University of Southampton

Course Code: 25

University of Southampton Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology
Building 44A
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ


The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programme at the University of Southampton is committed to the scientist-practitioner model and aims for excellence across all areas of Clinical Psychology. The programme is firmly rooted in the core values of the NHS Constitution and has over 30 years' experience in clinical training in partnership with our local NHS Trusts and related organisations. Our graduates make a real difference to people's lives. The programme is full-time for three years and fulfils the standards of education and training required by the HCPC. It is also accredited by the BPS. You will graduate with a D.Clin.Psychol and be eligible to apply for registration as a practitioner psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), and you will be able to apply for Chartered Status with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

The programme is run in close partnership with colleagues from local NHS trusts who provide Clinical placements across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight (commissioned by HE Wessex), contribute substantially to teaching, and also to the management of the Programme through stakeholder meetings.

The programme is based in a thriving and dynamic Psychology Department that hosts a suite of postgraduate CBT programmes, as well as doctoral training programmes in Educational Psychology and Health Psychology. The Psychology Department is in the top 20 of all Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience departments in the UK. We performed particularly well in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), achieving 100% in research activity rated as internationally excellent or of world-leading quality for not only the impact of our research but also for the quality of the research environment we provide to staff and students. Overall, 80% of our research activity has been rated as internationally excellent or of world-leading quality.

The department comprises the Divisions of Clinical Neuroscience, Human Wellbeing, and Cognition, with associated Research Centres or Labs, such as the Development Brain-Behaviour Lab, the Experimental Psychopathology Lab, the Emotion and Personality Bio-behavioural Lab, the Centre for Application of Health Psychology, the Centre for Research into Self and Identity, the Centre for Sexual Health Research, the Centre for Visual Cognition. We also have a newly established Centre for Innovations in Mental Health. Within each of these centres, there is research relevant to abnormal or clinical psychology.

Aims and Core Philosophy

The aims of the Programme are to develop Clinical Psychologists with excellent knowledge and flexible skills who will deliver a first class clinical service, deliver innovative clinical research, and lead the profession in future decades. We believe in putting the scientist-practitioner model into practice across all aspects of the programme. The primary theoretical orientation of the programme is cognitive behavioural and the secondary model is systemic theory. We expect you to learn to master the evidence base, critique it, and be able to deliver evidence-based therapies. However, we recognise that Clinical Psychologists are often working with people or problems where evidence is weak or absent, and we teach you how to approach formulation and intervention in a scientific manner by drawing more widely on your knowledge of psychological theories and processes.

Entry Requirements

Applicants are selected on the basis of their potential to train successfully as Clinical Psychologists. There are a number of criteria which must be met in order for an applicant to be considered. These are:

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate that their individual values and behaviours align with the values of the NHS Constitution.
  • Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
  • Applicants must hold, or be expected to attain, a 1st or a 2:1. An applicant with a 2:2 would be considered if they have successfully completed a relevant higher degree, for example an academically demanding MSc. Unfortunately, to meet this criterion we would not accept a 2:2 and a postgraduate diploma.
  • In regard to conversion courses, we similarly require a 2:1 grade.
  • Applicants must have at least one year's (full-time equivalent), experience of paid or voluntary work in clinical, community, or clinical/academic settings within the UK directly relevant to Clinical Psychology at the time of application. We do not specify a particular way in which this experience may be gained, rather we would suggest that a key point for applicants to consider is whether their experience has been sufficient to develop both a good working knowledge of the role of the Clinical Psychologist within the NHS, and sufficient clinical experience to be able to discuss a clinical case, in which a key therapeutic role has been held, in depth at interview.
  • Exceptionally, applicants who do not meet the minimum experience criterion may be considered if they can demonstrate that they have gained equivalent experience whilst completing a PhD in a clinically relevant area.
  • We require evidence of competence in Statistics and Research methods as evidenced by a score/rating of 60% or equivalent on Undergraduate Transcripts, or the attainment of a postgraduate qualification in research/statistics, eg an MSc or postgraduate diploma in research. Applicants who do not yet have an undergraduate transcript, or who have completed a conversion course without a detailed transcript, would need to provide formal evidence of statistical/research competence from their University. This could take the form of an academic referee commenting specifically upon these competences on the basis of exam results, or direct involvement in a research study.
  • If English is not an applicant's first language, they must be able to evidence a good standard of written and spoken English (100 for internet-based TOEFL, 250 for computer-based TOEFL, 600 for paper-based TOEFL or 7.0 for IELTS with no element below 6.5).
  • The application form must be well written and presented to a professional standard, as it is a key document in the application process.
  • International applicants must ensure that their degree gives them GBC, and that they are entitled to work and reside in the UK without restriction. As noted above, they must also provide formal evidence of statistical/research competences.
  • Being "Fit to Practise" is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), and is considered as part of the selection process.
  • Please note that following a direction from our commissioners we are only able to offer a place on the Programme to applicants in line with the principles used for awarding NHS bursaries. This legislation will mostly affect applicants from outside the UK/EU/EEA, but full details can be found at NHS Bursaries, and there is a Personal Eligibility Calculator.
  • Please also note that we are obliged to only recruit individuals who will remain in the UK NHS workforce after training.

