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MSc SLS FAQs

Why do I need experience of speech and language therapy and/or with people with communication difficulties?

We're looking for people who are really committed to becoming speech and language therapists, as this is key to success on the programme.  We also want to be sure that you have made the right career choice before starting the course.  Gaining relevant work or voluntary experience will help to develop your confidence and comfort in interacting and working with people who have difficulty communicating.  It will also enable you to show us that you really understand the role of the speech and language therapist in one or more settings.

What type of experience do you look for?

We look for candidates who have done work experience/voluntary work with a speech and language therapist (SLT) or with people with communication difficulties.  This work can be paid or voluntary and can be full-time or part-time.  It should have been completed within the previous 24 months.  Ideally you should try to get some experience with both children and adults.  We recognise that it can be difficult to secure direct SLT experience so please look for alternatives such as working or volunteering in schools, clubs, support organisations and combine this with some SLT experience e.g. attending an SLT taster day at an NHS Trust, shadowing a local SLT for a day. 

Good places to ask are: your local speech and language therapy service (NHS, local authority or independent practice), schools, charitable organisations such as The Stroke Association, Parkinson’s UK, Headway, The National Autistic Society.  The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) website has some useful information about gaining relevant experience.

How much experience do I need to have of speech and language therapy and/or with people with communication difficulties?

We recommend at least 25 days of paid or voluntary work with people with communication difficulties, plus observation of a speech and language therapist at work and/ or time spent talking with a SLT (for example at an open day).  This work can be full-time or part-time and it should have been completed in the previous 12 months.

Due to changes in the way services are being delivered we understand that opportunities may be different this year.  We recognise that it may be hard to secure opportunities, so this year we are flexible about the time you are able to spend with an SLT or a client with a communication difficulty.  We would still encourage you to seek these opportunities as it ensures that you are clear about what the profession involves.

It's not only the number of days, but also the quality of the experiences and the way you have reflected on the experience that are important.  Make sure you show us this in your application.  If you have fewer opportunities, it remains very important that you reflect on these to ensure you are getting the most out of each one.

  How many weeks of teaching and placements are there on the programme?

The programme is full time over 25 months, with 8 weeks of holiday per year (2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at Easter and 4 weeks in the Summer). Term dates vary and the programme doesn’t follow the typical UCL term patterns.

In terms 1 and 2 there are 10 weeks of teaching (including one day a week on placement). In term 3 there is less direct teaching as you are given some private study time to revise for exams. There are 2-3 post-exam teaching weeks in late June/early July in both years.

Overall you will attend 19 weeks of placement across the two years (well above the RCSLT recommendation). These will be a mixture of one day a week ongoing placements (terms 1 & 2) and block placements in spring and summer (see below). Employers have told us that the high number of placement hours is a key strength of the programme, as placements really prepare you well for your future career.

When do the placements take place?

Clinical placements start in the first term and carry on throughout the programme. The placements are closely linked to classroom learning. You will have on-going placements that you attend one day a week over terms 1 and 2 of both years (October to March). These placements allow you to see changes in clients over a period of time and to develop your skills gradually over a longer period of time, supported by your university clinical tutorials and visiting tutors. You will also have block placements which you attend between 3 and 5 days per week over a number of weeks. These take place in spring (4-5 week block end of March to mid-May) and in summer (2-3 week block in July). The block placements are an opportunity to really focus on your clinical and professional skills development, supported by experienced SLTs and college tutors.

Can you choose your placements?

You will be able to give some preferences but these can’t always be guaranteed. Placements are allocated by the placements team, with the main aim of making sure that each student gets experience in a range of different settings over the course. Our excellent links with a large number of placement providers in the London area enables us to do this. However the offers from placement providers vary from year to year, so we cannot guarantee a specific placement will be available. Factors such as health needs or caring responsibilities are also taken into consideration in the placement allocations process.

How do you choose your final research project?

In the second year you will carry out a research project. We have a wide range of projects and students can list their three top choices of project. In general students get their first or second choice. There are research facilities in the building and on the UCL campus and we have links with NHS partners and are sometimes able to offer joint projects. As you progress through the course you will get more idea of what you would like to do.

Is assessment more coursework based or more exam based?

