Bangor University - North Wales

Course Code: 01

North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme (NWCPP)
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
School of Psychology
Adeilad Brigantia
Bangor University
LL57 2DG

01248 388068 or 388365

Admissions Tutor: Dr Carolien Lamers


This three-year doctoral programme is a collaborative venture between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Bangor University.  Successful candidates will obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which confers eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and eligibility for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). The North Wales Programme was the first in the UK to establish the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, leading the way for other Programmes. BCUHB clinical psychologists have close working links with the Bangor University School of Psychology. There are at present some 120 qualified clinical psychologists in North Wales, working across the age range, from birth to death, in mental and physical health, intellectual disabilities, neuropsychology, medium secure services and prisons. Nearly all are involved in the Programme through teaching, supervision (clinical/research), assessing academic work, selection and representation on committees.

One of the distinctive aspects of the North Wales Programme is its close integration into an academic psychology department that is highly rated for both research and teaching. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, the School of Psychology maintained its status as one of the top Psychology departments in the UK, ranking 17th (out of 82) on the Research Power Table. It has one of the most vibrant and friendly research communities. The Schools of Psychology, Healthcare Sciences, Sports Health and Exercise Sciences, Medical Sciences, and the Institute of Medical and Social Care Research form the College of Health and Behavioural Sciences. This brings Schools with an interest in health together, creating an environment for shared research strategies and health-related training activities in terms of professional learning.

The School is a centre of excellence for training in clinical practice and has particular strengths in clinical and health psychology, cognitive neuroscience, applied behaviour analysis, and learning and developmental psychology. Michaela Swales, who is internationally recognised for her expertise in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and leader of the British Isles Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Training Team, is on the Programme staff and is a locally practising clinical psychologist. The UK's leading Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, is also based in the School and one of the programme staff is a trained Mindfulness teacher (Dr Renee Rickard). The School also prides itself on excellent teaching and during the most recent internal Quality Audit of the School of Psychology, North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme was commended for both its teaching and pastoral care of trainees. During our last accreditation visit in February 2012, the Programme was approved by the HCPC, accredited by the BPS and validated by Bangor University. We were commended for our comprehensive learning trajectory from Beckian CBT to third wave therapies (Mindfulness, ACT and DBT), excellence in Older Adult and Intellectual Disability psychology research and practice, feedback mechanisms, the supportiveness and accessibility of the Programme team for the trainees and collaboration with stakeholders, including service users. We were delighted to receive such strong endorsement from the HCPC, BPS and the University, and we believe this illustrates the robust and cohesive nature of the Programme. Our next accreditation visit is due in 2019/20.

Programme Philosophy

The Programme recognises that clinical psychology is a caring profession with a number of distinctive features. Chief among these are the close interdependence between practice and research, and the systematic application of psychological models, theories and evidence to the needs of service users and the development of services. The main aim of the Programme is to meet the needs of the NHS for HCPC registered Clinical Psychologists who have:

  • a wide range of clinical, organisational, leadership and research skills;
  • developed high standards of professional integrity;
  • an internalised model of reflective practice flexible enough to accommodate change and sensitivity to the needs of service users.

We therefore train clinical psychologists who promote psychological thinking in healthcare settings, by integrating their clinical, academic and research skills, and through critical, reflective and independent thinking. From a strong value base, they act with integrity to make a positive difference to peoples' lives.

The Programme selects trainees for their commitment to clinical psychology and their potential to develop a high level of clinical, academic and research competence. We aim to foster this potential by encouraging the development of skills, knowledge and values that underpin these competencies. This development takes place within a supportive structure that facilitates personal and professional growth and uses the close links that exist in North Wales between the clinical and academic services.

The programme has a positive attitude towards diversity and social inclusion, which is reflected in selection, teaching, value based practice ideas and the Programme's overall ethos.

We continually review the training programme and we are active in making adjustments, where these are indicated, in keeping with the Programme's Aims and Objectives and to meet the needs of the public and the profession.

The Programme is a registered trainer for the Institute of Leadership and Management. Trainees have the option to complete two additional assignments, which combined with the curriculum they receive on leadership, will make them eligible for a level 5 Award in Leadership and Management.

In terms of therapeutic approaches, we focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Third Wave therapies: Mindfulness based approaches, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The Programme is linked to the DBT Clinician-Scientist Training Programme based at Marsha Linehan's Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics at the University of Washington, Seattle, allowing trainees on our Programme to benefit from the latest developments within DBT and from teaching videos by Professor Linehan. With the Centre for Mindfulness and the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy training team, and a range of local clinicians using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we are optimising learning in these exciting clinical areas. Trainees also receive teaching in psychodynamic theory, systemic working and Applied Behavioural Analysis as one of the leading centres for training and research in behaviour analysis is based within the School of Psychology.

