University of Hertfordshire

Course Code: 11

Self-funded Course Code: 11 - X

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
Department of Psychology & Sport Sciences
University of Hertfordshire
College Lane
AL10 9AB

01707 28 6322/4486

Programme Director: Dr Pieter W Nel
Admissions Tutor: Dr Jacqui Gratton
Programme Administrator: Ben Hope


Why choose our Course?

Our three-year Doctorate in Clinical Psychology training programme is based in Hatfield at the University of Hertfordshire. It covers the rural and urban geographical areas of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex. It is a 20 minute train journey from Hatfield to Kings Cross Station, London.

We are a relatively small programme, consisting of 15 NHS training places and two self-funded places per cohort. This allows us to put our trainees at the heart of the course. We are a friendly and supportive staff team, which we feel is integral to creating a collaborative and collegiate learning environment. This is important for assisting trainees through what can be a challenging experience at times but also, we believe, in facilitating trainees to become unique and highly competent Clinical Psychologists, where personal values and social and cultural background can be integrated with professional development. Post qualification, our graduates can go on to provide high quality services and leadership within the NHS.

Placements are planned across the three years to meet individual training needs and preferences, while preparing trainees for the needs of the NHS workforce. We have a variety of local specialist placements in terms of clinical group (such as pediatric, health, older adults, eating disorders, psychosis) and therapeutic orientation (CBT, CAT, systemic, psychodynamic, neuropsychology).

We provide high quality teaching in terms of our content and methods. Regular course reviews take place between trainees and the course team. Trainees can participate in committees to shape the training course and continually improve all aspects of the course. We have developed innovative teaching methods to ensure learning is as stimulating, interactive and progressive as possible, such as problem-based learning (PBL) and using the university's high tech simulation suites for simulation training (role plays) with actors playing the part of clients, families and helping professionals. We engage lecturers across disciplines where helpful, such as inviting a barrister to jointly run a lecture on presenting expert evidence in court. Our trainees have the opportunity to engage in organisational and systemic influence and leadership training and to gain experience in these areas during their time on the programme.

Service User and Carer participation

We are committed to the meaningful participation of service users and carers in all aspects of the course including teaching, research, staff recruitment and admissions. We have a service user and carer committee which meets quarterly and consults to the course team on these issues.

Our Philosophy

In keeping with our values of putting trainees, diversity, the participation of service users and carers and the needs of the NHS at the forefront of our course, our overall programme philosophy is located within a social constructionist approach. This approach examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. For instance, the term "depression" can be thought of as a medical diagnosis as well as a normal response to a detrimental social, cultural or economic environment. This critical position is the lens through which we present the core teaching as required for all UK doctorate Clinical Psychology courses. It enables a complex analysis of evidence-based practice, resulting in a drive towards higher standards within the profession of Clinical Psychology.

Who we are - the Course Team

We are all passionate about Clinical Psychology and helping trainees to develop their unique identity as Clinical Psychologists. This is just a brief introduction to us:

We have two very approachable programme administrators, Catriona Roy and Ben Hope.  Cat manages the placement administration and Ben works full-time for the programme and is knowledgeable about all other administrative aspects of the course for our trainees and staff team.

Our teaching team is made up of nine Clinical Psychologists and one Senior Research fellow who all contribute to the course as lecturers and tutors.  Dr Pieter W Nel is our Programme Director and Reader in Clinical Psychology Training. He has a broad interest in alternatives to orthodox approaches to Clinical Psychology education and practice, including non-pathologising and relational models of working with people in psychological distress.  Dr Helen Ellis-Caird is our Research Tutor and has a particular research interest in giving space to stories of resilience and coping, for instance with people undergoing IVF or living with chronic health conditions. As our Academic Tutor, Dr Saskia Keville oversees the academic programme and has a particular interest in development, earlier life experiences and complex issues.  Dr Barbara Mason is the Senior Clinical Tutor and leads on the clinical aspects of the training. She has a particular interest in clinical supervision and clinical leadership. Dr Wendy Solomons is the Deputy Senior Clinical Tutor. She has a particular interest in the social construction of health and illness across the life-span, in ethical issues within healthcare, and in qualitative research methods.

Our Clinical Lecturers similarly have subjects they are passionate about teaching and conducting research.  Dr Emma Karwatzki is particularly interested in the mental health of children and young people, their experience of services and leads the course’s inclusion of service users and carers.  Dr Tejinder Kondel has expertise in perinatal mental health, attachment and personality disorder.  Dr Lizette Nolte has added to her Clinical Psychology training with a Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy and is particularly interested in social justice informed research, including the issues of homelessness, stigma and social inclusion.

Dr Jacqui Gratton is a recent addition to the team and, as Admissions Tutor and Clinical Lecturer, is leading on the selection process of trainees onto the course.  She has a strong interest in human rights, culture and the impact of traumatic events such as war, persecution and domestic violence. Dr Keith Sullivan supplements the Clinical Psychology staff team with his expertise in quantitative research methods.

What can the University of Hertfordshire offer?

The course itself is located in the new purpose-built Health Research Building. Our trainees have shared use of a spacious and bright seating area with a kitchen and balcony for coffee breaks, lunches and relaxed group discussions. The programme is based within the University's Department of Psychology and Sport Sciences, which has a strong reputation for the quality and range of its teaching and research. The University of Hertfordshire is expanding, with the recent opening of a new campus, state-of-the-art recreational facilities and campus accommodation.

Trainees also benefit from the excellent and modern library with the option of sofa hubs for group working. There are university-wide "e-learning" facilities and access to a purpose built, advanced simulation training centre which provides realistic and safe clinical and community environments for scenario-based training.

What our Trainees say (from the Alternative Handbook 2017):

The quality of our teaching was rated as "excellent" by almost 90% of respondents. Here are a few of their quotes:

"I am challenged for sure, but I love every minute of this training. The course team are incredibly responsive to feedback and if we suggest that deadlines are too close together, for example, they listen."

"We have a good relationship with all the tutors, we can have a laugh, and they are willing to talk through anything with us whether it is personal or course-related. The admin staff are also brilliant."

"Placement supervisors have so far all been quite experienced and knowledgeable and very interested in my development. I felt like I learned an immense amount on placement and I was treated with respect. I have loved feeling like a "real professional" and know that I was able to do some real quality work with clients."

"Every year there is an inter-cohort event where we learn about a particular topic or issue - this year the event focussed on refugees, and last year it was a community HIV service. We have also visited community psychology service MAC-UK, and were visited by a service-user led theatre company. So the broader experiences available on the course are really rich and very often thought-provoking."

"Herts really goes beyond teaching models. It really gets you thinking about social and political issues and our roles within these as psychologists and how this might affect our practice. It's such a thought provoking and enjoyable course."

"It's a truly great course, and one that invited and allowed me to change for the better."

Entry Requirements

The University of Hertfordshire (UH) is looking for candidates who can demonstrate academic excellence and the ability to apply psychological knowledge in clinical settings. The Clearing House provides a generic Trainee Job Description and Person Specification.

Additionally, we highly recommend that you look at the information about Fitness to Practise requirements provided on the Clearing House Application pages.

A new requirement will be that is will be essential that the applicant holds a UK driver's licence and has access to a car when starting the course (unless the applicant has a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 which prevents he/she from driving).

Please note the following information regarding university regulations on the completion of previous courses before enrolling for the DClinPsy. Once enrolled at UH the completion of previous courses can only be done with special permission from the University.

At the time of applying, minimum entry requirements at UH are as follows:

  • Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS at the time of applying. Candidates who are unsure about the status of their degree should check with the BPS that they qualify for GBC.
  • A 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent). Applicants with a 2:2 degree will only be considered if they can demonstrate this is unrepresentative of their academic potential, and have demonstrated further academic capability, such as strong performance in a relevant, academically-oriented higher degree. Extenuating circumstances impacting on degree results will be considered
  • Two years' full-time equivalent clinical or research experience will be required (usually obtained after graduation) in a field relevant to Clinical Psychology. The exact nature of the experience may vary, but candidates need to demonstrate that their work experiences have allowed them to develop a clear understanding of the roles and abilities required of Clinical Psychologists, and that they have the potential to meet these demands. Candidates should be able to demonstrate some experience in applying psychological theory in a clinical setting, realism about the scope of psychological interventions, and an appreciation of the role of the Clinical Psychologist in the NHS.
  • Candidates must have a commitment to working in the NHS, ideally within the local regions of Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. It is important that those who accept places on the course are prepared to travel to placements, which are sited across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.
  • Candidates for NHS places must be acceptable to the National Health Service in an employed status, and must be eligible for home (UK/EU) tuition fees status.
  • Suitable clinical and academic references provided via the Clearing House forms.
  • Candidates are expected to show understanding of professional issues for Clinical Psychologists in the UK, and to demonstrate personal qualities and interpersonal skills suitable to the role.
  • A high level of proficiency in communication in English is essential.
  • Car driver (unless the candidate has a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 which prevents them from driving).

There are no Accreditation for Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L) concessions, exemptions or advanced progression to training prior to entry nor whilst on the course.

Offers of places will be conditional upon satisfactory occupational health clearance and criminal records checks.

Successful completion of the training results in eligibility to apply for registration as a Clinical Psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and for accreditation by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Encouraging Diversity in Training

We are keen to encourage applications from people with a wide range of backgrounds. We strongly believe that diversity of cultures, social and economic experiences and individual perspectives within a trainee cohort substantially benefit the learning environment for all trainees. Further, it is essential that as Clinical Psychologists we contribute to a cohesive and diverse workforce within the NHS and reflect the client groups we have a duty to serve.

If candidates believe their qualifications reflect lack of opportunity (for example, through social disadvantage, earlier life experiences, cultural factors) rather than ability, they should explain this clearly in their application. Similarly, mature candidates who come to psychology after a less conventional educational path will not be disadvantaged, but it will be helpful for them to explain their educational and career pathways in their application.

All selection processes are undertaken by the University, which operates Equal Opportunities policies. We aim to implement fair selection procedures and no candidate will be discriminated against on grounds of race, colour, creed, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation. The programme actively encourages applications from psychologists from minority groups and seeks to enhance opportunities for applicants from these groups to obtain a place by allowing discussion of this at various points within the selection process (for example, candidates are invited to consider contextual considerations and reflections within the group task).

Enquiries regarding any aspect of applications, including support available for candidates with disabilities, should be addressed to Ben Hope, Programme Administrator. Every effort is taken to make reasonable adjustments in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire Disability Services.

Selection Procedure

Application forms are used at all stages in the selection process. Any candidate known well to the reviewer is passed on and rated by another reviewer. Applications are first screened to ensure they meet the minimum admissions criteria as outlined above. Each eligible application is then independently rated by the Course Team and local Clinical Psychologists. Applications are rated with respect to demonstration of: academic ability; relevant experience (and the application of learning gained from this experience); and personal and professional suitability. From these ratings, a short-list is compiled of candidates to be invited for interview. We regret that, due to the large numbers of applications and limitations on resources, we are unable to give individual feedback to candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage.

Short-listed candidates are then invited to the University to participate in a range of tasks. Interviews will be held during the week beginning 23 April 2018 for the NHS posts. Interviews for self-funded places with take place on Friday 20 April.

The interviewing process consist of three parts, all taking place on the same day: an individual panel interview addressing academic competency and professional and personal suitability; a group task to assess ability to think clinically about a case and to contribute to a group discussion; and a written exercise assessing research knowledge skills (at the point of interview all applicants with reading or writing needs are asked to inform the course). The aim is for all interviews and assessments to be rated by at least two selectors either from the programme team or Clinical Psychologists working in local services. Service users and carers also rate the group task.

A talk will be given by Pieter, our Programme Director and there will be opportunities to ask questions and meet with current trainees.

Candidates are informed of the outcome, and those not successful at interview are offered feedback by telephone if requested.

English Language Requirements

We encourage applications from candidates whose first language is not English, or whose previous education and examination qualifications have not been taught or examined in the English language, but we will need to be provided with evidence of an English language proficiency of IELTS level 8 (with no score below 7.5 in each test element: listening, reading, writing and speaking) or equivalent.

Applicants must send evidence of their English language proficiency with their application. Failure to provide this evidence will mean that your application cannot be considered.

Please note: UK Visas and Immigration now only accept IELTS for English language proficiency tests taken outside the UK. For this reason the University of Hertfordshire will only accept an IELTS test result, taken within the last two years, from international students applying for a fee-paying place on the programme.

All applicants applying with non-UK degrees should please note the requirements regarding degree transcripts, which should be translated into English where necessary.


All students will follow the same programme of study regardless of how their place is funded.

NHS funded places

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

Current trainees are employed as Trainee Clinical Psychologists on a three-year, fixed-term contact, with a hosting NHS Trust. Trainee funding includes University fees, full-time salary (currently at the starting salary for Band 6, point 21, of Agenda for Change pay scales) and expenses (for example, travel) in line with standard NHS Terms and Conditions. The University conducts all aspects of the selection and interviews of applicants to the course.

In addition, there are a number of ways in which the course may support trainees regarding financial and practical matters. Some funding is available to contribute to costs related to completing a Major Research Project (MRP).

Fee-Paying Places

Two fee-paying places will be available on the Hertfordshire programme in 2018. These are open to International, European and British applicants. Applications for our fee-paying places can be made directly to the programme or through the Clearing House website using Course Code 11 - X.

The current fees are £22,300 per year for the teaching component and approximately £500 per placement. There is not a salary attached and living costs would need to be financed by the applicant. The full three-year course would need to be committed to. Please note that we are not aware of any current grants available from the University towards the fees or living costs. Campus accommodation is available at reduced rental for all students, although early application is recommended.

Structure and Content


The programme takes three years (full-time) to complete and comprises academic, clinical, research, and professional development training. Each academic year starts at the end of September or beginning of October with a four-week, full-time introductory block of teaching. This is followed by teaching all day on Thursdays and Fridays during term-time. All academic teaching takes place at the College Lane Campus in Hatfield and attendance is mandatory. Two and a half days a week are spent on clinical placement (more outside term-time) and half a day each week is allocated to study time. In the second and third year of training time is allocated on the timetable to complete a small scale service related and a major research project.

Academic Requirements

The academic programme is based on the standards for accreditation for Doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology (BPS, 2016) and comprises six main areas of teaching:

  • Assessment, Formulation, Intervention and Evaluation
  • Clinical Groups Across the Life-span
  • Research
  • Personal and Professional Skills and Values
  • Epistemology and Context
  • Organisational and Systemic Influence and Leadership

Each of these six areas is further divided into a number of specific teaching modules that span the three years of training and correspond as much as possible with the structure and sequence of clinical placements. An awareness of the issues of ethical practice and equality for all is highlighted in all modules. Particular consideration is given to the many ways in which issues relating to diversity and inequality impact on the work of practising Clinical Psychologists within the lectures, and all lectures are formally evaluated on this by the trainees.

Three main models of psychological therapy are currently taught on the programme: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), systemic and family psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. We are working on bringing the CBT elements of the course in line with BABCP accreditation and the systemic elements in line with foundation and diploma accreditation criteria.

The academic programme at UH is located within the overall programme philosophy, which places particular emphasis on incorporating a social constructionist approach to conceptualising psychological difficulties and their management. In line with the programme philosophy, an important aim of the academic programme is to train Clinical Psychologists who can understand and apply a range of psychological theories and approaches to both clinical practice and research. We teach our trainees to draw on multiple theoretical perspectives and the evidence base to develop individually tailored assessments, formulations, interventions and evaluations of complex psychological problems. We emphasise the flexibility to adapt and combine different approaches as a key competence, and our curriculum therefore aims to develop a broad, thorough and sophisticated understanding of various psychological theories and therapeutic approaches.

The programme utilises novel methods for learning:

  • Problem-based learning (PBL) forms an important part of clinical training at UH. As part of the academic programme trainees complete a series of small-group based PBL exercises, which aim to promote reflective, collaborative and self-directed learning.
  • A unique feature of Clinical Psychology training at UH is the access that our teachers and trainees have to a purpose built, advanced simulation training centre. The centre is currently the largest facility of its kind in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. It is a high-tech centre which provides very realistic and safe clinical and community environments for scenario-based training. In addition to the simulation facilities, there are also two control rooms (manned by staff from the centre) and three observation rooms. The centre is equipped with a total of 26 digital cameras, which makes it possible to record the simulation activities and project them in any of the observation rooms or any computer with an internet connection.
  • Throughout the three years, trainees participate in a series of small group discussions to consider academic papers and clinical cases. Some of these seminars involve Peer Assisted Learning with Year 3 trainees facilitating groups. These facilitators are offered formal training to undertake this role. The discussions provide an academic context for trainees to integrate theory and research, to highlight theory-practice links, and to enable peer review of formulation and intervention plans.
  • There are opportunities to participate in cross-cohort workshops, an annual event that brings the whole course together and provides opportunities to hear presentations from a wide range of presenters, both from inside and outside the profession of Clinical Psychology. This day often has a community psychology focus, a multi-media approach and input from experts by experience. In recent years these workshops have included: "Asylum seeker and refugee families" (2016); "A day with Re:assure" (AIDS charity) (2015); "Reflections on trauma and psychiatric diagnoses with Jacqui Dillon" (2014) and "Zhe:[noun] undefined" (2013).
  • The academic programme offers formal debating opportunities, again providing opportunities for all three year groups to work together.

At UH trainees are regarded as mature students, and for this reason an adult learning model is adopted. In line with this model and the overall programme philosophy, it is recognised that not only do trainees learn in different ways, but also that they can pursue their own perceptions of the material being taught and interpret it for themselves.

In line with HCPC requirements for all clinical training programmes, all trainees selected will be informed of the various activities that form part of the academic curriculum (eg role-plays, problem-based learning, simulation training, small group discussions etc). Consent to participate in all aspects of the academic programme will be sought prior to the programme commencing.

Clinical Experience

Our placements are located over a wide geographical area encompassing Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, West Essex and South Essex, and most are not easily accessible by public transport, so the ability to drive, and access to a car, is essential. Trainees are encouraged to live within appropriate travelling distance to their NHS base and University base and the programme cannot accommodate requests to minimise travelling distances, particularly if a trainee chooses to live outside of the geographical area covered by the programme. The course enjoys excellent relations with Clinical Psychologists in the region, and this is reflected in the quality of placements available.

Our trainees generally undertake six placements, each of approximately six months, although year-long placements are also available. Placements developing core competencies usually take place during the first and second years of training and cover working age adults, older people, children and young people, people with intellectual disabilities and sometimes other client groups.

In the third year, a range of placements in specialist areas, and at advanced levels, is available. Placements are allocated to ensure the development of core competencies and experiences for all trainees, as well as to meet the specific training needs of individual trainees.

Current placements include opportunities for specialising in therapy approaches such as: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy; Systemic Family Therapy; Psychodynamic Therapy; and Cognitive Analytic Therapy. There is additionally a choice of clinical psychology fields, eg pediatrics, forensic, inpatient, eating disorders, early intervention in psychosis, neuropsychology and neurological rehabilitation. Health psychology placements include HIV, chronic fatigue and a specialist burns unit. Trainees have the option of applying for nationally accessible placements such as at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust and the Anna Freud Centre.

