University of Essex

Course Code: 08

Self-funded Course Code: 08 - X

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
School of Health and Social Care
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park

01206 873910

Programme Director: Dr Frances Blumenfeld


The University of Essex Doctorate in Clinical Psychology has been training people to become reflective and highly competent clinical psychologists since October 2005. The programme was developed in partnership with commissioners from the Health Education East of England, the University of Essex, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, and NHS Trusts based in Essex.

This three-year full-time doctoral-level training programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). Successful completion of the training programme leads to the qualification of Doctor of Clinical Psychology (D.Clin.Psych) from the University of Essex which confers eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to apply for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). The only award that can be made is the D.Clin.Psych and there is no other exit award.

The programme benefits from the input and support of clinicians based in South and North East Essex, particularly Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. Some input into teaching is also provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. The programme is housed in the vibrant academic and research community of the School of Health and Social Care (HSC) of the University of Essex. The School has an excellent reputation for research and teaching in health and social care, and it is committed to inter-professional learning.

Some of the benefits of studying on our programme include:

  • Our relatively small trainee cohorts offer trainees the opportunity to work closely with the programme team and with one another. Such close working relationships, combined with robust and holistic support systems for trainees' personal and professional development, provide an optimal training experience and foundation for trainees' career-long personal and professional development.
  • The programme is particularly well integrated with local research and clinical networks. Clinicians working in the region contribute directly to the course through teaching, supervision (on placements and as field research supervisors) and other aspects of the programme. This close collaboration provides many opportunities for ensuring strong theory-practice integration.
  • Trainees on this programme benefit from the possibility for some trainees to have a third year placement at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
  • The programme aims to develop the critical and reflective competencies of trainees. We provide learning opportunities for developing flexibility, leadership skills and reflective practice that are essential to meet the challenges faced by the profession of clinical psychology and by health services.

We place a priority on responding to trainees' feedback and on reviewing and updating the way in which training is delivered in order to remain responsive to current needs and developments at the forefront of clinical psychology.

Key values and principles that underpin the University of Essex D.Clin.Psych include:

  • We view training as a collaborative enterprise between stakeholders including trainees, clients, carers, NHS services and Trusts, local clinicians, and professional/regulatory bodies. The programme engages these stakeholders to remain responsive to local mental health needs.
  • Trainees are adult learners and junior colleagues who contribute to the overall training programme and one another's training experience. The programme team places a premium on clear communication and consultation in decision-making, incorporating the views of trainees, service users and other stakeholders in the effective delivery of the training programme.
  • The programme equips trainees to apply psychological knowledge and theory to research and practice in the service of reducing psychological distress and promoting and enhancing psychological wellbeing.
  • Trainee clinical psychologists on our programme develop all competencies required of clinical psychologists by the HCPC and the BPS. We consider a competent clinical psychologist to be more than the sum of a number of competencies. Our reflective and integrative focus enables trainees to develop meta-competencies required for reflective, integrative, ethical, autonomous research and evidence-based practice.
  • The programme does not focus on one model or approach, but instead draws on a number of different models and approaches including behavioural, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic, systemic and integrative approaches alongside developmental, socio-political, critical and other perspectives. The main therapeutic modalities are CBT, systemic and short term psychodynamic models.
  • The programme is committed to recognising, accommodating and embracing diversity. This is reflected in the recruitment and selection of trainees and throughout the training, which emphasises the importance of developing cultural and diversity-related competence in research and clinical practice.

Entry Requirements

The programme does not offer Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL).

Applicants to the programme should:

  • Have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS.
  • Demonstrate at least one year's full-time, or equivalent, clinical or research experience relevant to clinical psychology. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have a realistic understanding of what the work of clinical psychologists entails and demonstrate experience of applying psychological theory in a clinical setting.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English. If an applicant's first language is not English they should obtain at least level 7 (with no component below 7) on the IELTS or equivalent (eg TOEFL score of 100 internet-based or 600 paper-based). The IELTS test should have been taken within the last two years. Note, there are no exceptions to this requirement.

AND possess one of the following:

  1. A BPS accredited degree in Psychology with a high 2:1 or above. The average mark for third year modules must be 65% or above. Please ensure you have included your academic transcript with your application.


