University of Exeter

Course Code: 09

Self-funded Course Code: 09 - X

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
University of Exeter
College of Life and Environmental Science
School of Psychology
Washington Singer Laboratories
Perry Road
University of Exeter DClin Handbook

Programme Director: Professor Ken Laidlaw
Admissions Lead: Dr Catherine Butler

An Open Day will be held for potential applicants to the University of Exeter course on
Friday 1 October 2021, 14:00 -16:00 BST
This event will be held remotely.
For more information about the event and to register your interest please visit our 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/trainee, or the relevant NHS Trust and the trainee.


Comment from a trainee:

"Training at Exeter has been a wonderful experience - it has given me the opportunity to cultivate knowledge and clinical skills to develop into an authentic practitioner. My practice has been enhanced through the opportunity to develop knowledge of different models and application of these to clinical work. The staff are supportive and flexible. They create a friendly environment in which they challenge and encourage me to meet professional goals."

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme is the founding programme within our suite of over 30 postgraduate clinical training programmes. Exeter has been training Clinical Psychologists for over 40 years, and graduates have been influential in developing new approaches to the delivery of psychological treatments and innovations in practice in the UK and worldwide. With its long history in the region, the course has strong links with local NHS Trusts and third sector services for clinical placements, research supervision and teaching on the course. In addition, we are fortunate to have an active group of people with lived experiences of mental health who contribute to the delivery and shaping for the programme; as well as opportunities for trainees to join us in programme development through committee membership and teaching feedback. We value diversity and inclusion across the programme and in our staff and trainees (both home and international), and we encourage applications from trainees from a wide range of diverse backgrounds.

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme is developing closer integration within the research intensive Psychology Department at the University after having been a strong partner within CEDAR (Clinical Education, Development and Research) which runs a portfolio of postgraduate clinical qualifying programmes training the next generation of clinical researchers and practitioners. The DClinPsy programme is fortunate to be supported by a number of major research groups including SMARTLab and the Mood Disorders Centre, both advancing the understanding and treatment of mood disorders, as well as the Centre for Adolescent and Adult Neuropsychology Research (CAN/CCNR). The Sir Henry Wellcome Building provides a research clinic, a specialist bio-behavioural laboratory, and excellent teaching and conference facilities, which are used by the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme. These strong links provide exciting opportunities for trainees to develop innovative research projects with our team and wider psychology department.

The Streatham Campus, the University’s largest site in Exeter, is built around a country estate overlooking the city and is readily acknowledged as one of the most beautiful in the country. A Registered Botanic Garden, Streatham Campus is described by The Times as the "best-gardened campus in Britain" and by The Independent as having a "sublime" setting. The grounds feature many exotic trees and shrubs and with stunning views across the city to the sea at Exmouth. Many students say they simply fell in love with the campus when they came to visit – its lakes, parkland, woodland and gardens make it a very special place that offers a safe and enjoyable environment for study. All the teaching buildings, together with the sports park, the library, the shops, restaurants, cafés and bars are within walking distance of each other. For more information about the facilities on Streatham campus please see our website.

All of this with placement provision across Somerset, Devon and Dorset providing access to a variety of cities, towns and both rural and coastal areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Why Choose Exeter?

  • Over 40 years' experience in providing clinical psychology training.
  • Commitment to promoting inclusivity and challenging inequalities in all aspects of the programme.
  • Emphasis on adult lifelong learning exemplified in our problem-based learning approach.
  • Strong commitment to evidence-based practice with an offer of three major approaches (CBT, Cognitive Analytic Therapy and Systemic) to accreditable standards:
    • Enhanced eligibility for BABCP (CBT) accreditation;
    • Foundation level Systemic accreditation;
    • Opportunity to work towards Foundation level CAT accreditation (optional).
  • Innovative leadership and reflective organisational practice teaching that develops resilience and the skills of trainees to be effective influencers within the rapidly changing NHS context.
  • Expertise in clinical neuropsychology and mood disorders.
  • Strong Lived Experience of mental health issues programme and teaching input.
  • Excellent range of research opportunities.
  • The course is situated on a beautiful campus with state of the art facilities for study and leisure, in the South West of England which is an area of natural beauty with fantastic recreational opportunities.

Commendation from BPS accreditation visit, 2015:

"The trainees appear to flourish as a consequence of the stimulating and progressive educational environment and the physical resources are impressive.... There is a dedicated and approachable staff team who are highly responsive to trainee and supervisor needs. There is clear evidence that the programme is well regarded by all stakeholders."

