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ClinPsyD Doctorate in Clinical Psychology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2021

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Programme description

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is a three-year programme of academic and clinical training offered. It is the result of close collaboration between the University and clinical psychologists in north-west England.

The programme aims to train practitioners who are able to fulfil the responsibilities and duties of clinical psychologists in a range of settings. In addition to a comprehensive in-depth training in cognitive-behavioural approaches, teaching is provided in psychodynamic interpersonal therapy, systemic approaches, clinical neuropsychology work, team working and leadership, research methods and other therapeutic and clinical approaches. A critical evaluation of all models is emphasised throughout the training. There is strong emphasis on research throughout the programme and students work alongside research programmes within the Division of Psychology and Mental Health.

It is recognised that the majority of graduates will be employed within the National Health Service. The programme is thus geared to train clinical psychologists who will be able to meet the appropriate client needs and organisational requirements of the NHS and other statutory and voluntary bodies who work in collaboration with the health service.

The training covers a wide geographical area, with placements at present available in many NHS Trusts throughout the north-west. The structure of the training spans both taught and research elements, with specialist teaching units co-ordinated around intensive clinical placements.

Further details can be found in the Trainee Clinical Psychologist job description (Word, 110KB) and on the ClinPsyD Handbook website.



Theoretical standpoint

Central to the role of the clinical psychologist is the capacity to understand varied and complex psychological theories and to apply these to formulate cases and plan intervention strategies.

The programme is essentially cognitive-behavioural in orientation and aims to provide trainees with comprehensive, in-depth training in this approach. Training and opportunities for clinical experience are also provided in other methods, particularly family systems and psychodynamic interpersonal therapy, functional analysis and other therapeutic approaches. A critical evaluation of all models is emphasised throughout the training.

There is a specific focus upon procedures derived from experimental and clinical research, and the model of the scientist-practitioner is encouraged. The approach to case work emphasises full assessment and formulation, followed by the generation and experimental testing of clinical hypotheses.

The programme aims to provide trainees with the skills that will enable them to be reflective practitioners within the changing needs of the NHS.

Special features

Trainee support and development

The programme places considerable importance on trainee support and development. A number of formal and informal support systems are available to trainees.

Each trainee is allocated a clinical tutor within the programme team who reviews all aspects of progress at placement visits on a three-monthly basis. Trainees also have an academic advisor.

  • The programme has a unit dedicated to the personal and professional development of the trainees, which aims to develop a collaborative group ethos as well as facilitate self-reflection and career development.
  • Trainees have representation on programme committees.
  • There is a 'buddy' system so that new trainees will be contacted by a trainee already on the programme.
  • The trainee advocate, a qualified clinical psychologist elected by the trainees, undertakes an advocacy role on behalf of the trainees independent of the programme management.
  • For trainees experiencing difficulties, a confidential contacts network is in place to allow trainees to seek out support and therapy independently of the programme structure.

Teaching and learning


The training covers a wide geographical area, with placements available in many NHS Trusts throughout the north-west at present. Trainees spend 50% of the programme gaining supervised clinical experience on placements across the north-west of England. Several local NHS Trusts support the programme by providing these placements, most of which are in Greater Manchester, but also include Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire.

Applicants need to be aware that in applying for the programme they have accepted that they will have to travel required distances from their homes to the locations specified above. Travel within placements will also be expected.

It is necessary that all applicants possess a valid driving licence and have regular access to their own transport to enable them to fulfil the requirements of placements (subject to reasonable adjustments for disability).

If offered an interview, you will be required to bring your photocard licence on the day of the interview, which will also be used as photographic proof of identity. Applicants without a photocard licence must bring their paper driving licence and current passport.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are for students to acquire:

  • appropriate theoretical and academic knowledge;
  • appropriate clinical and practical skills;
  • knowledge of the appropriate professional and service structures and standards;
  • appropriate research and evaluation skills.

These objectives are achieved through lectures, workshops, private study, supervised clinical placements and research practice, including the presentation of a doctoral thesis, an audit of clinical activity, a service-related project, a live observation and case reports.

