Clinical modules

The following modules have been mapped to the MRCPsych syllabus, 5-14 (inclusive), and cover the critical review and clinical topics. See our separate list for the basic sciences.


We are seeking to commission Higher Trainees with an interest in education to write the modules on this page, either as individuals or with co-authors. For details on how to apply, see the Author Recruitment page. If you are a consultant and you would be willing to provide feedback on these modules, please see our Expert Reviewers page and contact us noting your areas of expertise.


If you would like to see how we have divided our modules or want to target your learning for the exams, take a look at our syllabus pages.


Click the links below to view the modules in the following categories or scroll down to see the full list.


Critical Review/Evidence Based Practice (7 modules)

Classification and Assessment (3 modules)

Organisation and Delivery (2 modules)

General Adult and Old Age Psychiatry (16 modules)

Old Age (1 module)

Psychotherapy (6 modules)

Child and Adolescent (5 modules)

Addictions (2 modules)

Forensic psychiatry (3 modules)

Learning disabilities (2 modules)


Please note that the descriptions provided beneath the module titles are not comprehensive; cross-refer to the syllabus for full details on what each module should include.


Critical Review/Evidence Based Practice (7 modules)


1. Research methods (forthcoming)

Clinical questions; systematic retrieval of best available evidence including sources, ‘hierarchy of evidence,’ publication bias, and electronic databases.

(Critical review syllabus: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1-6)


2. Critical appraisal of the evidence – Basic epidemiology (forthcoming)

Systematic error, random error, validity; sources of and strategies to overcome bias; reliability; approaches to sampling; confounding; allocation concealment and methods of randomization; blinding and measurement bias; approaches for arguing cause and effect; quantitative study designs to address clinical questions.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.1, all parts).


3. Critical appraisal of the evidence – biostatistics 1 (forthcoming)

Different types of data (categorical and continuous); summary measures; tabular presentations; graphical presentations; hypothesis testing; confidence intervals and p values; Type I and II error, power and sample size; correlation coefficients (Spearman's and Pearson's); regression analysis result interpretation; Intention to Treat analysis; handling missing data.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.2.1-4, 3.2.14-22)


4. Critical appraisal of the evidence – biostatistics 2 (forthcoming)

Estimating test and sample characteristics; applying test results to another population using likelihood ratios and nomograms; Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves; prevalence, cumulative incidence, incidence rates; ‘survival’ curves; mortality statistics; measures of treatment impact; sampling variability and standard error in statistical inference; role and limitations of meta-analysis; fixed and random effect models; statistical heterogeneity; sensitivity analysis.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.2.5-13, 3.2.23-26)


5. Qualitative methods (forthcoming)

Qualitative research in relation to methodologies, sampling, data gathering, instrument development, validating data, minimising bias, analysing data; data saturation.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.4, all parts)


6. Critical appraisal

Diagnostic questions; STARD statement for reporting studies of diagnostic accuracy; prognosis questions; therapy, harm and aetiology questions; economic evaluations; qualitative analysis; systematic reviews and meta-analysis, including QUORUM statement and critically appraising systematic review; guidelines and protocols.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.6, all parts)


7. Basic health economics (forthcoming)

Direct and indirect costs; cost-effectiveness, cost-utility analysis, cost-benefit analysis, cost-minimisation; quality or disability adjusted life year and the rationale behind these measures; opportunity cost; approaches to discounting; 'sensitivity analysis'; guideline/protocol development; developing NICE and SIGN guidelines; advantages and limitations of guidelines and protocols; application of the results in practice and enabling patients to make an informed decision; evaluation of performance; audit, change planning, feedback and other elements of PDSA and their implications for clinical governance.

(Critical review syllabus: 3.3.1-6, 3.5, 4, 5)



Classification/Assessment (3 modules)


1. Classification systems (forthcoming)

ICD and DSM classification and diagnostic systems; WHO classification of impairments, disabilities, and handicaps; ‘statementing’ for special needs education.

(Syllabus: 5.1, all parts)


2. Psychopathology (forthcoming)

Assessment of the various biological, psychological and social factors involved in the predisposition to, onset, and maintenance of psychiatric disorder; history taking and examination of the mental state including descriptive psychopathology, disorders of self, disorders of emotion, disorders of speech and thought, disorders of perception, movement disorders, disorders of cognition, uncommon psychiatric syndromes; dynamic psychopathology.

(Syllabus: 5.2, 5.2.1-3) 


3. Risk (forthcoming)

Risk assessment tools; rating scales in psychiatry; understanding the principles of risk assessment; working knowledge of at least one working risk assessment tool; old age risk assessment - suicide and attempted suicide risk.

