Clinical Psychology Doctorate
School of Psychology
College of Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Course Director: Dr Gary Law
Admissions Tutor: Dr George Johnson
For information about the programme, please visit the University of Birmingham website where you will find a series of FAQs.
This is an integrated three-year Course leading to a professional qualification in Clinical Psychology (Clinical Psychology Doctorate, ClinPsyD) and eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council. The course began in 1967 and is accredited by the British Psychological Society. It has produced over 500 qualified clinical psychologists and enjoys the benefits of being based in the Centre for Applied Psychology in the School of Psychology, which is one of the strongest and most active psychology departments in the UK, with an excellent reputation for teaching and research across all areas of contemporary psychology. The course is also well integrated with clinical psychology services in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, where clinical psychology is a strong and well-developed profession. Local clinicians and Experts by Experience sit on all course committees and provide valuable input to the delivery and design of the curriculum and to the overall vision of the course.
The University of Birmingham, founded in 1900, has over 32,000 students from the UK and around the world and is situated on a pleasant campus close to the city centre. The School of Psychology has around 650 undergraduates, 250 postgraduates and more than 90 research and teaching staff. The Clinical Psychology Group is a comparatively large one and most staff are actively engaged in both clinical work and research. We are part of the Centre for Applied Psychology (CAP) that includes Forensic and Criminological Psychology and a range of courses in CBT and cognitive approaches to psychological intervention.
The Birmingham Programme benefits from an experienced staff team, with a wide range of clinical and research interests. We aim to train reflective scientist-practitioners who can work across a diverse range of service contexts by utilising evidence-based practice and the ability to draw creatively on a range of psychological theories and techniques. The promotion of wellbeing, the formulation of solutions to a wide range of presenting problems and circumstances, and the evaluation of interventions are core to our approach. Our training is set within a nurturing and inclusive learning community. As with all courses in the UK, particular consideration is given to CBT in the curriculum. However, we have three other main therapeutic strands: psychodynamic, systemic and behavioural. Trainees attend teaching in all four areas and some trainees gain particular "second model" therapeutic competencies on tailored clinical placements. In addition, trainees have the opportunity to attend workshops in other models such as CAT, ACT and CFT. The course also aims to prepare trainees for the broader organisational demands of the NHS with an emphasis on leadership.
You must fulfil all of the following entry requirements.
Your academic qualifications must give you Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) (see below for details about GBC).
You must have at least a 2:1 degree or recognised equivalent at undergraduate level and you will need to provide a certificate or transcript showing your degree level at the time of applying. We welcome applicants with higher degrees, although these are not essential and ideally should be in a clinically relevant area. We do not accept applicants with a 2:2 at undergraduate level, even if they also have a Masters or PhD. Whilst people who have taken conversion courses are not at a disadvantage in our process, we require their original degree to be 2:1 or above.
We also require evidence of competence in research methods as evidenced by a score/rating of at least 60% on the undergraduate research dissertation – noted on the undergraduate transcript. Applicants who do not yet have an undergraduate transcript, or who have completed a conversion course without a detailed transcript, would need to provide formal evidence of research competence from the awarding University. This could take the form of an academic referee commenting specifically upon these competences, including explicit reference to the applicant's scores on research and statistics modules.
Candidates must have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Candidates seeking GBC through application to the BPS must have attained this by the time of interview (April 2022). Please note: this does not apply to candidates waiting to complete their first degree.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have been engaged in work experience that allows them to understand the profession of clinical psychology, and to demonstrate skills relevant to the role that can be enhanced through training. We require applicants to have completed at least one year's full-time clinically relevant experience (or equivalent) (which can include placement experience from a clinically relevant Master's degree or clinical research conducted during a PhD) at the time of applying. This experience could come from a variety of roles, including Assistant Psychology and research posts, and graduate roles within IAPT services. However, this is not an exhaustive list of potential relevant experience. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have been applying psychological principles in a clinical setting, preferably under the supervision of a psychologist, or have been engaged in research that is relevant to a clinical population (e.g. as a research assistant or as part of a three-year PhD). The experience could be spread across more than one year but must equate to one year full-time as a minimum requirement. Candidates are required to describe this experience clearly on their application. Candidates who have previously pursued relevant professional careers will be considered; however, all applicants must meet our minimum academic entry criteria and requirements for GBC (see Academic section above for details). Undergraduate psychologists are only considered if they have one year's full-time clinically relevant experience prior to completing their first degree as described above.
For candidates whose first language is not English or whose first degree was not taught in English, the University of Birmingham has a set of minimum standards required, available on our website. These can be gained through TOEFL (internet only), IELTS, PTE or Cambridge English. Please read the requirements carefully. Our TOEFL internet-based requirements are 95 overall, with no less than 22 in any band. We no longer accept the paper based TOEFL tests. We require 7.0 IELTS (with no less than 6.5 in any band), or a Pearson Test of English (PTE) with a score of 67 in all four skills. For Cambridge English, we require 185 (with no less than 176 in any component). Tests are valid for two years after they are taken, and must be valid on the day the course starts.
Applicants for NHS places must meet the requirements to be considered as "Home" for fees purposes as per UKCISA regulations for Higher Education. Fees status is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team. Please contact them directly if you have a query about fees status.
We welcome applications from international self-funding candidates. Such applicants must meet the same entry criteria as those applying for NHS funded places (see above) and also have overseas fees status. This is assessed by the University Admissions team. Applications for international candidates are made directly to the University of Birmingham and not through the Clearing House.
For further details of the international applications process please contact Dr Liz Kent, lead for international selection.
We are very conscious of being situated in an area of rich ethnic and cultural diversity, and the course particularly welcomes applications from people from ethnic minority groups. We take measures to ensure that no applicant is discriminated against on the grounds of age, social class, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
We are actively addressing issues of race and diversity in the curriculum and in all aspects of the course. We do not currently use equal opportunities data during the selection process and we do not currently subscribe to the Disability Confident Scheme (also known as "double tick"). However, we are actively considering how best to include contextual admissions values in our selection procedures, and although we don't yet have a formal position on this, we will update our website with any developments.
Please note: if you have given your consent, we may use equal opportunities data collected by the Clearing House during selection to inform future selection strategies.
Training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults. Throughout the selection process and the training programme we will take stringent measures to ensure that the clients that trainees work with are kept safe.
We operate our selection procedures in line with NHS Values Based Recruitment.
Our selection process is as follows:
Please note: The offer process at the University of Birmingham has several steps, and the final formal offer will be made by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team.
The process for international self-funding candidates follows the same steps as above but candidates are generally not expected to attend the University of Birmingham; written exercises are online and interviews are usually conducted over Zoom or Skype.
All trainees are required to sign a generic code of professional conduct and fitness to practise statement and undergo criminal record and other checks. Fitness to practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. Trainees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, in accordance with the University's policy on student conduct and discipline as well as the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct and HCPC Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students, at all times including during the selection process.
Written feedback is given on interview performance but unfortunately due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to provide feedback on applications.
Last year the course had 25 NHS funded places. Current trainees have a three-year training agreement with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and are required to adhere to their terms and conditions. Trainees have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. Details of the training agreement for the 2022 intake will be available when trainees are offered a place on the Course. There are no contractual obligations with the employing Trust after training.
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 all trainees commence on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.
Health Education England - Midlands & East will only fund those who meet the requirements to be considered as "Home" for fees purposes as per UKCISA regulations for Higher Education. Fees status is assessed by the University of Birmingham Admissions Team. Please contact them directly if you have a query about fees status.
We welcome self-funding applicants with overseas fees status outside this arrangement, who would support themselves financially through the course. If you wish to apply as an international applicant please contact Dr Liz Kent, lead for international selection.
The trainee’s time on the course is almost equally divided between academic work and clinical practice. Teaching consists of workshops, lectures and seminars provided in term-time across the three-year period. Clinical placements start in Week 8 of the first year and continue for three days a week. Time is scheduled for private study and project work throughout each year.
Currently, teaching in Years 1 and 2 is organised to link in with the requirements of placement including teaching in: Adult Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities, work with Older People, and other specialist areas such as Physical Health. At the same time academic sub-courses in all three years cover a broad range of topics in psychology, providing the knowledge base for clinical practice and training in clinical, professional, therapeutic and research skills.
In the first few weeks of the course trainees participate in intensive training workshops designed to provide them with basic skills prior to their first clinical placement. Amongst the topics covered are: communications skills and building rapport; formulation; the basics of behavioural, cognitive, systemic and psychodynamic models; working with people across the life-span; and working with people with disability. A range of topics are covered in the rest of the first year including: therapeutic skills (via enquiry-based learning); research methods in clinical practice; personal and professional issues (including self-care); and an introduction to specialist areas (e.g. neuropsychology and addictive behaviours).
By Year 2 trainees will have opted for a second therapeutic model (see below) that will influence placement choice. However, trainees attend all teaching in each model. The second year builds on the areas covered in the first year and also includes specialist teaching on: psychological therapies; neuropsychology; clinical health psychology; severe and enduring mental health issues; addictions; and advanced professional issues.
There are some compulsory workshops in Year 3 (e.g. forensic mental health, leadership & organisational issues, and supervision), but much of the teaching in this year consists of one-day specialist workshops that take place in collaboration with the Coventry & Warwick ClinPsyD course. Trainees select from a list of workshops covering a wide range of topics relevant to clinical psychology currently, including: CAT, working with third wave approaches cross culturally and for PTSD, working with asylum seekers. Teaching takes place in Birmingham and Warwick Universities.
