Doctoral training course in Clinical Psychology (D Clin Psy)
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology
Clinical Psychology Group
University College London
Joint Course Directors: Professor Pasco Fearon and Dr Katrina Scior
Senior Admissions Tutor: Dr Kat Alcock
Course Administrator: Ms Julia Curl
The UCL clinical psychology programme is based in the heart of London. UCL prides itself on being a "global university" - training here means becoming part of an outward looking and exciting institution that is world leading in its research and impact on policy and practice, including in the field of psychology (psychology at UCL was ranked as No 2 in the world in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings)
The programme seeks to train scientist-practitioners who achieve a high level of clinical and research competence and who approach clinical work and the evidence from an open yet critical stance. What makes the UCL programme fairly unique is its pluralistic ethos - we encourage careful consideration of and respect for a range of psychological theories and therapeutic models. Teaching covers a broad range of approaches including cognitive-behavioural (including third wave models), psychodynamic and systemic approaches and the theories underpinning them. All trainees receive high quality training in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), with around half going on the Programme's CBT pathway, accredited by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP). Upon qualification, all trainees are eligible for Foundation Level accreditation with the Association for Family Therapy (AFT), due to the course's embedded Foundation Course in Systemic Thinking and Practice.
Since its inception in 1987, the programme has been at the forefront of many of the national and local developments and innovations which impact on the profession, and many members of staff are closely involved in NHS planning at both national and local level. The large, friendly course team has expertise in all clinical areas, and the opportunities for research across the department are excellent. Being located in the centre of London, trainees are taught by experts in their field and have access to a very comprehensive range of clinical placements.
The programme encourages practice that demonstrates an awareness of equal opportunities and a sensitivity to the multi-cultural contexts routinely encountered in clinical work and research in London. We have also been very active in seeking to increase the diversity of the profession. A range of support systems are built into the programme, not only to help with the known stresses of training, but also in recognition of the personal and professional change that training promotes. The Course encourages the development of personal qualities such as reflexivity, enthusiasm for learning, and valuing the importance of supervision in order to prepare optimally for a career as a practising clinical psychologist.
In order to be considered for a place on any training course in Clinical Psychology it is essential to have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS), usually at the time of applying or certainly by the time short-listing is completed (in February). Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership is the same as Graduate Basis for Registration: all that has changed is the name. So if you previously had GBR you will now have GBC. The usual way of obtaining this is by completing an undergraduate degree in Psychology, or by taking a qualifying exam or programme which confers eligibility.
Not all Psychology programmes confer eligibility for GBC. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to GBC you should check this with your programme staff or with the BPS.
All candidates need to have obtained a good pass in an undergraduate honours degree in Psychology. Because training leads to a Doctoral degree it is important that candidates show us that they can undertake work at a Doctoral level. For this reason candidates must obtain a minimum of a good 2:1 pass in their undergraduate Psychology degree or a conversion course that confers eligibility for GBC with the BPS.
Candidates who have not achieved a good 2:1 may need to think carefully about whether it makes sense to pursue a training in Clinical Psychology, since it is unlikely that they will be offered a place on a Doctoral Course. However, we recognise that sometimes degrees under-represent someone's academic ability - for example, illness or major life-events may have meant that there were periods when it was hard to maintain a good standard of work. If this is the case applicants need to offer clear evidence of their academic capacity in their application. This evidence must be supported by an academic referee who has monitored the candidate's work and can clearly demonstrate that certain academic achievements results underestimate the applicant's academic abilities.
Candidates with a 2:2 will not usually be accepted on the course unless there is unequivocal evidence of subsequent academic achievement equivalent to a good 2:1. In practice this means obtaining a higher degree, but the type of degree needs to be thought about carefully. Some Masters degrees will not offer enough academic challenge, making it hard for an academic referee to make the unequivocal judgment about a student's ability that a course needs. The more academically demanding a course, the more likely it is that they will be able to do this.
Academic referees must be in a position to comment on their direct experience of the applicant's performance on an academic course. As such, candidates are strongly advised to select a referee who is in a position to do this (usually they should be a member of staff at an institution where the candidate has studied). Clinical referees should usually be a current employer.
