Prior to doing the MSc, I was working as an Assistant Psychologist in a large psychiatric hospital. Having finished my undergraduate degree quite a few years previously, I was keen to enhance my research skills and understand more about the neurobiological basis of the disorders that I had worked with clinically. Many of my clinical colleagues had strong ties with the IoPPN, both from their training or having worked within SLaM, and all highly recommended the IoPPN as a centre of excellence for psychiatric research.
I thought about the kind of skills and knowledge I wanted to gain from an MSc, what would best prepare me for doing a PhD/further clinical training, and whether the modules on offer matched what I was interested in. The MSc in Psychiatric Research was the only course I found that ticked all of those boxes, and in hindsight, it was an excellent choice.
I learned a great deal from the MSc, lectures are delivered by both expert clinicians and esteemed researchers, all themselves working with cutting-edge research. Furthermore, whilst during the MSc you cover many different psychiatric disorders, there are opportunities to tailor your work to align with your own interests. In the second term, where I took modules in psychopharmacology, neuroimaging, brain-behaviour interface, and psychiatric genetics, in choosing to focus my coursework on psychosis in each of these modules, I had the opportunity to learn about psychosis from each of these perspectives.
Whilst studying for an MSc can be a lot of work, this MSc is very well organised and the hard work pays off when you reach the end of the year and realise how much you’ve learned and developed professionally.
I had quite a lot of clinical experience before doing the MSc and so I didn’t take part in the placement, but I would highly recommend doing so for those with perhaps less experience – many of my peers took up placements at services like the National Psychosis Unit, this is really valuable experience that is hard to come by.
I worked on a fantastic neuroimaging study for my MSc project, looking at the effects of a novel pharmacotherapeutic, cannabidiol, on verbal learning and memory in people at ultra-high risk for psychosis. I presented a poster at a conference and the research will be published in the near future – watch this space!
I applied for my PhD studentship during my MSc and started straight after. My MSc year was without doubt the best preparation I could have had for doing a PhD, and I think the same could be said if you were thinking of going into DClinPsy training. The skills and knowledge I gained from the MSc are crucial for all those working at the intersection of clinical care and psychiatric research. After finishing my PhD I hope to continue in academia as a post-doc, using neuroimaging to investigate the neurobiology of psychosis and potential novel treatments.
PhD Student, Department of Psychosis Studies