Applied Educational and Child Psychology Doctorate (App Ed and Child Psy D)

Applied Educational and Child Psychology Doctorate

This programme leads to the academic award and professional qualification in educational psychology of Applied Educational and Child Psychology Doctorate (App Ed and Child Psy D). Graduates from the programme are eligible for chartered status with the British Psychological Society and for application for registration as educational psychologists with the Health Professions Council.

For information on the interview dates and selection process, please view the 'How to Apply section' of this course page.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 3 years full-time

Start date: Contact the School directly


Mrs Beverley Burke, Programme Secretary
Tel: 0121 414 4883

Sue Morris, Programme Director
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4880

The British Psychological Society



Newly qualified educational psychologist Tom Hughes, talks about the programme and the university

The programme comprises a number of taught elements, augmented by supervised professional practice placements in a number of approved local authority and other settings. To complete the programme, students need to meet the assessed academic, research and supervised professional practice requirements of the programme, demonstrating the standards of proficiency required of practitioner educational psychologists by the Health Professions Council, and attaining learning outcomes specified by the British Psychological Society.

The academic and research requirements are assessed through a number of assignments completed during Year 1 of the programme, and a thesis compiled during Years 2 and 3 of study. The thesis comprises two volumes: Volume 1 is a report of a substantive original empirical study, while Volume 2 contains four practitioner research reports of work undertaken during the second and third years of training within the supervised professional practice context(s).

More detailed information about the programme is available within the Programme Handbook (PDF, 317KB)

Open Days

Monday 15 June: Open Afternoon for Prospective Applicants to Educational Psychology Training Programmes.    

As in many EP services, Birmingham City Council Educational Psychology Service (Inclusion Support) receives many enquiries about shadowing/information visits from people who are thinking about applying for a place on the 3 year doctoral training programme, or more generally might be considering a career in educational psychology.

As a consequence, the Service  is putting on an 'open afternoon' session for prospective applicants. The session will comprise some short informal inputs from a range of perspectives e.g. Uni Tutor, Head of Service, Trainee EPs and EPs, followed by an opportunity to ask questions and talk with colleagues in more detail. 

The event will take place at 4.30 - 6.00 and will be held at:

Inclusion Support Education Centre
Perry Common Road (on Wilson Stuart School campus site)
Birmingham B23 7AT

Anyone interested in attending can contact Jill Copley, Senior Educational Psychologist on 0121 - 303 - 1793 or e-mail at:

October 2015: School of Education Open Evening            

The School of Education holds an Open Evening once a year for candidates interested in applying to the course. The next one will be in October 2015, exact date TBC.  

Please contact the Programme Secretary, Bev Burke (Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4883 or email for more details.

Why study this course

The University of Birmingham has provided postgraduate professional training in educational psychology for over sixty years. When last re-accredited by the British Psychological Society in October 2004, amongst the major strengths of the training programme highlighted were: 

  • the programme’s ‘unique research-based approach to practice, underpinned by clear interlocking frameworks, key elements of which have been developed over time by the course team; namely Collaborative Action Research (CAR) and Research and Development in Organisations (RADiO) approaches and research methodologies’; 
  • the programme’s tutorial system, ‘which was highly praised by trainee educational psychologists (TEPs) and ‘demonstrated the tutors’ commitment to TEPs’ continuing development. This is of value in terms of both the academic and professional support provided. In addition, the sensitive and skilful way in which TEPs are helped to manage difficult personal issues was particularly highlighted by them’; 
  • ‘the process and structure of formative feedback used on the course’, which was ‘considered to provide a high quality, supportive yet appropriately challenging framework which promotes continuous learning and development, and supports TEPs in planning and identifying priorities’; and 
  • ‘the close and supportive working relationships between the course and local Educational Psychology Services’ which were described as ‘a real strength, which extends to a congruence about understanding the role of the educational psychologist and professional practice, which is valuable in promoting the integration of work on the course and placement practice’.

The most recent subject review carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education similarly endorsed the high quality of provision made for professional training in educational psychology at the University of Birmingham.