Candidates are not expected to undertake long periods of pre-training experience, or to have acquired an extensive "portfolio" of work in different settings. The purpose of experience - which could be gained over one year - is to help applicants gain a realistic sense of the profession and its working practices, of the clients with whom clinical psychologists work, and of the ways in which psychologists function within statutory services such as the NHS. Candidates must be able to demonstrate some experience of 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.
Although many applicants will have undertaken posts as Assistant or Research Psychologists, other comparable experience is just as relevant if it meets the criteria above - for example, nursing in a mental health setting, or working as a care assistant. Candidates whose experience is restricted to an academic research setting should ensure that they gain some familiarity with clinical populations and settings. Substantive voluntary posts may also be relevant, usually when these take place in statutory settings.
Trainees are placed in North London: this area includes central London north of the Thames, and is bounded to the west by Hillingdon and Harrow, to the north by Barnet and Enfield, and to the east by Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Barking (very roughly, the area within the M25). Candidates who accept places on the course must be prepared to travel to placements within this catchment area. We do not place trainees in South London.
For places at UCL applied to through the Clearing House we can only consider applicants who meet home or EU fees status. This means that applicants must have full UK or EU residency and not require a work permit. In addition, to be considered for entry to the course in September 2020, they must have been resident in the UK or EU from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2020, for a purpose that is not wholly or mainly related to receiving full-time education during any part of this three-year period. There are no exceptions to these rules. If in any doubt about their fees status applicants should contact the UCL admissions office directly before making an application to the course.
International applicants who do not meet the criteria for home or EU fees status can apply directly to the international route for course entry. More information is available on our website.
Applicants for whom English is not their first language should consult our English language requirements which are set out on the application section of our website.
Selection falls into several distinct phases: first, candidates' forms are screened and those which do not meet the basic entry criteria (eg the absence of GBC, no relevant experience, no home/EU fees status) are excluded. Subsequently each candidate's form is rated in order to reach a decision about who to invite for interview. Selectors look for evidence of academic ability, and indicators of clinical aptitude (such as motivation, realism, appropriate preparation for training), and will pay particular attention to the candidates' personal statements.
We interview about three times as many applicants as places for home fees places. Each candidate attends for a half day; the interviews focus on academic, clinical and professional issues and service user issues. Interviews are designed to be challenging at the same time as giving applicants an opportunity to engage with the panel and show their best. Current trainees are available throughout the day to provide information about their experience of training. The course regrets that it cannot pay travelling expenses to those who attend for interview.
Offers of places will be conditional upon satisfactory health clearance, and upon a satisfactory search by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
We aim to ensure that applicants will not be disadvantaged in selection because of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, disability or age. The Course is particularly keen to ensure that trainee cohorts reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the population of London. We wish to encourage applications from suitably qualified individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds and are continuously reviewing our selection procedures to ensure that they do not inadvertently discriminate against some groups during the selection process.
Candidates for 2020 entry should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.
Current trainees are full-time employees of the health service and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme, currently all trainees are paid on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Travelling expenses are currently paid for travel to placement, and University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.
Our current intake is 42 home fee places per annum, but this may be subject to change.
A trainee Job Description and Person Specification can be found in the application section of our website.
The course is three calendar years in length. Trainees are required to attend the induction period and the entire lecture and workshop programme throughout the three years of training. The length of the course cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience: all trainees are required to complete the full programme of training in order to qualify.
During term-time, trainees spend three days a week on placement; the remaining two days are spent either on scheduled teaching in college or study/research. As far as is possible, academic teaching is integrated with placements.
Placements are organised under the rubric of the BPS Accreditation criteria. This describes the basic competences trainees need to acquire, identifies a broad range of clinical contexts within which trainees need to work, and outlines the clinical populations with whom they need to gain experience. In this way trainees can expect to work with a diverse group of clients in a wide variety of contexts, gaining experience of a number of models and approaches. Although the new model does not include an "elective" third-year placement, trainee's clinical experiences and developing interests are closely monitored, and throughout the course placement allocation tries to balance training needs against personal preferences. The London region is richly supplied with training opportunities, having a very diverse population living in a wide variety of settings (from inner-city through suburban to semi-rural), a high concentration of teaching hospitals, a large number of innovative and "flagship" services and some of the largest departments of psychology in the country. Altogether there are approximately 700 psychologists involved in training in North London, with close links between the training scheme and clinical services.