Entry Requirements

We are looking for trainees ready to be transformed by their learning, with an existing commitment to inclusion, reflection and developing high levels of competence in research, clinical work, academic assignments and socio-cultural competence. 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.

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)

Applicants must have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS) when they apply to the programme and a BPS recognised undergraduate honours degree at 2:1 level. Only those candidates who have GBC will be considered. If you are an Open University graduate and are awaiting confirmation of your GBC status at the time of application, please contact the Programme Administrator to discuss this further.

Applicants who obtained a 2:2 honours degree in a BPS recognised undergraduate degree are eligible to apply but must have successfully completed a postgraduate training - either at Masters, DPhil or PhD level. The PG training should be classified as a research masters degree (and the research component would normally be at least 50% of the course) or classified as a taught Masters degree including a supervised clinical practice component (which would normally be at least 50% of the course.)

Clinical Experience

Applicants will be selected based on how they are able to make use of their relevant clinical experience. Relevant clinical experience can be split across posts and may include voluntary work. Whilst successful candidates are usually selected based on a minimum of one year of clinical experience of working with people with psychological needs, ideally supervised by a clinical psychologist, the quality of experience and the way in which applicants have applied this knowledge will also be considered as part of our selection process. Paid work as a psychology assistant (AP), Clinical Associate in Psychology (CAP) or IAPT therapist/wellbeing practitioner is particularly valuable, however, voluntary work as an AP, Healthcare Assistant, or Support Worker also provide valuable experience. (Short part-time volunteer work or short placements during a first degree are normally insufficient on their own.) Experience can be gained in any type of environment, whether within the NHS or other health or social care settings. The purpose of experience is to help applicants develop the competencies needed for training such as resilience to working with psychological distress, a commitment to reflective practice and to gain a realistic sense of the clients with whom clinical psychologists work, and of the profession and its working practices.

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, particularly when these are in statutory settings.

Driving licence

Clinical placements linked to the DClinPsy at Exeter University often require a reasonable amount of travel in such a wide and rural geographical area as the South West of England. A current driving licence and access to your own vehicle is highly desirable. For non-drivers, travel on public transport will be expected but this may be challenging given the rural nature of the South West. Adjustments to placement location for disability can be made.


All applicants must have one academic referee and one clinical experience referee. Academic referees should be a suitably qualified professional, be able to comment on an applicant's academic ability, and preferably have direct experience of the applicant's academic work or research experience. The clinical experience referee should be able to demonstrate the applicant's suitability for training as a clinical psychologist. Ideally this reference would be from a clinical psychologist and recent employer. Please note that it is not usually acceptable to have both references provided by academics or both by clinicians. If you intend to have both references provided by academics or clinicians, you will be expected to justify this in your application (in the Personal Statements section).

The Programme encourages applicants to carefully consider their referees as to their suitability to provide the information requested in the Clearing House reference forms.

Residence Requirements

For NHS places at Exeter, the commissioning body (Health Education England) has residence requirements that all applicants need to meet to be considered. We require applicants to have home fees status and meet residence requirements based on the NHS Bursary Scheme.

For international self-funded places applicants must have overseas fees status.

For further information about both NHS places and self-funded places please see the Funding section below.

English Language Requirements

The English language ability requirement for entry to the programme is a score of at least 7.0 with no elements below 6.5 on International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet Based Test (IBT) with a minimum score of 100/120 (Health & Care Professions Council Standard of Proficiency). If English is not your first language, and your degree was not taught and examined in English, we require you to provide evidence that you meet the HCPC standard.

Applicants who have completed a full degree in the UK or in a majority English-speaking country are not required to submit evidence of English language proficiency if you have:

  • Completed it no more than two years before the intended start of the programme.
  • The degree certificate is successfully verified with the issuing body on receipt. Any applicant found to have submitted a fraudulent score will have their application withdrawn.

Canadian nationals are exempt from English language requirements but non-Canadian nationals who have studied in Canada are required to meet standard English language requirements due to Home Office policy.

Selection Procedure

Commendation from BPS accreditation visit, 2015:

"The Lived Experience Group is an integral part of the training provision and is very creative and innovative in its approaches, particularly with regard to trainee selection. The group clearly enhances the programme and trainee experience in a meaningful way."

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 Programme seeks to select trainees who have the capacity to complete a highly demanding professional doctorate level training programme. In line with this and an evidence-based approach, candidates for the programme are selected based on the Competency Model, a model developed following a job analysis of the trainee clinical psychology role (Baron & O'Reilly, 2012). The model specifies ten competencies that underpin successful trainee clinical psychologists. These are: intellectual ability and academic rigour; communication skills; self-awareness and openness to learning; personal maturity; warmth and empathy; resilience; organisation; autonomy and initiative; motivation and application; and contextual awareness. This final competency includes an awareness of issues of inequality and discrimination and a commitment to inclusion and fighting injustice.

