ClinPsyD Doctorate in Clinical Psychology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

Programme description

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is a three-year programme of academic and clinical training. 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

Training and development

All of our postgraduate researchers attend the Doctoral Academy Training Programme delivered by the Researcher Development team . The programme provides key transferable skills and equips our postgraduate researchers with the tools to progress beyond their research degree into influential positions within academia, industry and consultancy. The emphasis is on enhancing skills critical to developing early-stage researchers and professionals, whether they relate to effective communication, disseminating research findings and project management skills.

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.


The Academic Programme takes an adult learning approach. We are aware that many trainees bring substantial experience with them into training and we have designed the curriculum to build on and develop prior knowledge. Teaching is based on the blended learning approach, whereby in-person workshops focused on skills development are combined with complementary online teaching materials. In this way trainees experience both the interactivity of live teaching and the control and convenience associated with online study.Teaching is delivered mainly by registered clinicians. In addition to teaching from clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and other professionals make significant contributions to the Programme. We have strong links with service users who both deliver teaching and, through our Community Liaison Group, input into the development of the curriculum.

The ClinPsyD programme begins with a six-week induction. During this time, trainees are introduced to the overarching scientist-practitioner model of clinical psychology, before learning about basic interviewing skills, assessment, formulation and intervention. At this early stage, the focus is on the development of cognitive-behavioural skills, so that trainees are prepared to start placement on the Programme CBT Clinic by the end of the block.

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 and in term 1 of Year 3. In Years 1 and 2, trainees attend for in-person teaching on campus on one of these days, while the other is reserved for private study. Trainees are expected to use private study days to study online teaching materials connected to the in-person teaching sessions, and their other academic work.

The teaching includes core clinical areas (encompassing common presentations and core clinical skills/issues in adult, child, older adult and learning disability services); therapeutic approaches (e.g. cognitive therapy, psychodynamic interpersonal therapy, systemic and family therapy, clinical neuropsychology); specialist areas (e.g. clinical psychology in health settings, forensic); research methods; and statistics. Teaching is organised around placements for the first two years, and is primarily skills based, with teaching in the third year being largely workshop based. Trainees have a Clinical Tutor and Academic Advisor to facilitate and review all aspects of progress throughout the three years. The incorporation of problem-based learning tasks enhances group dynamics and encourages discussion of complex issues within the year groups.

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 examinations at the end of the teaching blocks in July of Year 1 and Year 2. Confirmation of registration is dependent upon passing these examinations. Assessed work may also be the subject of viva voce examination if this is deemed necessary by the Exam Board. The University regulations permit a candidate to re-sit failed examinations in August/September of the same year. Trainees must pass all examinations and pieces of work in order to complete the programme. Three pieces of work may be failed on first attempt. Training is discontinued if a trainee fails any piece of work on resubmission or fails four pieces of work on first attempt. Please see the Programme Handbook for further information.

Research thesis

The research thesis is usually submitted at the end of April of the third year and is examined orally in 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 and other psychological practitioners. A wide range of supervisors is available and there is a wealth of clinical expertise within the geographical area.

The first year consists of two blocks of six-month clinical placements in the areas of adult and child.  Some trainees will also work one day per week in the CBT clinic based in the department.

The second year will consist of one 11-month placement in either a learning disability, older adults, physical health or neuropsychology service.

Trainees are visited at the mid-point and end of each placement by their clinical tutor, who facilitates and reviews their clinical development. Trainees are expected to attend a minimum number of days on Clinical Placement in order to graduate.

Programme content for year 3

The third year provides trainees with the opportunity to work in a range of clinical settings in order to develop more specialist skills and get experience of leadership and service development.

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.

As part of placement activity in Year 3, trainees are required to complete a Service Related Project.

Programme unit details

The ClinPsyD programme begins with a six-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);
  • Power, privilege, position and intersectionality(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 follows a blended learning mode of delivery.

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. 

What our students say

Find out more about what it's like to undertake a postgraduate research degree at Manchester on the Doctoral Academy Blog and the support available through our Faculty Doctoral Academy.


The programme is based on the main University campus, in the Zochonis building. Trainees have access to a computer lab with 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: