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: Dr Helen Griffiths
Clinical Practice Director: Dr Neil Millar

Please note that candidates should re-check details on the University of Edinburgh website nearer to the time of application, as any revisions or updates to information will be placed on the University of Edinburgh website.


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 set out in the Postgraduate Prospectus of the University of Edinburgh.

The Programme started in 1959 and has been regularly revised and updated to keep ahead of emerging trends in clinical psychology and healthcare. The Programme is located in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology which forms part of 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 NES clinical tutors based in the University), local NHS clinical psychologists and other professionals, Experts by Experience and other stakeholders in order to reflect current clinical and research practice and a range of specialised knowledge and experience.

Research supervision is provided by staff within the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology allowing access to a broad range of research expertise, in conjunction with clinical thesis supervision provided by the NHS. 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.

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). In these aligned training places, 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 valuable opportunity to be engaged in more in-depth training within a specialty and related research. All places in the 2020 intake will be full-time and either three years in length or two years seven months where Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applies. 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 for Chartered Clinical Psychologist status. Other recent innovations include the introduction of a range of e-learning technologies supporting teaching and placement practice in a variety of specialties, facilitating distance participation where appropriate.

Orientation of the Programme

The taught component of the programme has recently undergone a major review supporting the development of transferable psychological competencies with population specific adaptations consistent with current conceptual and theoretical approaches in clinical psychology. The Programme is pluralistic in its psychotherapeutic orientation, with particular strengths in cognitive-behavioural approaches (CBT) and systemic approaches, also offering the option to train 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", and "Research". During Year 1, you will learn specific adaptations required to work with adults of working age who experience a wide range of physical and mental health difficulties as well as people who have intellectual disabilities. In Year 2, these vertical teaching 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, as well as introductions to psychodynamic work, interpersonal approaches, critical and community psychology, and "Third Wave" developments. Trainees are taught how to apply psychological theories in clinical settings, and to understand the importance of the link between theory, evidence base and practice in clinical formulation, intervention planning and problem solving. Underpinned by a reflective scientist-practitioner stance, research training takes place across all three years of training, facilitating a critical evaluative stance.

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 and advanced practice in systemic and family therapies as well as more in-depth training in Interpersonal Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.

Professionalism and Practice teaching takes place over all years of training. As well as sessions covering topics that include ethical practice, diversity, consultancy, teaching/training others, leadership and influencing, throughout training this stream of teaching also contains reflective practice sessions. These are designed 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 (JTC) which meets twice a year. The JTC 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. 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 the Programme 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 GBC-accrediting degree at the time of applying (although see Clearing House guidance about Open University graduates and see also information below about RPL Recognition of Prior Learning). Applicants should hold a GBC-accrediting honours degree with a mean percentage mark of at least 61 or a GBC-accrediting MSc conversion degree in psychology with a mean percentage mark of at least 61.

International Qualifications are checked for equivalency to UK 2:1 using 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, 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"

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.

Relevant Experience

Relevant experience that allows the applicant to apply psychological principles in practice is essential. An understanding of how to do psychological research is also essential. Previous working contact with, and supervision by, a practitioner psychologist such as a clinical psychologist is an advantage, but other relevant work (eg nursing, support work, experience in relevant voluntary organisations) will also be considered. Experience working on clinically-focused research project(s), for example as part of a research degree such as a PhD or through employment on such projects, 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 of a fluent command of the English language (see our website for details) 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 are committed to promoting diversity and welcome applications from under-represented groups. The Programme participates in the "Disability Confident 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. In 2017 we were successful in enhancing our Athena Swan status from the Bronze level to the Silver level.

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, NHS Scotland Health Boards and NES in the commitment to attract excellent candidates to the Programme. After initial screening of applications, 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, applicants 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 applications 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. Candidates who are not offered an interview place will be informed which element(s) of the short-listing process lead to their application being unsuccessful. 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 take part in an interpersonal role-play task with an actor as part of the selection process at this stage. 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). Training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults. Throughout the selection process and the training programme, stringent measures will be taken to ensure that the clients that trainees work with are protected. Each NHS Board will carry out health checks and arrange Protection of Vulnerable Groups (criminal records) checks. Offers of training places are subject to these being satisfactory.

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 after interviews is not given routinely, but is available to unsuccessful applicants on request. This will be provided in a written format, giving individual 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 any other forms of feedback about interview outcomes.


