University of Birmingham

Course Code: 03

Clinical Psychology Doctorate
School of Psychology
College of Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Course Director: Dr Theresa Powell
Admissions Tutor: Dr Ruth Howard

For information about the programme, please visit the University of Birmingham website where you will find a series of FAQs.


This is an integrated three-year Course leading to a professional qualification in Clinical Psychology (Clinical Psychology Doctorate, ClinPsyD) and eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council. The course began in 1967 and is accredited by the British Psychological Society. It has produced over 500 qualified clinical psychologists and enjoys the benefits of being based in the Centre for Applied Psychology in the School of Psychology, which is one of the strongest and most active psychology departments in the UK, with an excellent reputation for teaching and research across all areas of contemporary psychology. It is also well integrated with clinical psychology services in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, where clinical psychology is a strong and well-developed profession. Local clinicians sit on all course committees and provide valuable input to the delivery and design of the curriculum.

The University of Birmingham, founded in 1900, has over 32,000 students from the UK and around the world and is situated on a pleasant campus close to the city centre. The School of Psychology has around 650 undergraduates, 250 postgraduates and more than 90 research and teaching staff. The Clinical Psychology Group is a comparatively large one and most staff are actively engaged in both clinical work and research. We are part of the Centre for Applied Psychology (CAP) that includes Forensic and Criminological Psychology and a range of courses in CBT and cognitive approaches to intervention.

Course Philosophy and Orientation

The Birmingham Programme benefits from an experienced staff team, with a wide range of clinical and research interests. We emphasise the importance of reflective evidence-based practice and the evaluation of therapeutic interventions; reflective skills are developed through reflective practice groups, teaching and in written assignments. As with all courses in the UK, particular consideration is given to CBT in the curriculum. However, we have three other main therapeutic strands; psychodynamic, systemic and behavioural. Trainees attend teaching in all four areas and some trainees gain particular "second model" therapeutic competencies on tailored clinical placements. In addition, trainees have the opportunity to attend workshops in other models such as CAT, REBT, ACT and CFT. The course also aims to prepare trainees for the broader organisational demands of the NHS with an emphasis on leadership.

Entry Requirements

You must fulfil all of the following entry requirements.


You must have at least a 2:1 degree or recognised equivalent at undergraduate level and you will need to provide a certificate or transcript showing your degree level at the time of applying. We welcome applicants with higher degrees although this is not essential; these should be in a clinically relevant area. We do not accept applicants with a 2:2 at undergraduate level, even if they have a Masters or PhD. Whilst people who have taken conversion courses are not at a disadvantage in our process, we require their original degree to be 2:1 or above.

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership

Your academic qualifications must give you Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Candidates seeking GBC through application to the BPS must have attained this by the time of interview (April 2020). Please note: this does not apply to candidates waiting to complete their first degree.

Work experience

Applicants must demonstrate that they have been engaged in work experience that allows them to understand the profession of clinical psychology, and to demonstrate skills that can be enhanced through training, that are relevant to the role. We require applicants to have completed at the time of applying at least one year's full-time clinically relevant experience (or equivalent), which can include placement experience from a clinically relevant Master's degree or clinical research conducted during a PhD. This experience could come from a variety of roles, including Assistant Psychology and research posts, and graduate roles within IAPT services. However, this is not an exhaustive list of potential relevant experience. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have been applying psychological principles in a clinical setting, preferably under the supervision of a psychologist, or have been engaged in research that is relevant to a clinical population (eg as a research assistant or as part of a three-year PhD). The experience could be spread across more than one year but must equate to one year full-time as a minimum requirement. Candidates are required to describe this experience clearly in their application. Candidates who have previously pursued relevant professional careers will be considered; however, all applicants must meet our minimum academic entry criteria and requirements for GBC (see above). Undergraduate psychologists are only considered if they have one year's full-time clinically relevant experience prior to completing their first degree as described above.

English Language

For candidates whose first language is not English or whose first degree was not taught in English, the University of Birmingham has a set of minimum standards required, available on our website. These can be gained through TOEFL (internet only), IELTS, PTE or Cambridge English. Please read the requirements carefully. Our TOEFL internet based requirements are 95 overall, with no less than 22 in any band. We no longer accept the paper-based TOEFL tests. We require 7.0 IELTS (with no less than 6.5 in any band), or a Pearson Test of English (PTE) with a score of 67 in all four skills. For Cambridge English, we require 185 (with no less than 176 in any component). Tests are valid for two years after they are taken, and must be valid on the day the course starts.

Residence Requirements

Applicants for NHS places must meet the requirements to be considered as "Home/EU" for fees purposes as per UKCISA regulations for Higher Education. Fees status is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team. Please contact them directly if you have a query about fees status.

International Applicants

We welcome applications from Non-EU international self-funding candidates who would support themselves financially throughout the course. Such applicants must meet the the same entry criteria as those applying for NHS places (see above) with the exception that they must have overseas fees status. This is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions team.

Applications for international self-funding candidates are made directly to the University of Birmingham and not through the Clearing House.

For further details of the international applications process please contact Dr Ruth Howard.


Training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults. Throughout the selection process and the training programme we will take stringent measures to ensure that the clients that trainees work with are kept safe.

Equal Opportunities

We are very conscious of being situated in an area of rich ethnic and cultural diversity, and the course particularly welcomes applications from people from ethnic minority groups. We try to ensure that ethnic and racial issues are fully addressed in all aspects of the course.

Please note: if you have given your consent, we may use equal opportunities data collected by the Clearing House during selection to inform future selection strategies.

Selection Procedure

We operate our selection procedures in line with NHS Values Based Recruitment.

Our selection process is as follows:

  1. All applications are screened to ensure that candidates meet our minimum academic entry criteria (as described in the Entry Requirements section above).
  2. Applicants who meet our minimum academic criteria are short-listed according to information presented on the application, including satisfactory references. 48 short-listed candidates are invited to attend the University of Birmingham for a series of interviews and exercises. Experts by experience and local clinicians are involved in the interview process. After the final interview date, offers are made to the most suitable candidates subject to a satisfactory DBS disclosure and Health & Immunisation checks.

Please note: the offer process at the University of Birmingham has several steps, and the final formal offer will be made by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team.

Selection of International Candidates

The process for Non-EU international self-funding candidates follows the same steps as above but candidates are generally not expected to attend the University of Birmingham; interviews are usually conducted over Skype and exercises are online.

Fitness to Practise

All trainees are required to undergo criminal record and other checks and to sign a generic code of professional conduct and fitness to practise statement. Fitness to practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. Trainees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, in accordance with the University's policy on student conduct and discipline as well as the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct and HCPC Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students, at all times including during the selection process.


Written feedback is given on interview performance but unfortunately we cannot provide feedback to applicants who are not invited to interview.


Last year the course had 17 NHS places. Current NHS trainees have a three-year full-time training agreement with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and are required to adhere to their terms and conditions. Current trainees have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. Details of the training agreement for the 2020 intake will be available when trainees are offered a place on the Course. There are currently no contractual obligations with the employing Trust after training.

On entry to the programme all current NHS trainees commenced on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. For NHS trainees, university fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.

Candidates for 2020 entry should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.

Health Education England - Midlands & East will only fund those who meet the requirements to be considered as "Home/EU" for fees purposes as per UKCISA regulations for Higher Education. Fees status is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team. Please contact them directly if you have a query about fees status.

International Self-funded Places

We welcome applications from Non-EU international self-funding candidates who would support themselves financially throughout the course. Such applicants must meet the the same entry criteria as those applying for NHS places (see above) with the exception that they must have overseas fees status. This is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions team.

Applications for international self-funding candidates are made directly to the University of Birmingham and not through the Clearing House.

For further details of the international applications process please contact Dr Ruth Howard.

Structure and Content

The trainee's time on the course is almost equally divided between academic work and clinical practice. Teaching consists of workshops, lectures and seminars provided in term-time across the three-year period. Clinical placements start in Week 8 of the first year and continue for three days a week. Time is scheduled for private study and project work throughout each year.

Academic Training

Currently, teaching in Years 1 and 2 is organised to link in with the requirements of placement including teaching in: Adult Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities, work with Older People, and other specialist areas such as Physical Health. At the same time academic sub-courses in all three years cover a broad range of topics in psychology, providing the knowledge base for clinical practice and training in clinical, professional, therapeutic and research skills.

Year 1

In the first few weeks of the course trainees participate in intensive training workshops designed to provide them with basic skills prior to their first clinical placement. Amongst the topics covered are: communications skills and building rapport; formulation; the basics of behavioural, cognitive, systemic and psychodynamic models; working with people across the life-span; and working with people with disability. A range of topics are covered in the rest of the first year including: therapeutic skills (via enquiry-based learning); research methods in clinical practice; personal and professional issues (including self-care); introduction to specialist areas eg neuropsychology and addictive behaviours.

Year 2

By Year 2 trainees will have opted for a second therapeutic model which will influence placement choice. However, trainees attend all teaching in each model. The second year builds on the areas covered in the first year and also includes specialist teaching on: psychological therapies; neuropsychology; clinical health psychology; severe and enduring mental health issues; addictions and advanced professional issues.

Year 3 Specialist Workshops

There are some compulsory workshops in Year 3 eg forensic mental health, a continuation of clinical health psychology, leadership and organisational issues, and supervision, but much of the teaching in this year consists of one-day specialist workshops that take place in collaboration with the Coventry & Warwick ClinPsyD course. Trainees select from a list of workshops covering a wide range of topics relevant to clinical psychology currently including: working with clients who have been sexually abused, introduction to schema therapy, CAT, EMDR and narrative practices. Teaching takes place in Birmingham and Warwick Universities.