The People Panel: our Service User/Carer Advisory Group

The Programme's Service User and Carer Involvement Group was named by its members the People Panel. The panel was established in 2008 with the aim of enhancing trainees' learning from a Service User/Carer perspective. The panel comprises individuals who have had involvement with Clinical Psychology in Adult Mental Health, Clinical Health, Older Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Child Intellectual Disability Services. The panel is involved in a number of different aspects of the training Programme, from the development of client consent guidelines for trainees on placement, to the development of forms for service user feedback to be completed at the end of the trainee's involvement. Service users also play a key role in our selection procedures and are actively involved with a number of teaching sessions on the Programme. Trainee feedback on these sessions is always extremely positive and highly valued. Trainees are encouraged to consult with service users for advice regarding potential research topics, use of questionnaires and outcome measures.

We have trainee representation from all cohort years on the People Panel. Trainees are encouraged to chair the meetings and we publish a People Panel's newsletter Edrychiad/Insight. A member of the panel takes the lead role in editing this resource thus ensuring that all service user activities are shared both within our Programme team and the wider clinical psychology community.

At the last BPS and HCPC accreditation visit in 2012 the Programme's People Panel was commended as follows:

"The Programme enjoys the support and contribution of a committed and engaged group of service users who feel valued in their role and spoke of a positive and well-supported experience. This aspect of the Programme's provision has developed well since the previous BPS visit (2007) and continues to go from strength to strength, having now become a tangible and embedded part of the Programme with a direct impact on the training experience."

Bangor and North Wales

There are few University towns or cities that can rival Bangor's location. It is set in a region of outstanding natural beauty with the mountains (and the longest zip wire in Europe nearby), lakes and forests of Snowdonia National Park, as well as having North Wales's dramatic coastline on its doorstep. There are unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities, attracting many students to North Wales. The City of Bangor is compact in size and in a rural setting, leaving it free from many of the problems of the larger cities, however it still has a vibrant student life. Bangor is consistently ranked as one of the most economical places to study in the UK in various cost of living surveys.

Bangor is easily accessible; it is just over one hour's travelling distance from the M56 motorway, which joins with the M6. The M56 provides a direct link from Manchester to the A55 coast expressway, while the A5 is a scenic route through North Wales to Shropshire. Regular fast trains run between Bangor and London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester. There is also an Anglesey-Cardiff air link, which runs Monday to Friday. North Wales has a rich cultural diversity. A significant proportion of the population in North Wales speak Welsh as their first language. There are several diverse cultural communities in North Wales, reflecting recent and past mobility from other countries.

Entry Requirements

All of the criteria below are used in the short-listing process, which uses the Clearing House application form. Criteria identified with a * refer to the minimum requirements that all candidates need to meet. These criteria are assessed by NHS clinical psychologists and Programme staff.

  • Before applying you should have already obtained a single or joint honours 1st or 2:1 psychology degree (or a conversion degree)* and you should be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)* with the British Psychological Society. We require a transcript of your undergraduate degree or other qualifications, which have given you eligibility for GBC. Applicants with a 2.2 psychology undergraduate degree will be considered if they have completed a PhD. We do not award points to non-psychology degrees. For a psychology conversion degree, we apply similar criteria as an undergraduate psychology degree.
  • You need to have completed your undergraduate degree at the time you are applying.
  • It is expected that you will have at least one year's relevant paid clinical/research experience*. Clinically relevant experience should give you the opportunity for substantial interaction with people with significant health or psychological difficulties, ideally under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. Experience obtained in other paid employment working with a clinical population will also be relevant (eg mental health worker, care assistant, advocate). Research experience should involve the investigation of psychological phenomena within a clinical population. We credit a maximum of two years full-time equivalent paid relevant experience. In addition to the above you are expected to submit a good quality application form*, which will be assessed by two clinical psychologists. They will be looking for grammar and spelling, as well as your psychological mindedness and your value base. In order to demonstrate this, you have to ensure that you actually answer the questions in the Personal Statements section.
  • Candidates are expected to have good and supportive academic and clinical references*, preferably from the most recent post, unless you have only been working with the referee for a relatively short period. In that case you could consider asking the person you worked with before and who has known you for a longer period. Two clinical psychologists assess the references. If they consider a reference not to be supportive, they will share their concerns with a larger group of assessors, who will need to agree whether or not the reference is considered supportive.