The variety of study methods used on the course allows students to be exposed to a wide range of experienced clinical psychologists and other professionals, mainly based in the north-west.

Coursework and assessment

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is awarded on the basis of the formal evaluation of practical work, academic work and a research project. Trainees must pass all three aspects of the evaluation procedure in order to be awarded the degree.

Practical work

Trainees are rated by clinical supervisors for clinical knowledge and competence at the end of each placement. Failure to achieve satisfactory ratings may lead to discontinuation of training. Trainees present, and must pass, a total of five pieces of work, including four case reports (one being a live observation) and an audit of clinical activity carried out during the first or second year and a service related project carried out in the third year.

Academic work

There are short examinations at the end of each teaching block in March and June of Year 1, and March and June of Year 2. Resits of all papers are allowed. Confirmation of registration is dependent upon passing these examinations. Clinical case reports may also be the subject of viva voce examination at this stage. University regulations permit a candidate to resit failed examinations in August of the same year.

Research thesis

The research thesis is submitted at the end of April of the third year and is examined orally in early July. There are three main categories of outcome, i.e. pass (with or without minor corrections), resubmit, and fail. Resubmission requires a considerable revision of the work and may delay the award of the degree.

Programme content for year 1

Clinical experience (Years 1 and 2)

Clinical training is supervised by experienced clinical psychologists. A wide range of supervisors is available and there is a wealth of clinical expertise within the geographical area.

The first two years consist of four blocks of six-month clinical placements in the areas of adult, child, older adults and learning disability.

Current placements cover many different areas, including behavioural medicine, substance misuse, forensic psychology, neuropsychology, cognitive therapy, behavioural medicine, family therapy and psychotherapy.

Trainees are visited at the mid-point and end of each placement by their clinical tutor, who facilitates and reviews their clinical development.

Programme content for year 3

The third year provides trainees with the opportunity to work in more specialist settings or re-visit clinical settings in which they wish to develop further.

Current third year placements cover many different areas, including:

  • health psychology
  • substance misuse
  • forensic psychology
  • neuropsychology
  • cognitive therapy
  • family therapy
  • psychotherapy.

Trainees are encouraged to undertake a single nine-month placement (four days per week) in Year 3 to gain a more realistic experience of post-qualification working, although two concurrent placements may also be considered.

The choice of third-year placement may be more limited in cases where core clinical competencies have not been demonstrated in Years 1 and 2.

Programme unit details

The ClinPsyD programme begins with a four-week induction, during which basic interviewing skills, assessment, formulation and treatment techniques are introduced.

Academic work, including formal instruction, study time and research time, takes place for two days per week during university term time throughout Years 1 and 2. The first semester of Year 3 is dedicated to teaching and research work.

The programme does not give credit for applicants or students prior (experiential) learning. Teaching is organised into a modular system and is provided by programme staff and clinicians from around the north-west.

Teaching is provided on:

  • common presentations and core clinical skills/issues pertaining to the four core clinical areas in Years 1 and 2 (adult, child, older adult, learning disability);
  • personal and professional development (including team working and leadership);
  • cognitive behavioural therapy;
  • psychodynamic interpersonal therapy;
  • specialist areas (eg clinical neuropsychology, application of clinical psychology in health and forensic settings);
  • diversity and engaging the community (with input from carers and service users from our Community Liaison Group);
  • research methods;
  • statistics.

Teaching is organised around placements for the first two years, and is didactic and skills-based, as appropriate, with teaching in the third year being largely workshop based.

As a condition of entry to the programme applicants are required to provide formal written consent to participate as service users in practical and clinical teaching.

Trainees are assigned a clinical tutor and academic advisor to facilitate and review all aspects of their progress throughout the three years. 


The programme is based on the main University campus, in the Zochonis building. Trainees have two dedicated teaching rooms, two computer labs with access to black and white laser printing, a locker room and kitchen facilities. 

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: