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


Learning Outcomes

Entry Requirements

A PSI accredited MSc in Health Psychology, or equivalent, is required for entry. Entrants will be expected to have no less than an upper second class honours undergraduate degree in psychology. Candidates should be proficient in the use of the English language.

Students are selected by a Course Committee comprising the course Director(s), prospective research supervisor(s) and Head of School of Psychology. An interview process forms part of the selection procedure.


 The Programme is assessed by:

  1. Examination of PhD Thesis: the PhD thesis must demonstrate the advancement of knowledge through original research on a health-related topic. The thesis must adhere to the requirements, structure and format outlined in the University Guidelines for Research Degree Programmes.
  2.  Examination of portfolio of competence: the portfolio of competence provides evidence that the trainee has gained relevant experience in each of the five practice competencies (listed above).

Who’s Suited to This Course

Current funded research opportunity

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Career Opportunities

Find a Supervisor / PhD Project

If you are still looking for a potential supervisor or PhD project or would like to identify the key research interests of our academic staff and researchers, you can use our online portal to help in that search

Research Areas

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

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€5,250 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,250 p.a. 2018/19

Extra Information

EU Part time:  Year 1 [2018/19] €3,575. p.a.