North Thames - University College London

Course Code: 19

Doctoral training course in Clinical Psychology (D Clin Psy)
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology
Clinical Psychology Group
University College London
Gower Street

020 7679 1897

Joint Course Directors: Professor Tony Roth and Professor Pasco Fearon
Senior Admissions Tutor: Dr Josh Stott
Course Administrator: Ms Julia Curl


Clinical Psychology training at UCL began in 1987. The Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology (within which the course is sited) has an active research and training programme in clinical and health psychology, though the Doctoral programme represents a substantial part of its activities. The course is located in the heart of London, in Bloomsbury.

Core purpose and philosophy

This three-year full-time course aims to enable trainees to develop the academic, clinical and research skills needed to prepare them for practice as professional Clinical Psychologists, eligible to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council and for Chartered Clinical status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). The Course is 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. We aim to equip trainees with the knowledge and skills they need to become effective clinical practitioners in a rapidly changing NHS. Our guiding principles are the integration of theory with practice, the encouragement of a capacity for independent thinking and reflection, and the fostering of trainees' personal and professional skills. Taken as a whole, teaching and clinical practice should promote the skills essential for the development of evidence-based practitioners. The Course has an explicitly pluralistic ethos and exposes trainees to a variety of approaches. It also encourages practice that demonstrates an awareness of equal opportunities and a sensitivity to the multi-cultural contexts routinely encountered in clinical work in London. The Course is designed and organised with the close involvement of clinicians and Special Interest Groups. 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. These qualities are essential in helping the individual to prepare, once qualified, for continuing professional development and a career as a practising clinical psychologist.

Entry Requirements

Basic academic requirements

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)

Candidates must have the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS, usually at the time of applying, but certainly by the time short-listing is completed in February. GBC is conferred by completion of a) an honours degree that has psychology as the main field of study b) a Masters or Doctoral degree that has psychology as the main field of study c) a recognised conversion degree that confers eligibility for GBC. Candidates who are unsure about the status of their degree should check with the BPS that they qualify for GBC.


We take degree transcripts into account in trying to ensure that candidates can manage the academic demands of the programme. The minimum requirement for entry is a good upper second class honours degree (or its equivalent). Broadly this means that candidates should have achieved a mid or high 2:1.

Applicants with a low 2:1 or a 2:2 will not be accepted unless there is unequivocal evidence that this result is unrepresentative of their academic potential. This needs to be demonstrated by achievement in an academically demanding course, eg achieving a high 2:1 in a further undergraduate degree, or a Distinction in an academically rigorous Masters degree. Where candidates consider their degree is unrepresentative of their potential they should ensure that their academic reference is written by an academic who has direct experience of the candidate's academic work and can explicitly address any concerns about the candidate's academic potential.

We are keen not to exclude anyone whose education has been hampered by social disadvantage, especially prior to University. If candidates feel their qualifications reflect a lack of opportunity rather than ability, they should explain this clearly in their application. Mature candidates who come to psychology after an unconventional educational path will not be disadvantaged, but it will be helpful for them to explain any obvious difficulties in their educational career.


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.

Clinical experience

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, eg 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.

Offers of places will be conditional upon satisfactory health clearance, and upon a satisfactory search by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Placement "catchment" area

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.

International Applicants

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 2018, they must have been resident in the UK or EU from 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2018, 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 fee 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 fee status can apply directly to the international route for course entry. More information is available on our website.

English Language requirements

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 Procedure

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 by members of course staff and regional supervisors 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 120 applicants for around 40 places but this may be subject to change. Each candidate attends for a half day; the interviews focus on academic, clinical and professional issues (please check our website for an update on the interview procedure for 2018). 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.

Equal opportunities

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.


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 are paid on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Travelling expenses are paid for travel to placement, and University fees are paid directly by the NHS. A current trainee Job Description and Person Specification can be found in the application section of our website.

Our current intake is 42 places per annum, but this may be subject to change.

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

Structure and Content

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.


Research Thesis

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.

Taught Component

The academic course components (which includes 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 meeting coursework deadlines and standards satisfactorily.

Clinical Component

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 Tony Roth (Joint Course Director)
Professor Pasco Fearon (Joint Course Director)
Dr Kat Alcock
Professor Chris Brewin
Dr Stephen Butler
Dr Jarrod Cabourne
Dr Georgina Charlesworth
Dr Henry Clements
Professor Val Curran
Dr Janet Feigenbaum
Professor Peter Fonagy
Dr Miriam Fornells-Ambrojo
Dr Vyv Huddy
Dr Sunjeev Kamboj
Dr John King
Dr William Mandy
Dr Katrina Scior
Dr Peter Scragg
Dr Lucy Serpell
Dr Kristina Soon
Dr Aimee Spector
Dr Josh Stott
Dr Susan Watson
Dr Amanda Williams

Administrative staff

Ms Julia Curl - Senior Course Administrator
Ms Leah Markwick - Academic Administrator
Mr Dan McQuade - Placements Administrator
Ms Gourangapriya Dey - Research and Finance Administrator