You do not need to have a fully developed research idea before applying, this is developed in collaboration with the supervisor. You should approach them by explaining what topics you are interested in, examining how this relates to their research and discuss if they are currently taking on top up doctorate supervisions. You should be able to demonstrate that you have reviewed relevant research papers.

3.Work with the supervisor to develop a research proposal. If the supervisor agrees in principle to supervise your doctoral work, you then begin working on a research project proposal under their guidance. Please note this does not guarantee your acceptance onto the course

4.Include the research proposal in your application. Your supervisor and the course lead need to attest to the quality and appropriateness of the proposed work. Your application is then considered to determine if you meet the entry criteria for the course.

Please find the link to the research proposal template here

You are required to maintain your HCPC registration throughout the programme of study.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements



Career opportunities

You enhance your research skills through continued professional development and make a contribution to applied discipline specific knowledge, as well as enabling you to gain a higher level qualification which is an advantage when considering career progression.



  • Not available full-time


2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants

More details about our fees

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