University of Liverpool

Course Code: 16

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
University of Liverpool
Ground Floor, Whelan Building
Brownlow Hill
L69 3GB

0151 794 5530/5534/5877

Programme Director: Dr Laura Golding
Admissions Tutor: Dr Gundi Kiemle
Programme Co-ordinator: Mrs Susan Knight

An Open Day will be held at the University of Liverpool for potential applicants to the Liverpool course on
Friday 20 October 2017 - 1.30-4.30pm
You can register your interest in attending the Open Day by emailing


Programme Location and Organisation

The programme leads to the award of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, conferring eligibility to apply for registration as a Clinical Psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and for Chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). We are based in the University's Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, with programme administration through the Faculty's Institute of Life and Human Sciences. The Programme is housed in a modernised and refurbished late-Victorian building: accommodation consists of teaching rooms; offices for academic, clinical and administrative staff; and clinical interview rooms. Teaching rooms, based both here and in adjoining buildings, include computer terminals to provide trainees access to the University's IT system, numerous database facilities, software packages, and the internet. There is a range of other computer facilities linked to the University's computer network.

The University of Liverpool has two main libraries: the Sydney Jones Library (mainly for arts and social sciences) and the Harold Cohen Library, which holds the science, engineering, medical and related subject collections. A specialist subject librarian provides support for trainees on the D.Clin.Psych. programme.

The Department of Psychological Sciences was founded in 2013 to bring together all existing psychological, psychiatric and other behavioural disciplines within the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society. The Department has approximately 200 members of staff, which includes Chairs, academic staff and research staff comprising clinical, applied and experimental researchers conducting funded research in eight research groups, including: Addiction; Appetite and Obesity; Forensic and Investigative; Psychology of Healthcare; Language Development; Mental Health in Context; Perinatal, Infant and Child Mental Health; Perception (including Pain Research).

Academic, clinical and research staff on the D.Clin.Psych. programme have additional areas of research interest and activity, and all programme staff supervise clinical psychology trainees on their major research project.

Trainees are registered postgraduate research students PG(R) in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. All members of staff are committed to ensuring that theory and practice elements are fully integrated within a programme structure responsive to both academic and service developments. There is a Programme Training Committee consisting of representatives of appropriate bodies, with three sub-groups responsible for the clinical, academic, and research activities within the programme. Trainees and service users or carers are represented on all management groups.

A large number of NHS clinical psychologists in Merseyside and across the North-West region contribute to the delivery of the programme in some form - through direct teaching, clinical placement supervision, marking and feedback, research supervision, mentoring, or participation in intake/selection processes. Many have honorary university contracts in recognition of these contributions. There are links with many Special Interest Groups/regional DCP faculties and other post-qualification activities throughout the North West. Communication with these various sources of support is maintained through a number of channels, including committees, working groups, training events, seminars and the programme newsletter.

Training Objectives and Orientation

The essential aims of the programme are to equip trainees with a theoretical understanding of a wide range of clinical problems, models and approaches; together with essential clinical competencies and a variety of practical experiences as required by a Band 7 clinical psychologist, a junior lecturer in clinical psychology, or a clinical psychology research associate. There is also a focus on the professional aspects of the clinical psychologist's role, and on the acquisition of research and communication skills.

We consider an overall strength of clinical psychology as a profession to be its diversity reflected in the varied backgrounds, experiences, capacities and achievements of its members. We are therefore pleased to recruit people who have come to the profession through different routes, and throughout the programme we aim to foster the individual personal and professional qualities that shape each practitioner's future role in the profession. The Liverpool programme has a long history of valuing and incorporating a wide range of theoretical and clinical approaches, and encourages trainees to explore how these can be integrated effectively to meet the needs and choices of clients, who are themselves unique and diverse.

