University of Edinburgh - NHS Scotland

Course Code: 07

University of Edinburgh/NHS Scotland Clinical Psychology Training Programme
Section of Clinical and Health Psychology
School of Health in Social Science
University of Edinburgh
Medical School
Teviot Place

0131 650 3889

Programme Director: Professor Matthias Schwannauer
Clinical Practice Director: Dr Neil Millar


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this entry is correct at the time of writing. However, it does not form part of any contract between the University and a student or applicant and must be read in conjunction with the Terms and Conditions of Admission on the University of Edinburgh website.

Candidates are strongly advised to check regularly the University of Edinburgh website for updates about the selection process.

The Programme started in 1959 and has been regularly revised and updated to keep ahead of emerging trends in clinical psychology and healthcare. In recent years, the programme has responded to Scottish Government priorities by introducing training places aligned to a specific clinical population such as Older Adults, Forensic or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), or to a specific research alignment. In these core placements remain the same as for non-aligned places, however specialist placements and theses are expected to be completed within the designated aligned areas where possible. This is a great opportunity to be engaged in more in-depth training within a specialty and related research. All places in the 2018 intake will be full-time and either three years in length or approximately 2.5 years where Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applies (see below for details). Successful completion of the Programme leads to the award of a practitioner doctorate covering academic work, a research thesis and supervised clinical training, conferring eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to apply to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for Chartered Clinical Psychologist status.

The Programme is located in the School of Health in Social Science, within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences of the University. It is delivered through a successful partnership of the University, a group of nine NHS Boards in Scotland, and the commissioning body NHS Education for Scotland (NES). Teaching is provided by the Programme team (comprising academic staff and University-based clinical tutors) and many local NHS clinical psychologists to reflect current clinical practice and a range of specialised expertise.

Clinical placements are available to trainees in a wide variety of settings including regional and national centres of excellence, supervised by registered clinical psychologists, together with appropriate input from other professionals. The quality and variety of available placements and the Programme's academic strengths are seen as particularly important features. Recent innovations have been the development of a range of e-learning modules supporting teaching and placement practice in a variety of specialties, as well as the introduction of distance participation and delivery of teaching supported by video conference technology.

Orientation of the Programme

The taught component of the programme has undergone a major review over the last three years, moving from population based organisation, to an organisation that balances transferable psychological competencies with population specific adaptations and current conceptual and theoretical approaches in clinical psychology, giving trainees the best of both. The Programme is pluralistic in its orientation, with particular strengths in cognitive-behavioural approaches (CBT) and systemic approaches, also offering training in Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). During the first two years of training you will receive core training, organised around the vertical streams of "Fundamentals of Clinical Psychology", "Assessment and Measurement", "Formulation", "Intervention", "Professionalism and Practice" and "Research". In addition, you will learn specific adaptations required to apply psychological principles with adults of working age who experience a wide range of physical and mental health difficulties and adaptations required for applying psychology with people who have intellectual disabilities.

In Year 2, these vertical streams are continued and deepened, with a further emphasis on working with complexity, developments in therapeutic modalities, thinking and working from a systemic perspective and adaptations required for working with both children and families and older people.

In terms of therapeutic modalities, the first two years give an excellent grounding in cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy and systemic therapies, and taster sessions in psychodynamic work, interpersonal approaches, critical and community psychology, and the collective developments that have been termed "Third Wave" such as ACT, CFT, and Mindfulness. You will have the opportunity to specialise in these and other therapies later in training. The Programme is unique in offering more in-depth training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. The IPT training enables you to train to accreditation standard. The Programme also allows you to choose certain elements of your training in Year 3, enabling you to specialise. These "Advanced Practice Seminars" (APSs) typically cover therapeutic modalities and also specialist populations in depth and are typically structured as seminars and advanced skills workshops. For example, you will have the choice of sessions in Schema Therapy, Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, psychological approaches to psychosis and advanced practice in systemic and family therapies. The emphasis of the Programme is on a variety of models as befits the current state of clinical psychology, underpinned by the scientist-practitioner and the reflective-practitioner orientations. Trainees are taught how to apply psychological theories to clinical problems, and to understand the importance of the link between theory, evidence base and practice in clinical formulation, intervention planning and problem solving. Throughout training there are reflective practice sessions, to foster your own reflections on your developing identity as a psychologist, the nature of this work as a scientific and human endeavour and the impact of working therapeutically on your own wellbeing and self care.