(Syllabus: 5.2.7, 5.2.8, 8.6)



Organisation and Delivery (2 modules)


1. Surgery/ neuromodulation for mental disorder (DBS, rTMS and Psychosurgery) (forthcoming)

The provision of specific treatments; indications, benefits, risks and outcomes of ECT; practical aspects of ECT administration; indications, benefits, risks and outcomes of DBS, rTMS and psychosurgery including specifically relevant mental health laws relating to this area.

(Syllabus: 6.3, all parts)


2. Medical ethics and law for psychiatry (forthcoming)

Human rights legislation as it affects patients and psychiatric practice; relationship between psychiatric disorder and civil rights including marriage, divorce, custody of children and management of property and affairs; ethical issues including use of seclusion, confidentiality and the implications of ‘duty to warn’; medico-legal issues in psychiatry including abuse of vulnerable adults, management of finance and property, driving and mental disorder, and the assessment of capacity to make health, social care and civil decisions. Includes driving and safeguarding but excludes: safeguarding children and ECT/neuromodulation for mental disorder. Human trafficking and forced marriage.

(Syllabus: 12.4, 6.6, 6.7)



General Adult and Old Age Psychiatry (16 modules) (To be commissioned at a later stage)


1. Personality across the lifespan

Including conduct disorder (childhood), specific personality disorders (excluding emotionally unstable personality disorder) and enduring personality change; prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome of these psychiatric disorders; psychiatric aspects of personality in old age.  

(Syllabus: 7.1.9, 8.7)


2. Emotionally unstable personality disorder

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1)


3. Schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders

Including organic psychoses and late life psychosis; prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.3, 7.1.10, 8.5.8)


4. Depressive disorders, including persistent mood disorders

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.1, 8.5.6)


5. Bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.2, 8.5.7)


6. OCD

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.5)


7. Anxiety disorders

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.4, 8.5.9)


8. Reaction to severe stress, adjustment disorders (including PTSD), bereavement.

Including old age where relevant. Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 8.9)


9. Neuropsychiatry including hypochondriasis, somatisation and dissociative disorders

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome.

(Syllabus: 7.1.6, 7.1.7, 7.1.8)


10. Liaison, including delirium

Prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome of disorders of delirium; assessment of physical factors including investigations; imaging of the nervous system; working knowledge of medicine including physical examination, diagnosis, investigation and treatment of common conditions; general hospital psychiatry.

(Syllabus: 5.2.4-6, 7.3, 8.5.5)


11. Perinatal

Assessment and management of disorders related to pregnancy and childbirth; prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome of psychiatric disorders.

(Syllabus: 7.2)


12. Emergency psychiatry

All aspects of suicide, attempted suicide and self harm including risk assessment and risk management; crisis intervention and home treatment; differential diagnosis in emergency situations; treatment methods in emergency situations including the use of appropriate legislation.

(Syllabus: 7.4)


13. Eating disorders including children

The prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatment and outcome of eating disorders.

(Syllabus: 7.5)


14. Psychosexual disorders

Non-organic sexual dysfunction; gender identity disorders; psychosexual disorders in old age including sexuality in physically ill/disabled people, sexuality in institutionalised elderly.

(Syllabus: 7.6, 8.11)


15. Dementias across all ages and sleep disorder in old age

Psychological aspects of physical disease; particular emphasis on possible psychiatric sequelae of Parkinson's Disease, cerebrovascular disease, sensory impairment; emotional reaction to illness and to chronic ill health; secondary and reversible dementias; prevalence/incidence, clinical features, differential diagnosis, aetiology, management and prognosis of Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies; Parkinson's Disease; frontotemporal dementia; sleep disorder in later life.

(Syllabus: 8.4, 8.5.1-4, 8.10)


16. ADHD across the lifespan

Evidence based interventions in child mental health and developmental conditions (as defined in ICD and DSM) and care pathways that enable access to those interventions; knowledge of the prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatments, and outcome of ADHD including how it relates to behaviours (e.g. self-harm, refusal to attend school etc.) and contexts (e.g. pre-school behaviours).

(Syllabus: 10.7, 10.8.3)



Old Age (1 module) (To be commissioned at a later stage)


1. Old age psychiatry in the UK

Demographic population changes in the UK and worldwide; district service provision, need for specialisation, principles of service provision, multidisciplinary working with reference to the needs of an older population, relationships with and provision by social services and voluntary bodies; liaison with geriatricians; attention to the needs of carers; specialist aspects of assessment of mental health in older people; substance misuse in late life.