Our hope is that an Exeter trainee will maintain and advance the standards of the Profession while providing excellent service to clients, carers and colleagues within the NHS and other health and social care settings. We therefore want to attract and select trainees who have the required competencies, as well as being able to demonstrate that their values and behaviours align with the values of the NHS Constitution.

Selection Process

As we are keen to have selection procedures that are informed by current thinking on inequalities, we have active involvement in the selection process from people who have experience of services as well as team members and clinical psychologists from the region, all of whom help ensure that we run a fair process and select the strongest candidates. Our commitment in this area includes having at least one member on every interview panel from an ethnic minority.

We are proactive about supporting people with disabilities. If you need support during any stage of the selection process, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will work with you to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that you are given a fair opportunity to show your potential.

At Exeter we value equality and inclusivity, and we encourage applications from those with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. We understand the benefits of our profession being representative of the communities which it serves and are committed to continually improving the diversity and inclusion of all trainees on our course. For example, a recent review of our selection processes highlighted how much weight was placed on education attainment and employment/voluntary experiences. We are aware that not all individuals have these opportunities, and that there is growing evidence that social economic status can have a strong impact on educational attainment. For reasons such as this, tests of general mental ability are increasingly used in occupational selection tasks as there is substantial evidence to indicate they can predict performance on both professional training programmes and complex job roles once qualified; and are less influenced by socio-economic circumstances. We have therefore chosen to include a test of general mental ability as part of our selection process as a step towards broadening inclusivity. We believe an online test of mental ability will allow all applicants, regardless of background, the opportunity to demonstrate their potential to become a clinical psychologist.

Test of General Mental Ability

We invite all applicants who meet our minimum entry criteria to complete a Test of General Mental Ability. This consists of two tests that assess verbal and deductive reasoning skills. Many DClin programmes are using these tests for short-listing. If you have applied to more than one of these programmes, you will only need to do the tests once. For more information about the tests please visit the SHL website (the company that administers the tests). The top 40% of candidates will then be put forward for short-listing.


Each short-listing panel will comprise of programme staff and practising regional clinical psychologists, and will consider the information on the candidate's application. We anticipate a significant proportion of those who go through short-listing will be offered an interview or placed on the reserve list.


Candidates will be required to take part in one interview (evaluating research and clinical experience) and a group task co-produced by the programme and the lived experience group. We intend the time you spend with us to be respectful, constructive and supportive, and all candidates will be given a clear brief about what to expect when they are invited for interview. All selection tasks are designed to give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate the required competencies and values required for entry into the programme.

Fitness to practise

Fitness to practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council.

All offers of a place on a course are dependent on satisfactory criminal record and health checks.

Training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults.  Safeguarding is therefore taken very seriously and the highest standards of behaviour are expected from clinical psychology trainees.  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.

Candidates enrolled on Masters and PhDs

Please note that the University will not usually allow you to enrol onto a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology if you are currently enrolled on any other degree e.g. a PhD or Masters' programme; this includes any outstanding requirements such as a viva examination or any associated corrections. If you have any incomplete assessment/reassessment or other criteria from another programme, it may not be possible for us to offer you a place on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology or you may be required to provide proof that you have withdrawn from your incomplete programme.

Offer of an interview to those completing a PhD will be conditional upon submission of the PhD for viva by the time of interview in April 2022. Any offers made to applicants currently studying for a PhD will ordinarily be conditional upon the applicant passing their viva with at most minor modifications (three months) before the acceptance deadline in June. Applicants should take account of this early in their planning given delays in organising vivas.

Equal Opportunities

The benefits of diversity within the profession are well understood, and the Programme is committed to proactively enhancing equity, diversity and inclusivity both within the training community and the wider profession. We welcome applicants from diverse cultural and personal contexts, mature applicants with extensive life experience, and applicants with disabilities. Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, disability, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief. The selection procedures are designed to be fair, and informed by current thinking on broadening access, thereby enabling the Exeter programme to select the strongest candidates.

Widening Access to Participation

Our programme is developing a contextual recruitment processes and will be auditing this data and piloting how this data is used in our selection process. This is based on evidence that contextualising individuals' achievements using additional information about their educational, social and economic background can lead to fairer and more inclusive selection processes. This information could help us to recognise individuals with strong potential for success at doctoral level and within the profession, who otherwise might not have been identified.