Teaching is undertaken by academic and clinical staff from the region as well as by course staff. Curriculum organisation reflects a helpful tension within the profession. On the one hand there are many areas of knowledge that can be applied across the field of clinical psychology (and which therefore generalise across clinical populations). However, it is also true that each speciality has its unique strengths and areas of expertise, and that a good training should take advantage of these. The programme tries to present topics within the broad framework of a biopsychosocial model and aims to foster in trainees an understanding of developmental pathways to both optimal functioning and psychological difficulties. These theoretical underpinnings are intended to equip trainees with coherent yet multi-faceted models with which to formulate presenting difficulties and adapt knowledge to novel clinical situations. In addition to lectures, trainees participate regularly in academic and clinical seminars. Both of these take place in small groups. The former represent an opportunity for learner-led discussions on academic issue; the latter give trainees the chance to present clinical material to their peers and to members of the staff team. In the summer term of the third year a number of sessions in the academic programme are organised by the third year trainees themselves. We also finish each term with a conference and case presentation attended by the whole trainee cohort. Trainees are encouraged to identify their topic for the major research thesis at the end of Year 1. With teaching, guidance and supervision from staff and (in many cases) individuals with expertise in the chosen field, they develop their proposals in the early part of Year 2, and carry out the project through Years 2 and 3.
The award of the degree of Doctor in Clinical Psychology is dependent upon the submission of a research thesis that makes a distinct contribution to knowledge of the subject. Examination of this thesis is dependent on successful completion of both the formally taught and the clinical components of the course. The thesis has three components: four case studies, one piece of small-scale service-related research, and a major research project (approximately 25,000 words). The research thesis has moved to a publication-friendly three-component model. All elements of the thesis are examined by viva voce.
The academic course components (including competence in research methods and statistics) are assessed through unseen examinations in the first and second years. In addition, four case studies and a service-related research report are submitted at intervals throughout the three years. Entry to successive years of the course is dependent upon passing the relevant components.
At the start of each placement a clinical contract is drawn-up which sets out the placement aims and how they will be achieved. These follow BPS guidelines and are regularly revised to reflect current clinical practice. About half-way through the placement a review is undertaken by a college visitor to ensure that the placement is proceeding appropriately. At the end of the placement the supervisor makes a formal evaluation of the trainee's progress, giving qualitative feedback on a number of areas of competence, as well as making an overall rating of "pass" or "fail". Trainees have the opportunity to give feedback about their experience of the placement. Trainees also complete a detailed clinical log of their work, which enables both them and the course to monitor their developing experience.
At the start of training, each trainee is allocated a Course Tutor, who has responsibility (throughout the three years of the course) for monitoring and supporting the trainee's academic, clinical and professional development. Each trainee is also allocated a personal adviser: a clinician who is not otherwise involved in supervision and who can provide personal support, advice and advocacy. There are two extensions of the personal advisor scheme, offering additional support to gay and lesbian trainees, and to black and ethnic minority trainees. Local psychologists are available to give advice about access to personal therapy. Finally, the college has a large and well-staffed student counselling service.
The course is responsive to feedback from trainees and from clinical psychologists in the region. Each year there is an Annual Course Review attended by staff, trainees, service users and supervisors. In addition, each trainee cohort has representation on, and input to, all relevant course management committees and policy bodies.
Within the Clinical Psychology Group the following staff have responsibility for the training course in clinical psychology:
Professor Pasco Fearon (Joint Course Director)
Dr Katrina Scior (Joint Course Director)
Dr Kat Alcock
Dr Vaughan Bell
Dr Jarrod Cabourne
Dr Georgina Charlesworth
Dr Henry Clements
Professor Val Curran
Dr Janet Feigenbaum
Dr Miriam Fornells-Ambrojo
Dr Sunjeev Kamboj
Dr John King
Dr William Mandy
Dr Liam Mason
Dr Peter Scragg
Dr Lucy Serpell
Dr Madiha Shaikh
Dr Kate Sherratt
Dr Kristina Soon
Professor Aimee Spector
Dr Josh Stott
Dr Marc Tibber
Dr Amanda Williams
Dr Michelle Wilson
Ms Julia Curl - Senior Course Administrator
Ms Leah Markwick - Academic Administrator
Mr Dan McQuade - Placements Administrator
Ms Gourangapriya Dey - Research and Finance Administrator
Ms Sharinjeet Dhiman - International liaison