Assessments are spread out over the year and are in a range of formats including coursework, multiple choice tests, exams, oral tests and vivas. Where possible the programme team have made the assessments similar to tasks you would do in an SLT job role e.g. service presentations, case reports, case based exam questions. The assessments aim to test how to apply the knowledge gained from teaching to a case or clinical scenario.

How long should my personal statement be?

We advise you to use the 3000 characters provided, alternatively one side of A4 no smaller than point 12 in your chosen font, with no characters counting.

My undergraduate degree is in an unrelated area can I apply?

Yes. We have students who have successfully completed the course with undergraduate degrees in many different subjects, including archaeology, law, anthropology, and geography. You can apply if you hold any UK honours degree at a 2.1 or above, or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution.

If you are applying with a qualification from overseas, please look at the UCL website for international students for information on equivalent qualifications.

What is the start date for this programme?

The start date can fall in the last week of August or the first week of September depending on the academic calendar.

Do I have to have an interview for the programme?

Yes. We interview shortlisted applicants, usually in the first week of January each year.

How many applications do you normally receive?

In past years we have received around 300 applications for approximately 60 places on the course.

Are there some suggested readings for applicants?

Yes please click here for suggested introductory readings

How many days a week will I need to come into college?

You must be able to commit 5 full days a week for this programme.  Where possible the timetable is arranged to allow private study days but the timetable varies throughout the year. 

During terms 1 and 2, you can expect to be in college 9am – 5pm for 3 days per week (with 1 hour for lunch), and on placement for another whole day in most weeks. There is one full day of private study most weeks, which you will need to prepare for your placement and coursework assignments and carry out any additional reading.

You’ll probably also need to do some work in your own time, in the evenings or at weekends.

Are there any options for studying this programme part-time?

At this time we don't offer a part-time route for this programme.  However, this is something we are looking at for the future.

I'm a parent.  Will I be able to fit studying for this programme around my childcare responsibilities?

We have had several successful graduates from the programme who are parents, so that in itself should not put you off.  However, the programme is intensive, and you must be able to commit 5 full days a week, plus study time in the evenings or weekends.  The key thing to consider is what support you have to help look after your children on a regular basis.  Remember also that our terms are quite long and you might have to attend placements during typical school holiday periods (eg Easter).  We do try to take childcare and other caring responsibilities into consideration when allocating placements.

It will be difficult for me to get two academic references.  Is it possible to send non-academic references?

We prefer to have academic references where possible but if you have been out of education for some time you can send two non-academic references e.g. from work or a work placement.

I'm a mature applicant and I don’t have a degree but I have relevant experience can I apply?

To be eligible to apply for the course, you have to hold an honours degree at a 2.1 or above (or the equivalent if you are an overseas applicant).

I am still studying my undergraduate degree can I apply?

We accept applications from those in their final year, who are on course for a 2:1 or above (or the equivalent if you are an overseas applicant).

I'm worried about the science content of the programme as I haven't done biology since GCSE?

There will be lots of support on the course. You don’t need to worry as long as you are a motivated learner. There will be strengths and weaknesses across the cohort. We operate a peer tutoring scheme for some subjects where students who have a first degree in the subject act as peer tutors for the rest of the cohort.

Do I have to show evidence of recent study?

No, but you do have to be motivated to get back into study and you may want to do an A-level, or other relevant qualifications, to help with that.

I am an international applicant but I have been living in the UK for many years.  Will I have to pay overseas fees?

Your fee status will be determined by the UCL Admissions Office depending on your length of stay in the UK and your residency status.  It is often not possible to determine your fee status until the Admissions Office receive your application form and copies of your passport and any other documents needed to make a formal assessment of your fee status.

The international office website may have information on sources of funding for international students.

What is the starting salary for a Speech and Language Therapist?

An NHS Band 5 Speech and Language Therapist can expect a salary of £22,128 -  £28,746 with an additional London weighting of 20% (minimum £4,200 per year) for inner London, 15% (minimum £3,553 per year) for outer London and 5% (minimum £970) for the fringe of London. These figures were downloaded from https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/about/careers-nhs/nhs-pay-and-benefits/agenda-change-pay-rates on 5th October 2017.

If you have further queries please contact msc-sls-admin@pals.ucl.ac.uk