The overriding theme is the application of theoretical concepts to clinical problems on an evidential basis, within a problem-solving, reflective approach. In accordance with the BPS accreditation standards, the specific therapeutic competencies identified by the programme are Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), Systemic Therapy, and Neuropsychological Competencies. In addition to CBT, clinical teaching on other therapeutic approaches is also provided, which includes psychodynamic psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), narrative therapy (NT), and mindfulness. A strong emphasis is placed on the collaborative development of clinical case formulations, which are capable of informing subsequent interventions. Concern for empirically demonstrated effectiveness is emphasised alongside a broad conceptualisation of what constitutes evidence, and an appreciation of the complexity of understanding individuals' difficulties, together with their aspirations and achievements.

Programme Values

The programme is delivered within a strong values base that promotes a person-centred approach, defends service user and carers' human rights, and emphasises the development of autonomy. The programme's values are entirely consistent with those enshrined in the NHS Constitution.

The "Liverpool Experts by Experience" (LExE) group is a strategic stakeholder group, acting as a "critical friend" to the Liverpool programme. The group aims to provide a framework for experts by experience (EbE) involvement across all aspects of programme delivery, including selection, teaching, clinical training, and research. The group, launched in 2014, supports networks between service users, carers and professionals, acknowledging that psychological distress and mental health issues have the potential to impact on everyone.

Entry Requirements

The Liverpool programme places emphasis on relevant practical experience which applicants are able to relate to psychological approaches and theory. This may be gained in a range of settings where psychological principles are applicable, including supervised work as an assistant in a psychological therapies service, or in a post within a related (mental or physical health) service context. Supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist substantially enhances the value of such experience. Similarly, experience as a postgraduate research student or work as a paid research assistant on a clinically-relevant research project would be well-regarded, although it is preferable if this has entailed a reasonable amount of direct contact with service users and/or carers. An equivalent of one year whole-time paid experience in suitable (preferably NHS) settings is considered a minimum requirement at the time of application. However, due to the high level of competition for a limited number of places, candidates are unlikely to be short-listed for interview if their application only evidences the minimum requirements.

Candidates are generally expected to have at least a 2:1 honours degree in psychology or an equivalent combined honours degree, where psychology accounts for more than 50% of the programme content and examinations. However in practice, candidates who do not have a high 2:1 and further relevant postgraduate degrees and/or research experience, are unlikely to be successful in their application.

All applicants must be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society.

In considering applications, short-listers and selection panels attach significance to the following:

  • Academic ability, typically as reflected by "A" levels and the class of undergraduate degree obtained, and other academic achievements (such as completion of a postgraduate Masters or PhD, paid research experience and peer-reviewed publications). A critical understanding of psychological theory and an enthusiasm for applying it to practical problems must be evident.
  • Evidence of what has been gained from relevant work experience in general. The emphasis is on the depth, breadth and quality of experience, and on what the applicant has learned from it about the utilisation of psychological concepts and approaches and about him/herself as a (developing) practitioner. A period of full-time employment in a relevant setting will be regarded more highly than vacation or voluntary work.
  • Well-developed interpersonal functioning and communication skills; sensitivity to, and respect for, the needs and rights of service users and carers, colleagues and research participants; and a value base consistent with principles of equality, diversity and other values highlighted in the NHS Constitution. Referees' comments will be especially critical to judgments in this area.

Trainees spend 50% of the programme gaining supervised clinical experience on placements across the North-West of England. Several local NHS Trusts support the programme by providing these placements, many of which are in Merseyside, but also include Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria. Trainees need to be aware that in applying for the programme, they have agreed that they will have to travel required distances from their home to the locations specified above. Travel within placements will also be expected. It is necessary that all applicants must possess a full and valid driving licence that entitles then to drive in the UK, and have regular access to their own transport (own car or equivalent motorised vehicle) to enable them to fulfil the requirements of placements (subject to reasonable adjustments for disability). If offered an interview, candidates will be required to bring their photocard driving licence on the day, which will also be used as documented photographic proof of identity. Candidates without a photocard licence must bring their paper driving licence and current valid passport.

If English is not an applicant's first language and their university qualifications were not taught and examined in English, they will need to provide evidence that they have an adequate level of English language ability. This should be a TOEFL or IELTS test if possible, and a copy should be submitted with their application. The minimum scores needed are: 100 for internet-based TOEFL, 600 for paper-based TOEFL or 7.0 for IELTS with no element below 6.5.