Research Project

A research project is initiated in the spring term of the first year and completed during May of the third year. We strongly recommend that trainees choose projects that link with the interests of the course team and/or local clinical psychologists. The choice of potential topics is wide and each trainee has an academic supervisor who is part of the ClinPsyD course team, and additional clinical and/or academic supervisors. The project is written up in a form suitable for submission for publication in an academic or professional journal. Course staff have a diverse range of research interests that include the use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies in areas that span all ages and most specialties. Particular developments are currently taking place in IPA methodology and meta-analysis.

Clinical Experience

Clinical placements are undertaken in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community settings and third sector organisations. All placements in Years 1 and 2, without exception, are carried out within Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country (which includes Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton). There is one 10-month foundation placement in the first year, during which trainees begin to acquire core competencies. This could be in any specialty (eg Adult, Child, Learning Disabilities, and Older People) but can also be in a forensic or health psychology setting.

In the second year there are two 5-month placements which are arranged according to competencies acquired in Year 1 and the strand of therapeutic model opted for. In Year 3, trainees select two placements that may be carried out consecutively or in parallel. Again, these are based on learning needs, but at least one is likely to be in a specialist area chosen from the wide range of opportunities available across the placement territory of both the University of Birmingham and that of Coventry & Warwick.

Therapeutic Models

All trainees will be required to demonstrate competence in CBT plus one other model through in vivo assessment. During spring of Year 1, trainees will be asked to choose their second model from Behavioural, Psychodynamic or Systemic and this will guide future placement allocation. Unfortunately, due to placement availability, we cannot always guarantee that trainees will be allocated their first choice of model.



The degree of ClinPsyD is awarded after three years on the basis of written assignments, clinical practice reports, ratings of clinical work for all placements and the research project. There are no formal written examinations. Instead we operate a system of continuous assessment designed to sample fully and equally both academic knowledge and clinical skills. At the end of the third year of the course there is a viva examination conducted by an external examiner and one internal examiner. All components must be passed separately. University regulations specify the rules for re-submitting failed components.


Details relating to the management of clinical placements will be provided to successful applicants. Possession of a car or other means of transport is highly desirable as some placements are at a distance from the University of Birmingham. Please note the Course cannot advise trainees about where to live during training.

At the beginning of each clinical placement, supervisors and trainees agree on the goals to be achieved in relation to BPS core competencies. At the end of the placement the extent to which those goals have been achieved is reviewed and rated by the supervisor. Trainees must keep an ongoing record of the competencies they acquire on each placement. They also evaluate their experiences on placement. The clinical placement components of the course must be passed each year, separately from the academic components, in order to qualify for the award of the degree.


Each trainee has an appraisal tutor, who is a member of the course team, and who monitors progress and achievement of competencies and helps to integrate clinical and academic experience through the three years. An individual personal tutor (from outside the university) also provides support throughout the three years. Reflective practice groups are a compulsory part of the curriculum across the three years of training. There are up to nine trainees in each group and they are facilitated by practising clinical psychologists.

Trainee Feedback on Course

It is course policy to seek regular feedback from trainees on all aspects of the course. Such feedback plays an important part in shaping the course and there is trainee representation on all course committees.


The main organisation of the course is carried out by the members of the course team who are listed below (with their specialist areas); although many other research associates and honorary staff make a particular contribution to course organisation and teaching.

Theresa Powell BSc MSc PhD AFBPsS - Programme Director (Neuropsychology)
Ruth Howard MA (Hons) MPhil ClinPsyD AFBPsS - Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology/Admissions Tutor (Clinical Health)
Chris Jones BA ClinPsyD - Research Director (Neuropsychology)
Biza Kroese BSc PhD MSc - Senior Lecturer (Learning Disabilities)
Gary Law BSc DClinPsychol - Senior Academic Tutor/First Year Tutor (Child & Adolescent)
Michelle Fisher BSc MSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Director (Adult)
Gerry Riley BSc MSc PhD - Senior Academic Tutor/Assessment Tutor (Neuropsychology)
Elizabeth Kent BSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Tutor/International Admissions Tutor (Systemic)
Teresa Madurai BSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Tutor (Child)
Andrew Fox BSc MRes PhD ClinPyD - Lecturer (Adult)
George Johnson BA (Hons) DClinPsy FHEA - Lecturer (Child & Adolescent)
Kate Woodcock BSc PhD PGCHET - Senior Lecturer (Neurodevelopmental disorders & interventions)
Andrew Surtees BSc PhD ClinPsyD - Lecturer (Child & Adolescent)
Louise Earley BSc ClinPsyD - Lecturer (Looked after Children)
Darelle Villa BSc ClinPsyD - Lecturer
Michaela Bennett - Course Administrator
Umar Ahmed - Placements Administrator
Ann Begum - Curriculum & Assessment Administrator
Karen Kings - Clinical Administrator

Clinical Supervisors

In all, about 300 professionally qualified clinical psychologists are available to provide supervision of trainees on clinical placements. Most of these colleagues work within Birmingham and The Black Country in wide ranging specialities and services. This highly skilled and diverse group also provides much of the academic teaching in specialist areas. Supervisors take part in regular workshops and meetings for the discussion of issues relating to supervision and are represented on course committees.