In addition to the App. Ed. and Child Psy. D. programme, a post-qualification doctoral research programme and other continuing professional development opportunities for practising educational psychologists are offered within the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham.


Please note that the information provided below may be subject to modification in response to a range of influences, including developments within the University, developments to the profession and the context in which educational psychologists practice, changes in national policy and their effects upon professional training, and / or the desirability of responding flexibly to the needs of the student cohorts to whom the programme is offered.

Programme Structure

All programmes are conceptualised as credit-bearing: in the case of research programmes, a minimum of 51% of credits must relate to research activity.

The doctoral programme in Applied Educational and Child Psychology is positioned as both a postgraduate professional training programme and a higher research degree. 180 of the 540 credits required for the doctoral award are built up each year, of which, in the first year, 60 are configured as ‘research’ credits (relating to the assessed requirement of the three Research modules), while in each of Years 2 and 3, the 180 credits awarded for successful completion of Volumes 1 and 2 of the thesis are also positioned as ‘research’ credits.


Accreditation of certificated prior learning apply to this programme solely in the case of the three Year 1 research modules. Each module accounts for 20 credits (a total of 60 credits for the three modules). For these modules, subject to trainees producing evidence of an appropriate match in both level and content between their previous studies and the Birmingham research module(s) for which they are seeking exemption, accreditation of certificated prior learning and credit transfer may be approved. Accreditation of certificated prior learning is not offered for other modules or components of the programme, since the inter-relationship between the University-based learning and teaching and supervised practice requirements of the programme would render an adequate match with prior certificated learning improbable and too complex to assess with the requisite rigour.

Year 1

The first year of the programme comprises seven linked modules alongside two supervised placements in Local Authority Psychological Services (approximately 70 days) with 20% protected study time.

The modules are briefly outlined below.

Assessment and Intervention

This module focuses upon psychological theory and research relating to the process of cognitive development and learning throughout the developmental lifespan, with particular emphasis upon childhood and adolescence. The implications for instructional design and assessment derived from these theoretical underpinnings are explored within a hypothesis-testing approach to psycho-educational assessment, within which a range of approaches to assessment and intervention are introduced.

The module adopts a broad remit, including normative, curriculum referenced, criterion referenced and dynamic approaches to assessment of cognitive development, attainment, language, learning style and thinking skills, motivational and affective factors, and of learning environments. It also focuses on the processes of social and emotional development within the lifespan development process. Again, a wide range of psychological paradigms and research evidence, and their applicability are explored, as they relate to the mental health and psychological well-being of children and young people. Monitoring, assessment and intervention methods relevant to work at individual, group and institutional levels are presented and applied in the context of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of common developmental and intra- and inter-personal difficulties.

Complex Individual Needs

This module presents an opportunity for trainee educational psychologist to update, extend and apply the knowledge of the developmental psychology of childhood and adolescence which they bring to the programme from their prior studies of psychology. Against this background, the nature and impact on development of disabilities and special education needs are examined. Here the emphasis rests heavily upon analysis of theoretical paradigms and research evidence relating to the aetiology and impact of disabling conditions, and to the quality of evidence available to inform the selection of intervention methods of choice, if disadvantage and disability are to be minimised. Particular attention is paid to balancing social and medical models of disability, and their implications for practice, and to working with children and young people and their carers in ways that maximise their engagement in a collaborative problem-solving process.

Psychology in Professional Practice

This module is planned to support the development of students’ knowledge and understanding of the complex environment within which educational psychology services are delivered. Relevant legislation and policy are reviewed, as are the roles, accountabilities and working practices of the agencies and professional disciplines who share responsibility for supporting the care and development, health and learning of children and young people. The module gives extensive consideration to the public education system and to schools, their structure, staffing, culture, curricula, pedagogic practices and assessment arrangements, preparing trainees for their role as applied psychologists working from the Foundation Stage to post-16 education.