Each trainee is allocated a clinical tutor from the staff team for their entire course. The clinical tutor undertakes reviews with trainees and supervisors at the mid-point and end of each placement. The tutor also meets individually with trainees at the start of each placement, in order to review and facilitate their clinical development.

Research Requirements

In line with the concept of the "scientist-practitioner", our programme of research aims to equip trainees with the knowledge and skills required to undertake high-quality research, appraise literature critically, and adopt an evidence-based approach to clinical practice, where possible. We also aim to foster in trainees an awareness of the need for, and motivation to undertake, research in clinical settings - both during their placements and after qualification - to contribute to the evidence base of the profession.

Formal teaching introduces trainees to a range of methods and issues arising in the conduct of clinical research. This includes research design, qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, guidance in the use of statistics, and the process of planning and organising research projects. A wide range of statistical and computing facilities is available, with excellent support from School of Psychology teaching staff.

At the beginning of the first year, our trainees conduct a Small-Scale Service-Related Project while on placement (typically an audit or service evaluation). Work towards the Major Research Project (MRP) begins late in the first year, when trainees are given information about research opportunities in the region and the research interests and contacts offered by the course team. As a course team, we have both qualitative and quantitative research expertise. We have particular interests in health psychology as well as children and young people, leadership and issues of social justice. In the second and third years, substantial blocks of time are set aside to complete the literature review for the MRP, to collect and analyse data, to write up the dissertation, and to summarise the research in a format suitable for submission to a journal. Supervision is provided at all of these stages. Submission of a paper based on this research to a peer reviewed journal is a final research requirement of the course.


The final degree is awarded subject to satisfactory performance in the clinical, academic and research components of the programme. These aspects are evaluated formally within a system of continuous assessment. Academic performance is formally assessed through a written exercise, and the presentation and reflective accounts of problem-based learning assignments. Research assessments include a Small-Scale Service-Related Research project, Major Research Project (up to 30,000 words) and associated journal paper (2,000 - 5,000 words), as well as an oral examination in Research Design during the first year. Clinical skills are assessed through placement-related documents (Supervisor Evaluation of Clinical Competence, Log of Clinical Experience and Skills) and through four Clinical Case Reports based on clinical work conducted on placements.

In addition to these formal evaluations, trainees are monitored throughout training by their Clinical, Academic, Research and Personal Course Tutors, in order to provide them with qualitative feedback, and opportunities for development of competencies. Trainees are also required to undertake case presentations and a videotaped clinical skills exercise, for which they receive qualitative feedback.


As a Course Team, we recognise that the course is a demanding one, and aim to provide a supportive climate during training. Seeking support is viewed as a professionally responsible course of action. A range of structures and procedures have been put in place in order to provide trainees with adequate support. Advice and support is provided to trainees from the Research, Academic and Clinical Tutors, and from their Personal Course Tutors, who meet regularly with trainees to address any concerns. In addition, each trainee is allocated a Personal Advisor. These are local Clinical Psychologists whose roles are kept separate from any evaluative component, and who may provide support, guidance and advocacy. New trainees are also allocated a "buddy" from the year above for peer support. Finally, each cohort participates in reflective group work with an independent facilitator, focusing on reflective learning and support. Time is provided within the academic timetable for this.

The University's Counselling Service is available to trainees; in addition, the course team can advise trainees regarding accessing personal therapy and access to disability support.

The Course Team

Dr Pieter W Nel - Programme Director
Dr Barbara Mason - Senior Clinical Tutor
Dr Saskia Keville - Academic Tutor
Dr Helen Ellis-Caird - Research Tutor
Dr Wendy Solomons - Deputy Senior Clinical Tutor
Dr Tejinder Kondel - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Lizette Nolte - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Emma Karwatzki - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Jacqui Gratton - Clinical Lecturer/Admissions Tutor
Dr Keith Sullivan - Senior Research Fellow

Ben Hope - Programme Administrator
Catriona Roy - Deputy Programme Administrator