Study Educational Psychology at Southampton

The University of Southampton has offered training in educational psychology for over 45 years. The current three year professional doctorate, positioned within the university’s Department of Psychology, is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council and accredited by the British Psychological Society.

How is the course organised?

Year 1

Trainees are placed for a day and a half a week in a school to learn assessment and casework skills (supervised by a field tutor, a practising educational psychologist who works in the school’s local authority) and attend sessions at the university for two and a half days a week. A further day per week is allocated for research and study.

Year 2

Trainees are placed in a local authority educational psychology service for three days a week and attend sessions at the university on most Mondays. Trainees also develop their thesis during this year, from initial proposal through to the start of data collection.

Year 3

Trainees are placed in a different local authority educational psychology service for three days a week and attend sessions at the university once a month. Trainees develop their thesis during this year through to submission and examination.

What makes Southampton different?

A strong focus on research and support for publication.

In Year 1 trainees receive weekly teaching on research methods and work in groups with a Local Authority on a research project. Our Dissemination and User Engagement module in Year 2 takes them through the process of preparing this work for publication up to journal submission.

Recent trainee and tutor publications

Gibby-Leversuch, R., Field, J., & Cooke, T. (2019). To what extent is the thrive intervention grounded in research and theory? Educational psychology research and practice, 5(2), 1–8. Available at:

Gibby-Leversuch, R., Hartwell, B.K. & Wright, S. (2019) Dyslexia, Literacy Difficulties and the Self-Perceptions of Children and Young People: a Systematic Review. Current Psychology doi:

Gregory, A., Hastings, R. & Kovshoff, H. (2020) Academic self-concept and sense of school belonging of adolescent siblings of autistic children. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 96, [103519]. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2019.103519

Pickering, L., Hadwin, J.A. & Kovshoff, H. (2019) The Role of Peers in the Development of Social Anxiety in Adolescent Girls: A Systematic Review. Adolescent Res Rev doi:10.1007/s40894-019-00117-x

Wood, H., O’Farrell, K., Bjerk-Andersen, C., Mullen, C. & Kovshoff, H. (2019) The Impact of Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH) for Children and Young People. Educational Psychology in Practice, doi: 10.1080/02667363.2019.1604323

Zilli, C., Parsons, S. & Kovshoff, H. (2019) Keys to engagement: A case study exploring the participation of autistic pupils in educational decision‐making at school. British Journal of Educational Psychology doi:10.1111/bjep.12331

For a full list, visit the publications page of our research blog (with free article downloads).

A two placement model.

We believe that trainees’ placement experience should prepare them for work in any Local Authority. Accordingly, trainees at Southampton complete two separate placements in Year 2 and Year 3 rather than one placement spanning both years.

A nine day Diversity Placement.

In Year 2 trainees complete a blocked placement with an organisation which works with diverse and vulnerable populations. Some recent choices include: Autism Berkshire, Barnardo’s, LAC, CAHMS, Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Teaching and Learning Provision, Southampton Hospital School and Youth Offending Services.

Where are trainees placed?

Southampton belongs to the SEEL (South-East England and London) consortium of universities offering doctoral training in educational psychology. Placements are arranged in collaboration with these universities within the geographical area covered by the consortium, taking into account your preferences. For more information see the SEEL website

How do I apply for a place?

Applications for educational psychology training in England are managed centrally by the Association of Educational Psychologists. You should make your application at their website and specify Southampton as one of your choices of university. Applications for the following year’s intake typically open towards the end of October and should be submitted by the start of December, with interviews taking place in March.

The Southampton course is currently offering 16 places per cohort.

What will I need to demonstrate in my application and interview?

To be shortlisted for interview, there are two minimum requirements which must be met:

  • A psychology degree (graded 2:1 or above) or masters conversion (graded merit or above) conferring GBC status (Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society).
  • At least one year of experience working with children and young people across the age range 0 to 25 (typically, successful applicants have more than this).

To be successful in your application, you will also need to demonstrate:

  • Theoretical and research knowledge in psychology, and the application of this knowledge in your work with children and young people.
  • An ability to listen and be empathic; to respect others’ cultures, experiences, values, points of view, goals and desires, fears, etc.
  • Good problem-solving ability, critical thinking skills, organised reasoning, intellectual curiosity and flexibility.
  • An ability to tolerate and understand ambiguity, uncertainty, and interpersonal conflict.
  • An ability to communicate ideas, feelings and information.
  • An ability to examine and consider your own motives, attitudes and behaviours, and the effects of these on others.
  • A strong work ethic and motivation to learn, personal organisation and punctuality.

Where can I learn more about Educational Psychology research?

We regularly publish distinction level trainee assignments on our course blog. These serve as excellent digests of current research across a broad range of topics. You might also find helpful our ‘TEP Talks’ podcast.

Additionally, we maintain an active Twitter feed of new research relevant to educational psychology from across the web. Follow us @SUEdPsy.

What do trainees say about what it’s like to study on the Southampton course?

We have recorded a special edition of our ‘TEP Talks’ podcast with ‘frequently asked questions’ about the course put to a panel of Year 2 trainees.

 Questions covered include:

  • With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you wish you had known when applying for the course?
  • What do you particularly enjoy about the course at Southampton?
  • Do you have any advice for useful preparation for the course itself (as opposed to the application process)?
  • What was your first day on placement like?
  • How far are you commuting every day now?
  • How would you describe the pace and style of learning on the course?
  • How do you feel at the end of the week?
  • Has anything about the course surprised you?

Listen to the podcast here