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Psychology for Education Professionals (Foundation Degree)

Are you interested in how children and young people learn? Do you want to know more about their development, mental health, emotional well-being, and how psychology is applied to learning and teaching?

Whether you already work with children and young people or would like to work with them, the FDS in Psychology for Education Professionals at Birkbeck will prepare you for a wide range of jobs and career progression. This degree will give you significant skills and understanding in how psychological theory and research can support children more effectively.

Drawing on expertise within the Department of Psychological Sciences, you will focus on issues of relevance to professionals working with children and young people, including:

  • intellectual, social and emotional development
  • mental health and well-being
  • learning and learning difficulties
  • communication and relationship building
  • special educational needs, inclusion and diversity
  • reflective practice.

You will study key issues in educational and developmental psychology, analyse a wide range of theories and research and explore how you can apply these in your work. You will be able to select option modules to reflect your personal and professional interests and, in your final year, will have the opportunity to conduct a work-based research project under guidance.


  • This Foundation Degree will equip you with knowledge and a critical appreciation of contemporary psychological theory and research, and selected issues in educational and developmental psychology.
  • Its highly applied focus will support you to develop your skills as a professional. It is particularly suitable if you have been out of education for some time as you will have access to extensive support as part of your lectures and through additional study days and workshops.
  • Our graduates have successfully progressed to a wide range of careers, including higher teaching assistants, special needs assistants, nursery workers, learning mentors, family support workers and other education and childcare professionals.
  • Once you graduate, you will also have the opportunity to continue your studies to full BA/BSc level in a range of specialist areas such as psychology, education or professional practice and take your career even further.
  • Birkbeck's Department of Psychological Sciences is strongly oriented towards research and contains the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging and the Centre for Cognition, Computation and Modelling. The department is also a member of the Bloomsbury Centre for Genetic Epidemiology and Statistics.
  • Our Department of Psychological Sciences is consistently regarded as one of the top psychological sciences departments in the UK. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, and for the third time, it was ranked in the top ten universities in the UK.

Course structure

In Year 1, you take three compulsory modules and choose one of four option modules.

In Year 2, you take three compulsory modules and choose one of three option modules.

In Year 3, you take one core and one compulsory module, and complete a work-based learning module.

Students who successfully complete this Foundation Degree can continue their studies to undergraduate degree level, such as our BA Psychology for Education or BSc Professional Studies, via a number of routes focusing on the aspect of the course most suitable to their future needs.

Module groups

Year 1 compulsory modules

Year 1 option modules (choose one)

Year 2 compulsory modules

Year 2 option modules (choose one)

Year 3 core and compulsory modules

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome all interested applicants with and without formal qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. However, as a minimum, applicants must have:

    • a good standard of written and spoken English
    • a good standard of basic mathematics
    • basic computer skills
    • an active and ongoing engagement in the education sector working directly with children or young people (as a paid employee or as a volunteer) for a minimum of one day (six hours) a week, for the duration of the degree
    • a workplace mentor (to support your reflective practice at work).

    Confirmation of your placement and mentor will only be required when you enrol.

    Alternative entry routes

    The Certificate of Higher Education in Applied Psychology offers an entry route into the second year of this Foundation Degree.

    English Language Requirements

    There are no formal IELTS requirements for this course and students undertake a written test prior to interview to determine their level of English.

    International students must also have a placement working with children or young people in the UK before their application can be considered.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees


    Part-time home students, Year 1&2: £5865 pa
    Part-time international students, Year 1&2: £10920 pa
    Part-time home students, Year 3: £3910 pa
    Part-time international students, Year 3: £7280 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment


    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    This programme is taught using a wide range of methods, including lectures (with students encouraged to ask questions and discuss points throughout) and small-group exercises with feedback to the large group to provide an opportunity for clarification of ideas and discussion. Other methods include videos, experiments, student presentations and discussion of published articles. You will be given help to develop your study skills. You should also expect to build on your learning in class by undertaking significant guided independent study, including appropriate reading and research.

    Teaching hours

    Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

    Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

    Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.


    Discover the provisional teaching timetable for compulsory modules on this course.

    Full timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Assessment will be varied and relevant to students' work contexts and individual interests. It will include case studies, small-scale research reports, class presentations, critical analysis of published research, learning and reflective journals, and essays, as well as some writing under examination conditions.

    Breakdown of assessment on this course

    The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework will often depend on the option modules you choose. The approximate percentages for this course are as follows:

    Year % Exams % Practical % Coursework
    1 35 0 65
    2 30 5 65
    3 52 3 45
  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue career paths in psychology and education. Possible professions include:

    • teaching
    • family support work
    • working with children with special needs
    • educational psychology.

    Please note: If you wish to pursue a career as an educational psychologist, you will need to obtain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership with the British Psychological Society.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service - Birkbeck Futures - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. Please note that online application will open in September.

    You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

    When to apply

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

    You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

    You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

    Help and advice with your application

    Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

    Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.