Administration of the Programme

The Programme is overseen by the Joint Training Committee which meets twice a year and has approximately 30 members consisting of members of the Programme Team, NHS supervisor representatives, clinical psychologist managers representing each of the NHS Health Board areas, trainee representatives, experts by experience, local area tutors and representatives from NES. Supervisors also meet to discuss issues related to the Programme. Course co-ordinators from the University liaise with NHS staff to plan and organise teaching. Regular meetings are held between staff and trainees to discuss matters of common concern, and to obtain trainee feedback on the Programme.

All the details concerning this Programme are contained in this document and on our website. No further written particulars are available, but short-listed candidates may visit the NHS Board areas involved in the Programme by arrangement with the Head of local clinical psychology departments. A visit offers neither advantage nor disadvantage to the candidate.

Entry Requirements

All selection processes and criteria are under continuing review and, whilst the information below is correct at the time of submission, the most up-to-date information will be on our website. Applications are not accepted from candidates who do not have the right to work in the UK without restriction.


Applicants must have eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS at the time of applying. We will therefore not consider candidates still pursuing their undergraduate degree at the time of applying (although see Clearing House guidance about Open University graduates). Applicants should hold at least a 2:1 honours degree in psychology. If this first degree is not from a BPS accredited psychology degree programme then an applicant must have subsequently been awarded a qualification that confers the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society. Our selection criteria regarding candidates with a 2:2 degree are under review and final information will be available on our website in time for the opening of the Clearing House application process. International qualifications are checked for equivalency to UK 2:1. Please note that we check the equivalence of international degrees against the Guidelines for International Postgraduate Admissions published annually by the International Office (Edinburgh Global) at the University. Strong candidates will have evidence of other academic achievements, for example, completion of a higher degree, research experience, publications or conference presentations. Candidates should be able to relate their experience of research to practice. We are looking for candidates who understand and can critically appraise theory and practice from a first principles basis as we aim to develop trainees to think about theoretical positions in depth and understand and reflect upon the nature of scientific assumptions and the meaning of "evidence"

Relevant Experience

Relevant experience that allows the applicant to apply psychological principles in practice is essential. Experience of applying and/or disseminating research is also essential. Previous working contact with, and supervision by, a clinical psychologist is an advantage, but other relevant work (e.g. nursing, support work, experience in relevant voluntary organisations) will also be considered. Experience working on a clinically focused research project or the completion of a PhD in an area of applied psychology would also be seen as relevant, particularly if it involved direct client contact. A good range and amount of relevant experience is an advantage, however, it is more important to demonstrate an ability to reflect on how this relates to clinical training and to the role of the clinical psychologist. It will be essential that applicants can apply, and can demonstrate an in-depth understanding of, the academic psychological models and principles that underlie the work they have undertaken.

Interpersonal and Other Skills

All candidates must have suitable evidence a fluent command of the English language (see our website for details of the University of Edinburgh requirements) and demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills. It is essential to be able to foster good working relationships with colleagues and clients and to work as part of a team. It is advantageous if the candidate can show evidence of ways in which they have shown initiative. Given the demands of clinical training, the candidate should be adaptable and flexible, and have the capacity to prioritise and balance academic and work demands.

Professional Issues

Strong candidates will be motivated to take on the full range of roles of the clinical psychologist. They will provide a clear rationale for, and demonstrate insight into, the professional context, roles and responsibilities of the clinical psychologist and a clear understanding of professional issues as they relate to clinical psychology. Candidates should also be able to reflect on the ethical and value base of the profession. A commitment to, and knowledge of, NHS Scotland (eg current priorities), and the role of clinical psychology within it is beneficial.

Promoting Diversity/Equal Opportunities

The University of Edinburgh and NHS Scotland Boards are committed to promoting diversity and welcome applications from under-represented groups. The Programme participates in the "Positive about Disabled People Double Tick Scheme". The selection process will clearly not discriminate against any applicant on the grounds of gender, transgender status, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. In addition to statements of non-discrimination, we seek to foster an inclusive ethos that celebrates diversity, whilst encouraging us to recognise our common humanity. The School has an active Athena Swan programme, that works to foster policies and practices that lead to inclusivity. We currently have the Bronze level of award and at the time of writing have just submitted an application for Silver award status. Intending applicants should be aware that the University of Edinburgh does not permit concurrent registration for any other degree while an individual is registered with the University of Edinburgh.

Selection Procedure

All selection processes and criteria are under continuing review and, whilst the information below is correct at the time of submission, the most up-to-date information will be on our website.