For the 2020 intake we anticipate that around 32 places will be available. Current trainees are funded through NHS Education for Scotland (NES), which pays University fees, trainee salaries, and travel expenses related to teaching. Current trainees are full-time employees of the NHS and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. No self-funded places are currently available. 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. Salaries for all current trainees commenced at the first point of the Agenda for Change Band 6.

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

Structure and Content

Following an induction week in the appropriate Health Board, an introduction to the Programme is held in Edinburgh 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 of the general structure of the Programme. Throughout the duration of the Programme, each trainee will carry out the majority of the clinical placements in the NHS Board area in which they are based (although see note below for State Hospital trainees). The academic blocks are normally held in Edinburgh, but approximately 35% 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, travel 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 and Galloway, Tayside and Grampian). For distance participation sessions, trainees in more distant Boards (Dumfries and 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, Year 1 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 via DP), followed by monthly teaching days through to June, again either in Edinburgh or via 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 elective. We make available a number of specialist Advanced Practice Seminars (APS) focused on models of psychological therapy and working with specific populations. Trainees have considerable choice regarding which APSs they attend, 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 e-learning 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 competency that are applicable to most areas of psychological practice as well as topics specific to certain clinical populations or more specialist areas of psychological expertise. 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 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 support a deeper engagement with the thesis, trainees start their own major research project in Year 1. 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 Year 1 and a finalised proposal by July of Year 1. 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. Our website has information about members of our department, including those who can supervise thesis projects, together with information about the research areas available. 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 clinical placements (see below for RPL information), which are whenever possible synchronised with academic teaching, trainees have 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 primary care settings, in psychiatric, general, learning disability and rehabilitation hospitals, 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 the NHS Board area in which they are based. The exception to this is for those trainees based in The State Hospital, 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 (see below for further detail). Trainees are reimbursed for business travel during placement days. Placements are of five to six months' duration and trainees are now strongly encouraged to remain in the same placement for the whole of 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 and all successful trainees qualify with the same Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

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 the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People 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.

Please note that the MSc in Psychological Therapy in Primary Care and the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People have been designed as an innovation in the training structure for Applied Psychologists and provide MSc graduates to NHS workforce roles. NES funds these training roles and will not consider candidates for the University of Edinburgh/NHS (Scotland) Clinical Psychology Training Programme who apply to the Clearing House while in receipt of NES funding for the MSc in Psychological Therapy in Primary Care or MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People.

This means, if you are currently enrolled on either the MSc in Psychological Therapy in Primary Care or the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People, you would not be eligible to apply to the University of Edinburgh/NHS (Scotland) Clinical Psychology Training Programme in the current intake (ie September to November 2019 application window for 2020 intake).

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 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 completes an evaluation of the trainee's clinical competences, 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.

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 involve a focused critical appraisal of relevant literature to a specific case. They then use the clinical material to highlight how the literature applies, and provide a critique of problems or gaps in 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 (early March for RPL trainees) 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 an original empirical project, both of which are written in the format of journal articles.


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 supervisors and planning placements.


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 and in other buildings on the central campus. 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

Dr Helen Griffiths - Programme Director
Dr David Gillanders - Senior Lecturer and Head of Section
Dr Paul Graham Morris - Lecturer
Dr Ingrid Obsuth - Lecturer
Dr Suzanne O'Rourke - Senior Lecturer
Dr Azucena Guzman - Lecturer
Dr Angus MacBeth - Senior Lecturer
Dr Clara Calia - Lecturer
Dr Tim Bird - Postdoctoral Fellow
Prof Ethel Quayle - Professor
Prof Matthias Schwannauer - Head of School
Ms Kirsty Gardner - Academic Programme Administrator
Mr Gordon Mackintosh - 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 Richard Payne - Clinical Tutor
Dr Catherine Varnell - Clinical Tutor

Other Members of the Department who might supervise thesis projects include:

Dr Fiona Duffy - Lecturer
Dr Stella Chan - Reader
Dr Helen Sharpe - Lecturer
Dr Karen Goodall - Lecturer
Prof Joanne Williams - Professor
Dr Mark Hoelterhoff - Lecturer
Dr Melina Nicole Kyranides - Career Development Fellow

An up-to-date staff list can be found on our website.