A research project is initiated in the spring term of the first year and completed during May of the third year. We strongly recommend that trainees choose projects that link with the interests of the course team and/or local clinical psychologists. The choice of potential topics is wide and each trainee has an academic supervisor who is part of the ClinPsyD course team, and additional clinical and/or academic supervisor. Course staff have a diverse range of research interests that include the use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies in areas that span all ages and most specialties. Particular developments are currently taking place in qualitative methodologies (particularly IPA), meta-synthesis and meta-analysis.
Details relating to the management of clinical placements will be provided to successful applicants. Possession of a car or other means of transport is highly desirable as some placements are at a distance from the University of Birmingham. Please note: the course cannot advise trainees about where to live during training
Clinical placements are undertaken in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community settings and third sector organisations. All placements in Years 1 and 2, without exception, are carried out within Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country (which includes Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton). There is one 10-month foundation placement in the first year, during which trainees begin to acquire core competencies. This could be in any specialty (e.g. Adult, Child, Learning Disabilities, and Older People), but can also be in a forensic or health psychology setting.
In the second year there are two 5-month placements which are arranged according to competencies acquired in Year 1 and the strand of therapeutic model opted for (see below). In Year 3, trainees select two placements that may be carried out consecutively or in parallel. Again, these are based on learning needs, but at least one is likely to be in a specialist area chosen from the wide range of opportunities available across the placement territory of both the University of Birmingham and that of Coventry & Warwick.
All trainees will be required to demonstrate competence in CBT plus one other model through in vivo assessment. During spring of Year 1, trainees will be asked to choose their second model from Behavioural, Psychodynamic or Systemic and this will guide future placement allocation. Unfortunately, due to placement availability, we cannot always guarantee that trainees will be allocated their first choice of model.
The degree of ClinPsyD is awarded after three years on the basis of written assignments, clinical practice reports, ratings of clinical work for all placements and the research project. There are no formal written examinations. Instead we operate a system of continuous assessment designed to sample fully and equally both academic knowledge and clinical skills. At the end of the third year of the course there is a viva examination conducted by an external examiner and one internal examiner. All components must be passed separately. University regulations specify the rules for re-submitting failed components.
At the beginning of each clinical placement, supervisors and trainees agree on the goals to be achieved in relation to BPS core competencies. At the end of the placement the extent to which those goals have been achieved is reviewed and rated by the supervisor. Trainees must keep an ongoing record of the competencies they acquire on each placement. They also evaluate their experiences on placement. The clinical placement components of the course must be passed each year, separately from the academic components, in order to qualify for the award of the degree.
Each trainee has an appraisal tutor, who is a member of the course team, and who monitors progress and achievement of competencies and helps to integrate clinical and academic experience through the three years. An individual professional mentor (from outside the university) is also available for support if trainees would like one. Reflective practice groups are a compulsory part of the curriculum across the three years of training. There are up to nine trainees in each group and they are facilitated by practising clinical psychologists.
It is course policy to seek regular feedback from trainees on all aspects of the course. Such feedback plays an important part in shaping the course and there is trainee representation on all course committees.
The main organisation of the course is carried out by the members of the course team who are listed below (with their specialist areas); although many other research associates and honorary staff make a particular contribution to course organisation and teaching.
Gary Law BSc DClinPsychol - Programme Director (Child)
George Johnson BA (Hons) DClinPsy FHEA - Lead for Admissions (Child)
Ruth Howard MA (Hons) MPhil ClinPsyD AFBPsS - Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology (Clinical Health)
Chris Jones BA ClinPsyD - Research Director (Neuropsychology)
Michelle Fisher BSc MSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Director (Adult)
Gerry Riley BSc MSc PhD - Senior Lecturer - Lead for Assessment (Neuropsychology)
Elizabeth Kent BSc ClinPsyD - Academic Director & International Admissions Tutor (Systemic)
Teresa Madurai BSc ClinPsyD - Clinical Tutor (Child)
Andrew Fox BSc MRes PhD ClinPsyD - Lecturer (Adult)
Kate Woodcock BSc PhD PGCHET - Senior Lecturer (Neurodevelopmental disorders & interventions)
Andrew Surtees BSc PhD ClinPsyD - Lecturer (Child)
Darelle Villa BSc ClinPsyD - Lecturer
Stephanie Howarth BSc ClinPsyD - Lecturer (Older People)
Michelle Cullen - Course Administrator
Ann Begum - Curriculum & Assessment Administrator
In all, about 300 professionally qualified clinical psychologists are available to provide supervision of trainees on clinical placements. Most of these colleagues work within Birmingham and The Black Country in wide-ranging specialities and services. This highly skilled and diverse group also provides much of the academic teaching in specialist areas. Supervisors take part in regular workshops and meetings for the discussion of issues relating to supervision and are represented on course committees.