Woman and infant

Perinatal mental health postgraduate module (PN1)

Develop skills and expertise in specialist perinatal mental healthcare, while earning postgraduate credits from the University of Essex

Originally developed on behalf of NHS England (formerly Health Education England) this 30-credit postgraduate module is designed for professionals working in NHS specialist community and inpatient perinatal mental health services, or who have specialist perinatal mental health roles within NHS maternity and health visiting settings.

Delivered entirely online, the course will enable participants to evidence, record and receive academic credit for skills acquired in the field of specialist perinatal mental healthcare – directly supporting their current role and enhancing their long-term career trajectory. 

The deadline for applications to this course is provisionally set for Wednesday 31 July 2024. However, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible, as spaces are limited and can be competitive.

Please note: you may see the PN1 course also referred to as SCPCTP007 in communications from our application system.

About this course

Taking place over twenty weeks, this online module offers the opportunity to consolidate and demonstrate specialist skills in the field of perinatal mental healthcare – with the aim of improving the quality of care, clinical outcomes and experience of service users.

Participants will study key theoretical ideas, contemporary best practice and relevant research, while also strengthening their capacities for reflection and resilience, and developing advanced skills in areas such as communication, leadership and decision-making.

Clear links will be made between academic learning and clinical practice – ensuring that the training is fully relevant and applicable to all participants, and empowering practitioners to put the learning to use in their work setting.

A range of teaching methods will be used, including didactic teaching, small group discussion, case scenarios and reflective practice – all overseen by our expert clinician-tutors.

Themes covered in the module include:

  • Assessment
  • Mother-infant relationship and the experience of the baby
  • Partners and intimate relationships
  • Depression and anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder and psychosis
  • Personality Disorder
  • Pregnancy loss, infertility and complex pregnancy related issues
  • Child and adult safeguarding
  • Interventions
  • Leadership

Various key issues are also considered throughout the course, underpinning discussion of each theme. These include: the safeguarding of adults and children, culture and difference, collaborative working, women’s own experience of perinatal mental disorders and care, and legal issues.

This module aims to:

  • enable perinatal practitioners to manage complex clinical work
  • support participants to consider assessment, risk, relationships, communication and self-reflection in the context of different clinical disorders
  • encourage participants to integrate current evidence into their clinical practice
  • develop participants’ self-reflection skills
  • promote leadership development
  • help participants to support the learning of others within the course and in their work environments
  • emphasise the importance of the perspectives of women, infants, partners and families throughout the perinatal pathway
  • improve patient safety
  • improve the experience of women and families in perinatal mental health services.

By the end of the module, participants will have:

  • an understanding of the range of mental disorders, risks and treatments in the perinatal period and the effects these may have on the woman, her partner and the developing infant
  • an understanding of theoretical ideas, contemporary best practice and relevant research in the perinatal mental health clinical setting
  • the ability to sensitively consider the diversity of human experience (including culture, difference, inequality and disability) and the effects of these factors on the woman, partner and infant’s experience as well as the experience of the professional
  • the ability to skilfully describe examples of complex clinical work while demonstrating the application of theoretical learning from the course
  • the capacity to summarise and communicate learning from academic sources, and reflect on how this relates to clinical situations and potential improvements in clinical practice
  • the ability to effectively communicate workplace reflection and ideas in writing
  • the capacity to relate observations of what is happening in clinical situations, including those which are emotionally difficult, while observing one’s own thoughts and feelings
  • the ability to manage, describe and reflect on complex and difficult interactions and situations with women, their partners and families, and with colleagues.

Who is this course for?

The course is suitable for professionals currently working in NHS specialist community and inpatient perinatal mental health services, or who have specialist perinatal mental health roles within NHS maternity and health visiting settings.

Applicants can come from a range of disciplines:

  • Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Nursery Nurses
  • Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwives
  • Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Visitors

The course is aimed at experienced clinicians who have had prior training and clinical experience in the assessment, care and treatment of women who require the involvement of secondary and tertiary perinatal mental health services.

There is an expectation that participants will have previously participated in CPD training that ensures their understanding of core issues in the field of perinatal mental health.

