University of Plymouth

Course Code: 21

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
Portland Square
University of Plymouth
Drake Circus Campus

01752 586701

Programme Director: Professor David Murphy
Admission Tutors: Dr Sarah Baldrey and Catherine Collin
Programme Administrator: Michele Thomas


Why Plymouth?

The Plymouth course is known for its values of inclusion and social justice, systemic perspective, and community-focused approach. As a team our approach is supportive, and strengths based. We are also fortunate to be located in Britain’s Ocean City in the heart of one of the most beautiful parts of the country, which is only a three-hour train journey from London.

Don’t take our word for it though, read what our trainees say in the BPS Alternative Handbook;

"The course has the potential to be transformative to a trainee’s worldview" (2021)

"I feel lucky to have trained at Plymouth – with a qualitative focus, focus on inequalities, social justice and community psychology – this is a course that suits me" (2021)

"The staff are supportive, teaching is great, life outside psychology and individuality are valued, and the South West is a brilliant place to live" (2020)

"Lots of laughter and warmth" (2020)

The course focuses on understanding people within their individual, interpersonal and social contexts. A central emphasis is given to exploring the psychological impact of social inequalities and transitions across life-cycles. In doing so, we draw on a range of conceptual and therapeutic models including Systemic, Cognitive Behavioural, and Community perspectives, weaving together these diverse approaches, while also encouraging critical reflection on their differences. In exploring these models, we also give attention to the developing evidence base and the contextual complexities of the lives of people we work with clinically. Service user and carer participation is central to our delivery, to help trainees and staff remain focused on the core values of collaboration, respect and compassion.

In both conceptual and clinical domains we value the two qualities of reflexivity and the adult learner model.

The Course has developed a range of approaches to study that aim to support these qualities, through "problem-based" learning that emphasises links between theory and practice, "distance-based study" modules that require study at home using the internet, email and e-library facilities, and small reflective groups.

Plymouth DClinPsych staff and trainees are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion throughout our programme including recruitment, teaching, research, assessment, and programme committee forums. This is promoted through the involvement of users/receivers of services and carers via our local Plymouth Consultative Group and our ground-breaking Inclusion, Power and Diversity Group, which was established in 2019 by our trainees to increase diversity of both seen and unseen differences that we all come with, including ethnic diversity, neurodiversity, class, disability, gender, and all the other Social GRRRAAACCEEESSS.

Entry Requirements

We invite applications from people who are qualified, to train for three years, full-time, at doctoral level to become clinical psychologists who will be eligible for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). The course is based at University of Plymouth and trainees are required to be able to attend placements in Cornwall, Plymouth and South Devon. Before applying please consider the geographical spread of the South West of England, and your ability to relocate to any of these areas.

We have two entry requirements.

One is a degree in Psychology, or other degree plus a conversion course (at diploma or Masters level), and to have at the time of application, Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Whilst we do consider past attainment, we do not have specific requirements for applicant's degree classification above that required for GBC. We welcome applicants with an interest in learning from their life experiences, both personally and professionally.

The second one is relevant experience of at least one year whole-time equivalent (not including undergraduate placements). This must comprise evidence of several months in a single role. It is helpful to have had clinical experience that has been supervised by a qualified Clinical Psychologist and to have current understanding of the profession of Clinical Psychology. Please see the Entry Requirements section of our website for further details about relevant clinical experience.

Please express in your application if Covid-19 has compromised your ability to meet our clinical experience requirements during 2021/22.

Our English proficiency requirement is IELTS (7.0) in all components or a TOEFL score of 93.

Applicants for NHS places must be eligible for home fees status.

The course welcomes applicants from diverse cultural and personal contexts, mature applicants with extensive life experience. We welcome applications from people with disabilities, please contact us to discuss your specific situation. The University operates an equal opportunities policy. The recruitment and selection processes for the Plymouth Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme comply with the University of Plymouth Admissions Policy. Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of any protected characteristic.

Contextual Recruitment

Our programme is developing the use of contextual recruitment processes. 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. In particular, 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.

We will in due course provide further details on our website about how we will use the data collected in the survey e.g. as part of our selection processes; for audit/research purposes to consider developments to selection processes in future years; to create reports for external agencies such as Health Education England (which commissions many of the training programmes); etc.

Safer Recruitment

This programme is committed to safer recruitment and principles are embedded into our short-listing and selection processes to ensure a safe and positive environment for service users and the workforce in health settings.

Selection Procedure

Please see the Selection Process section of our website to stay up-to-date with our short-listing and selection procedures for 2022.

The programme strives to ensure that we uphold the values of equality and inclusivity at all times, including in our selection process. Our selection process is currently under review and may not include our previous online short-listing methods. Our new short-listing procedure will be designed to actively encourage those from diverse backgrounds to apply, will include consideration of contextual information, and will be focused on an individual's overall potential to become an outstanding clinical psychologist rather than over-emphasising existing knowledge and skills.

If due to disability you need support to access our selection procedure or feel that any aspect of our process would put you at a disadvantage, we will work with you to mitigate these issues and ensure that you are given a fair opportunity to show your potential. Please contact us and we can discuss your options.


For the last several years we have used verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests as part of our short-listing procedure. We will not be using these tests for the 2022 entry.

We are in the process of developing a revised short-listing procedure, details of which will be published our website in September/October 2021.

Selection Event

Our selection process may be subject to change for our 2022 round of selection. Please see our website for further details , which will be confirmed in September/October 2021. The process may be conducted remotely or face-to-face.

