MSc in personality disorder

Authors: Vijaya kumar Eswaran 

Publication date:  17 Jun 2011

Who is it for?

This course is aimed at clinicians and practitioners working with people with personality disorders. Every year a range of professionals such as doctors (trainees and psychiatrists), graduate nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, occupational therapists, criminal justice workers, and social workers study together in an interprofessional learning environment.

When did you do it?

I started this part time programme in my third year of core training in psychiatry.

Why did you do it?

I did the MSc in personality disorder to give me a greater understanding of this complex psychiatric condition and to improve my clinical skills in its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. I wanted to develop specialist knowledge, provide leadership, and direct service development and planning for contemporary practice in light of the national policy developments and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines in the field of personality disorders.

Who runs it?

This programme is run by Mersey Care NHS Trust and the School of Health at the University of Central Lancashire, with teaching by lecturing academics and clinicians in practice. Hence, the first year of the course is held at Ashworth Hospital, Liverpool. The rest of the course is at the University of Central Lancashire campus in Preston, Lancashire.

How is it structured?

Until last year this was a traditional three year research master’s degree, but an additional practice development route (which I have chosen) has been added to the course from this year. At progression points throughout the course we can discuss how the course is affecting our practice, and we are given help in choosing the most appropriate route for our career pathways. The sessions are interactive and we are encouraged to engage in critique and debate as well as personal inquiry and reflection.

What does it cover?

PG Cert in personality disorder (first year) covers theoretical context, assessment, and evidence based therapeutic approaches to treating people with personality disorders.

PG Dip in personality disorder—practice development (second year) covers evaluation of the effectiveness of treatments, managing complex needs of service users, and leading teams who deliver therapeutic interventions.

PG Dip in personality disorder—research (second year) covers introduction to postgraduate research and advanced research methods.

MSc in personality disorder—practice development (third year) covers design and construction, delivery and implementation, and evaluation of an advanced work based project.

MSc in personality disorder—research (third year) involves a research dissertation.

How is it assessed?

The assessments depend on which route you take but tend to be practice related assignments such as essays, case study, portfolio, student initiated project, critical dialogue, research proposal, and dissertation or dissertation by papers.

Is it worth it?

It certainly is worth it. It has increased my understanding and practice within the complex area of personality disorders. Moreover this programme has improved my academic writing skills. I am the course representative for the second year in a row and enjoy representing students’ views at student union meetings. I am (in my second year) involved in the construction and design of an advanced work based project, which will see me developing and evaluating a cost effective and evidence based service at the end of my third year. I believe this will help me when I apply for a consultant post.

How much does it cost and how do I apply?

At the time of writing, the cost of the full MSc programme is less than £4000 and the PG Cert costs £1090. Information about the course and application process is available under the postgraduate study section at [Link] .

Top tips

This programme is useful for senior psychiatry trainees (specialty training years 4-6). You would have completed your exams and it allows you to choose a research project with access to a mentor and will see you complete a good piece of research. It’s worth discussing this with your clinical and educational supervisors before you enrol. It entails a lot of planning, organisation, and sticking to deadlines for assignments and I see this as a way of demonstrating personal and professional development, management, and leadership skills.

Further information

Programme tutor: Karen Wright, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston. Email  kmwright1@uclan.ac.uk.

Course enquiries: Guy McLennan, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston. Tel 01772 893836, email  GKMclennan@uclan.ac.uk.

Competing interests: None declared.

Vijaya kumar Eswaran year 4 specialist registrar in general adult psychiatry North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust


Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: