MA Mental Health Practice

Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), Department of Health approved BIA training

Course details

Online Application

February 2017 (Carlisle-Fusehill Street)

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The MA Mental Health Practice is a specialist post-qualifying programme, and successful candidates will be issued with a written transcript of achievement, making them eligible for approval to act as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), and eligible to act as a Best Interest Assessor (BIA).

The MA Mental Health Practice at Cumbria University is delivered in partnership with Cumbria County Council, and students benefit from an expert teaching team, including: senior lecturers and academic staff in Social Work, Nursing and the Social Sciences; Experts by Experience; Mental Health Legislation experts; AMHPs and BIA Practitioners; Psychiatrists; Psychologists; Pharmacists and other allied professionals. The current programme was revalidated in 2014 and academic modules are complimented by practice experience through two placements, mentorship support and academic tutorials. Most students who gain the AMHP and BIA status go onto successful careers working in Mental Health, as the skills gained by successful completion of this programme are highly desirable to employers.

Throughout your studies the Programme Team aim to provide you with a comprehensive and critically reflective understanding and application of the concepts, values, theories and knowledge base underpinning these specialist areas of mental health practice. Through rigorous adherence to professional values, principles, codes of conduct and ethics, we will improve your critical ability to practice ethically and to manage the implications of ethical dilemmas while undertaking Mental Health Act (1983, as amended 2007) Assessments, and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards assessments.

The programme is committed to promoting ethical, culturally capable AMHP and BIA practitioners who respect diversity, challenge inequality, and who can support and safeguard the wellbeing of people with Mental Health problems, their families, carers and communities. Service users and carers have been involved in the development of this programme through both the University of Cumbria’s ‘Expert by Experience’ Programme and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trusts ‘Expert Patients Programme’.

Our study patterns are responsive to the varying needs of students and employers and are reviewed annually with Student Representatives and the Programme Team. We have a range of support systems in place for students returning to study, and recognise that some practitioners may not have studied at level 7 previously, or for some time so academic skills support is offered throughout the programme to address this.

Students will be required to study two additional modules, these are a research methods module and a dissertation module, in which you will be encouraged to undertake primary research and develop academic knowledge in the field of AMHP practice. Please refer to the course outline for further information.

The MA in Mental Health Practice aims to:

  1. Provide a stimulating and challenging academic and scholarly environment for learners who wish to advance their academic and professional development gaining recognised AMHP and BIA awards to support and develop autonomous and reflective thinking
  2. Enable students to develop a mastery of complex and specialised knowledge and a critical awareness of issues at the forefront of mental health practice.
  3. Develop conceptual knowledge and advanced understanding of how techniques of enquiry enable the critical and objective analysis, interpretation and application of research and evidence within mental health practice.
  4. Through completion of a dissertation, challenge existing knowledge and facilitate the development and application of new ideas and new ways of thinking

Year one

Compulsory modules

  • Foundations of Approved Mental Health Professional Practice in a Specialist Mental Health Setting
  • Values and Principles of Approved Mental Health Professional Practice
  • Legal And Policy Context of Approved Mental Health Professional Practice
  • The Role of the Approved Mental Health Professional
  • Qualificatory Unit: Approved Mental Health Professional Practice (400 hour placement)

Year two

Compulsory modules

  • The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and the Role of the Best Interest Assessor (BIA) *
  • Qualificatory Unit: BIA practice (10 hour placement) *

Optional modules (Subject to availability and demand)

  • Multiprofessional Support of Learning and Assessment in Practice (Mandatory for students who have not successfully completed an equivalent mentorship module)
  • Negotiated Learning

MA Mental Health Practice: Compulsory modules

  • Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Dissertation Module (40 credits)

* The Best Interest Assessor Module can be taken as a stand-alone 20 credit Level 7 module, for students who wish to qualify as a Best Interest Assessor, without studying the full MA.

Programme Specification

For a detailed summary of all course content please read our programme specification for this course.