Within this context, the module explores the role and function of contemporary psychological services and the applicability of psychological theory and research to the primary task of promoting children’s development and learning, both through direct work with individual children and groups of children, and through advisory, consultative and research-based work with teachers and others responsible for children’s welfare and learning. Key dimensions of the role such as consultation and supervision, self-presentation, and professional discourses are addressed, drawing upon a number of key theoretical paradigms such as Personal Construct Psychology, the theory and practice of Self-Organised Learning, principles of Democratic Communication, and Socio-Cultural Activity Theory.

Importantly, the module provides a key grounding in the standards of conduct, performance and ethics required of practitioner psychologists, and educational psychologists in particular, by the Heath Professions Council and British Psychological Society.

Research Training.

There are three modules in which trainees participate alongside other full-time and part-time research students in the School, including the qualified Educational Psychologists participating in the post-qualification Ed. Psych. D. programme. The first module, entitled ‘Identity and Epistemology’, addresses the philosophical and methodological bases for research. A second module, ‘Designing Research’ is concerned with practical aspects of research design and the development of research instruments such as questionnaires and interviews. The third module, ‘Using Sources: Producing Analysis’ aims to support the development of skills of data collection and qualitative and quantitative analysis, and the reporting of research findings.

Working with Organisational and Communities

This module considers the Educational Psychologists role in applying psychology at an organisation level. It is concerned to ensure an ecological orientation to practice at all levels, and to exploring community influences upon children’s developmental needs and the development of culturally and contextually relevant interventions attuned to the needs and resources of the communities which schools serve. The module prepares trainee Educational Psychologists to contribute to organisational development, with particular reference to their involvement in school improvement.

Supervised Professional Practice Placements in Year 1.

Fieldwork ‘A’ is undertaken within one of the West Midlands Educational Psychology Services, under the supervision of one of the Field Tutors, who are likely to draw upon support from other designated practising educational psychologists within their employing Local Authority. All of the Educational Psychologists involved in placement supervision will normally have undertaken specific training to prepare for this role.

The placement includes time in schools and nurseries, visits to special provision, practice of skills, and experience of casework and consultation within the Psychological Service setting, along with a small scale collaborative project in a school or early years setting, undertaken by a pair or small group of trainees. The placement starts early in the Autumn Term and concludes in the following Spring. Two days in each week are devoted to Fieldwork ‘A’: this includes time for supervision.

Fieldwork ‘B’ is a block placement of approximately ten weeks’ duration. The placement starts after Easter, having been preceded by a two-day introductory visit prior to the Easter break. Supervision is undertaken by a designated member of the host Educational Psychology Service, with the Field Tutor maintaining close liaison, support, monitoring and assessment roles complementing the support offered by the Local Authority placement supervisor.

Trainee Educational Psychologists gain valuable experience of life as an applied psychologist on a full-time basis within their host Service during Fieldwork ‘B’. The placement offers opportunities for trainees to extend their range of skills and experience. While the detail of the personal learning agreement for the placement will be dependent upon both the practices of the Service and the particular needs and interests of the trainee, a minimum number of substantive tasks must be undertaken.

Cumulatively, the supervised professional practice undertaken during Fieldwork ‘A’ and ‘B’ should ensure that every trainee has opportunities to:

  • apply knowledge and skills introduced during University-based lectures and seminars;
  • gain experience of practice within two contrasting Educational Psychology Services;
  • develop a portfolio of practice relating to assessment and intervention with individuals and groups of children and young people within a range of settings;
  • gain experience of working across the age continuum, and with children, young people and families from differing cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds; and
  • contribute to research, staff training, project and development work within schools and other relevant settings.

Year 2

The second year of the programme marks a significant shift in the professional identity of students, in the approaches to teaching and learning, and in the role relationships between the University, the student and the Educational Psychology Service in which supervised professional practice is undertaken.