We do not know how many places we will be commissioned to take until later in the 2017-18 academic year. However, we have been commissioned for between 13 and 15 places over the last three years and usually anticipate short-listing around 44 candidates for interview.

The programme is fully committed to equal opportunities for all students and follows the principles set out in the University of Southampton's Equal Opportunities Policy Statement. All individuals are selected and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. We welcome applications from students with disabilities and have experience of making adjustments necessary for disabled students to complete the programme. However, please note that we do not currently invite applicants for interview on the basis of the "Two Ticks" scheme.

Finally, it should be noted that the length of the programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience (AP(E)L).

Selection Procedure

There are two stages to our selection procedure:

Stage 1

First of all we screen all applications to make sure they meet the minimum standards in research, statistics, and work experience. They are then rated using a competency based rating procedure based on the Trainee Clinical Psychologist person specification. The competencies cover four key areas: academic/research competence, clinical competence, reflective practice/resilience. Our selection team is managed by our Admissions Tutor and comprises members of the programme team, as well as local NHS Clinical Psychologists, who teach and/or supervise on the programme.

Stage 2

We invite short-listed applicants for interview. You will be expected to attend for most of the day and will have two interviews plus a clinically-relevant role play. One of your interviews will focus on academic and research competence, and the other will focus on your clinical skills. Both interviews assess competencies based on the Trainee Clinical Psychologist person specification. Each interview panel comprises two to three members. Our Stage 2 selection team also comprises programme team members and local clinicians. Each panel is set up to reflect a range of knowledge, skills, and specialities, as well as a gender mix where possible. The clinical panel will normally include a service-user.

When you arrive at the university you will join other candidates and a team of our administrator and existing trainees. They will act as your hosts during the day providing tea and biscuits as well as answering questions and offering support.

Our interviews take place over three days and are followed by a final selection meeting in which we decide which candidates will be offered places on the basis of their performance across the two interviews and the role-play. The Admissions Tutor informs all applicants whether they have been successful following the selection meeting.

If you are not successful at interview, you may request written feedback on your interview performance. We regret that we are unable to provide any feedback to candidates who are not short-listed for interview.

Please visit our website for further information.


Current trainees are accountable to the Director of the Programme and are paid on NHS Agenda for Change Band 6, with 27 days leave per year (taken by arrangement with the Programme Director), plus any increase in entitlement via previous NHS experience. Trainees are currently paid as employees of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, and all programme related travel expenses are paid. All Programme fees are currently paid by Health Education England and the contract is managed by Health Education Wessex.

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

International applicants are not considered unless they are relocating to the UK, and would need to meet the criteria noted in the entry requirements section above. Currently we do not accept self-funded applicants.

Structure and Content

The programme integrates academic work, clinical practice and research across the three years of training.

Year 1

Year 1 starts with an intensive teaching block that prepares you for starting your first placement in early December. You will complete two (5-month), clinical placements both of which focus on adult mental health, and may include a range of settings including community teams, IAPT services, in-patient units, and older adults. You will also start the first of four research modules delivered by the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre that you complete during the first year. The academic curriculum comprises six modules: Foundations of Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Systemic Theory and Practice, Evidence-Based Practice, Neuropsychology, and Adapting Clinical Work for Different Populations.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will complete one placement with children and/or adolescents, and one with people who have learning disabilities. There are two academic modules that correspond to these placements: clinical skills and interventions for working with children and adolescents, and clinical practice in relation to people with learning disabilities. You will also complete a second systemic theory and practice module. You will complete a small-scale research project either in Year 1 or Year 2 and you will start working on your doctoral dissertation research in your second year.

Year 3

One of the great benefits of the Southampton programme is that your third year includes a 4-month research placement during which you can focus exclusively on running and writing up your doctoral research. Your (8-month) clinical placement will be selected to match your interests and also to focus on any skills and competencies that you need to achieve to successfully complete the programme. The academic component of your third year comprises a professional development and leadership module, a trans-diagnostic processes module and an innovative specialist skills module (SSM). The SSM teaches you how to identify your own learning needs and plan an individualised programme of study to meet them.


All trainees are encouraged to select a Mentor, normally an NHS Clinical Psychologist, independent of the Programme team, who acts in a confidential support capacity over the three years. Trainees are encouraged to meet their Mentor regularly throughout training, and are able to take time during placement to do this.

Trainees have structured time for peer group support meetings, and Year Tutor Groups built into the academic programme and participate in a reflective group in their first/third year. All trainees have a team Personal/Clinical Tutor, who monitors their progress throughout training. The University also offers a range of personal support services to all students.


Professor Lusia Stopa - Programme Director
Dr Thérèse Allan - Academic Director
Ms Alison Gold - Clinical Director
Dr Matt Garner - Research Director
Dr Margo Ononaiye - Deputy Clinical Director and Clinical Tutor
Dr Kate Willoughby - Deputy Academic Director and Clinical Tutor
Dr Catherine Brignell - Teaching Fellow
Dr Melanie Hodgkinson - Personal/Clinical and Academic Tutor
Dr Tess Maguire - Personal/Clinical and Academic Tutor
Dr Angharad Rudkin - Personal/Clinical and Academic Tutor
Dr Nick Maguire - Academic Tutor
Ms Gemma Harris - Administrative Officer