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. 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. The Psychology Department is in the top 20 of all Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience departments in the UK. We performed particularly well in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, 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 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 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 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 competently 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) of the British Psychological Society.
  • Applicants are expected to have attained a 1st or a 2:1 degree (leading to GBC). In regard to conversion courses leading to GBC, we similarly require a 2:1 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 the DClinPsych course team 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.
  • We require evidence of competence in research methods and statistics as evidenced by a score/rating of at least 60% on all undergraduate research and statistics modules on Undergraduate Transcripts. 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 research and statistical competence from their University. This could take the form of an academic referee commenting specifically upon these competences, including explicit reference to the applicant's scores on research and statistics modules.
  • 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/EU/EEA, 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.
  • The Southampton DClinPsych 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.

We expect to shortlist 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 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 DClinPsych 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 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 comprises programme team members, local clinicians and experts by experience. 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 typically 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 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.


Current trainees are full-time employees of Taunton and Somerset NHS 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 for travel to placement, and University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS. We anticipate offering 19 places for the 2021 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 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 and third years. All trainees have a Personal/Clinical Tutor who is a member of the Programme team, 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
Dr Catherine Brignell - Research Director
Dr Margo Ononaiye - Clinical Director and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Tess Maguire - Deputy Clinical Director and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Kate Willoughby - Deputy Academic Director and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Melanie Hodgkinson - Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Peter Lawrence - Admissions and Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Nick Maguire - Personal/Clinical Tutor
Dr Angharad Rudkin - Personal/Clinical Tutor
Ms Jeannette Smith - Administrative Officer