BSc Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Clinical Psychology

Course unit fact file
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.
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Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be delivered via lectures and seminars.

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 and the societal challenges for clinical psychology.


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  exam worth 50% and coursework worth 50%

Feedback methods

Coursework feedback will be given to students via BB before exam period.

Exam feedback will be available after exam board.

Recommended reading

  • Beinart, H., Kennedy, P. & Llewelyn, S. (Eds.) (2009) Clinical Psychology in Practice. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Cromby, J., Harper, D. & Reavey, P. (2013) Psychology, mental health and distress. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hall, J., Pilgrim, D., & Turpin, G. (2015) Clinical psychology in Britain : historical perspectives. Leicester : British Psychological Society.
  • Newnes, C. (2014) Clinical psychology : a critical examination. Ross-on-Wye : PCCS Books
  • Gruber, J., Prinstein, M. J., Clark, L. A., Rottenberg, J., Abramowitz, J. S., Albano, A. M., ... & Forbes, E. E. (2020). Mental health and clinical psychological science in the time of COVID-19: Challenges, opportunities, and a call to action. American Psychologist.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 160.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Louisa Jackman Unit coordinator
Warren Mansell Unit coordinator

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