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MSc Clinical & Developmental Neuropsychology

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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

This course focuses on the normal and abnormal changes that occur in the human brain from childhood through to adulthood through to old age. Key topics include rare cognitive neuropsychological disorders and relatively common clinical and neurodegenerative disorders. The course is taught by staff members who conduct cutting-edge research in these fields and by professionals in educational psychology, clinical psychology and neuropsychology. 

You'll have the opportunity to apply for a placement working with older adults suffering the effects of traumatic brain damage or neurological disease, or with children or young people with neurodevelopmental conditions. These placements, which take place in either specialist education or neurological care and rehabilitation facilites, give you the opportunity to gain valuable clinical experience and learn from professionals working in these fields. If you're more interested in research, internal placements working with a member of staff in the Psychology Research Group will be offered as part of the course.

Through the study of normal and abnormal patterns of development across the lifespan, this course provides a fascinating programme of study if you're wishing to become a researcher in this area and/or are seeking further professional development by gaining a unique and relevant qualification in an increasingly difficult job market. Take a look at our student journeys from Milla and Spiwe.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year, delivered 2 days per week

Required subjects:


Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:1 or equivalent in a required subject.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

Year 1

Core units

  • Ageing & Neurodegenerative Disorders: Cognitive abilities rise steeply from infancy to young adulthood and then are either maintained or decline in old age, depending on ability. This unit will focus on the mechanisms that underpin these changes, and will explore illnesses that usually develop in later life (e.g. dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease).

  • Advanced Research Methods: The unit covers a range of research methods and a tool used for conducting advanced level research, and describes the intricacies of experimental design in such contexts. The unit aims to prepare students for undertaking independent research using advanced research techniques. 

  • Clinical & Cognitive Neuropsychology: This unit explores the diagnostic assessment and treatment of patients with brain injury or neurocognitive deficits. You will gain an in-depth understanding of neurological injury, the use of neuropsychological tests to accurately assess cognitive deficits and the management, treatment and rehabilitation of brain injured and cognitively impaired patients. At the end of the unit, you'll have an advanced knowledge of how our understanding of cognition can be informed by patient studies.

  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders: This unit explores typical neural and cognitive development in childhood, and takes an in-depth look at several cases of atypical development (e.g. dyslexia, ADHD and autism). You will also have the opportunity to learn more about careers in educational psychology from a professional working in this field.

  • Advanced Statistics: You will learn and apply a range of statistical techniques intended for analysing data from psychological research. These are advanced techniques which are not covered at undergraduate level. 

  • Key Transferable Skills - Presentation & Scientific Writing: In this unit, you'll gain key skills for interpreting, presenting and writing research. Topics will include writing research and grant proposals, presentation skills and the development of advanced writing skills.

  • Research Project: You'll get to choose from a set of research projects provided by our teaching staff. You will then be responsible for providing an in-depth literature review and designing an experiment to address the research question. You will be expected to collect and analyse data and will be asked to provide a submission-ready write up of the project. Supervision for the research project will be provided in weekly meetings.

Taught units are currently timetabled for Wednesdays and Thursdays to enable effective, practical learning. Please take this into account when you pre-plan and schedule other activities (eg varsity sports) and commitments such as work placements. 

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

Through our connections with health care and educational organisations in Poole and Bournemouth, you will have the opportunity to apply for a placement working with older adults with brain injury or neurological disease, or with children, adolescents or adults with neurodevelopmental conditions.

During the placements, you will be given a honourary contract and will have the opportunity to gain experience in a clinical setting, regularly meeting with clinical neuropsychologists and taking part in professional life in this field.  You will be involved in data collection and handling such as PAL interviews, behavioural monitoring, UK Rehabilitation Outcomes Collaborative (UKROC), and use of assistive technology. You will also be offered research opportunities that may or may not form part of your Research Project. These could involve case studies, literature reviews to support clinical intervention, or the use of assistive technology. This includes dissertation possibilities. In addition, you will have the opportunity to attend multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDTs)/goal setting meetings during which the patient's history, progress and treatment will be discussed.

Placements are an optional (zero credit) component of the course. Applications for placements involve submitting a CV and undertaking an interview. Placement positions are highly competitive so we cannot guarantee each student a placement or the placement of their choice, but we do our utmost to help everyone who wants one to gain a placement. We additionally encourage students to find their own placements in order to enhance their chances of obtaining a position.

