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Attachment Theory Research and Practice

The Attachment Theory, Research and Practice programme provides students with a specific qualification in the assessment of child and adult attachment, parenting and family functioning. Designed for health and social care professionals, our aim is to prepare you to be at the forefront of the next generation of attachment scholars and practitioners. 

Key Facts



MSc (Hons) Attachment Theory Research and Practice


Degree Duration

1 year :Full Time


Start Dates

September 2023

Degree Overview

This course is best suited for professionals such as psychologists, social workers, therapists, and occupational therapists who are interested in broadening their skills in assessing attachment, improving the outcome of interventions with their clients and conducting small or large scale research projects. Central to the programme is the Patricia Crittenden’s Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation, combined with a culturally sensitive approach uniquely applicable to alleviate the suffering of distressed and traumatised people.

The short course, online led, blended-learning delivery of the programme is designed to enable you to attend and get the most from the programme regardless of your location. It can be attended entirely online, or mainly online with a small number of in-campus sessions to facilitate collaboration and learning from other students. Both the MSc and the Postgraduate Certificate are structured as a series of short courses (usually 2-3 days). On average, part-time students need to set aside 8 days a term for live teaching, delivered mainly online, and full-time students, 16, but this can vary according to options taken. In addition, students need to set aside an equivalent time for guided and self-directed study. Whilst there is some flexibility and support for those who cannot attend particular sessions, live online attendance at UK times will be required.

This reflects the practical and skills-based aspects of the programme, which teaches students to observe and make sense of attachment relationships in particular contexts, as well as be familiar with the underlying research evidence upon which this is based.  You will study how attachment is assessed and be accredited in the proper administration of formal procedures that assess attachment. Students learn how to use attachment thinking to make sense of the problems of children and adults, identifying areas of adaptation and resilience, and offering creative solutions.

Although this course does not offer therapeutic training, you will be taught by experts in the field to gain the necessary knowledge to formulate intervention plans and select or mould therapeutic approaches to benefit your clients.

You will gain a comprehensive understanding of attachment theory including the latest developments in the neuroscience of attachment relationships and parenting. Our systemic approach broadens the study of attachment from mothers and infants to the attachment of older children, adults, family systems and wider social and community networks.

You will gain an in depth understanding of attachment theory, including the Dynamic-Maturational model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) and other approaches. In addition to studying the underpinning research, there is extensive use of videoed interaction and interview transcripts to teach students to observe patterns of attachment and the impact of trauma. This includes an understanding of the latest developments in the neuroscience of relationships. You will study core concepts of Attachment Theory, as well as related fields such as family systems theory, reflective functioning, trauma research, as well as the critiques and limitations of attachment theory.

You will also gain a comprehensive knowledge of how attachment and mentalising can be formally assessed in children and adults, including the opportunity to become accredited by the University in the administration of up to three procedures.

The interdisciplinary focus on both practice and research is invaluable for students interested in a research career in the field of attachment studies. Examples of recent and current PhD students’ research include the development of the Meaning of the Child Interview, the physiology of developmental trauma (PTSD) in children, the effectiveness of play therapy with traumatised children, and attachment in chimpanzees reared by humans.

Overall, the course seeks to give students the understanding and skills they need to use Attachment Theory to make a substantial contribution to their area of practice, and should they wish, contribute to the cutting-edge research of the programme team and department.


You may incur additional costs during your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year such as laptops, Stationary and additional resources.

Why Study this Degree

Designed for health and social care professionals this unique programme combines theory, practice and research in the field of child and adult attachment and trauma.

Our graduates go on to careers in health and social care, or undertake further study in fields such as Clinical Psychology. Students who already have a professional background have started their own businesses, such as residential assessment centres, or work as independent experts for the courts in England and Ireland.