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BSc Psychology

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Clinical Psychology

Unit code PSYC31222
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


Clinical psychologists use interventions based on psychological theory and research to “reduce distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being” (BPS, 2013). They work with different client groups (e.g. adults, young people, learning disabilities, older adults), within numerous settings (e.g. outpatient, inpatient, community) and across all stages of lifespan development. Clinical psychologists are trained in a range of therapeutic approaches and apply these to working with people who experience a range of physical, intellectual and mental health problems that can impact significantly on their thinking, emotions and behaviour.  



The unit aims to:

  •  Provide an introduction to the discipline of clinical psychology and the ways in which clinical psychologists work to reduce distress and improve psychological wellbeing of clients.
  •  Provide an understanding of the core principles and features of contemporary, theory- and evidence-based approaches and how they are applied to facilitating change in people with a range of physical, intellectual, and mental health problems.
  • To familiarise students with using some basic therapeutic skills used in everyday clinical practice.  
  • To discuss the effectiveness of treatments in clinical practice in a range of problems common in people accessing clinical psychology services.
  •  Encourage a critical analysis of the strengths and limitations of clinical psychology and equip students with an awareness of the reciprocal links between theory, research and clinical practice in the development and evaluation of psychological work.
  • Facilitate an appreciation of service user perspectives and awareness of the diversity of experiences of people with a range of physical, intellectual, and mental health problems from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds.
  • Provide illustrative experiences of a variety of roles undertaken by clinical psychologists with a range of client groups and in different contexts and clinical settings.
  • Encourage an analysis of the factors that are common to different psychological approaches, and those factors that differentiate them.
  • To discuss the role of clinical psychology within the context of different mental health services and other professionals.



  1. Understanding mental health problems. This includes defining mental health problems, models of mental health, disorder-specific vs transdiagnostic approaches.
  2. Psychological approaches to treatment Part I. An overview of different theoretical orientations & evidence based treatments & formats (e.g. CBT, Person-centred approaches)
  3. Psychological approaches to treatment Part II.
  4. Psychological assessment & formulation
  5. Anxiety-based problems. This will include the science & practice of a variety of evidence-based treatments for specific anxiety disorders.
  6. Trauma. The relevance and importance of reactions to trauma will be covered, as well as a variety of evidence-based approaches to addressing traumatisation.
  7. Emotion regulation and mood instability. This will include general approaches to emotion regulation as well clinical interventions for bipolar disorders.
  8. Psychophysiology. This section will cover a range of important physiological factors that interact with mental health such as the fight-or-flight response, sleep and the effects of alcohol, drugs and medication.
  9. Psychoses. The science and practice of evidence-based approaches to psychological therapy for psychotic disorders and problematic anomalous experiences.
  10. Risk. The principles and practice of risk assessment will be covered, in addition to coverage of research on factors that enhance and reduce risk.
  11. NHS services for people mental health problems. The aim of this session is to outline the different services available within the NHS for people mental health difficulties and examine the role of clinical psychology within these services  (e.g. primary care services, secondary care services etc.) This lecture will also focus on providing an outline of the role of other multi-disciplinary health professionals such as social workers, nurses, teachers and psychiatrists.
  12. Service user perspectives. This session will explain and describe the value of service user perspectives through real examples. 


Teaching and learning methods

The course follows the standard format for a third year unit, delivered in 12x 2 hour lectures, 11x 1 hour seminars and 12x 1 hour reading groups. Sessions will be interactive wherever possible, as well as lecturer-led with the opportunity for questions and discussion. In addition to standard Powerpoint visuals, the course will be supplemented by the active involvement of students in the use of self-report measures, practice of treatment techniques and audiovisual methods. The lecturer will also endeavour to attract external speakers in some sessions and where possible, those with expertise through lived experience. The course will be supported by Blackboard E-learning, including key papers, videos, links to key websites, formative quizzes and a monitored discussion board.  


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the breadth and scope of the roles of a clinical psychologist in working with people with a range of needs in different clinical settings and alongside other professionals.
  • Have knowledge of different theoretical approaches and the way in which these inform the work of a clinical psychologist.
  • Have a good knowledge of some of the most recent innovations in clinical practice and their empirical basis.
  • Have some understanding of how therapeutic interventions are applied to working with a range of clients and knowledge of the hypothesised mechanism of therapeutic change within these interventions.
  • Have a good understanding of the range of difficulties and needs of people accessing clinical psychology services.
  • Understand the potential limitations of the theoretical approaches and applied practice within clinical psychology
  • Have some basic knowledge of policies, standards and guidelines pertaining to the practice of clinical psychology within a variety of service contexts.
  • Have awareness of equality and diversity within clinical psychology practice.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate scientific theories, evidence & practice & their reciprocal links in the development of applied practice within clinical psychology.
  • Recognise that clinical psychology involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications.
  • Ability to solve problems and reason scientifically.
  • Make critical judgements and evaluations to gain different perspectives based on multiple theoretical perspectives and solutions.
  • Ethical awareness and sensitivity to cultural, contextual and interpersonal factors.

Practical skills

  • Ability to make clear, structured arguments and support them with evidence, write with clarity and precision and to write concisely.
  • Acquisition of some of the basic skills necessary for working with people experiencing psychological difficulties (e.g. listening skills and be able to ask curious questions to talk to people helpfully).

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • To develop key transferrable skills in critical and analytical thinking, reflectivity, team working, writing skills, communication, oral presentation and personal development. 
  • To begin to develop the ability to identify different strategies and approaches to solving problems commonly seen within the practice of clinical psychology.

Assessment methods

A two hour exam worth 67% and a 1500 word coursework essay worth 33%

Feedback methods


Recommended reading

Lindsay, S., & Powell, G. (2007). The Handbook of Clinical Adult Psychology. Routledge.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Practical classes & workshops 12
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 153

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sara Tai Unit coordinator

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