University of Birmingham

Course Code: 03

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

General enquiries should be directed to the LES College Recruitment Team:
0121 414 5476

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


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 that was ranked fifth in the Russell Group of Universities in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). 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 a new 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

At Birmingham we think of the training process rather as one might view the weaving of a tapestry. Each tapestry (training experience) is unique, and the exact outcome is a product of the interaction between the principle weaver (the trainee), and the content which they have chosen to portray (clinical specialisms and research experiences). We try to provide a solid frame via the set of core competencies that define the structure of training and the evidence base they use to underpin their work. A tapestry is often a co-operative effort and the work of other weavers eg supervisors and peers will be visible in its appearance, strengthening it and making it more resilient for the years to come.

As well as emphasising evidence-based practice and the evaluation of therapeutic interventions, we encourage trainees to reflect on their clinical work in reflective practice groups, teaching and in written assignments. As with all courses in the UK, special consideration is given to CBT in the curriculum. However, we have three other main therapeutic strands: psychodynamic, systemic and behavioural. With a few exceptions, trainees attend most of the teaching in all four areas and our aim is for all trainees to gain the knowledge requirements that are equivalent to Foundation level in Systemic Practice. In Year 3, trainees currently have the opportunity to attend workshops in other models such as CAT, REBT or CFT.

The course also aims to prepare trainees for the broader organisational demands of the NHS; for example trainees currently have the opportunity to engage in the Healthcare Leadership Model 360 degree assessment.

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; these should ideally be in a clinically relevant area. We do not accept applicants with a 2:2 at undergraduate level, even if they have a Master's or PhD. Whilst people who have taken conversion courses are not at a disadvantage in our process, we do require their original degree to be 2:1 or above. Your academic qualifications must give you Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership

You must have 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 2018). NB 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 least one year's full-time clinically relevant experience (which can include placement experience from a clinically relevant Master's degree) at the time of applying. 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 on the application form. Candidates who have previously pursued relevant professional careers will be considered on an individual basis; 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. Please read these 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. Tests are valid for two years after they are taken, and must be valid on the day the course starts.

International Applicants

We welcome applications from Non-EU, international, self-funding candidates, who would support themselves financially through the course. Such applicants must meet the the same entry criteria as those applying for NHS funded places (see above) and also have overseas fees status.

Applications are made directly to the University of Birmingham and not through the Clearing House. For further details of the international applications process please contact the College Recruitment Team or Dr Elizabeth Kent.

Equal Opportunities

We are very conscious of being situated in an area of rich ethnic 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 that 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.

There are three elements to our selection process.

  1. All applications are screened to ensure that candidates meet our minimum academic entry criteria (as described above).
  2. Applicants who meet minimum academic criteria are invited to complete a written test. This takes place at the University of Birmingham in February each year. For the 2018 intake, sessions will be held on Saturdays 17 and 24 February 2018. Candidates must ensure that they are available to travel to Birmingham on one of the dates offered (several sessions will run per day and applicants will be asked to attend one session). Those with a disability should inform the Recruitment Team when they are invited to the written test and they will be given appropriate support eg extra time for those with dyslexia. Proof of disability is essential. An invitation to attend the written test will be sent via email using the address on the application form. Applicants are asked to ensure that their email details are correct and that emails from the University of Birmingham are accepted by their account. If applicants have not heard from the University by the time the written test is due to take place (ie from early February 2018) they should contact the College Recruitment Team.
  3. Following the written test, 60 applicants will be invited for interview based on performance on the written test and details provided on the application form, including satisfactory references. Short-listed candidates are invited to attend the University of Birmingham for half a day (morning or afternoon), which includes three interviews (each with two people). 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; written exercises and interviews are usually conducted over Skype.

Fitness to Practice

Fitness to practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. All trainees are required to sign a generic code of professional conduct and fitness to practise statement and undergo Disclosure and Barring Service and Occupational Health checks. Trainees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, in accordance with the University Generic Code of Conduct 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 following the written test.


Last year the course had 17 NHS funded places.  Current trainees have a training agreement with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and are required to adhere to their terms and conditions.  They have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. Details of the contract will be available at interview and from BSMHFT when trainees are offered a place on the Course.  There are no contractual obligations with the Trust after training.

Currently, the salary for NHS-funded trainees is on Agenda for Change Band 6. Expenses are paid for travel within placement and for research activities. Fees for NHS-funded trainees on the Birmingham Programme are currently met by Health Education England - West Midlands.

Please note that these arrangements may differ for the 2018 entry and therefore candidates should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.

Health Education England - West Midlands will only fund those who meet the requirements to be considered as "Home/EU" for fee purposes as per UKCISA regulations for Higher Education.

Self-funding International Candidates

We welcome applications from Non-EU, international, self-funding candidates, who would support themselves financially through the course. Such applicants must meet the the same entry criteria as those applying for NHS funded places (see the Entry Requirements section above) and also have overseas fees status.

Applications are made directly to the University of Birmingham and not through the Clearing House. For further details of the international applications process please contact the College Recruitment Team or Dr Elizabeth Kent.

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 7 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; problem 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, with a few exceptions, 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 a few 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 and 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 by the summer of the third year. We 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 a clinical and academic supervisor. 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.

Clinical Experience

Clinical placements are undertaken in a wide range of hospitals, clinics, community settings and third sector organisations. These are 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 the third year, 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 and 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 short-listed 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 on-going 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 timetabled into all three years. There are up to nine trainees in each group and they are facilitated by practising clinical psychologists and course team members.

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 MPhil ClinPsyD AFBPsS - Senior Academic Tutor and 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 and First Year Tutor (Child)
Michelle Fisher BSc MSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Director (Adult)
Hermine Graham BSc ClinPsyD - Senior Academic Tutor (Addictions/Psychosis)
Gerry Riley BSc MSc PhD - Senior Academic Tutor and Assessment Tutor (Neuropsychology)
John Rose BSc MSc MClinPsych PhD AFBPsS - Academic Director (Learning Disabilities)
Elizabeth Kent BSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Tutor and International Admissions Tutor (Systemic)
Teresa Madurai BSc ClinPsyD – Clinical Tutor (Child)
Andrew Fox BSc MRes PhD ClinPyD – Lecturer (Adult)
George Johnson – new team member starting in June 2017
Kate Woodcock – new team member starting in September 2017
Rupy Kahlon - Programme Administrator and Curriculum/Assessment Administrator
Claire Ford – Placement & Employment Administrator
Jo Price – Placement & Employment Administrator
Ann Begum – Clinical 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. This very 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.