The Clearing House will circulate a survey to collect Contextual Admissions data separately from the application form. The Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology have agreed the questions in this survey, which have evidence for improving the inclusivity and equity of recruitment processes. Completion of this survey is optional, however if you are able to answer any of the questions which provide some additional background about you, and you are happy to provide this to us via the Clearing House, then we would encourage you to do so.


Due to the high numbers of applicants, the Programme does not give feedback to applicants who are not interviewed. Feedback on interview performance will be available on request after the selection process has been completed.


NHS Places

Exeter expects to recruit for 19 NHS training places in 2022.

Current NHS 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 NHS trainees commenced on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Eligible trainees can claim travel and accommodation expenses related to teaching and placements University fees are paid directly to the University by HEE.

Please also see the Trainee Clinical Psychologist Person Specification available on our website.

International Students

Comments from International trainees:

"Every day, I learn new things. It is truly an amazing journey and I'm glad that I chose the University of Exeter."

"It's been a great journey. The professors have always made time for me and supported me in my transition. It was slightly challenging initially moving to Exeter and because this was my first time in the UK... I'm glad I chose Exeter, not only because of the enriching teaching and placement experience but also because it strives to provide a supportive base for all their students."

Applications should be made via the Clearing House using Course Code 09 - X

We opened the DClinPsy to International candidates in 2018 and we offer you a supportive, respectful and encouraging learning environment. We are very excited to note that we have a growing cohort of international DClinPsy trainees on our Programme. The Programme at Exeter provides you with access to an excellent range of high quality training placements while Devon, Somerset and Dorset offer an excellent quality of life. We welcome applications from international candidates for September 2022 entry, and we currently have a small number of places on the DClinPsy for self-funding applicants who can secure financial support throughout the duration of training on the Programme. Such applicants must meet our entry criteria (see above) and also have overseas fees status. For further information on applying as an international candidate please see our website as details regarding essential entry criteria for international students are given there.

For applicants with international qualifications, a copy of an appropriate transcript of all relevant qualifications (along with an official translation into English where appropriate) must be included with the application.

The offer of a place on the training programme is subject to the applicant gaining a successful police check from all relevant residences and an Occupational Health clearance prior to arrival in the UK. A successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required on arrival in the UK. Failure to do so will lead to Exeter withdrawing their sponsorship and the applicant will be required to return to their native country.

Degree qualifications awarded outside the UK are assessed by the BPS for eligibility for GBC. Usually GBC is conferred when an individual has completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology, or a postgraduate degree which includes a substantive period of study in Psychology. If your qualifications are from outside the UK, you must apply for membership of the BPS and they will check your qualifications as part of the application process.

Structure and Content

The programme is registered at Post Graduate Research (PGR) level and all modules of the programme are research informed.

Exeter University is the main academic base with locality (placement) bases in Somerset, Devon and Dorset.

Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

There is no provision in the Exeter degree regulations for Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning. The Programme is full-time for three years and attendance at all programme components is mandatory over that time, including the induction period. The length of the Programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience: all trainees are required to complete the full programme of training to qualify.

Clinical component

The clinical component focuses on supervised practice using research and evidence-led approaches to delivering psychological science and practice in healthcare. In Year 1 placements are usually within child and young people's services and services for people with a disability or related fields. In Year 2 placements are usually with adults across the life-span. In common with many programmes, we are moving away from "core" specialist placements in the first two years towards a model of competency-based placement experience allowing greater flexibility in placement settings and access to wider experiences so successful applicants may expect enhanced variety in placement experience. The third year is more varied again and is crafted around the trainees learning needs and specialisation choices. Trainees have an opportunity to engage in a service-led research project, whilst on placement and engage with research literature (including a critical evaluation of this) to inform their clinical practice. Trainees in the 2022 intake will be allocated a placement base within Somerset, Devon or Dorset which they are recommended to make their residential base for the duration of the programme for reasons of travel.

Commendation from BPS accreditation visit, 2015:

"Sophisticated process of placement allocation that appears to take in to account the experience and learning needs of trainees across all three years."

Academic component

The academic component focuses on teaching on reflexive psychological science/practice in healthcare, with assessments on critical appraisal of research evidence, application of research evidence to clinical practice, with an emphasis on theory-practice links and reflexive-practice, and developing implementation science skills. Learning at Exeter is facilitated through lectures, self-directed study and problem-based learning. Teaching is delivered by the programme team, local clinicians and national leaders in their field, collaborating with people with Lived Experience wherever possible. Over the three years trainees are assessed through clinical practice reports, problem-based learning presentation, written assignments and an essay.