We also acknowledge your motivation and commitment by awarding points for any presentations at conferences, publications in journals or newsletters and voluntary work that you have undertaken. There are no minimum criteria attached to this section.

As a significant proportion of the population in North Wales speaks Welsh as their first language, you are strongly encouraged to apply for this Programme if you are a bilingual Welsh-English speaker. We will be awarding additional points for your ability to speak Welsh. However, as the number of bilingual Welsh-English speaking applicants remains low (about 1% of all applicants in the UK, as per 2016 intake Clearing House data), the majority of our trainees are English speaking. We welcome applications from all interested high calibre candidates regardless of their first language.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to provide proof that you possess an adequate level of English competence. You need to have obtained level 8 on the IELTS scheme*, with no elements below 7.5. This does not apply to Welsh-English bilingual candidates. Having completed an academic programme in the UK through the medium of English will be considered proof of your English language competence.

The Programme is an Equal Opportunities Employer and welcomes candidates from all backgrounds and ages. The Programme also operates the Disability Confident Scheme.

The minimum criteria identified above with a * are applied when you have indicated, by crossing the Disability Scheme box in the Basics section of the application form, that you want your application to be rated under this scheme. Please contact Carolien Lamers for further information and to discuss support that can be made available to you during the selection process and any reasonable adjustments that might be required during training.

Universities will not usually allow you to enrol onto a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology if you are currently enrolled on any other degree, eg a PhD or Masters Programme. If you have any outstanding requirements from another Programme, you may be required to withdraw from that Programme in order to take up a place or to continue your studies on a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Being in the final stages of such a programme, ie submission of thesis has occurred or is imminent at the time of applying, your application might be considered.

Selection Procedure

During the selection process, we will contact you by email only, so please check your e-mails, as well as emails that may have gone into your spam folder, and update us with changes in your contact details.

Local NHS clinical psychologists, People Panel members and Programme staff are involved in all aspects of the selection process, applying the criteria as set out in the Entry Requirements section above. If you have not been short-listed for interview, we recommend you check your details against our selection criteria. We also give telephone feedback on certain days following short-listing.

If you are invited to attend for interview, you will also be invited to join us for an evening meal (usually the night before your interview), where you have the chance to speak to current trainees and hear a bit more about the training Programme. The interview panel members will not be attending the event. Usually we interview three times the number of training places. The interview panel usually comprises of local clinical psychologists, People Panel members and Programme team members and involves the assessment of clinical, academic, research and reflective skills as well as suitability for clinical training. Throughout the interview process you will be supported by Programme staff, who do their utmost to put you at your ease. All candidates will be contacted as soon as the interview panels have made their decision. You will also be offered a time to call for further feedback. The interviews for 2018 are scheduled to take place 19-23 March.

Fitness to Practise

Fitness to Practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). During training (pre-registration), monitoring of Fitness to Practise is the responsibility of programmes. Candidates should refer to the HCPC standards for a definition of Fitness to Practise.

Concerns about Fitness to Practise could be raised during the selection process. This will include the manner and tone of written and verbal communications with the programme at any stage of the selection process, as well as behaviour during the interview process.

During the selection process, issues that could significantly impair a candidate's capacity to practise in an open and reflective manner will be noted. These could be for example, whether an individual is open to feedback about any relevant concerns, shows appropriate self-awareness in relation to difficulties that impact on their capacity to work, and is willing to work collaboratively with relevant staff to address (and hopefully to overcome) these.

Once you have been offered a place, the Programme will assess Fitness to Practise through screening procedures. The offer of a training place is subject to satisfactory checks with local Occupational Health services and with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

If the DBS check confirms the presence of convictions, the Head of the Clinical Psychology Service and the Programme Director will assess if the candidate can be accepted onto the Programme. In the case of an unsatisfactory Occupational Health Check, the offer might be withdrawn if no reasonable adjustments can be made to enable the candidate to undertake the training.


Currently trainees are full-time employees of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme currently all trainees are paid on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales and move to the second and third pay points annually dependent upon successful progression through the Programme. (For the job description and person specification for a trainee clinical psychology post at the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme, please look on our website). Travel costs will be paid from an agreed clinical base. Subsistence may also be available for overnight accommodation either during placement or academic teaching blocks.

There are currently ten training places per annum funded by the Welsh Government. Candidates for 2018 entry should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.

Due to funding regulations and restrictions we cannot accept non-funded trainees or trainees who would normally be charged overseas fees.

Structure and Content

The Programme is full-time and the length of the Programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience: all trainees are required to complete the full programme of training in order to qualify.

