Thomas Boden

Subject Education
Course Doctorate in Applied Educational and Child Psychology
Country United Kingdom
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Hi, Thomas: Can you give me the name(s) of any faculty member(s) who have an interest or specialty in Social and Emotional Learning? I am looking to do research for a Doctorate at the University of Birmingham.


There’s a masters on social and emotional behavioural difficulties in the school of education, dept of Inclusion and Special Needs. I’m not sure if there’s any PHd opportunities in this area. You could try and contact someone from the Dept of Inclusion and Special Needs to see if they can point you in the right direction. List of staff here:

Best wishes,

Would you say working as a Psychological wellbeing practitioner is good experience for the role?

Hi, yes it definitely is. I know of a few people who were low intensity therapists working with children and have transitioned into the EP role.



Hi Tom, I am interested in applying for the doctorate course in applied educational psychology. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, and I am currently in my NQT year of secondary school teaching. Do I need to secure an ME in educational psychology to apply for this course or can I apply already? Also when can you apply for this course? Many thanks, Aisling


Dont necessarily need a masters in psychology though it may help. You need to be able to demonstrate that you will be able negotiate the step up to research at doctoral level. I was previously a teacher, and it was good experience that I could upon in the interview in applying psychological and education research to practice.

Hope this helps.



Hi, other than the thesis, how is the course assessed? Are there any exams involved or marked presentations?

  • There are assignments in you’re first year. You are also assessed on placement through a professional practice portfolio and a set of competencies that you are required to evidence.

Have you been able to cope financially on the course or have you had to pick up a second job aswell?

The 16k bursary is tax free. It has been enough to live on but I have definitely felt the pinch.

Hi Tom, if we refer to psychological theory in the personal statement should this be cited and referenced as it would be in a psychology report? Thanks for your help.

Citing it but not referencing it would be fine I would think

Hi Tom, are there opportunities to arrange placements closer to your home location if you making a long commute to attend Birmingham? Thanks for your help.


More so in the 2nd and 3rd year but it is not guaranteed as it is dependent on placement availability in the area.

Hope this helps.



How much contact time/home study is involved in the first year?

It varies throughout the year. There are periods of 4 day weeks at the university and one day a week of study which can be done at home or the university. This one day a week of study time (usually a Friday) is protected throughout the year with a few exceptions. There are also periods of fieldwork placement which are 3 days a week, then two days a week study time. You can negotiate with the fieldwork/placement provider regarding working from home, dependant on their policy.

How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

My degree precedes a career path in Educational Psychology and so combines a variety of placement activities and studying/research. Being able to carry out a thesis, which for my course consists of two volumes, one that is a Professional Practice Report and another that is research led, means that I can specialise in a certain area and make a tangible contribution to the academic evidence based (many theses are also published in academic journals). Being on placement and being gradually given more autonomy allows me to work out what type of Educational Psychologist I am in terms of preferred use of psychological frameworks, theory and practices and develop my skills so that I am ready for a career in the field.

What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

My highlight of my time so far would be the amount of interesting people I have met with a range of backgrounds and experiences, not just within my department but also through cross-disciplinary research modules and external speakers that have contributed to my course. Aside from this, I have been able to make new friends who I regularly play squash with and socialise with my course mates- we have had some great socials! There are so many resources at the University, both for study and extra-curricular pursuits. Furthermore, the campus itself is really nice to place spend time in and makes studying seem not so bad! There are a variety of things that I can do when I want to procrastinate from studying, from walking around Winterbourne Gardens to having lunch outside on campus and using the gym, squash courts and other sports facilities.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

The most enjoyable aspect of my course is the mixture of academic study and applied practice. I feel that I am able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Being able to see the impact that the use of psychological theory and evidence based practice is making on young people is very rewarding. As well as this, I am also in the unique and privileged position of working with interesting and inspiring young people and their families to help them negotiate challenges or difficulties and improve aspects of their social, emotional, mental health and wellbeing. Being able to research and add to the academic evidence base that can be drawn upon in practice in a wide variety of areas within psychology is fascinating, particularly given the breadth and range of content that is out there. Day to day, the variety of different case types, needs of young people and associated relevant psychological theory means that it is impossible to be unenthused and not learn something new.

Can you describe your journey from school to where you are now?

I went to a comprehensive school in Worcestershire where I studied for my A Levels, and unsure of what career path I wanted to follow, chose to study Geography at Durham University. I felt that  Geography was a broad, cross disciplinary degree that would leave me with a variety of subsequent career options. Whilst studying for my Undergraduate Degree in Geography, I became more interested in the Sociological and Psychological elements of the course rather than more ‘traditional’ aspects of Geography. Alongside my studies, I also volunteered at a local boxing club to provide mentoring to young people from low socio-economic backgrounds. This was where my motivation to positively impact the lives of young people originally stemmed from. After completing my first degree, studying for a Masters in Educational Psychology seemed like a natural progression as it provided a mixture of the most enjoyable elements of my undergraduate degree and opportunities for academic study in the areas of Psychology and Education with the aim of improving the lives of young people in practice. Although I also sampled other potential career paths such as internships in financial consultancy, I found a much greater sense of reward and enjoyment in working with young people. To build up the necessary experience to apply for the Doctorate in Applied Educational and Child Psychology and to pursue a career path in Educational Psychology I therefore moved into secondary school teaching within a comprehensive school in Inner West London on the Teach First Program. Although this was one of the most challenging experiences in my career, it provided me with confidence, skills and experience that put me in a good position to pursue a career in Educational Psychology, particularly through allowing me to utilise psychological and educational theory in practice. This enabled me to secure a place on the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology here at the University of Birmingham.

How have you funded your postgraduate studies?

My Master’s degree at Bristol University was self-funded through savings from previous jobs along with me taking a part time job in Bristol. Balancing this with studying was challenging but worthwhile in the end! Following this, my PGCE degree at the Institute of Education (IOE) in London was funded through my place on the Teach First Program. Currently, my placement on the Applied Doctorate in Child and Educational Psychology at the University of Birmingham is funded in the first year by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, under the Department for Education. This involves my course fees along with an annual bursary of ~£16,000. In my second and third year, I will receive the same funding along with an additional £1000 travel allowance to cover the costs of travelling between different schools and other educational provisions whilst on placement. This is paid by my placement provider which will be a Local Authority Educational Psychology Service.