In the first year trainees have teaching in the areas of Learning Disabilities and Child Psychology, in line with placements, moving to Adult and Older Adult teaching in Year 2. In addition, there are various "streams" of teaching that run throughout all three years, including clinical skills, therapeutic modalities (CBT, CAT, Systemic), Reflexive Organisational Practice, Research, Neuropsychology and Health. As well as learning through lectures and workshops, trainees learn through the adult learning model of Problem-Based Learning, and self-directed study packs. In the third year, based on trainee feedback, teaching stops so that trainees can focus on completing their research portfolio. We are currently engaged in a project to review our curriculum through the lens of inclusion and racial equity.

Commendation from BPS accreditation visit, 2015:

  • "The underpinning ethos of the programme is clearly articulated and the strong emphasis on ethical practice is evident and highly regarded."
  • "The programme has long standing expertise in the use of problem-based learning and this approach is highly valued by trainees as a stimulating learning tool."
  • "The range of learning across psychological models is broad and allows the trainees to exercise some degree of choice in developing their specialist skills."

Research module

Through the research module trainees will be encouraged to become independent research practitioners and critical consumers of clinically relevant research. The research module assumes a good understanding of undergraduate-level statistics and research methods, and encourages trainees to develop their critical and analytic skills, strengthening their understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, using the MRC Complex Interventions Framework. In Year 1, alongside PhD students, the trainee starts a service-related research project, which is co-supervised by a clinical supervisor and an internal research supervisor (research tutor). Work on the DClinPsy thesis also begins at the start of the programme, with trainees being assigned a research supervisor in their field of research interest by the middle of the first year. Research supervisors are normally at least senior lecturer grade and have an active research programme of their own. The trainee works closely with their research supervisor to create a theory-driven research thesis. Formal regular research supervision is provided throughout, and all contact events are recorded on a student record’s system named MyPGR. The trainee submits a research proposal for assessment (both written and oral assessment) at the beginning of Year 2. In Year 3, the trainee submits a research thesis (comprising a structured literature review and empirical paper) for examination by viva (with an internal and expert external examiner). Research, is therefore, an integral part of the programme and runs throughout the three years of training.

A generous allocation of study time is given to trainees to complete assignments and pursue their thesis.


We take the health and welfare of trainees very seriously and there are a number of support systems and structures in place. Trainees meet regularly on an individual basis with an appraiser who provides an overview of academic, research, and clinical development. A clinical tutor provides support for all matters to do with placements and supervision, and an academic tutor provides support around assessments.

Research thesis supervisors are allocated in Year 1 and work with the trainee until the thesis is passed. In addition, research tutors and research stream leads provide additional research support throughout the three years of study. Trainees are connected to a mentor external to the course for additional independent support.

Buddy System

Trainees are encouraged to develop "buddy" relationships with second and third year trainees. There are also reflective group experiences that run for the duration of the programme, and which reflect the main therapeutic modalities taught on the programme.

Trainees from the earlier cohort will welcome trainees before they arrive and act as "buddies" to help new trainees settle in. This will be particularly important for trainees who move to the region from elsewhere and who may want advice about travelling and places to live.

All trainees can also access the Wellbeing service at the University of Exeter which offers a wide range of wellbeing and disability support.

Mentorship for ethnic minority and international trainees

Amplify Trainee Mentoring scheme is a South-West initiative, inspired by the Valued Voices Mentoring scheme for aspiring clinical psychologists from Black, Asian, Mixed and MENA backgrounds in London. Amplify Trainee Mentoring Scheme aims to offer professional and personal developmental support for ethnic minority and international clinical psychology trainees who are on DClin courses in the South West of England and South of Wales. Amplify offers the opportunity for ethnic minority trainees to have an advocated and safe containing space that enables them to navigate their development and self-discovery that does not result in further exclusion due to their cultural, ethnic, and/or racial identity.

Mentees will gain regular 1:1 or group mentoring from a peer/trainee and a qualified clinical psychologist. Mentees from the Exeter DClin courses will meet six times across the year to engage in a group reflective space, which will be facilitated by two qualified clinical psychologists. Once a year, mentees from the other courses will meet to form networks and share reflections on their experiences of being on training.


Senior Management Team on the DClinPsy

Programme Director - Professor Ken Laidlaw
Deputy Programme Director & Clinical Practice Director - Associate Professor Rachel Handley
Academic Director & Selection Lead - Dr Catherine Butler, Senior Lecturer
Research Lead - Dr Cordet Smart, Senior Lecturer
PGR Support Officer - Dr Magdalena Katomeri

The wider programme team have a wide range of clinical experience and research interest and details can be found on our website along with details on CEDAR and MDC.