In Years 2 and 3, while still registered as full-time postgraduate research students of the University on the App. Ed. and Child Psy. D. programme, trainee EPs normally also become salaried employees of Local Authority Educational Psychology Services (with 40% protected study time). Trainees will therefore normally need to secure an appropriate post as a trainee educational psychologist prior to the first day of September of the second year of training. From the University’s perspective, progression and development of learning are viewed within a spiral curriculum, with each successive year affording further opportunities for trainees to consolidate, apply and extend the knowledge and skills developed in earlier stages of the programme. Additionally, each successive year opens up new domains of study and professional practice.

Year 2 of the curriculum amplifies the focus on: 

  • low incidence / complex needs and disabling conditions; 
  • work in more specialised educational settings such as special schools and units; 
  • working in settings other than schools; 
  • working with children at the lower end of the age continuum and their carers, and related experience in health, education and social care settings which accommodate the needs of children under two years of age; 
  • family-based work; 
  • therapeutic intervention; 
  • collaboration with other professional groups and agencies; and 
  • work at the organisational development level in schools and / or other community settings.

Placement learning in Year 2

As was the case during Fieldwork ‘A’ and ‘B’ in Year 1, University tutors will maintain close liaison with the student and designated supervisor within the Educational Psychology Service, and will make visits to the Service in which the student is working as a trainee Educational Psychologist. A key function of early contacts between supervisor, tutor and the trainee Educational Psychologist will be to negotiate a Personal Learning Agreement for the trainee, in which: 

  • 40% of the time is safeguarded as protected study time; 
  • the respective roles and responsibilities of the trainee, the placement supervisor and employing EPS, and the tutor and the University, are clearly specified; and 
  • a range of activities which the trainee will undertake in order to meet both the requirements of the University, and the expectations of the Local Authority are clarified and recorded.

The Personal Learning Agreement will then form the basis of the ongoing dialogue between student, supervisor and University tutor.

University-based Teaching and Learning in Year 2

There will be relatively little ‘formal’ lecture-based delivery in Years 2 and 3. Rather, ‘academic’ learning will predominantly take the form of tutor-supported inquiry-based learning which relates specifically to the supervised professional practice and research requirements of the programme. The University’s extensive ‘E-Library’ and web- CT resources comprise significant elements of the structured support for learning.

Only a small proportion of the ‘40% study time’ will be allocated to time-tabled lectures and other teaching activities within the University. Trainees will be expected to attend the University for nine days each term. This time will be allocated to:

  • University-based personal professional development tutorials relating to supervised professional practice, and progress with the research and assessed written requirements of the programme, along with any other matters relevant to the needs of the student;
  • lectures and seminars; and
  • trainee-led presentations, seminars and workshops, in which trainees can present their work and share feedback with peers, exchange-based learning can be facilitated, and group consultation approaches can be applied to support both individual and group development.

In Years 2 and 3 trainees are likely to work closely with two designated tutors from the University, one of whom maintains a lead role in placement liaison and support for the overall personal professional development of the student, and the second of whom acts as research supervisor.

Year 3

Students continue in their work as Trainee Educational Psychologists within their employing EPS.

Arrangements for Year 3 mirror those established in Year 2, in that a Personal Learning Agreement for the year will be negotiated during the first tutor visit to the employing EPS at the start of the academic year. As was the case in Year 2, within the placement context, inquiry-based learning will be well supported by access to the University’s Information Services and a range of web-CT resources.

Overall, the third year of the programme aims to provide opportunities for knowledge and skill consolidation, along with some opportunity for intensive involvement within a specialised field. The choice of specialism will need to be locally negotiated, to take account of the interests and development needs of each trainee on the one hand, and the needs and capacities of the employing Service and the opportunities available within the Local Authority.

A further distinctive feature of Year 3 is the increased emphasis upon applications of organisation psychology, and the role of the EP as an external consultant working to promote organisational learning, development and change within large, diffuse and complex organisations, and to contribute to policy development.

The specific focus of this work, and the context in which it is undertaken will necessarily depend upon the opportunities available within each employment context.

University-based Teaching and Learning in Year 3

20% of time in Year 3 is safeguarded as protected study time. Much of this time is directed toward reading to support placement practice, alongside th write-up of the thesis.

