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Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology
Course Code
Major Code
3 years Full-time or 5 years Part-time
Closing date of Entry
Friday 6th February 2015

Ms Ann Owens



In line with international practice, professional training in Educational Psychology at the School of Education, UCD is now moving to doctoral level. The MA in Educational Psychology (MAEP) Course is thus being replaced by a Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology.  Like its predecessor, this course will prepare students to work as educational psychologists. It will involve some additional taught components, considerably expanded professional placement experience and the conducting of research at doctoral level.  The research will involve the completion of a 50,000 word thesis. The course is being offered full-time over three years or part-time over five years.  ‘Part-time’ in this context will require availability to attend lectures and engage in professional placements on two-to-three days per week. Some modules will be delivered online and there will also be online tutorial support.  This course is being offered at Level 10 within the National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ) and will carry a total of 270 Credits.  As a professional training course, application will be made to the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) for accreditation when it has commenced.   

There is a facility for advanced entry directly into Stage 2, which involves the research and doctoral thesis component, for applicants who have already completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology that constitutes a professional qualification to practise as an Educational Psychologist.  Such applicants may complete the Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology over two years full-time or four years part-time. This will involve Research Methods training and the completion of a 50,000 word thesis.   



Learning Outcomes

 The course aims to provide trainee educational psychologists with the theoretical framework and the practical experience necessary to work as professional psychologists within a variety of educational contexts, to critique relevant research and to conduct research at doctoral level.
Students will:
•    Critically examine the discipline of Educational Psychology and the varying roles and responsibilities of educational psychologists.  
•    Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories of Child Development, including: neuropsychological, cognitive, motor, perceptual, social and emotional, linguistic and numerical development in the context of explaining human functioning and dysfunctioning in a variety of contexts.
•    Examine a range of disabilities/special educational needs in relation to aetiology, assessment and diagnosis, as well as the main educational and therapeutic interventions used to support persons with disabilities/special educational needs.
•    Become familiar with models of curriculum development, with particular emphasis on curriculum modification for students with special educational needs.
•    Examine the discourse, assumptions, policy and legislation underpinning educational provision for students with disabilities/special educational needs, with particular emphasis on inclusive education.
•    Critically examine perceived models of best practice in relation to the organisation of provision for students with disabilities and special educational needs with a particular emphasis on an inclusive whole-school approach to such organisation.
•    Explore a range of issues in the Sociology of Education, such as intelligence, disability, ethnicity, gender and social disadvantage.
•    Gain an understanding of schools as systems, of school cultures and of systems theory in the context of organisational psychology.
•    Become familiar with the main approaches to counselling and develop basic counselling and communication skills.
•    Acquire the skills to formulate and evaluate holistic individualised education programmes, relating to care, education and behaviour.  
•    Become thoroughly proficient in the administration of key tests of cognitive ability, school attainment and social, emotional and behavioural functioning and become aware of the issues involved in administering such tests to persons of various ages, presenting with a variety of disabilities/special educational needs and from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
•    Become fully aware of the main issues involved in the conducting of psychological assessments and the production of reports of such assessments, including; informed consent, information gathering and the communication of results.
•    Become competent in interpreting psychological profiles, in writing clear, coherent and relevant reports and in formulating appropriate recommendations.
•    Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the ethical and professional issues involved in the practice of Educational Psychology.
•    Demonstrate a competent ability to critically evaluate and compare theories, conceptual models and research, with particular relevance to the application of such theories, models and research to the professional practice of Educational Psychology.
•    Be able to design and conduct a substantial piece of original research at doctoral level that can inform the practice of Educational Psychology and be able to report the findings of their research in an accessible format that is of a standard suitable for publication in national and international refereed journals.
•    Complete a doctoral thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge and that is relevant to the practice of Educational Psychology.


Assessment Procedures

There is a variety of assessment procedures employed on the course including; essay-based assignments, a debate, research assignments, completion of professional placement portfolios, observed administration of test instruments, supervised professional practice in schools and in psychological services and the completion of a doctoral thesis. For the award of Doctorate, the research must make an original contribution to knowledge and contain material of a standard and form appropriate for peer-reviewed publication.

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