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Online MSc Mental Health: Curriculum

Curriculum Details

180 TOTAL CREDITS REQUIRED

The Online Master of Science in Mental Health degree is a 180-credit programme which takes 2.5 years to complete. It is 100% online, and there is no residency requirement. There are twelve 10-credit modules and a 60-credit dissertation.

You’ll take mental health courses designed by the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health that focus on mental health research, practice and policy.

Please note that this program does not lead to licensure to practice as a psychologist but does qualify you for further study to become one.

If you are unable to commit to the full programme, you are able to exit at PGCert and PGDip levels.

Core Courses

This module will provide an introduction and overview to the range of qualitative research approaches and methodologies employed in mental health research. The module will address both the theoretical and practical dimensions of a range commonly applied qualitative research methodologies, exploring data generation and data analysis. The module will also address meta-synthesis and review approaches with a narrative and qualitative focus, emphasising understanding and interpretation from existing research findings. The module aims to equip students with the requisite skills and knowledge to both evaluate and apply qualitatively informed research approaches in multiple mental health contexts.

This module will provide an introduction into the fundamental physical principles that underlie various brain imaging techniques and how they can be used to study human behaviour and brain structure and function in mental health and wellness. This module will also provide insight into what causes mental health specific neurological and psychiatric disorders and will explore the theoretical and practical means for how translational neuroimaging research can be used to develop intervention strategies and improve long-term prognosis and treatments in mental health.

This module will use recent research and theory to critically explore the concepts of mental health, mental disorder, and wellbeing. It will address biological, psychological, and social approaches and their combination (a biopsychosocial approach) in exploring how mental illness is conceptualised and classified. This module will introduce the major groups of mental disorders and the different systems by which they are classified. The module will also critically explore classification and diagnosis, explore epidemiology and the relationship between physical and mental health.

This module will serve as a research-led introduction into important conceptual issues underpinning psychopathology in mental health, exploring both how mental health and illness are conceptualised and modelled, as well how lived experiences of mental health may be understood. The module will use philosophical theory and research, and the application of philosophical thought to clinical practice and research, to explore psychopathology. Key topics include how mental disorder is conceptualised and modelled, the nature of mental disorder, and delusions and the psychopathology of psychosis. The module will also introduce phenomenological approaches to mental health.

The module will explore the role of digital technology in mental health and wellbeing with a focus on youth mental health. Research and practice-based evidence regarding the application of digital technology and strategies to mental health will be explored and evaluated. Indicative topics include digital tools for diagnosis, novel treatments (e.g., such as the use of virtual reality), accessible digital interventions, and the role of big data and Artificial Intelligence in the optimisation of mental health intervention. The potential role of social media and other digitally mediated aspects of everyday life in the potentiation or formation of mental health issues will also be explored.

This module will adopt a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of assessment and management of suicide, and self-harm as a suicide predictive phenomenon. The aim of the module is to improve students’ knowledge and understanding of the biopsychosocial factors underlying suicidal behaviours and self-harm as a suicide predictive phenomenon by drawing upon the latest research innovations in the field. The module also aims to improve students’ knowledge of clinical research approaches to identifying, assessing, and managing suicidal presentations. It also aims to enhance student understanding of organisational practices to promote, maintain, and enhance patient safety.

This module will provide an introduction to and an overview of the range of quantitative research approaches and methodologies employed in mental health research. The module will address both the theoretical and practical dimensions of a range commonly applied quantitative research methods. The module will also address case control studies and clinical trials specifically, with an emphasis on understanding and interpretation. The module aims to equip students with the requisite skills and knowledge to both appraise and apply quantitatively informed research approaches in multiple mental health contexts.

This module focuses on mental health as it applies to people aged between adolescence and adulthood addressing mental health disorder development and prevention strategies in youth specific contexts. The module will address concepts in the field of youth mental health such as epidemiology of onset of disorders and their relationship to later developmental neuropsychology, as well as primary and secondary prevention with a focus on the evidence and practice of early intervention strategies. The module will also address the significance of communication, as well as service delivery transitions between mental health services and school-based mental health from an international perspective.

This module investigates service user involvement in mental health. It gives a foundational introduction to service user involvement. The module examines critical and practical perspectives on the co-production of knowledge in mental health between experts and those with lived experience. In considering service user perspectives the module will address rights, advocacy, and decision-making. The module will also address the philosophies of power and ethics as they relate to psychiatry, disability politics and mental health, and equalities and human rights. The module will also introduce the service user and survivor movement history and theory and well as service user and survivor informed research methodologies and epistemologies.

This module introduces and explores ethics of wellbeing and mental health as it applies to psychiatric and clinical responses to mental disorder. The module considers philosophical research and evidence in considering the ethics of early intervention and prevention, stigma and justice/injustice in mental health, and the ethics of psychiatric research and clinical practice, introducing and evaluating critical approaches to mental health and anti-psychiatry. The module will also consider ethics and mental health from the perspective of those with lived experience and consider issues of moral responsibility in mental health.

This module will focus upon the range of treatments and interventions for mental illness and disorder considering psychological, biological, social, and integrated approaches. The relationship between perceived causes of mental illness and disorder and treatment options will be critically appraised. Prevention and early intervention will be addressed as part of considering causes of mental ill health and treatments. Systems of mental health care and the role of policy in mental health treatments will also be addressed.

This module will use recent research and theory to critically explore addiction as a phenomenon in mental health and wellbeing. It will address biological, psychological, and social approaches and their combination (biopsychosocial) in exploring how addiction develops as an issue of mental health and illness and how addiction and addictive behaviours are classified and conceptualised. This module will address medical and social conceptions of addiction, considering service user and recovery perspectives. It will introduce the key areas of addiction such as drugs, alcohol, and behavioural addictions. The module will also introduce and critically address a range of available treatment and recovery programmes for addiction.

This dissertation module focuses on students demonstrating knowledge and skills as they relate to mental health and research, via a portfolio project. The dissertation will comprise a portfolio assessment and associated independent learning activity commensurate with developing independent research activity. A combination of research methods specific portfolio learning, and a selection of potential project design topic areas will be offered. The projects will focus on planning, proposal, and initial research activity relevant to non-laboratory research including policy reviewing, conceptual analyses, systematic reviewing and meta-analyses or a combination of these areas. The available topics will link to the research undertaken within the IMH. The exact nature of the research development project may vary based on student selection, but the learning outcomes encapsulate the skills gleaned during their dissertation project.

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