Structured PhD (Health Psychology Practice)

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies,
School of Psychology

Course overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Psychology Practice is a four year (full time) postgraduate research and professional training qualification. The PhD has been developed in line with the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) ratified guidelines for postgraduate programmes for Health Psychology Practitioners.  The PhD provides ‘Stage 2’ training in Health Psychology Practice, building on ‘Stage 1’ academic training in health psychology provided through Masters programmes in Health Psychology. 

This is a new and exciting Programme, the first of its type in the Republic of Ireland. Trainees, through supervised practice in applied settings, develop core health psychology practice skills to work as Health Psychology Practitioners. Health Psychologists are employed in a number of settings, including hospitals, academic health research units, health services, primary care, government departments and university departments. 

The programme combines a PhD thesis with training and supervised practice to develop five core Health Psychology competencies:

  1. Generic Professional Competence

  2. Health Psychology Interventions Competence

  3. Consultancy Competence

  4. Teaching and Training Competence

  5. Research Competence 

The PhD allows students to gain eligibility for Registered Membership of the PSI as a Registered Psychologist and become a full member of the PSI Division of Health Psychology.

Supervised practice

Supervised practice will allow students to gain direct experience of professional working and to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to practice as an independent health psychologist. During the course of the programmes students will:

  1. Gain experience within at least two distinct settings: relevant settings shall include university or educational settings, health promotion organisations, community settings and health services.

  2. Gain experience with a minimum of two different types of clients: relevant client groups shall include health service users and providers, health professionals, health professional students, multidisciplinary research groups and community groups.

  3. Document a minimum of 140 hours client contact time over the duration of their training. Contact time should be spread across a number of client groups and settings.


Students will have one primary supervisor based at NUI Galway, who should be eligible for Registered Membership of PSI and for Full Membership of the Division of Health Psychology. Co-supervisors may be appointed as required to facilitate students to gain the required competencies and breadth of experience, and to develop a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Programmes available

Areas of interest

Dr. Molly Byrne

Research interests:

  • Developing and evaluating behavioural health interventions.
  • Chronic disease (particularly coronary heart disease and diabetes): self-management and psychosocial aspects.
  • Sexual issues, sexual counselling and chronic illness.

Dr Jenny Mc Sharry

Research interests:

  • Interventions to change health-related behaviours and the use of behaviour change techniques.
  • Understanding and managing health in the context of multiple illnesses.
  • Illness perceptions of people with chronic conditions.
  • Adherence to medication.

Researcher profiles

PAC code


Fees for this course

EU: €4,275 p.a. 2017/18

Non-EU: €13,250 p.a. 2017/18