It should be remembered at all times that students on placements will be fully committed members of a real clinical or educational team. The highest standards of professional conduct must be upheld at all times, and students are expected to be dedicated, conscientious and considerate of their role in the lives of vulnerable people.

We’re always on the look out for new and exciting placement opportunities for students, so the full range we can offer will be revealed to you when you arrive. Below, however, you can see further information about some of our current placement providers.

Placements with older adults

Dorset Healthcare Adult Neuropsychology Service

The Neuropsychology Service is part of the Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust. Within this organization, students will work in one of several positions under the overall supervision of Dr Birgit Gurr, consultant clinical neuropsychologist.

Students may be placed at Poole Hospital’s Stroke Unit, where they will learn about neuropsychological aspects of stroke mainly focusing on cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes in the acute period after stroke.  Following introduction to the Stroke Unit, the patients and the procedures, student will observe Dr Gurr initially to learn about the administration of baseline assessments, how to establish rapport with stroke patients and how to engage them in basic psychological support. The placement is an excellent opportunity to learn and practice clinical skills whilst under the guidance of a highly experienced clinician. Students will learn to independently administer baseline neuropsychological assessments; undertake clinical psychology interviews and mood assessments. They will be extensively involved in cognitive stimulation work, reminiscence intervention, supportive counselling, administering basic relaxation and coping strategies.

As part of a multidisciplinary team at the Stroke Unit, students will participate in the morning handover meetings, case meeting with doctors and most of all will collaborate with other therapists to coordinate their assessments and interventions with the holistic neuro-rehabilitation programmes. During weekly lunchtime seminars, students will be introduced to knowledge about neurological aspects of stroke, brain injury, but also neuropsychological theory, test theory and psychotherapy theory and strategies. Students are given the opportunity to orally present and discuss a mini-case study during the month of January, a skill which is directly applicable to assignments in the course.

As an alternative to the Stroke Unit, students may be placed in the Community Brain Injury (CBI) Team. Students working in this role would initially shadow Dr Gurr as described above, in order to learn basic skills related to working with patients with brain damage. They would then be recommended to work with the CBI team. In this role, students can work with other psychologists on the team, facilitating assessments, group activities or the peer support group.

There may be further opportunities to work with in-patients at the Neurological Assessment and Rehabilitation unit at Poole Hospital. All of the placements with the Neuropsychology Service follow a gradual programme of teaching and applied practice. Commonly, students have acquired substantial skills and knowledge by January-February during the placement year. This can enable them to work fairly autonomously on the level of assistant neuropsychologists. This experience is often very valuable for those candidates who intend to apply for assistant jobs in view of clinical psychology training. Additionally, students will be confronted with the pressures and professional requirements of working in the NHS, which will add substantially to their work experience.

Students who have gained the confidence, skill and knowledge to work professionally with patients often welcome the opportunity to enroll in other activities offered within the Neuropsychology Service, such as such as cognitive-behavioural, relaxation, health management and life skills groups within Poole Hospital. Also, participation in free courses by Dorset Healthcare is possible.

A previous student commented: “This has been a positively stretching experience for me. I have learnt so much. Birgit has really invested her time and energy in the students. She has been flexible and receptive to our learning goals.” Another said: “I think it’s important to have self-confidence, to be independent and to be comfortable initiating.” Indeed, as all opportunities with the Neuropsychology Service are year-long placements, it is absolutely critical that students are committed and highly enthusiastic to learn and participate in a real world clinical and working environment. 

Shelley Park Neuro Care Centre

Shelley Park Neuro Care Centre is one destination for people who have passed through Poole Hospital's Stroke Service, and provides specialist support for its residents through a holistic, person-centred approach to care and rehabilitation planning. While striving to always maintain a growing reputation as a centre of excellence, the policy of the centre is that residents are cared for in a warm and homely environment while having access to the best medical, nursing and rehabilitation professionals available. As Shelley Park works jointly with Southampton University and Bournemouth University to offer specialist placements and research opportunities, the centre is at the forefront of evidence-based practice. Located within a thriving community which allows the promotion of independence and return to community where possible, Shelley Park aims to offer daily community access to all our residents. Their successful milieu approach results in shorter admission periods for residents on the transitional pathway.