The selection and appointment procedure reflects the partnership of the University, NES and its NHS partners in the commitment to attract excellent candidates to the Programme. Applicants will be contacted by email and asked to rank order the Health Board areas for which they wish to be considered, as well as indicate which clinical specialties they would consider for aligned training places. At this point, candidates will also be sent some additional questions to respond to online and will be asked to complete an online Situational Judgment Task which is designed to assess capacity to make sound judgements in complex situations. Members of the academic programme team and clinical psychologists from the NHS Board areas participate in the short-listing process using the application forms and candidates' answers to the additional questions. All decisions regarding screening, short-listing and inviting to interview are made with the applicant's identity concealed from the short-listing panel. Usually about 90 candidates are invited for the interviews. There are two interviews, each of about 20 minutes, one with an academic and applied research focus and another with a clinical and professional focus. We will also ask all candidates to complete a short written assignment based on information given on the day and to take part in an interpersonal role-play task with an actor as part of the selection process at this stage. The interviews are held in Edinburgh and NES may cover reasonable requests for agreed costs incurred in attending for candidates.

Interview panel members are drawn from the academic programme team, the clinical practice team and representatives from the NHS Board areas. Current trainees are available throughout the day to provide information about their experience of training. Following the interviews, each NHS Board area appoints the appropriate number of applicants, who will be based in that area for the duration of the Programme (although see note below for State Hospital trainees).

By the end of May/beginning of June candidates will receive a definite offer or reserve listing, or will be informed that they have been unsuccessful. Only if applicants have heard nothing from the Programme by this late date need they make enquiries. Feedback is not given routinely, but is available to unsuccessful applicants on request. This will be provided in a written format, giving areas of relative strength and weakness during the interview process. Unfortunately, due to the high numbers of candidates interviewed, the programme cannot undertake to give feedback on a 1:1 basis.


Current trainees are full-time employees of the health service and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. No self-funded places are currently available.

Trainees are funded through NHS Education for Scotland (NES), which pays University fees, trainee salaries, and travel expenses related to teaching. For the 2018 intake we anticipate that 34 places will be available. Successful candidates will be employees of the individual NHS Health Boards. Salaries will commence at Spine Point 21 on the Agenda for Change band 6. All employment arrangements are undertaken directly with the employing NHS Board, who will carry out health checks and arrange Protection of Vulnerable Groups (criminal records) checks. Offers of employment are subject to these being satisfactory.

All trainees are responsible for their own accommodation costs for the duration of the Programme, apart from those in distant NHS Boards who are given accommodation expenses during those teaching blocks that take place in Edinburgh.

Candidates for 2018 entry should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.

Structure and Content

Following an induction week in the Health Boards, an introduction to the Programme is held in the second week of training to provide the new trainees with a chance to meet University and NHS staff, to learn about the academic course modules, clinical placements and departmental facilities, and to gain an overview the general structure of the Programme. Throughout the duration of the Programme, each trainee will be based in their NHS Board area, and the majority of the clinical placements will be carried out in that area (although see note below for State Hospital trainees). The academic blocks are normally held in Edinburgh, but approximately 35-40% of the teaching will be delivered via distance participation. This involves the use of e-learning, supported self-directed learning, lectures and group work using video conferencing technology. For sessions that are held in Edinburgh, travelling expenses to teaching are provided for those trainees (the majority) who are not based in Edinburgh, and accommodation expenses are provided to those trainees from more distant Boards (Dumfries & Galloway, Tayside and Grampian). For distance participation sessions, trainees in more distant Boards (Dumfries & Galloway, Tayside and Grampian) are expected to attend in their Board areas.

Academic teaching

Academic teaching is structured in two courses, Clinical Psychology 1 in first year and Clinical Psychology 2 in second year. Following a week of induction in NHS Boards, CP1 begins with five weeks of full-time teaching and one week of distance learning before trainees begin their first clinical placement. Trainees then receive around three teaching days per month during placement time, either in Edinburgh or via distance participation (DP) in their Board. Time for private study is made available during placement. In April, there is a further three-week block of intensive training (either in Edinburgh or DP), followed by monthly teaching days through to June, again either in Edinburgh or DP. Year 3 has a slightly different structure; there is compulsory whole cohort teaching on research and on Professionalism and Practice, though the majority of training in Year 3 is chosen. We make available a number of specialist Advanced Practice Seminars focused on advanced practice and models of psychological therapy and specific populations. Trainees have considerable choice regarding which seminars they attend during that part of training, allowing them to develop special interests.

