University of Plymouth

Course Code: 21

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

01752 586701

Programme Director: Dr Jacqui Stedmon
Admission Tutors: Dr Sarah Baldrey and Catherine Collin
Programme Administrator: Michele Thomas


Programme Philosophy

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.

We promote the involvement of our local Plymouth Consultative Group in recruitment, teaching, research, assessment and programme committee forums.

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 conduct their placements in Cornwall, Plymouth and South Devon.

We have two entry requirements.

One is a degree in Psychology, or other degree plus a conversion course (at diploma or Masters level), and eligibility at the time of application for  Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). We do not have specific requirements for applicant's degree classification. 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 will preferably 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 provided by our Clinical Lead.

Please express in your application if Covid-19 has compromised your ability to meet our clinical experience requirements during 2020/21.

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 race, colour, gender, creed, sexual orientation, age or disability. We apply Sections 158 and 159 of the Equal Opportunities Act in our selection process.

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

The programme strives to ensure that we uphold the values of equality and inclusivity at all times, including in our selection process. For this reason, our procedure is designed to actively encourage those from diverse backgrounds to apply and is 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.


Why we use a short-listing test

We collaborate with the Lancaster University Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme with regard to our short-listing screening procedures. All candidates who are eligible will be invited to take part in our screening procedure. Screening will take place in February 2021, dates will be published on our website as soon as they are available. Many applicants to our programme are fortunate enough to have had access to extensive education and employment/experience opportunities. However, some individuals have not had these privileges, and may never have, but have significant potential and are well suited to the programme. As we want everyone to be assessed on a fair basis, we use a short-listing test which examines potential rather than looking only at the application which emphasises experience. Evidence also shows that application forms on their own are poor predictors of academic and job performance. Our approach means using short-listing tests which have substantial evidence to indicate they predict performance on both the programme and in a complex job role once qualified.

This component of our screening process uses an online general mental ability (GMA) test. This approach is widely used, for example by other healthcare professions with graduate entry training programmes, as it is a strong predictor of performance in complex or intellectually challenging roles. The GMA tests for 2021 will be verbal and deductive reasoning tests (confirmed on our website - See "Our Selection Process" section ).

Giving yourself time to practise the tests beforehand can help ensure that all applicants, regardless of background, can demonstrate their ability. Please visit the SHL Direct website to complete the practice tests - you only need to practise the deductive reasoning test for the Plymouth programme (to be confirmed on our website). SHL practice tests are only examples of the type of questions you will be given and do not indicate the difficulty level as this changes dynamically in the live test based on your responses. The live test system has some visual differences from the practice tests and includes additional support to allow for zooming and changing text/background colours.

Ability tests are validated, objective assessments that have been shown to be strong predictors of performance in a wider variety of roles, this means that people who do better on ability tests tend to do better in the roles. You will be asked to complete these tests as part of the selection process. You will receive an invite to complete these tests. We expect high standards of professional behaviour and that you will complete all assessments yourself and are answering openly and honestly.

How the short-listing works

Candidates will be invited to take the online GMA test during a time window of two weeks, at a time and place convenient to them. Once arranged, it is not possible for online testing to take place outside of this window.

In the Plymouth selection process, in order to confirm invitation to interview, the test results are considered together with information about experience and references taken from the candidate's application. Further knowledge of candidates and their potential for doctoral level training is gained from information gathered at our Selection Event.

Selection Event

Our selection process may be subject to change for our 2021 round of selection, our procedure will be confirmed in September 2020. Please see our website for further details. The process may be conducted remotely or face-to-face.

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 range of six interview questions, 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. A second interview or a task will comprise the second part of the process for each candidate depending on restrictions that may be in place (to be confirmed on our website).

The selection process takes place over two days, with each candidate joining us for part of one day. 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 2021 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.

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

For specific questions please contact Michele Thomas, Programme Administrator.

Structure and Content

Please see our website for a link to the programme specification.

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.

Since the geographical location of the course is wide, it is desirable that trainees, unless prevented through disability (DDA classified), are able to drive and preferably have their own transport.


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

Michele Thomas - Programme Administrator

Angela Nicholls - Administrator

Dr Jacqui Stedmon - Programme Director
Areas of speciality - Child and health paediatrics, Childhood bereavement, Developmental disorders, Family therapy.

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

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 on-line settings

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, clinical quality governance, clinical leadership, cognitive behavioural psychotherapy, independent practice.

Ben Green - Clinical Tutor (Cornwall)
Clinical Psychologist.
Areas of speciality - Adult Mental Health: Early Intervention in Psychosis.

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 - Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Module Lead for DClinPsy Year 3
Principal Clinical Psychologist.
Main areas of experience - inpatient mental health services, MDT processes, staff support, and specialist adult mental health psychology.

Dr Pete Keohane - Academic Tutor/ Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Experience in adult and older adult, particularly interested in acute and urgent care.