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

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Contact the School directly
3 years full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Combined research and taught
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Educational Psychologist Tom Hughes, talks about the programme and the university

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 and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society and is HCPC registered.

  • The Applied Educational and Child Psychology Doctorate provides a unique research-based approach to practice underpinned by clear interlocking frameworks, key elements of which have been developed over time by the course team
  • The programme’s tutorial system has been highly praised by trainee educational psychologists
  • The close and supportive working relationships between the course and regional services has been described as a real strength of the programme (British Psychological Society).

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, you will 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 and Care Professions Council, and attaining learning outcomes specified by the British Psychological Society.

The School of Education holds an Open Evening once a year for candidates interested in applying to the course. The next one will be online on 8th October 2020 from 6-8pm. A link to this zoom open day will be sent to all those who have registered their interest prior to the event. Please register your interest online

Slides from the 2018 open evening may be downloaded below (all PDF format).


This course is accredited by the British Psychological Society

bps-hcpc combined


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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

Complex Individual Needs

Psychology in Professional Practice

Working with Organisational and Communities

Philosophy of Social Science Research

Research Design, Practice and Ethics

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods

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, you will also become salaried employees of Local Authority Educational Psychology Services (with 40% protected study time). You 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

University-based Teaching and Learning in Year 2 

Year 3

You will continue in your work as a Trainee Educational Psychologist within your 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


Fees for the programme are paid for by the Department for Education.

Please note that funding is currently assured only for 2017-2020

Please view the AEP website for details of the funding

Our Standard Requirements

Entry requirements are set by the Association of Educational Psychologists and full details may be found on their website.

International Requirements

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.  

Assessment Methods

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).

Overall Formative Assessment

At the start of the first year in training, trainee Educational Psychologists will be 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, you will 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.

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 Care and Professionals Council (HCPC), to enable graduates to apply to join the register maintained by the HCPC. 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.

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