The academic curriculum is organised in lectures, seminars, clinical skills workshops and small group seminars. In addition, the development of eLearning and self-directed learning will continue to grow as part of the educational provision. The content of the curriculum is organised developmentally; covering generic areas of clinical competency and developmental psychopathology that are applicable to most areas of clinical practice as well as topics relating to specialties or specific to certain clinical populations. The content is related to the stage of training and the development of core and advanced clinical competencies. Attendance at teaching is mandatory across the three years.

Research teaching and supervision

Research methods teaching is provided during the first two years of training, via two courses: Research 1 and Research 2. These courses both cover qualitative and quantitative methods, and encourage trainees to think creatively and reflect critically about research methods used in clinical psychology. Alongside this teaching, trainees are expected to engage in self-directed study, particularly as relevant to their chosen thesis topics. In the third year, we prepare trainees for the oral defence of the thesis and publishing their work, in anticipation of completing their research training with us and preparing for continued research post-qualification. To experience a deeper engagement with the thesis, trainees start their own major research project in the first year. Each trainee is allocated an academic thesis supervisor in the first year of study to assist in developing ideas for the thesis project. Trainees will also have a clinical thesis supervisor, who is normally a practitioner psychologist working in the area of the project. Trainees submit a research idea by January of the first year and a finalised proposal by July of the first year. It serves trainees well to have a good understanding of the programmes of research available in our clinical psychology department and to develop projects that are linked to these programmes. More information about our programmes of work is available on our Research website. We have a thesis portfolio model, which includes two journal articles: a systematic review and an original research paper. We believe that this portfolio model facilitates the publication process and equips trainees with valuable appraisal skills and experience of writing for an academic and practitioner audience. Many of our trainees publish their thesis research.

Clinical placements

In the six placements, which are whenever possible synchronised with academic teaching, the trainees have the opportunities to develop their competences in working across the life-span, including children, adults of working age and older adults. Clinical placements cover a wide range of work in psychiatric, general, learning disability and rehabilitation hospitals, in primary care settings and in the community. We are fortunate to have strong engagement with over 250 clinical supervisors throughout Scotland who contribute to the Programme. Most or all of the trainee's placements will take place in their NHS Board area. The exception to this is for State Hospital trainees, who carry out placements in their first two years based in NHS Lothian. As some NHS Boards cover large rural areas, placements can involve considerable travel. Trainees are reimbursed for business travel during placement days. Placements are of five to six months duration and trainees are now strongly encouraged to carry out a single year-long placement in the third year in their NHS Board area. The breadth of placements available is often able to support trainees in developing competence in specific therapy modalities, as mentioned in the Orientation section above.

Aligned training arrangements

The introduction of aligned training arrangements is consistent with the strong collaboration that exists between the Programme, NES and its NHS partners. The principle underlying aligned training pathways is one of increasing experience with a defined clinical population and not altering either competences required or trainee workload. The aim is to help expand workforce capacity in high priority clinical areas. All trainees undergo the same selection procedure.

Completion of an aligned training route will not limit career choices post-qualification. As the training is based on competencies and transferrable skills, trainees will be eligible to apply for jobs in other clinical areas.

Fulfilling travel requirements of the trainee role

In all NHS Boards, services are offered across a wide geographical area and placements will require travel to various clinical bases and locations within the NHS Board region. There will also be a requirement for community work such as home visits, which may be in rural locations. Public transport within each NHS Board area is variable, with some parts having no service and others only a very infrequent service. This means that it can be very time-consuming, and in some cases impossible, to rely on public transport to meet the travel requirements of the trainee role. Where trainees have a specific need to minimise travel due to a disability, reasonable adjustments will be made. All other trainees will be expected to meet all the travel requirements of the role, regardless of the NHS Board in which they are based. Therefore, driving and having access to a car will be of considerable benefit whilst on the Programme. These factors will have no impact on the selection of trainees.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) and mandatory attendance

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) will be applied for candidates who have completed an MSc in Applied Psychology at the University of Edinburgh or the MSc in Psychological Therapy in Primary Care provided jointly by the Universities of Stirling and Dundee, which have significant clinical practice (placement) components. Any consideration of RPL will not have any impact on the selection of trainees. Further details are available on our website.

The programme is full-time for three years (except when RPL applies), and both teaching and placement components have attendance requirements. Trainees are required to attend all teaching, although may take annual leave for a maximum of two teaching days per year. Trainees are required to attend a minimum number of days on each placement.