It is vital that all applicants who are currently registered for higher degrees such as an MSc, MPhil or PhD (or equivalent) are confident that they will have submitted any outstanding dissertation work in advance of the date of commencement on clinical training. Regulations will not permit any student to be double registered for another higher degree whilst studying towards the D.Clin.Psych. Applicants need to ensure that they have submitted their thesis in advance of the start of the training programme in September 2018.

Selection Procedure

First, there is an initial screening of applications in order to exclude candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements (eg candidate does not have GBC, or minimum work experience, and is not a UK/EU/EEA applicant). The second short-listing stage is then conducted by programme staff who rate applications according to pre-determined criteria for academic achievement, relevant work experience, interpersonal qualities, and quality of references. Applications scoring above a certain cut-off then go through to the third stage, in which local NHS clinical psychologists and service users and carers involved in the D.Clin.Psych. programme, short-list according to the same pre-determined criteria, to produce a list of applicants for interview and a reserve list for interview. Candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage are informed with general feedback. Please note that due to the high volume of applications, it is not possible to offer individualised feedback to applicants who are not selected for interview.

Those successful applicants invited for interview are seen by two panels. For the first panel, they are asked to make a short presentation involving a research design task, which they will have prepared in a timed preparation session immediately beforehand. Additional academic and research questions will also be asked. The second panel involves questions and materials designed to explore candidates' clinical and professional knowledge and experience, and assess interpersonal skills. All panels include service users or carers. Ratings are then produced which are converted to standard scores and, in combination with short-listing scores, are used as the basis for offering places. In practice, this procedure has resulted in applicants with a range of experiences and qualities being offered places. All procedures are conducted within the framework provided by the University's and NHS Equal Opportunities policies. The selection procedure is carefully reviewed on an annual basis.

All offers of a place on a course are dependent on satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service and occupational health checks.

On completion of the selection process, those candidates who attended for interview but were unsuccessful in securing a place at Liverpool or elsewhere, are offered the opportunity for telephone feedback concerning their performance with the two interview panels. The feedback will be provided by a member of the programme team who will have interviewed the candidate.


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

The programme is currently funded through a contract with Health Education England (North West) - (HEE-NW). Current trainees are full-time employees of Mersey Care NHS Trust and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme, all trainees are currently paid on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Currently, travelling expenses are paid for travel to placement, University fees are paid directly by the NHS, and trainees have an allocation of £200 per year for attendance at conferences and for the purchase of books.

Applicants should have home (UK/EU) fees status (if you are unsure of your fees status, please follow the link to check). The programme is only able to accept applications from individuals who are current citizens of the UK, EU Member States, or European Economic Area (EEA) States. Non-EEA applicants are not usually considered because the NHS does not employ anyone as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist who does not have the right to work in the UK. We are not qualified to advise you on whether or not you have the right to work in the UK.

Structure and Content

Academic Curriculum

The academic content of the programme is organised within a series of teaching units which provide detailed coverage of the theoretical and research bases of clinical psychology. Programme teaching units can be grouped into five sets as follows:

  1. Professional issues including ethics and social and contextual factors affecting clinical, professional and service-related work.
  2. Models of individual distress; behaviour, cognition and emotion in therapy; cognitive-analytic and psychodynamic therapy; family and systems therapies, and third-wave therapies.
  3. Clinical assessment methods, including clinical interviewing, psychometrics, observational approaches, idiographic and qualitative assessments, and theoretically diverse approaches to clinical formulation.
  4. Teaching units covering the principal areas of application related to service placements and specialisms, including: adult mental health; child and adolescent clinical psychology; learning disabilities; clinical psychology of older adults.
  5. Other areas of application including clinical neuropsychology; psychopharmacology; clinical psychology of addictions; health psychology; human sexuality; and forensic clinical psychology.

