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Programme Specification for the 2020/1 academic year

PGDip Psychological Therapies Practice (Severe Mental Health Problems: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder)

1. Programme Details

Programme namePGDip Psychological Therapies Practice (Severe Mental Health Problems: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder) Programme codePDP2PSYPSY05
Study mode(s)Part Time
Academic year2020/1
Campus(es)Level 1
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

The PGDip Psychological Therapies Practice (Severe Mental Health Problems: CBT for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder) programme is aimed at qualified mental health professionals (such as Nurses, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Clinical/Counselling Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors and Psychiatrists) with experience of working with Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder. It provides intensive skills training in accordance with British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (BABCP) guidelines for good practice.

Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists working in NHS or other NHS commissioned secondary care services will assess and treat clients with psychosis and bipolar disorder and comorbid common mental health problems using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for psychosis (CBTp). CBT is recommended in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines as part of the evidence-based care packages for psychosis and bipolar disorder. The approach works to reduce distress, enhance understanding, alleviate symptoms, and have a positive impact on social inclusion, employment, and productivity.

The programme prepares trainees to meet the competencies required to deliver NICE concordant CBT and specifically CBT for psychosis as outlined by Roth and Pilling (2007, 2013) and the associated national curriculum (2019), and to provide CBT within secondary care mental health services. It is delivered to the content of these competencies and the associated curriculum. The discipline maintains a firm commitment to evidence-based clinical practice and as such we endeavour to ensure all our training programmes are firmly embedded within current research.

Video recordings of clinical sessions are made throughout the clinical work conducted in appropriate clinic settings. Codes of Ethics [e.g. BABCP Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and/or workplace Policies] are strictly adhered to in terms of making the recordings, seeking permission for use and storage of information. Signed consent forms are required to show clients have understood the reasons for and manner of audio recording.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The programme will have a cognitive-behavioural theoretical base with preference for approaches with the soundest evidence and where cognitive and behavioural techniques are integrated in therapy and fully compliant with competence framework for psychological interventions with people with psychosis and bipolar disorder and the associated curriculum. In addition to providing practical intensive and detailed skills training to facilitate skill development to a defined standard of competency, the programme will aim to increase trainees’ knowledge base of theory, psychological therapy, and research in CBT and intervention in psychosis and bipolar disorder and aims to promote a critical approach to the subject. It will aim to equip trainees to become skilled and creative independent CBT psychotherapists, in accordance with BABCP guidelines for good practice and to contribute to the further development of CBTp and CBT.

The programme will provide opportunities for trainees to develop and demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:

  • To develop practical competency in Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy for psychosis, bipolar disorder and commonly comorbid psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety within the context of secondary care services
  • To develop critical knowledge of the theoretical and research literature relating to CBT in the context of psychosis and bipolar disorder

The programme is suited to those working within secondary care services pursuing a career as CBT psychotherapists.  The programme is also suitable for those working in Early Intervention in Psychosis services wishing to develop these skills as part of the UK government initiative to achieve access to NICE-recommended care packages for 50% of individuals experiencing first episode psychosis within two weeks of referral.

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

Stage 1

60 credits of compulsory and non-condonable modules.

a Modules PYCM104, PYCM105 and PYCM106 are taken in Year 1, modules PYCM107, PYCM108 and PYCM109 are taken in Year 2.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
PYCM104 The Fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [See note a above]20Yes
PYCM105 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety and Depression - Theory [See note a above]20Yes
PYCM106 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety and Depression - Clinical Practice [See note a above]20Yes
PYCM107 Working with Complexity: Essential Competencies for Working with People with Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder [See note a above]20Yes
PYCM108 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder - Theory [See note a above]20Yes
PYCM109 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder - Clinical Practice [See note a above]20Yes

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Construct maintenance and developmental CBT conceptualisations for psychosis, bipolar disorder and common mental health disorders.
2. Develop CBT specific treatment plans.
3. Practice CBT for psychosis, bipolar disorder and common mental health disorders systematically, creatively and with good clinical outcomes.
4. Deal with complex issues arising in CBT practice and secondary care settings.

Lectures, workshops, small group activities, and group tutorials based at the University.

Guided independent study.

Group clinical supervision of practice incorporating analysis of recorded practice and written supervision feedback.