Clinical Assessment

At the beginning of each placement, the trainee and supervisor meet to draw up an agreed plan for the placement. The trainee, supervisor and clinical or local tutor have the opportunity to discuss the plan and the trainee's progress, at a mid-placement meeting. At the end of each placement, each supervisor submits a report, which is discussed with the trainee. Continuation on the Programme is contingent upon trainees receiving satisfactory ratings of their clinical performance. The trainee's personal tutor (a designated member of academic staff) and clinical tutor (a designated member of the Clinical Tutor Team) monitor each trainee's progress through the year and complete the University postgraduate progress form, which enables trainees to proceed to the next academic year.

Case Conceptualisations

Within each of the first two years, trainees submit a case conceptualisation report of no more than 6,000 words for examination. The case conceptualisations combine a focused critical appraisal of relevant literature to a specific case. They then use the case study to highlight how the literature applies, and also use the case to critique problems or gaps in the literature. The case conceptualisation assesses theory to practice links, critical analysis and depth of academic knowledge. Guidelines are available to assist trainees.

Research Assessment

One research proposal and one small-scale research project are submitted for examination during training. Trainees are required to submit the research proposal, which is the plan for their thesis projects, towards the end of their first year of training. The small-scale research project is submitted at the end of the second year of training, in either a journal article or NHS audit format. The doctoral research thesis offers trainees the opportunity to engage in a substantial piece of research, supported by an academic and a clinical supervisor. Theses are submitted during early May of the final year of training and are assessed via oral examinations (vivas) in June. The thesis is submitted in a publication friendly portfolio format, normally comprising a systematic review and at least one journal article reporting the findings of the original piece of research.


Trainees are assigned an academic personal tutor and a clinical tutor who will monitor progress for the duration of the Programme, and provide advice and support regarding any problems that may arise. Trainees also have the option of informal support by a NHS mentor who will not be directly involved in their academic or clinical assessment. In addition, we encourage trainees to be self-aware and sensitive to their own wellbeing. We see it as a sign of professional competence, not a weakness, when trainees let us know of personal difficulties that may affect their training. When such difficulties cannot be resolved through the Programme's usual supports (such as personal tutors, clinical tutors, mentors), we can help the individual to find appropriate external supports. Trainees will also have access to a Local Area Development Tutor (local tutor) within their Health Board. Local tutors provide a link between the NHS Board and the course, providing support to the trainees and involved in placement planning.


Most of the face-to-face teaching is carried out in the University School of Health in Social Science situated in Teviot Place in central Edinburgh. Library, video-recording, computing and word-processing facilities are available at the Programme base and in nearby University Central Campus buildings. For distance participation teaching sessions, the trainees based in NHS Grampian, NHS Tayside and NHS Dumfries & Galloway have dedicated facilities and specific rooms in their Health Board area (in Elgin, Aberdeen, Dundee and Dumfries) and trainees based in the remaining NHS Boards have a classroom in Edinburgh.

The City

Edinburgh is Scotland's historic capital with all the excellent facilities that you would expect in a major international city. The architecture, old and modern, is stunning. Sporting facilities include skiing, sailing, hill walking and rock climbing. There are numerous world class restaurants, galleries and museums. The University also has excellent recreational and social facilities. Scotland as a whole has easy access to artistic, cultural and sporting events, as well as some of the most inspiring areas of natural beauty in Europe.


The administration of the Programme is conducted by a Programme Team, which includes:

University Employees

Prof Matthias Schwannauer - Programme Director & Head of Clinical Psychology
Dr David Gillanders - Academic Director & Senior Lecturer
Dr Emily Newman - Research Director & Lecturer
Dr Paul Graham Morris - Lecturer
Dr Ethel Quayle - Reader
Dr Ingrid Obsuth - Lecturer
Dr Lisa Girard - Lecturer
Dr Suzanne O'Rourke - Lecturer
Dr Helen Griffiths - Senior Teaching Fellow
Dr Fiona Duffy - Teaching Fellow
Dr Stella Chan - Lecturer
Dr Tim Bird - Research Fellow
Dr Azucena Guzman - Lecturer
Dr Ken MacMahon - Senior Lecturer
Dr Angus MacBeth - Lecturer
Dr Helen Sharpe - Lecturer
Dr Karen Goodall - Lecturer
Ms Kirsty Gardner - Academic Programme Administrator
Ms Rosie Wayte - Administrative Assistant to Clinical Tutor Team

NHS Employees

Dr Neil Millar - Clinical Practice Director
Dr Rebecca Curtis - Clinical Tutor
Dr Jim Geekie - Clinical Tutor
Dr Paula Mulholland - Clinical Tutor
Dr Richard Payne - Clinical Tutor