The interdisciplinary team that students will work with includes specialists in neuro-nursing, neuro-physiotherapy, clinical neuropsychology, speech and language therapy, music therapy, neuro-occupational therapy, and therapeutic art and neuro-rehabilitation assistants..

The Shelley Park model consists of a Complex pathway, an Enduring care pathway and a Transitional pathway, and students may work within any one of these. There are also step down units based in the community at various locations within Dorset which are subject to a resident’s needs. Finally, there is an independent living flat based on the main campus which allows a thorough assessment to tailor a person-centred discharge plan, to ensure long-term success. To read more about Shelley Park and the activities that placement students can expect to be involved in, please explore our website.

Placements with children, adolescents and adults with neurodevelopmental conditions

Amberwood Lodge and Nightingale House

Amberwood Lodge (Poole) and Nightingale Care Home (Bournemouth) are specialist residential facilities for young people and adults with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and other neurodevelopmental conditions. They cater for individuals with a wide range of abilities: autistic people with learning disabilities who may be non-verbal are catered for at Amberwood Lodge, whilst more able individuals with autism, Down syndrome and Q37 chromosome deletion syndrome attend Nightingale House. Many of these individuals have complex mental health needs and comorbidities alongside their neurodevelopmental condition. Amberwood Lodge and Nightingale Care Home aim to provide a stable, safe and supportive environment whilst helping people develop life and vocational skills. 

Students who undertake this placement will have the opportunity to experience both settings as they shadow clinical psychologist Dr Katika Varadi. Under Dr Varadi’s supervision, students will assist in the everyday activities supporting the residents at both units, which could include: conducting assessments (observations, interviews and psychometric tests), taking part in individual or group cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions, positive behavior support training, behavior modification programmes, and conducting risk assessments and Functional Analyses of behavior. They will be part of a multidisciplinary team including a Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Psychiatrist and Clinical Nurse alongside Dr Varadi, and will have the opportunity to attend group meetings. Ideally, two students will work together in this placement: one day will be spent shadowing Dr Varadi and another, subject to negotiation, will involve assisting Dr Varadi in formatting and writing up notes on clients, answering referrals, reviewing data from therapies to see if clients are progressing, and helping with the tasks that keep these services running successfully. 

This placement will afford students the opportunity to learn how services for individuals with developmental conditions work ‘from the inside’, and will allow them to learn essential clinical skills that will be invaluable for future work with autistic individuals or other populations with learning disabilities. The placement, and the experience of shadowing a clinical psychologist, is also highly relevant for students with a general interest in a clinical career not necessarily focused on this population. 

Tregonwell Academy

Tregonwell Academy offers a safe and nurturing learning environment for children and adolescents who have struggled at mainstream school. These children can experience emotional, social, attentional and behavioural difficulties. Many of them have been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD, and the school also works with young people who present with autism. Because these children and teenagers have struggled at mainstream school, Tregonwell Academy devises individualized learning plans for each student in order to increase their confidence and help them achieve their learning and developmental potential. The Academy achieved a grade of ‘outstanding’ on its 2013 Ofsted report, a national assessment to confirm quality control in education.

Tregonwell Academy is located on two sites, and students are invited to undertake a placement at the Nigel Bowes campus, which serves children of primary school age. The school has six classes: three serve children who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) and the other classes serve more children with social, emotional and mental health needs. On site, students will work alongside staff with training in Special Educational Needs (SEN) and pastoral support workers. 

Students on placement will assist in one-to-one lesson and learning support and also help the school develop group sessions on social and emotional mental health. These group sessions will focus on helping children develop the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) that are often problematic for them. Students may also work in personal development group sessions, where they would work with staff to help assess children’s social and emotional difficulties, identify targets for development, and create individualiszed plans. 

As the staff at Tregonwell Academy are undergoing training in ‘emotion coaching’,  focusing on Attachment and particular neurological aspects. Students may be able to take advantage of this training at the time. It includes both on-site days and an e-learning module, at the end of which a certificate can be obtained.

The school has close contact with Educational and Clinical Psychologists, so is an ideal environment to learn about and gain experience relevant to both of these fields.

How long is my placement?

You must complete a minimum of 12 weeks (one day per week), though placements can be longer (subject to agreement between yourself and the placement provider). You will spend 8 hours per week on placement. You will be expected to keep a placement log and undergo a half-way and end of placement review.