  2. A recognised international degree in Psychology, equivalent to a UK high 2:1 degree (over 65%). Please ensure you have included your academic transcript with your application.


  3. A BPS accredited conversion degree in Psychology with an average mark of 65% or above. Please send copies of the academic transcript for your undergraduate degree directly to The academic transcript for your conversion course should be submitted with your Clearing House application as usual.


  4. A 2:2 or low 2:1 honours degree in Psychology with subsequent demonstration of academic competence, for example through achieving 65% or above (or equivalent) at Masters/Doctoral level in a research degree relevant to clinical psychology. Please send copies of any academic transcripts for your Masters/Doctoral level research degree directly to The academic transcript for your undergraduate degree should be submitted with your Clearing House application as usual.

Applicants also need to understand the role of clinical psychologists working within the UK healthcare system and demonstrate their understanding and adherence to core NHS principles and values. Applicants need to demonstrate a commitment to applying psychological research and theories in a clinical setting. Applicants applying to NHS places on the programme need to demonstrate a commitment to working within the UK NHS and social care.

Applicants for NHS places must be eligible for home-based tuition fees (see the Funding section below for further details). There are no fees status requirements for self-funded places.

The University of Essex and Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) offer equal opportunities with regard to race, religion, age, disability, gender, social class and sexual orientation. We encourage applications from candidates who have a disability, and will make reasonable adjustments for trainees with disabilities. EPUT is a Disability Confident organisation and we endeavour to interview all applicants under this scheme who demonstrate essential criteria (as per the person specification) at short-listing.

Further details are available in the Trainee Clinical Psychologist job description and person specification, available on our website.

Selection Procedure

The programme is responsible for ensuring trainees' fitness to practise and therefore, applicants' conduct throughout the selection process is taken into account. This includes all correspondence and communication with the programme as well as conduct at interview.

Initial screening

Applications are screened to determine initial basic eligibility. At this point, GBC and tuition fees status are also established.


Following initial screening, applicants meeting initial screening criteria are independently rated and ranked by a panel of programme staff and local clinical psychologists. All application forms are fully anonymised. At this stage, we aim to ensure that applicants offered interviews meet essential criteria as described in the person specification available on our website, in addition to rating applicants on the basis of criteria such as clinical experience and demonstrated academic suitability.


Interviews and related selection processes are held at the Colchester campus of the University of Essex. Generally, we offer about three times as many interviews as the number of places offered on the programme. This typically amounts to around 55 interview places, but is dependent on the number of commissions. On the day of the interview, the programme team provides applicants with further information on the programme and there is also an opportunity to meet with current trainees. Applicants undergo a combination of individual and group interviews and a formal timed assessment.

We continually review and refine our selection procedures and will provide further details about the interview process to all applicants who are invited to an interview.

Offers of training places

All offers of a place on a programme are dependent on satisfactory enhanced DBS and occupational health checks. Applicants are required to disclose any information that might affect fitness to practise or future registration under the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

All applicants who are offered a place will be expected to start in October 2021. Places cannot be deferred.


NHS funded training places

Application is through the Clearing House using Course Code 08.

In addition to the above entry requirements, applicants for NHS funded training places need to meet the following additional entry criteria:

18 NHS funded training places were commissioned for the 2020 intake. It is currently not known how many funded training places will be commissioned for the 2021 intake.

Current NHS-funded trainees are full-time NHS employees on a fixed term three-year contract, paid on Band 6 of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. Current NHS-funded trainees have standard NHS holiday allowances and other benefits as detailed in the AfC Handbook, and their University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.

Current NHS-funded trainees can claim for travel expenses incurred travelling to placement from either their home or their base (University of Essex) whichever is the shorter journey. Journeys are currently reimbursed by national mileage rules at the Agenda for Change Standard rate, which vary according to the type of vehicle used, or at the cost of public transport.

Self-funded training places

Application is through the Clearing House using Course Code 08 - X.

We invite self-funding applicants to apply for the 2021 intake for places that are not funded by the NHS. These applicants need to meet the same entry criteria detailed above and will undergo the same rigorous selection procedures as applicants to NHS funded places, to ensure the standards of excellence for which our clinical psychology trainees are renowned. We welcome applicants for self-funded places who have Home or Overseas fees status.