Academic Component

The Academic component of the Programme aims to actively engage trainees in the learning process. This is helped greatly by the relatively small size of each year group, allowing plenty of scope for discussion and development of ideas and skills. The majority of teaching, which is carried out in dedicated teaching rooms in the School of Psychology at Bangor University, is workshop-based, introducing problem-based learning, with theory-research-practice links developed from the outset. Trainees are expected to take an active role in teaching and present clinical work at regularly scheduled case-discussion sessions.

The programme is redesigning the academic curriculum to emphasise life-span perspectives. This means that topic areas can be taught by clinicians from a range of specialisms, thus ensuring that the trainee gains a developmental perspective. Similarly, the timing of specific placement experience is currently being reviewed. In previous years, in the first year of the Programme, teaching focused on topics related to adult mental health, older adults, health psychology and neuropsychology reflecting the range of clinical experience trainees may have during the year. In the second year, child and adolescent mental health and intellectual disabilities teaching were covered. However, depending on the results of the current review, this placement pattern may change in the future. Third year academic sessions pursue a range of topics at a more specialist and advanced level. The Third Wave Therapies are taught across the three years. In the first year there is a focus on Mindfulness, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. These skills are further developed over subsequent years, while Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is introduced in Year 2. The DBT teaching (and related clinical experience) has been expanded so that trainees can have acquired all the knowledge-based competencies and most of the practice-based competencies they require for accreditation as a DBT therapist by the Society for DBT in the UK and Ireland, that implements the International DBT Accreditation standards.

Teaching on therapy processes, professional conduct, reflective practice and research runs throughout the three years.

Most of the teaching takes place in academic blocks, but there are also "college days" spread more evenly across the year, to further encourage theory-research-practice links. There are also teaching days across the academic year, when all three cohorts come together, and specialist and current topics are being presented and discussed

While clinical and academic psychologists within North Wales undertake the majority of the teaching, psychologists from outside the area and other professionals are also invited to contribute where appropriate. Members of our Service User/Carer Group (People Panel) and other service users are actively involved in a number of teaching sessions throughout the three years. Trainees greatly appreciate and value their perspective and feedback remains consistently high. Trainees give feedback on all academic sessions, thus enabling the Programme to keep improving the standards of its teaching.

There are four academic assignments to be completed across the three years, including one reflective essay. While the format for the assignments is set, the trainees choose their own clinically relevant topics for these. Welsh speakers can submit their work in Welsh.

There is a well-developed leadership curriculum that will enable trainees to obtain a Level 5 award in Leadership and Management. This is an additional qualification to the doctorate in clinical psychology. Undertaking this qualification needs to be negotiated and agreed with the trainee's training co-ordinator and Programme director.

Clinical Experience

Clinical experience starts in November of Year 1 and extends over the three years of the Programme. Trainees normally undertake four placements in the first two years of the Programme and will complete a report of clinical activity for each of these placements. In the third year, trainees' individual learning needs dictate the length of placements, and it is possible to have between one and three placements. The placements are provided over a large geographical area (Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, North Powys, Flintshire and Wrexham) and cover post-industrial towns and cities as well as rural communities. Placements currently available include: Adult Mental Health, including enduring mental health problems and working in inpatient settings; Older Adults, including working in inpatient settings; Children and Adolescent Services; Adult and Child Intellectual Disabilities; Forensic Services; Adult and Child Brain Injury Services; Eating Disorders; Clinical Health Psychology including Oncology, Palliative Care, Renal Care, Pain Management, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Services and Paediatric Services. In addition, trainees can gain further clinical experience in particular therapeutic approaches such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, CBT for psychosis, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Schema Therapy. Each placement is evaluated by the clinical supervisor, assessing a full range of clinical and professional competencies.

It is expected that clinical placements will be undertaken within the North Wales area, which extends from Wrexham to Pwllheli, Holyhead to Newtown and Dolgellau.

Placement agreements are negotiated at the beginning of each placement by the supervisor and trainee in conjunction with Programme staff. These agreements are reviewed mid-way through the placement. Trainees provide feedback on all placements as part of our endeavour to ensure that the high quality of clinical experience is maintained and improved.

Welsh speaking trainees are offered the possibility of having placements where they can work using the Welsh language in their clinical practice and where possible with their supervisor. Funding is available for Welsh language courses for those wishing to learn Welsh or those who would like to have a refresher to increase confidence.


The aim of the research curriculum is to ensure that trainees gain experience in using a range of research models and strategies and obtain a sophisticated understanding of the evidence base underlying clinical practice. Training in research skills occurs throughout the three years.