(Syllabus: 8.1-3, 8.5.10)



Psychotherapy (6 modules)


1. Introduction to psychotherapy (forthcoming)

Includes effectiveness/evidence base. Principles and techniques of psychosocial therapies sufficient to treat patients using brief and supportive therapies; when and how to make referrals; explanations of prospective treatments to patients; characteristics and techniques of, and common indications for psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, supportive psychotherapy, cognitive and behavioural therapies, group therapies, couples and family therapies and psychoeducational interventions; indications for and techniques of combining psychotherapy with psychopharmacology; behavioural interventions; effectiveness of psychotherapy difficulties in defining outcome, understanding of effect size and meta-analysis, specific and non-specific effects in psychotherapy and contemporary guidelines; research on outcomes.

(Syllabus: 9 introduction, 9.5)


2. CBT and Dynamic psychotherapy

Behaviour therapy, including understanding of systematic desensitisation, operant conditioning, graded and cue exposure, habituation and social skills training; conducting a functional analysis, formulating a treatment plan and using measurement to assess change. Cognitive therapy including the cognitive model for non-psychotic disorders; the importance of schema, negative automatic thoughts and maladaptive assumptions; cultural contexts. Dynamic psychotherapy including Freud, Klein, Jung and Winnicott; therapeutic alliance, transference, countertransference, resistance, negative therapeutic reaction, acting out, interpretation, insight, defence mechanisms; indications for brief, long-term and supportive psychotherapy; therapeutic factors in groups.

(Syllabus: 9.3, 9.1.1)


3. Family therapy (forthcoming)

Influence of General Systems Theory; different models of family therapy, including dynamic, structural, strategic, psychoeducational, behavioural; goals of treatment.

(Syllabus: 9.2)


4. Group therapy including therapeutic communities (forthcoming)

Psychodynamic group therapy: historical roots of group therapy; group process; different models of analytic/dynamic group therapy (e.g. Bion, Foulkes, Yalom); therapeutic factors in groups. Other therapeutic group models: cognitive behavioural groups, expressive therapies, support groups, psychoeducational groups, skills groups.

(Syllabus: 9.6, all parts)


5. Other therapeutic models, excluding DBT (forthcoming)

Interpersonal Therapy; Cognitive Analytical Therapy; Gestalt Therapy; Client Centred Therapy; Transactional Analysis; Mentalisation. (Not Dialectic Behaviour Therapy.)

(Syllabus: 9.4 – except DBT)


6. DBT (forthcoming)

Dialectic Behaviour Therapy

(Syllabus: 9.4 – DBT only)



Child and Adolescent (5 modules)


1. Overview of child and adolescent psychiatry (forthcoming)

Assessment and treatment of children and adolescents; disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood and adolescence; developmental disabilities; effects of adult mental illness on children and young people, including effects of maternal mental health; effect of depression on parental functioning and interactions and impact on child development and functioning; cultural variations in aetiology and management; short- and long-term effects of negative life events on development and functioning e.g. maternal loss, child abuse, chronic or life-threatening illness; interaction between psychiatric disorder and physical illness in children and adolescents; physical presentation of psychiatric disorder and psychiatric presentation of physical disorder.

(Syllabus: 10 – introduction, 10.1, 10.2, 10.5)


2. Children’s services and child protection (forthcoming)

Description of a typical child mental health service and the role of the psychiatrist and multidisciplinary team members; the function of different agencies involved in the care of children; child protection including aetiology and recognition of types of child abuse and dealing with concerns; continuities and transitions of child mental health conditions into adult life; indications and contra-indications for treatment interventions and indications for in-patient care.

(Syllabus: 10.3, 10.4, 10.9, 10.10)


3. Attachment disorders, anxiety disorders and OCD in children (forthcoming)

Aetiological influences in child and adolescent psychiatry, including individual, familial and social and environmental influences and their interactions.

(Syllabus: 10.6)


5. Affective disorders and psychosis in children (forthcoming)

Evidence based interventions for child mental health and developmental conditions (as defined in ICD and DSM) and care pathways for access to interventions; prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatments and outcome of affective disorders and psychosis in children, including an understanding of how conditions relate to behaviours (e.g. self harm, refusal to attend school etc.) and contexts (e.g. pre-school behaviours)

(Syllabus: 10.7, 10.8.5, 10.8.6)


5. Autism spectrum disorders and tic disorders in children (forthcoming)

Evidence based interventions for child mental health and developmental conditions (as defined in ICD and DSM) and care pathways for access to interventions); prevalence/incidence, aetiology, presentation, treatments and outcome of autism spectrum disorders and tic disorders, including an understanding of how conditions relate to behaviours (e.g. self-harm, refusal to attend school etc.) and contexts (e.g. pre-school behaviours).