Course details

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • have an undergraduate degree, degree equivalent, or evidence of other relevant education and professional experience
  • are able to write to an acceptable standard and to have a command of English at least to ILTS 6.5 (in all elements) or equivalent
  • have undertaken prior CPD training in perinatal mental health
  • are working in a relevant full-time or part-time role in perinatal mental health within the NHS for the duration of the course – this may include working in a:
    • Community Perinatal Mental Health Service
    • Mother and Baby Unit
    • Specialist Mental Health Midwife role
    • Specialist Health Visiting role
    • Parent-infant Mental Health Service
    • Maternal Mental Health Service
    • Start for Life / Family Hub Service

Applications will be reviewed to ensure that applicants meet these criteria.


£2,000 (2024/25)

Please refer to our Student Fees & Refund Policy for further information. Financial support may be available to help you fund your studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


Participants will be required to write a weekly reflective journal throughout the course, and to produce a 4,000-word workplace reflection discussion paper, which will be due 6 weeks after the end of the course.

Participants who pass both written assessment components will be awarded 30 credits by the University of Essex. In line with standards set in the QAA framework, these credits will be transferable to other postgraduate programmes as part of credit accumulation agreements between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The curriculum and assessment criteria are consistent with Level 7 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) UK study.


This course takes place over 20 weeks, combining live teaching sessions with self-directed learning.

Participants will attend 10 full training days, held fortnightly on Thursdays via Zoom, and two tutorials with a course tutor after weeks 3 and 10 of the module.

Weekly study leave will also be required for the duration of the course to allow participants time to complete the self-directed learning, reading requirements, reflective journal and written assignment.

Please note: This course runs twice per year, with our next cohort beginning in September 2024, followed by a cohort in February 2025. For more information, please contact us.


Training DaysDatesTimes
Day – 4.30pm
Day – 4.30pm
Day 310.10.24
1st Tutorialw/c 14.10.241 hour date TBC by Tutor
Day 424.10.249.30am – 4.30pm
Day 57.11.24
Day 621.11.24
Day 75.12.24
Day – 4.30pm
Day 923.1.25
Day 106.2.25
2nd Tutorialw/c 10.2.251 hour date TBC by Tutor
Assignment Deadline20.3.25 
Assignment Marks Released17.4.25 
Essex University Exam BoardJuly 2025 (Date TBC) 

Combining theoretical learning with discussion of clinical practice, this module will immediately support practitioners in their current role, while also enriching their career in the longer term by developing advanced communication, decision-making and leadership skills.

88% of participants who undertook the module in September 2022 reported that it had been directly beneficial to their practice, while 100% of participants who undertook the module in February 2023 reported that they could align their personal career goals to the programme.

Why study with us?

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has supported the development of the UK’s perinatal mental health workforce through the delivery of specialist CPD and postgraduate training since 2017.

This module was originally developed by the Trust on behalf of NHS England, Workforce Training and Education Directorate (formerly Health Education England), as part of the mental health workforce programme in 2021. It has since been delivered to 360 clinicians across England – receiving consistently positive feedback from attendees, their managers and regional leads.

Now open to practitioners across the UK, the training offers the opportunity to develop and evidence advanced specialist skills in the field of perinatal mental health – allowing participants to demonstrably advance their professional toolkit and profile.


“As a specialist midwife for perinatal mental health, that sat within maternity, it was always difficult to gain adequate training. Undertaking this course not only gave me so much knowledge and understanding, it gave me the confidence to put my learning into practice and develop in my role. I would highly recommend this course for all professionals that work within perinatal mental health.”
PN1 Student
“I enjoyed the postgraduate perinatal mental health course. It is an excellent course and I will strongly recommend it for any midwife/mental health nurse/health visitor that is passionate about perinatal mental health. I gained more knowledge and understanding on assessment tools, and the importance of cultural background in the management of women and birthing people with mental health challenges. ”
PN1 Student

Course facilitators

  • Jo Brook

    Jo Brook

    Perinatal Mental Health Training and Service Development Lead

Validations and accreditations

University of Essex logo

This course is validated by the University of Essex.

© Copyright NHS England 2024

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