Trainees complete a database analysis project and a service-related research project during the first and second year of the Programme. In their final year trainees have a viva where they defend their thesis, comprising of a literature review or meta-analysis, an empirical study and a paper on the clinical implications of their work. This work is expected to be of a publishable standard and we have an excellent record of trainee publications in academic journals

Research supervision is provided by the Programme team, clinical psychologists and colleagues in the School of Psychology. At present, research programmes are being conducted in several areas including: the experience of the use of touch in therapy, GPs' discourses around euthanasia and assisted suicide, the link between socio-economic deprivation and rates of psychosis, parental experiences of non-diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder, experience of loneliness on inpatient unit, attachment styles and adherence to dialysis.

The Programme supports research projects from within the scientist practitioner tradition, using both quantitative and qualitative methodology. In addition, research in clinical and clinical health psychology is one of the strengths of the School of Psychology.

We hold an annual research conference where the trainees present their research projects through presentations or posters. We invite new entry trainees to this conference before they start on the Programme.


There are no unseen written examinations on the Programme. Competencies in theoretical aspects of clinical psychology, clinical skills and professional issues are evaluated by continuous assessment through a range of academic assignments, presentations, evaluations of clinical and professional competencies, reports of clinical activity, a reflective piece of work, a service-related research project and a database analysis project. Although the format of the assessments is set, the trainee decides on the clinical topic area they want to address. The assignments are marked by two clinical psychologists. External examiners with extensive experience of clinical psychology training programmes play an active role in benchmarking our marking system. At the end of the third year, the thesis is evaluated by viva voce examination.

Welsh speaking trainees have the option of completing their assignments through the medium of Welsh. The Programme organises translation services.


The small size of trainee cohorts enables the Programme to have a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. In order to address individual training needs, the Programme has a system of allocating a training co-ordinator to each trainee. The training co-ordinator is a member of the Programme Team, who oversees and monitors trainees' development over the three years of the Programme. Each training co-ordinator works with between four and six trainees. Each trainee is funded to receive 24 Personal and Professional Development sessions from recognised counsellors, therapists or clinical psychologists, who are independent of the Programme. These sessions are voluntary and confidential to the trainee and counsellor and the Programme has no knowledge of which trainees take up the sessions. Trainees can select a personal tutor (a local NHS clinical psychologist) to discuss matters to do with training. An annual study leave budget is also available for external conferences and workshops.

In addition, each cohort of trainees has two meetings per year with the Programme Director and Programme Manager, to discuss any issues arising during their training. The trainees set the agenda for these meetings.

Trainee Facilities

In addition to the Programme library based within the Deiniol library, trainees have access to the wide range of facilities at the university library and the School of Psychology (eg psychology and computer laboratories). Trainees can also access the NHS libraries in the main district hospitals. There is a dedicated trainee room that contains computers. We also have a test library with assessments which trainees are required to pass-out on as part of their core placements.

All trainees are registered with Bangor University library, which is a participating member of a UK-wide scheme called SCONUL Research Extra. This allows the opportunity to join and borrow from the libraries of other universities that may be more conveniently located. Trainees have an allocation of 20 inter-library loan vouchers per annum, which enables them to obtain journals, books and theses.

Lease cars are available to trainees on the Programme and many trainees take advantage of this opportunity.

Trainee Representation

There are trainee representatives on all the Programme committees and the People Panel, and trainees are consulted in the organisation of the academic teaching. Trainees are also asked to feedback on all teaching sessions and are required to complete a feedback form on all placements they undertake.

Programme Staff

Dr Christine Blincoe - Academic Tutor
Dr Elizabeth Burnside - Academic Director
Ms Fiona Greenly-Jones - Admin Assistant (Clinical and Research)
Dr Mike Jackson - Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Research Director
Mrs Debbie Jones - Admin Assistant (Curriculum and Clinical)
Professor Robert Jones - Programme Director
Dr Carolien Lamers - Admissions Tutor
Ms Donna Pierce - Programme Manager
Dr Renee Rickard - Senior Clinical/Academic Tutor
Mrs Anna Roberts - Admin Assistant (Curriculum and Clinical)
Dr Chris Saville - Research Tutor
Dr Michaela Swales - Deputy Director, Reader in Clinical Psychology and Chair of Board of Examiners
TBA - Clinical Tutor
TBA - Senior Administrator and PA to Programme Director

Additional contributions to the Programme are made by colleagues from the School of Psychology, Bangor University and Clinical Psychology Departments of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.