(Syllabus: 10.7, 10.8.8, 10.8.10)



Addictions (2 modules)


1. Addictions 1 (forthcoming)

Basic pharmacology and epidemiology of alcohol, cannabis, stimulants (amphetamine, cocaine, phentermine, diethylpropion, pemoline etc.), hallucinogens, solvents and nitrites, ecstasy and related substances, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, opiates; cause, consequences and recognition of heavy drinking including the concept of ‘problem drinking,’ the components of the alcohol dependence syndrome, the nature of alcohol-related disabilities, detoxification procedures for in-patients and out-patients; drug use, dependence and detoxification procedures; cultural factors in the use and abuse of drugs; biological, psychological and socio-cultural explanations of drug and alcohol dependence; interaction of drug and alcohol use with psychiatric illness, including dual diagnosis, classification systems and co-morbidity; substance misuse related medical, psychiatric and social complications and their impact on Public Health; non-substance addictive behaviours and related syndromes.

(Syllabus: 11.1, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.9)


2. Addictions 2

Arguments for and against types of prescribing and treatment modalities, and legal restrictions on prescribing; assessment and management of drug and alcohol mis-users including symptoms and signs of substance use and withdrawal phenomena; culturally appropriate strategies for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse; motivational interviewing.

(Syllabus: 11.2, 11.6, 11.7, 11.8, 11.10)



Forensic Psychiatry (3 modules)


1. Forensic psychiatry 1 (forthcoming)

Relationship between crime and mental disorder; range of offences committed by mentally disordered offenders; specific crimes and their psychiatric relevance, particularly homicide, other crimes of violence (including infanticide), sex offences, arson and criminal damage; the relationship between specific mental disorders and crime, including epilepsy, substance misuse, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, neuro-developmental disorders, personality disorders; Special syndromes, including morbid jealousy, erotomania, Munchausen and Munchausen by proxy; mental disorders and offending in special groups including young offenders, female offenders, offenders from ethnic minorities, offenders who are deaf or who have other physical disabilities; effect of victimisation and vulnerability, including anxiety states and PTSD, suggestibility, anger and aggressive behaviour; effect of compensation on presentation.

(Syllabus: 12.1, all parts)


2. Forensic psychiatry 2 (forthcoming)

Psychiatry and the criminal justice system; the role of the psychiatrist in the assessment of mentally disordered offenders during arrest, prior to conviction and prior to sentencing; psychiatric defences including fitness to plead, mutism and deafness, criminal responsibility, diminished responsibility, amnesia and automatism; psychiatric disposals following conviction; skills to write a court report in relation to a criminal case and to provide oral evidence as an expert witness and as a professional witness.

(Syllabus: 12.2, all parts)


3. Forensic psychiatry 3 (forthcoming)

Practising psychiatry in a secure setting; the role of security in a therapeutic environment; essential components of a forensic service and the specific patient needs and disabilities that it can assist; the prevalence of psychiatric disorder in prison populations, suicide in prisoners and psychiatric treatment in prison settings; risk management planning; management of mentally disordered offenders discharged into the community.

(Syllabus: 12.3.1-3, 12.5.3-4)



Learning Disabilities (2 modules)


1. Learning disabilities 1 (forthcoming)

Epidemiology: the prevalence/incidence of intellectual disability in the general population; the prevalence/incidence of superadded behavioural, psychiatric and other impairments within this group; the factors that might account to the observed high rates of psychiatric behavioural disorders in this group. Aetiology: biological causes of intellectual disability including genetic and environmental effects, and the clinical characteristics of reasonably common biological conditions associated with intellectual disability such as Down Syndrome, fragile-X syndrome and foetal alcohol syndrome; the influence of psychological and social factors on intellectual and emotional development in people with intellectual disability, including the concept of secondary handicap.

(Syllabus: 13.2.1, 13.2.2)


2. Learning disabilities 2 (forthcoming)

Services: Normalisation and related social theories and their influence on service development for people with an intellectual disability; the change from an institutional to an individualised, needs-led approach; specialist psychiatric services for people with intellectual disability. Clinical: assessment and communication for people with intellectual disability; presentation and diagnosis of psychiatric illness and behavioural disorder in people with intellectual disability, including the concept of diagnostic overshadowing; psychological methods of assessment and psychological theories on the cause of problem behaviours; relevant behavioural modification techniques; psychiatric methods of treatment in intellectual disability including psychotherapy, drug treatments, behaviour therapy and cognitive therapy; a multidisciplinary approach to the management of mental health systems in people with intellectual disability; specific syndromes and their association with particular psychiatric or behavioural disorders (behavioural phenotypes); impact on family and the psychological consequences of having a child with a disability; assessment, management and treatment of offenders with intellectual disability.

(Syllabus: 13.1, 13.3, all parts)

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