Concurrent with these teaching units and running throughout the three years of the programme, there is a clinical skills development unit, which includes inter-related components of teaching and practice sessions on clinical interviewing skills; and case presentation sessions by trainees working in small groups. A third set of curricular activities, running throughout the three years, focuses on personal and professional development of trainees. This comprises a number of seminars and workshops, providing opportunities for trainees to reflect on various aspects of the interface between their personal and professional lives.

Each trainee is allocated an Academic Advisor from amongst the staff team, who will support their learning and development for the duration of their training. The trainee-centred annual review process provides a further opportunity for reflection on general progress and personal achievement across all aspects of the training programme.

The programme begins with an introductory academic block of five weeks' duration, designed to equip trainees with the basic skills necessary for their first placement experience. Academic teaching continues on two days a week during the university terms of the first year, reducing to one day in the second and third years. Terms are approximately ten weeks long. At the beginning of each six-month placement, there will be a two-week teaching block, during which experience on the preceding placement will be reviewed, and preparatory work, including coverage of relevant teaching areas, undertaken for the forthcoming placement.

Clinical Experience

In accordance with the regional arrangements described earlier, there are six clinical placements in the programme. The sequence of placements for trainees usually follows the order shown in the following table, although there may be occasional changes to this for a small number of trainees.

Sequence of Placements
Year 1
Older Adult or Neuropsychology or Physical Health
Year 2
Learning Disabilities
Child/Adolescent and Family
Year 3 Specialist 1
Specialist 2

NHS clinical psychology services in the North West region offer a particularly rich variety of specialist placements, and trainees are encouraged to gain experience within the various specialised facilities on Merseyside such as Ashworth High Secure Hospital, or the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, as well as the expertise of individual practitioners in other areas including family therapy, consultation, adult mental health complex cases, paediatric liaison, brain injury rehabilitation, spinal injury, early intervention for psychosis, and eating disorders. Trainees have the option to undertake two 6-month or one 12-month elective placement in Year 3.


The Research Training Curriculum in Year 1 introduces trainees to a range of methods and issues arising in the conduct of clinical research. There is in-depth coverage of research design; both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis; guidance on the use of statistics; the process of planning research projects; and on preparing ethical applications.

In Year 2 the Research Training Curriculum aims to develop research skills and knowledge in conducting literature reviews; critiquing research; and understanding recruitment and ethical issues in the conduct of clinical research applications.

In Year 3 the Research Training Curriculum supports the ongoing development of research knowledge and critical appraisal skills; the development of appropriate skills to effectively disseminate research in various contexts (eg publications, reports, conference presentations). Throughout the three years of research training, several specialist workshops and seminars are regularly offered in response to the expressed needs of the trainees, and to further support the development of research skills, knowledge and competencies.

Trainees undertake a major research dissertation and this work commences in Year 1. A full research proposal is submitted in Year 1. Each trainee proposal is independently reviewed and must be approved by the programme's Research Review Committee and by the appropriate NHS or University ethical committee. In Year 2, the trainees commence work on their ethics application and literature review. The completed dissertation is submitted in Year 3 and this is followed by a viva voce examination. In Year 3, trainees showcase their research at an Annual Research Conference.


In Year 1, one 5,000-word case-based clinical formulation assignment is submitted in the second term, with a further 5,000 word teaching / clinical consolidation assignment at the start of the third term of the second year. Trainees are also required to submit one 5,000-word professional issues assignment on a topic of their choice in the third term of their third year.

In addition, all trainees are required to submit a CBT-CCRI which must include a video of a session with a client, and a linked 3,000 word essay. Trainees are also required to submit two 5,000-word Clinical Case Research Investigations (CCRI) linked to two different core placements (and possibly their chosen "plus one" competencies) in the first and second year; these can be based on intervention/ therapy, extended assessment, or consultation-based case work. Finally, all trainees must submit a 5,000 word Clinical Service Related Investigation (CSRI), constituting an ethically-approved, small-scale piece of service-related research.