Currently there are two parts to the selection event:

A formal interview is designed to explore candidates' strengths. Panels will include members of the course team, representatives from our Plymouth Consultative Group and practising clinical psychologists drawn from services across Devon and Cornwall. As part of the interview, candidates will be invited to read and be prepared to discuss material sent prior to interview: these may include a clinical or research paper, a journal article, a research and/or clinical scenario. There will be a focus on reflectivity, reflexivity, formulation, values and commitment to service user involvement. There will then be a second interview or a task for each candidate depending on restrictions that may be in place (to be confirmed on our website).

Information about the programme is available on the interview days and current trainees are present throughout the interview days to consult with candidates.

Candidates provide information regarding preferences of location between Cornwall and Plymouth and South Devon. We work together with our training partners to consider preferences however your placement location preferences cannot be guaranteed, and we ask you to take this into consideration when you apply for this course. You will be given opportunities to discuss this thoroughly with the team and trainees currently in all locations. Candidates are informed when the selection process is completed and are allocated their placement base at this time.

All offers of a place on the doctoral programme are dependent on satisfactory references, Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health checks.


Our trainee numbers for entry in September 2022 are to be confirmed.

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 current NHS trainees commenced on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. For NHS trainees, travelling expenses are currently paid for travel to placement and University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.

For a link to the current person specification and job description for NHS trainees, please see our website.

For specific questions please contact Michele Thomas, Programme Administrator.

Structure and Content

For a link to the programme specification, please see our website.

The course is based at the University of Plymouth and trainees conduct their placements in Cornwall, Plymouth and South Devon.

The course is full-time for three years and attendance at all course components is mandatory over that time, including the induction period. 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.


The course encourages a diversity of research methods and especially encourages a reflexive and collaborative approach to all aspects of research activity. There is the opportunity to explore a piece of your own psychotherapy work; to conduct a service evaluation project as a co-researcher; and to produce a publishable piece of original research. Research is linked to, and supported by, the interests of the course team and local clinicians to encourage lively and relevant research in the region.


Trainees advance and develop their clinical skills through supervised clinical experience. There are three distinct periods of clinical practice - one in each year of training - each of which is preceded by a period of academic teaching and interspersed with academic days in Plymouth or locally-based distance teaching events.

Trainees are visited on placement by their Clinical Tutors and also have facilitated small group tutorials with approximately six of their trainee peers. Clinical Tutors work with trainees and their supervisors to ensure that the appropriate range and depth of clinical experience are obtained on each placement. In addition, clinical tutors provide pastoral support.


As placements may be across a wide geographical area, it is likely that reasonable travel will be required to placement base and whilst on placement. Given the rural nature of much of the South-West, public transport is limited; it is therefore highly desirable for trainees to have a current driving licence and access to a vehicle. Reasonable adjustments will be made for disability. Travel expenses are paid for travel to and on clinical placements.


Five principal methods of assessment are included: these comprise essays including a journal article review, clinical studies with an emphasis on formulation, supervisor reports, problem-based learning and a research portfolio.

Coursework is planned so that the emphasis changes across the three years as trainees develop a range of competencies commensurate with the role of Clinical Psychologist, following a developmental sequence that fosters formative growth and offers support at each stage.


Programme Team

Professor David Murphy - Programme Director
Consultant Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - Leadership development, clinical health psychology, clinical neuropsychology, professional issues, cross-cultural practice.

Professor Reg Morris - Clinical Director
Consultant Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - Stroke, neuropsychology, practitioner wellbeing, psychological assessment, acceptance and commitment therapy, bibliotherapy.

Dr Sarah Baldrey - Associate Professor (Clinical Psychology), Academic Director
Clinical Psychologist, Livewell South West.
Areas of speciality - Clinical health psychology, Adult mental health, Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy.

Catherine Collin - Associate Professor (Clinical Psychology), Academic Director
Clinical Psychologist, Cornwall Foundation Trust.
Areas of speciality - Primary care adult mental health/IAPT, ICMHT and secondary mental health, clinical quality governance, clinical leadership, cognitive behavioural psychotherapy, independent practice.

Dr Stephen Minton - Research Director
Associate Professor in Applied and Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Plymouth.
Areas of research speciality - addressing abuse, aggression, bullying, marginalisation, prejudice and violence in institutional, educational, community and online settings.

Lisa Clive - Clinical Tutor (Devon)
Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Lead for Jeremiahs Journey.

Rebecca Holtom - Associate Professor (Clinical Psychology) and Clinical Tutor (Central)
Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - Service user and carer partnership work, Reflexive practice, Supervision and inter-professional learning.

Dr Lindsay Aikman - Academic Tutor and Year Lead for Year 3 / Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Principal Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - inpatient mental health services, MDT processes, staff support, and specialist adult mental health psychology.

Dr Pete Keohane - Academic Tutor and Year Lead for Year 2 / Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Areas of speciality - Experience in adult and older adult, particularly interested in acute and urgent care. Programme Lead CAPs Level 7 Apprenticeship.

Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi - Clinical Tutor / Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Breaking Through Mentoring Scheme Lead
Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Associates
Areas of speciality - Children and Families, looked after children, trauma-informed therapy, dyadic developmental psychotherapy.

Dr Chandanee Kotecha - Academic Tutor and Year lead for Year 1 / Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - People with intellectual disabilities.

Administrative staff

Michele Thomas - Programme Administrator

Angela Nicholls - Administrator