Download the programme specification (PDF)

1st or 2nd class honours degree.

Students with other qualifications may be admitted to the course via Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) procedures.

Selection criteria

To be eligible for entry to this programme candidates must be qualified either as -

  • Social Worker registered with the Health and Care Professions Council;
  • First level Nurse, registered in Sub-Part 1 of the Nurses’ Part of the Register maintained under article 5 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, with the inclusion of an entry indicating their field of practice is mental health or learning disabilities nursing;
  • Occupational Therapist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council;
  • Chartered Psychologist who is listed in the British Psychological Society’s Register of
  • Chartered Psychologists and who holds a relevant practicing certificate issued by that Society

And have -

  • Two years post-qualifying experience, with an interest in Mental Health
  • Successful endorsement from their employer to confirm the students level of experience, skills and professional competence are appropriate to embark on this specialist training. This may involve additional procedures by the employers (such as an interview) before their endorsement can be made.
  • Successful endorsement from a Local Authority to provide both a suitable placement, and a Practice Assessor.

Students wishing to apply for this programme are required to secure their endorsement prior to an offer of a place being made. Please contact the Programme Lead if you have any questions or for further information. For entry requirements relating to the stand-alone Best Interest Assessor (BIA) module, please refer to the .

Applicants outside the Cumbria area should contact Health Admissions for further details.

Making your application

Applications should be made online directly to the university - visit our website or contact for details and guidance. There is no official closing date but we would encourage you to apply as early as possible, as many courses are competitive.

What makes a good application?

We consider all aspects of your application, not simply your qualifications and grades. We look at your academic background and performance, relevant experience (particularly for professional courses where some voluntary or paid experience is required) and your reference. Above all, we look for motivation, commitment and potential - evidence that you can benefit from study at higher education level.

Make sure you include:

  • Relevant qualifications/evidence of ability: check our website for the specific entry requirements required for each course. Tell us your previous academic results and your projected grades.
  • A supportive reference, from an employer or your school or college.
  • A good personal statement.

Explain clearly what attracts you to the course and tell us about your wider interests and experience. If you are applying for a course that incorporates professional training and placements, you should include any relevant experience or visits you have made in the workplace. Highlight your individual strengths and qualities, personal skills, capacity for teamwork, contribution to the community and your enterprise, originality and determination. Select some activities which bring out these qualities.

What next?

When we receive your application, we will send you an acknowledgement and if you are successful at this stage you will get either - an offer (with an invitation to visit the campus to which you have applied), or - an invitation to interview on a particular date. If we are not able to offer you a place on your chosen course we will usually try to offer you a place on a similar course and will contact you to discuss this. Alternatively, if we think you are suitable, but cannot offer you a place on your preferred campus because of the level of competition, we will offer you a place at another campus if one is available.

And if I accept?

The admissions team will contact you and send further information from February onwards about accommodation, and from May/June onwards about preparing to join the university. If you have any other queries, please telephone the admissions offices for information and advice on 0845 6061144.

Deferred entry

We welcome applications for deferred entry on some courses. If you have specific plans during your year out, indicate these on your personal statement as they may be relevant to your course and could enhance your application.

International students

Please see the international pages of our website for full details of our entry requirements (including English-language skills) as well as contacts for advice and support.

From 2009 the UK Border Agency introduced a Points-Based Immigration System (PBS) for students coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Students entering higher education will need to obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS) plus finance confirmation to obtain a Tier 4 student visa.

UK education providers are licensed by the UK Border Agency. When students apply for their visa (or entry clearance) they will need a valid Certificate of Acceptance of Studies from the university. Please note that a CAS is not a guarantee that a visa will be issued.

See the following websites for further details:

Successful candidates will be issued with a written transcript of achievement, making them eligible for approval to act as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), and eligible to act as a Best Interest Assessor (BIA).

Expert by Experience, Service User, carer and employer participation and involvement is a strong feature of this programme's development, delivery, assessment and review.