A maximum of four days each term are scheduled for University-based learning and teaching. Here, sessions focus on supporting exchange-based learning within the cohort of trainees, and upon more specialised dimensions of practice to support the specialised work experience, and organisational and community psychology applications within thrainees’ practice placements.

Fees and funding

Fees Home/EU 2015-2016

Fees for the programme are paid for by the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP).

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.

Funding to  Support Educational Psychology Training

The funding is managed by the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) on behalf of the DfE

Year 1: University fees plus training grant (£14,400: tax-exempt)

Years 2 and 3: University fee paid by DfE via AEP plus a bursary (£15,000: tax-exempt) and (normally, but not universally), travel costs (up to £1,000 per year) paid by placement provider

Please note that funding is currently assured only for 2015-2018

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good Honours degree in Psychology and be eligible for the GBC at the time of application (Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership) of the British Psychological Society. Prospective students need to provide evidence of their eligibility for the GBC (Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership) of the British Psychological Society.

Prior to making an application to the programme, candidates must have undertaken a minimum of one year’s full-time equivalent postgraduate work experience with children and young people within the 0-19 year age range.

They are expected to have taken steps to develop their knowledge and understanding of the role and practice of educational psychologists in England, and of the factors which influence educational psychology practice.

In parallel to its function as an approved training programme, the App Ed and Child Psy D programme is a postgraduate research degree. Applicants will therefore need to demonstrate their academic and research competence, and their interest in psychological and educational research.

Language competence significantly in excess of the University's standard English language requirements is necessary. Candidates need to demonstrate sophisticated written and oral English language competence within a wide range of registers which ensure that they are capable of accurate and subtly nuanced communication with the wide range of service users, commissioners and colleagues with whom they need to engage during their practice as trainee educational psychologists.

Only those international students who are from EEC member states and are usually resident within the UK are eligible for places on the programme.

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

If you wish to apply for training as an educational psychologist on the doctorate course for 2015, you will need to submit your application via the EPFT online application system, which is hosted and managed by the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP).   Please note that a non-refundable administration fee of £25 is payable prior to commencing an application. The closing date is 16th December 2014.

Shortlisting and interviews will be completed by 1st April 2015 and offers for places made on 2nd April 2015. The deadline for accepting offers will be 10th April 2015.

Interview dates

  • Wednesday 25 February
  • Friday 27 February
  • Wednesday 4 March
  • Thursday 5 March
  • Friday 6 March

The School of Education is Building R19 in the Red Zone. Further information on directions to the School of Education building 

Single Interview 2015-2018: Time frame for Selection Process

Download Selection process (PDF)

2 Feb 2015
2.00 - 4.00 p.m
Short-listing moderation meeting(Tutor, Employer / EPS and Service User Representatives)


6 Feb 2015

Letters sent out inviting candidates to interview

25 Feb 2015
9.15 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.

Interviews: 6 candidates per day

27 Feb 2015
9.15 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
Interviews: 6 candidates per day


4 March 2015
9.15 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.

Interviews: 6 candidates per day
5 March 2015
9.15 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
Interviews: 6 candidates per day


6 March 2015
9.15 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.

Interviews: 6 candidates per day
23 March 2015 Place allocation meeting(Tutor, Employer / EPS and Service User Representatives)
2 April 2015
(by 5pm)
AEP Clearing House notified of selection outcomesAll shortlisted applicants notified of selection outcome:  NB no information can be given to short-listed candidates prior to 02.04.15 


3 April 2015

Good Friday
6 April 2015 Easter Monday


10 April 2015
(by 5pm)

Deadline for candidates to confirm acceptance of offer


Mrs Beverley Burke, Programme Secretary
Tel: 0121 414 4883

Sue Morris, Programme Director
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4880

The British Psychological Society


Learning and teaching

For its effective delivery, the programme has acquired a secure partnership between the University and the Local Authority (LA) Psychological Services. As well as contributing to curriculum planning, delivery and staffing of the programme, local services also contribute to the first year of the programme through the supervision of placement activity (which accounts for approximately 70 days, spread across two placements, each undertaken in a different local authority) in a range of public sector and voluntary agency settings.

In Years 2 and 3 of the programme, students have a different role within educational psychology services, since they need to secure appointments to salaried or bursary funded posts as trainee educational psychologists. Students on the Birmingham programme have, in the past, been free to secure a training post anywhere in England or Wales, providing that they and their employing Service were able to: 

  • safeguard the requisite study time as an integral component of the role; 
  • ensure that the job description and person specification are compatible with the supervised professional practice and assessed research requirements of each year of the programme, (which, in turn, link directly to the learning objectives and outcomes required by the British Psychological Society); and 
  • ensure the student’s availability to attend the University-based components of the programme during Years 2 and 3.

The research training component of the programme takes places predominantly during the first year of training. The research training constitutes one significant forum within which trainee EPs work alongside colleagues from other professions and disciplines, so ensuring opportunities for training and collaboration across traditional professional and disciplinary boundaries at a formative stage in the professional development process.

All members of the tutor team are experienced chartered psychologists who have worked in a number of different local authorities and are actively involved in developments within their employing LAs. The field tutors enjoy including trainee Educational Psychologists in the ongoing work of their Services during professional practice placements. The tutor team is able to provide trainees with a broad range of learning opportunities in terms of academic teaching, research activity, professional guidance and tutorial support.

Tutorial Support in Year 1

Trainee Educational Psychologists are assigned a Core Tutor and personal tutor who support them throughout Year 1 by regular tutorial and supervisory contact.  

More detailed information about the learning and teaching may be found in the Programme Handbook (PDF, 317KB)

Assessment methods

The work and performance of students are evaluated in a number of ways.

Overall Formative Assessment

At the start of the first year in training, trainee Educational Psychologists are asked to take a lead in appraising their own transferable entry skills and training needs, and to work in partnership with their personal tutor to map out objectives for each stage of the first year in training, and plan steps that need to be taken in order to achieve these objectives. Thereafter, at regular intervals, review of progress toward meeting these development objectives forms the basis for discussion within tutorials.

Overview of the Assessment Framework.

In order to gain eligibility for the academic award and professional qualification of Doctorate in Applied Educational and Child Psychology, students need:

  • to achieve a pass mark for all seven of the Year 1 modules (so achieving 180 credits);
  • to achieve a pass mark for their thesis, and pass their viva voca examination (so achieving the remaining 360 Level ‘D’ credits during Years 2 and 3);
  • to pass all the supervised professional practice requirements of the programme, in the judgment of the placement supervisor, and the supervising University tutor, and
  • to conform to the requirements of the University’s ‘Fitness to Practice’ Code and Regulations throughout all components of the programme.

In cases in which a student is unable to complete the programme of study, a number of exit awards are available, to enable the student to translate the credits accrued into a recognised academic award. It should be noted that all such ‘exit’ awards are solely academic awards; none represents a recognised level of professional qualification in educational psychology.


Mrs Beverley Burke, Programme Secretary
Tel: 0121 414 4883

Sue Morris, Programme Director
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4880

The British Psychological Society


Related staff


The Applied Educational and Child Psychology Doctorate sets out to ensure that by the end of the training, graduates are able to demonstrate the standards of the proficiency required by the Health Professionals Council (HPC), to enable graduates to apply to join the register maintained by the HPC. Registration is a necessary condition for practice as an educational psychologist within the UK.

In parallel, the programme conforms fully to the British Psychological Society’s programme accreditation criteria, and addresses the learning outcomes specified for educational psychologists by the Society. Graduation from the programme therefore enables past trainees to apply to the Society for chartered membership as educational psychologists.

To date all graduates of the App Ed and Child Psy D programme have secured posts as local authority educational psychologists upon completion of their postgraduate professional training.


Mrs Beverley Burke, Programme Secretary
Tel: 0121 414 4883

Sue Morris, Programme Director
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4880

The British Psychological Society