The current (2017-18) assessment programme includes one three-hour written exam in July of Year 1 and in July of Year 2. From 2018 onwards, it is intended that both exams will be replaced by additional coursework involving individual and group work (approval pending). For further information, applicants are advised to contact the Liverpool programme directly.

A marked assignment that has failed can be re-submitted, and a failed exam can be re-taken, on one occasion. Failing the same assignment or exam twice constitutes programme failure, unless there are exceptional circumstances and the trainee has extenuating circumstances which are upheld. All assessed work is double-marked by internal programme staff and external NHS-based practitioners, and a robust system of moderation is in place to ensure consistency in the quality of marking and feedback.

The research dissertation must be submitted in the third term of the third year, for examination by one internal examiner and by one of the programme's External Examiners in a viva voce examination at the end of the third year. Failure to do so will delay successful completion of the programme, award of the academic degree and professional qualification, and HCPC registration.

All documentation related to the programme as a whole, including an outline of the programme philosophy; information concerning the wider University context; details of syllabus teaching units, assessment and marking systems; and copies of relevant programme policy documents, are contained in the Programme Handbook, made available to trainees within their introductory five-week teaching block, and updated on an annual basis.


The programme is open and supportive with a number of formal and informal systems available. A "buddy" scheme operates whereby current trainees offer support before new trainees start and maintain links throughout the programme. Year Tutor groups comprise Academic, Clinical and Research staff with responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the programme. Liaison meetings take place, usually once per term, when trainees have the opportunity to provide feedback on all aspects of the programme.

Each trainee has an Academic Advisor from the programme team who will act as a personal tutor to support their learning and development during the three years of the programme. The academic advisor and trainee meet twice a year formally to review the trainee's progress; however, trainees are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor informally at other times.

An NHS clinician is allocated for each trainee as a Mentor to provide confidential and personal support independent of the programme team. In certain circumstances, the programme will also consider paying for personal therapy for trainees, when this is considered essential in the context of the trainee's ability to progress with their training.


The core staff with day-to-day involvement with the programme are:

Dr Laura Golding - Programme Director

Dr Sarah Butchard - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Luna Centifanti - Research Tutor/Senior Lecturer
Dr Catrin Eames - Research Tutor/Lecturer
Dr Andrea Flood - University Clinical Teacher
Dr Stephen Gillespie - Research Tutor/Lecturer
Dr Beth Greenhill - Joint Clinical Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Gundi Kiemle - Academic Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher and Admissions Tutor
Dr Katy Lobley - University Clinical Teacher
Dr Valentina Lorenzetti - Research Tutor/Senior Lecturer
Dr Susan Mitzman - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr James Reilly - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Julie Van Vuuren - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Ste Weatherhead - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Ross White - Research Director/Reader
Dr Jim Williams - Joint Clinical Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher and Trainee Line Manager

Mrs Susan Knight - Programme Co-ordinator
Mrs Amanda Harrison - Administrator
Ms Vicky McLoughlin - Administrator
Ms Emily Joseph - Administrator
Mr Tom Murphy - Administrative Assistant

Other members of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society and the School of Psychology contributing to the Programme include:

Dr Kate Bennett - Head of School of Psychology, Reader and Chartered Health Psychologist
Dr Steve Brown - Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Paul Christiansen - Lecturer in Psychology
Professor Rhiannon Corcoran - Professor of Psychology
Dr Peter Fisher - Senior Lecturer, Communications Skills
Dr Charlotte Hardman - Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Professor Jason Halford - Head of Department of Psychological Sciences
Professor Peter Kinderman - Professor of Clinical Psychology
Dr Adam Noble - Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Dr Helen Sharp - Reader in Child Clinical Psychology
Professor Pauline Slade - Professor of Clinical Psychology
Dr Linda Steadman - Clinical Psychology Advisor to Faculty of Medicine
Richard Whittington - Professor of Mental Health Services Research

Approximately 50% of the direct teaching on the programme is provided by the programme team and a contribution from members of the Department of Psychological Sciences. The remaining 50% of the teaching is provided by a large number of NHS clinical psychologists or allied professionals in Merseyside and across the North West.