4000-word critical analysis of CBT research evidence essay

4000-word anxiety/depression case report

2 x 30-minute clinical case presentations

7000-word psychosis extended case report

4 End of Therapy Letters

CTS-R/CTS-Psy assessment of eight full video-recorded therapy sessions with four clients (five formative and three summative)

8 x 500-word self-practice self-reflection summaries plus 8 x 500-word background and evolving formulation of cases to accompany the assessments of recorded sessions

Clinical practice portfolio including four university supervisor reports, two workplace supervision reports, evidence of 60 hours of BABCP Accredited Clinical Supervision, evidence of 200 hours of clinical CBT practice, evidence of completed treatment of 8 clients, and evidence of attendance at 200 hours of lectures 

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

5. Practice as a scientist practitioner, advancing your knowledge and understanding and develop new skills to a high level.
6. Explain in detail the principles of CBT and the evidence base for the application of CBT techniques.
7. Explain in detail CBT theory and therapeutic models for psychosis, bipolar disorder and common mental health disorders.
8. Describe and critically evaluate the theoretical and research evidence for cognitive behaviour models.

See above.

See above.

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

9. Take personal responsibility for clinical decision making in straightforward and more complex situations.
10. Tackle and solve therapeutic problems with self-direction and originality.
11. Adapt CBT with sensitivity, ensuring equitable access particularly with respect to issues of diversity e.g. age, culture, religious beliefs and values.

See above.

See above.

7. Programme Regulations

Programme-Specific Progression Rules

You must pass all the modules in the table above. The pass mark for these modules is 50% with an additional requirement to pass all individual assessments within individual modules. If you fail any modules you will not be permitted to continue with the programme and your registration as a student will be terminated with immediate effect.

Following successful completion of the PGDip, you will also be permitted to progress onto the MSc Psychological Therapies Practice and Research.

Programme-Specific Award Rules

You are not permitted to exit with a PGCert on passing 60 credits.


Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

IT Support within Psychology: Within Psychology there is a well-equipped suite of PCs dedicated for postgraduate use, with further support provided by a dedicated IT and statistics helpdesk.

Student Support Services: A range of services are available to support your study both from within Psychology. These include:

  • Team development programme.
  • Personal and professional development planning.
  • Student handbooks and programme guides.
  • Range of specialist advisors, including for: women students, non-school leavers, and overseas students.
  • Computing and Statistics Help Desk.
  • Virtual Resource Room and other web-based learning materials.
  • Clinically focused seminars, the ‘Think Tank’, provided by the Mood Disorders Centre.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

Applicants must normally demonstrate evidence of a qualification in a Core Mental Health Profession or equivalent (KSA), post-qualification experience working with people with psychosis, some introductory knowledge and experience of CBT, the ability to work effectively at Master’s level, and an interest in and enthusiasm for psychological approaches to working with people with psychosis.

Staff should additionally have the support of their manager to attend the teaching programme and to deliver structured CBT under supervision for a minimum of one day per week for the duration of the programme.

A workplace clinical supervision structure must be in place to support the non-university clinical work undertaken during the duration of the course. Clinical Training Caseloads need to be in place prior to the commencement of module 2.

The workplace is required to provide the trainee with appropriate audio-visual recording equipment for the requirements of the course, and support the trainee to store the data and transfer it to the university for assessment purposes in line with workplace and national data protection policies/laws. Procedures for gaining and recording consent from clients for audio-recording and taking to university supervision is also required to be in place in time for the course induction dates which will be about a month before the start of the course.

Non-standard applications will be considered where applicants can demonstrate the required academic ability alongside existing knowledge, experience and skills developed in the workplace, relevant to this programme. Please contact the Programme Director if you would like to explore whether your prior learning, experience and skills would be acceptable. Candidates will need to undertake an interview and provide evidence of a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. 

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.


12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

On successful completion of this programme you may be able to submit your practice portfolio and other assignments towards accreditation by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), subject to additional requirements as necessary.

13. Methods for Evaluating and Improving Quality and Standards

The University and its constituent Colleges draw on a range of data to review the quality of educational provision. The College documents the performance in each of its taught programmes, against a range of criteria on an annual basis through the Annual Programme Monitoring cycle:

  • Admissions, progression and completion data
  • In Year Analysis data
  • Previous monitoring report
  • Monitoring of core (and optional) modules
  • External examiner's reports and University and College responses (reported to SSLC)
  • Any Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body/accrediting body or other external reports
  • Consultation with employers and former students
  • Staff evaluation
  • Student evaluation
  • Programme aims

Subject areas are reviewed every four years through a periodic subject review scheme that includes external contributions. (

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

College of Life and Environmental Sciences (CLES)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by

Not applicable to this programme.

18. Final Award

PGDip Psychological Therapies Practice (Severe Mental Health Problems: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder)

19. UCAS Code

Not applicable to this programme.

20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits


ECTS credits


22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision