University of Southampton

Course Code: 25

Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology
University of Southampton
Building 44
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 with a variety of careers in Clinical Psychology. The programme is full-time for three years and fulfils the standards of education and training required by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). It is also accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). You will graduate with a D.Clin.Psychol and be eligible to apply for registration as a practitioner psychologist with the HCPC, and you will be able to apply for Chartered Status with the 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, 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. Psychology at Southampton has a tradition of world-class research. Academics within our department work at the forefront of their fields, committed to the highest-quality scientific investigation on a range of social, educational and health-related issues that together make a real impact. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework rated 100 per cent of our research activity as internationally excellent or world-leading in terms of its impact and the research environment we offer.

The department comprises four research centres: Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology, Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, Centre for Perception and Cognition, Centre for Research on Self and Identity. Within each of these centres, staff conduct research relevant to abnormal or clinical psychology.

Aims and Core Philosophy

The aims of the Programme are to develop Clinical Psychologists from a range of backgrounds with excellent knowledge and flexible skills who will deliver a first-class clinical service, conduct 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 the Cognitive Behavioural approach and the secondary model is Systemic Theory. We expect you to learn to master the evidence base, critique it, and be able to competently deliver evidence-based therapies in a range of clinical settings. 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. You will also develop your leadership skills across the course of training in clinical practice placements and also through dedicated teaching sessions. New for 2022 is a stronger emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of the learning experience.

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) of the British Psychological Society.
  • Applicants are expected to have attained a 1st, 2:1 or 2:2 degree with evidence of ability to study at postgraduate level (leading to GBC). In consideration of conversion courses leading to GBC, we similarly require a minimum of a 2:2 grade.
  • Applicants are expected to 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 they have played a key role, in depth at interview.
    For further guidance on how we will assess applications in light of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on gaining the required clinical experience, please see our website.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 research and statistical 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 NHS Commissioners regarding residence requirements, 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, but full details can be found at NHS Bursaries.
  • Please also note that we are obliged to only recruit individuals who will remain in the UK NHS workforce after training.

We expect to shortlist 70 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 students with disabilities to complete the programme. Please note, however, that we do not currently invite applicants for interview on the basis of the disability guaranteed interview 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, we screen all applications to make sure they meet our minimum requirements for work experience, academic, research, and statistical competence. They are then rated using a competency based rating procedure based on the Trainee Clinical Psychologist person specification. The competencies cover the following 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. The Southampton Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme covers a wide and rural geographical area. Hence, all applicants to Southampton must possess a full valid driving licence at application (subject to reasonable adjustments for disability). All applicants must submit their full driving licence one week before interview date. If applicants cannot submit their driving licence documents they might be ineligible for interview. All candidates must undertake to meet the travel requirements of the programme.

If you are invited for interview you will be expected to attend for most of the day and will have a personal/clinical and a research/academic interview. The former interview comprises a member of the Programme Team, an expert by experience and a clinician from local services. The research/academic interview will include a member of the Programme Team and a clinician from local services. Across the interview panels, we try to reflect a range of knowledge, skills, and specialities, as well as a gender and ethnic diversity mix where possible.

Our aim is to create an interview environment which gives you the opportunity to talk about you and your skills in line with the competencies based on the Trainee Clinical Psychologist person specification.

There is opportunity within your scheduled interview day to spend time with current trainees at Southampton and ask them any questions you have about the experience of training with us.

Our interviews take place over several 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. The Programme Team informs all applicants whether they have been successful following the selection meeting.

If you are unsuccessful 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.

Contextual Admissions

Our programme is considering developing 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 to inform 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).


Current trainees are full-time employees of Somerset Foundation Trust and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme all trainees commenced on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Travelling expenses are currently paid in line with Trust policy, and University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS. We anticipate offering at least 32 places for the 2022 intake.

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 November. 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 1, Systemic Theory and Practice, Evidence-Based Practice, Neuropsychology and Older Adults, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 2: Advanced Intervention Skills.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will complete one placement with children and/or adolescents, and one with people who have intellectual 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 Intellectual 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 3-month research placement during which you can focus exclusively on running and writing up your doctoral research (Oct-Dec). Your final clinical (Jan-Sep) 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, plan an individualised programme of study to meet them, attend a training identified in this plan and apply this learning in your third year placement.


We aim to support all our trainees in a variety of ways.  All trainees have a Personal/Clinical Tutor who is a member of the Programme team, who monitors their progress throughout training and provides pastoral support. The University also offers a range of personal support services to all students.

Additionally, all trainees are allocated 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 can take time during placement to do this.  There is also a buddy system where the incoming cohort are allocated a trainee from the year above who will be their buddy.  This provides an additional informal support opportunity for the trainee.

Within the timetable, trainees have structured time for peer group support meetings, and Year Tutor Groups built into the academic programme and participate in reflective groups as part of their training experience. For trainees who come from Black, Asian and other underrepresented cultural groups within clinical psychology, we also have a "safe space" reflective group to enable the opportunity to discuss issues that may arise across training within a supportive environment.

Programme Team

Dr Margo Ononaiye - Programme Director
Dr Kate Willoughby - Academic Director
Dr Tess Maguire - Clinical Director
Dr Catherine Brignell - Research Director
Dr Pete Lawrence - Research Director
Dr Melanie Hodgkinson - EbE Co-ordinator and Admissions & Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Warren Dunger - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Andrew Merwood - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Ali Bennett - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Juliet Lowther - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Lisa Cant - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Anna Kidd - Senior Teaching Fellow and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Nick Maguire - Associate Professor in Psychology and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Emel Atuk - Clinical Psychology Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead
Ms Jeannette Smith - Administrative Office