The fee for self-funded places for the 2020 intake was £20,000 per year for Overseas fees applicants and £17,061 for Home fees applicants. These fees may increase somewhat for the 2021 cohort. All self-funded training places are also subject to additional bench fees (contact for details). Unlike NHS-funded trainees, self-funded trainees are not salaried employees within the NHS.

Further information about self-funded training places is available on request from

Structure and Content

The training is structured such that the academic teaching days are on Mondays and Tuesdays (with a study day on alternate Tuesdays for the first two years of training). In the first and second year, trainees attend a more extended block of training at the beginning of each year. Placement days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. In the third year trainees have a study day every Monday and teaching on a Tuesday.

Further information about the programme curriculum can be found on our website.

Placements and Clinical Supervision

Placements are generally based in Essex and range from a six-mile radius from the University up to approximately a 40-mile radius.

Clinical supervision is provided in accordance with BPS guidance for doctoral training. An agreed placement contract between supervisor and trainee is drawn up within the first two weeks of the start of the placement, with guidance from a University programme team member and will govern all placement arrangements. Our trainees consistently remark on the excellent supervision offered by their clinical supervisors, who offer at least one hour of formal supervision a week in addition to further informal contact. Supervision includes discussion on personal and professional development issues, including the resolution of any difficulties that might impede the trainee's capacity to fulfil their training contract. Supervision includes opportunities not only for such discussion of placement experiences and learning but also for direct observation of clinical work, both by the trainee of the supervisor and by the supervisor of the trainee. The trainee's university tutor carries out all placement reviews mid-way through the placement.


Trainees conduct a small-scale service-related project over the first 18 months of training. Service-related projects provide trainees with an opportunity to develop an understanding of evidence-based practice and to develop skills in carrying out focused clinical research aimed at evaluating and improving an aspect of service provision.

The preliminary work for the main research project/thesis begins in the first year, when trainees plan their research project with support from programme staff and their supervisors. In the second year and early part of the third year, trainees carry out independent research and write up their theses. Trainees are encouraged to pursue research topics within the available expertise of research supervisors. Trainees need to abide by all University of Essex and NHS ethical policies and procedures.

Further information about the staff team's research interests can be found on our website.


To be eligible for the Award of Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, candidates must pass all the assessed components of the modules as detailed in the Programme Specification and Content available on our website.


Our programme offers trainees excellent support for their personal and professional development. Trainees' personal tutors provide pastoral support and conduct placement and other reviews of trainees' progress.

Trainees also attend a fortnightly reflective practitioner group throughout their training in order to develop reflective skills to support practice. The same group facilitator usually remains with the trainee group for the whole duration. The reflective group is aimed to promote reflective practice. Additionally, the group facilitates the integration of the trainees' learning through self-reflection and personal awareness, promotes learning about working with and within groups, teams and organisations and provides a forum for reflecting on all aspects of the training experience.

Trainees also have access to the University's Student Support Office and Counselling Service and the Student Union Advice Centre.

Trainees have an allocated research budget to support their attendance at conferences and their research.


Dr Frances Blumenfeld - Programme Director
Dr Danny Taggart - Academic Director/Lecturer/Clinical Tutor (on leave)
Dr Susan McPherson - Senior Lecturer/Research Tutor
Dr Richard Pratt - Lecturer/Clinical Tutor
Dr Jo Wilson - Lecturer/Clinical Tutor
Dr Alison Spencer - Lecturer/Clinical Tutor
Dr Andy Sluckin - Lecturer/Clinical Tutor
Vacancy - Lecturer/Research Tutor
Programme Administrator

Other Stakeholders

Clinicians working in various NHS Trusts in the region are involved in placements, curriculum development, teaching and strategic aspects of the course.

Quality Assurance

Feedback is regularly sought from trainees on the quality of teaching, placements and all other aspects of the programme. Trainees meet regularly with staff in trainee-led meetings. All stakeholders, including trainees, are key members of decision-making bodies within the programme. Stakeholders' views are valued highly and influence programme development.