Masters in Psychology is a Team Effort

Recognition in teaching and learning can often fall at the feet of one individual – that member of staff who makes a difference in the lives of their students. In the case of the School of Psychology, however, it is an entire team who are making impressions with the MSc in Psychology (Conversion).

With the creation of this programme, students who have previously studied psychology modules as an undergraduate can become a graduate member of the Psychological Society of Ireland in one calendar year; a necessary stepping stone for certain careers in psychology.

Dr Simon Dunne, one of the team members who worked on the course and Chair of the MSc, said it is an opportunity for students to ‘upskill’.

“This Masters programme was designed for people who have a certain amount of psychology in their undergraduate or postgraduate studies,” he said. “The idea is to upskill them to an accredited qualification and a necessary step towards becoming a practicing psychologist.”

Such is the value of such a course that its creators were nominated for a President’s Award, DCU’s very own celebration of excellence in teaching.

“The course is very popular, and we have people coming from all walks of life and different backgrounds, and that is probably one of the reasons for our nomination,” said Dr Dunne. “We have people from sociology backgrounds or people who were counsellors but didn’t have that accredited qualification – we have so many different people on the course.”

One of the things the team does is to keep the course tailored to suit the cohort of people who will be studying there. The one year’s Masters isn’t to be taken lightly, because as a fulltime option, it is extremely intensive.

“There are three semesters, including the summer months,” said Dr Dunne. “The first two semesters consist of classes and each semester has five modules with an additional year-long module in research. As a one-year programme, there is quite a lot of assessments and work to cover but we did identify the demand for this sort of course. But we also recognise the need for engaging with and supporting students because the course is very full.”

According to Dr Dunne, the MSc in Psychology is the next essential step for graduates aspiring to pursue a career in psychology. The ‘conversion’ in brackets refers to the conversion route it offers graduates into psychology whether they hold an honours degree in psychological studies or a psychology-related disciple such as Human Sciences, Sports Sciences or Education.

“The programme covers a comprehensive curriculum in psychology with a strong focus on cutting-edge innovations in psychology, practice-based skills such as counselling and research skills,” said Dr Dunne, who added that it has been formally accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland.

And why should students choose the MSc in Psychology? Much of the attraction lies in the way the programme is taught. Classes are small to allow for individual attention on students – essential when the fulltime course requires so much focus. The teaching team have incorporated innovative teaching methodologies and high levels of technical expertise and support to make the process as smooth as it can be for students.

“There is a student-centred learning philosophy that places a major emphasis on gaining digital and transferable skills,” said Dr Dunne. “The programme provides the pre-requisite and pre-professional knowledge and skills to seek further training in psychology and enhances opportunities for learners to enter or progress their careers in a variety of public and private settings.”

In these unusual times, the School of Psychology is always researching current trends and one of these is a Psychological Wellbeing semester in the new module which focuses on areas of psychological health. There is also a Social Psychology module which looks at the use of social media and the problems that arise from this.

“We also have an option module in the second semester on Counselling in Psychology,” said Dr Dunne. “Another module is that of Clinical and Experimental Neuro-Psychology delivered by a hospital-based Clinical Psychologist. This module which is very much focused on the clinical psychology setting within a hospital and we know how this setting has changed so much recently with Covid-19 restrictions, so these are all areas that can look at and allow students to explore the changes that are happening at the moment.”