Research placements

For those more interested in research, internal placements working with a member of staff in the Psychology Research Group will be offered. External research placements are also a possibility if you are able to secure an agreement with a chosen researcher at another institution.

Research placements offer invaluable experience for those wanting to go on to do PhD-level research. You will be expected to spend the equivalent of 8 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks, keep a placement log, undergo a half-way and end of placement review. Regular meetings with the academic supervisor will be held.

Selection criteria

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications – there are no interviews or additional selection activities. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU.

For more information, see full entry requirements and take a look at our post graduate 'how to apply' pages. 

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this degree are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:1, or equivalent in a required subject.

​If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry team for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


This course emphasises core practical skills, which will give you extra marketability in a competitive professional arena, and provide you with a route into a successful and rewarding career.

As an MSc Clinical & Developmental Neuropsychology graduate, you will be prepared to undertake further training for roles such as:

  • Mental health assessor
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Therapist providing psychological therapies (IAPT)
  • Educational psychologist
  • Lecturer
  • Academic researcher

Industries worked in

  • NHS (hospital and community)
  • Private/independent health care sector (nursing homes and private hospitals)
  • Education
  • Academic research

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your MSc, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU, we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provisions, what kind of facilities will be open to you, and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including- lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services; many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages. Candidates interested in competitive team sports should note that the MSc programme currently runs on Wednesdays and Thursdays and take potential clashes into consideration when applying
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Meet our staff

When you study psychology with us, you'll be learning from world-leading researchers in fields such as face blindness, neuropsychology and clinical psychology and you will have the opportunity to get involved in various research projects.

Dr Rachel Moseley is the Programme Leader for this course. She also organises placements and leads the Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Clinical and Cognitive Neuropsychology units. Her research interests centre on autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Within this broad domain, she has used neurometabolic (MRI, DTI) and electrophysiological (EEG, MEG) methods to investigate cognitive processes in people with and without ASC. Rachel is most interested in language and semantic processing, emotion processing, and social neuroscience. Her interests also focus on mental health in autism and the female profile of autism spectrum conditions. Girls and women with ASC are an understudied group and are commonly mis- or undiagnosed as they do not fit the traditional, male conceptualisation of autism.

Dr Julie Kirkby is the Framework Leader who oversees all MSc programmes at Bournemouth University. Her research interests fall within developmental and cognitive psychology, focusing on the development of reading and language processing in typical populations and those with specific difficulties like developmental dyslexia. She lends her expertise in mobile and static eye-tracking to the course.  

Dr Peter Hills is currently Head of Department and leads the MSc Research Project unit. His research interests lie in face recognition and perception, where he has studied a broad range of effects using eye-tracking, EEG, tDCS and rTMS. He also studies visual attention as it is relevant to hazard perception whilst driving; attentional control and inhibition in schizophrenia and ADHD; dyslexia and processing speed; and research in Forensic Psychology on acquaintance rape and offender rehabilitation programmes. 

Professor Jan Wiener, based in the Department of Psychology, is a co-leader of the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre at Bournemouth University and leads the Key Transferable Skills unit. His research interests focus on navigation and wayfinding in typical and elderly populations and those with degenerative disorders, using behavioural experiments, virtual reality techniques and eye-tracking.

Dr Ellen Seiss leads the unit on Ageing and Neurodegenerative Disorders. Ellen has a strong basis in cognitive neuroscience, in particular EEG, and studies disorders of affect, movement and movement control such as Parkinson’s Disease and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Dr Bernhard Angele leads the Advanced Statistics unit. His research interests centre on reading, language processing and the allocation of attention during these processes, using eye-tracking to investigate these. 

Dr Fiona Ling leads the unit on Advanced Research Methods. Her research is in the field of health and behaviour change, where she investigates psychosocial mechanisms which influence how physically active or sedentary children are. She uses a range of methods to do this, including implementing school-based interventions.

Many of our staff and students are involved in community or charitable trusts in addition to their academic practice or study, and we have close ties with the British Psychological Society. We are committed to developing our field through our research, practice and educating future psychologists.

Read more about the specialist interests of our Department of Psychology staff online, and register now to meet us!

Facilities & opportunities

clinical psychology therapy

Psychology research centre

Read about how we're contributing to two main areas of research - face processing, and attention and memory.

Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.