South Wales

Course Code: 26

South Wales Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Tower Building
70 Park Place
CF10 3AT

029 2087 0582

Programme Director: Professor Andrew Thompson
Selection Tutors: Dr James Stroud and Dr Helen Penny


The South Wales Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology (referred to as "the Programme") was founded in 1975 and enjoys strong links with health and social care services across west, east, south and mid Wales. The Programme is supported by Cardiff University, local Health Boards and commissioners and ultimately the Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru).

The Programme sits within the world-leading School of Psychology at Cardiff University. One of the largest psychology departments in the UK, this prestigious institution offers outstanding opportunities for postgraduate study and research. Its excellence in research was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework whereby the School was ranked second in the UK for Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

Trainees are registered as postgraduate research (PGR) students over the course of the three-year full-time Programme and form part of the wider postgraduate community, providing access to seminars and social events hosted by the School and by the Programme. Cardiff University has a dedicated Graduate Centre providing year-round, centrally located social and study facilities for Trainees. Trainees are provided with access to personal computing facilities so as to support both remote working and recording of clinical activity for use in supervision. The University also offers opportunities for students to learn Welsh via attendance at courses or through the wider adult learning community. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board also provide a range of facilities and resources to support staff who wish to learn or are learning Welsh to develop or improve their skills, or to increase their confidence in using their Welsh language skills in practice.

The Programme provides clinical psychology training of the highest standard that meets the requirements of the Welsh Government along with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the British Psychological Society (BPS). Training adheres to the devolved Welsh Government frameworks for health and social care policy, whilst also providing an understanding of UK-wide healthcare policies. Competency development is focused on ensuring that Trainees develop skills in keeping with the evidence-base.  The aim is to produce Trainees who combine a strong foundation in service values and the core principles and approaches of psychology with an evaluative, reflective and critical approach.

Successful completion of the Programme leads to the award of Doctor of Clinical Psychology validated by Cardiff University. This qualification confers eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and Chartered Clinical Psychologist status with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

The Programme aims to provide training that encompasses a wide range of perspectives and approaches applicable to psychological work across the life-span. Particular emphases are:

  • Psychological therapies encompassing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and systemic practice. The Programme has applied for Level 1 accreditation with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and foundation level accreditation with the Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice (AFT). These applications are progressing well: a BABCP panel visit took place early in 2020, and a remote panel visit from AFT is expected in June 2020.
  • Neuropsychology training on the Programme can be used to meet some of foundation requirements for entry onto abbreviated post-doctoral training in Clinical Neuropsychology at Bristol University.
  • A commitment to foster the inclusion of service users and carers in the planning and delivery of training, and to provide Trainees with the knowledge, skills and values necessary to work with service users across a range of contexts.
  • The highlighting of issues of diversity and difference within the context of Wales and its devolved governance.
  • A commitment to engender a culture of anti-racist practice whereby Trainees become aware of their own implicit bias and are capable of challenging structural and individual prejudice.
  • A strong theme of professional and compassionate practice, encompassing values, leadership, partnership working, and self-care.
  • An emphasis on learning with and from other healthcare professionals.

Service User and Carer Involvement

Service users and carers are involved in key aspects of Programme development and delivery. The Programme has an established Psychology Service User and Carer Committee (PUCC) and we employ a service user consultant as part of the Programme team. Service users and carers from the PUCC sit on Programme committees to provide advice and guidance. Service users and carers are involved in a range of activities including selection and recruitment, teaching, research, and the provision of feedback to trainees.

Entry Requirements

Minimum Entry Requirements

Following changes to our selection process, and in response to Covid-19, some of our entry requirements have changed. Full details are provided in the sections below.

Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)

All applicants to the Programme must provide evidence of eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) at the time of applying.


Candidates are required to have a minimum 2:1 degree in Psychology (or a different discipline where the candidate has achieved Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership via a conversion degree/diploma). In the interests of equity, if a candidate has completed a conversion degree in psychology, a 1st or 2:1 is required in their original degree. Additional research relevant qualifications (eg PhD) will usually attract a higher rating. Uncompleted degrees will not be considered within the rating process. Degree transcripts will be considered as part of the application.

Relevant Clinical Experience

Our short-listing criteria are currently under review and will credit not only the person’s range of experience, but place emphasis on what candidates have learnt from their experience.  Candidates will need to demonstrate that they understand the role and context, usually via having secured a minimum of 6 months significant experience in a healthcare and/or research setting relevant to clinical psychology.  Significant experience might be gained via working as an Assistant Psychologist, Research Assistant on clinically relevant research project, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, or Clinical Associate Psychologist.

Additional Requirements

All applicants must have Home Fees Status and eligibility for employment by the NHS at the start of the programme (27 September 2021).

Applicants must demonstrate a sufficient command of the English language. Applicants for whom English is not their first language will be required to demonstrate English language ability to the standard of Level 7 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), taken no more than two years before the proposed date of entry (or an alternative English language test accepted by Cardiff University).

In line with NHS workforce planning, a commitment to working in Wales post qualification is regarded as a definite advantage. Similarly, the ability to speak Welsh is desirable.


Applications must be accompanied by both a clinical/experience reference and an academic reference. Applications will not be considered at short-listing unless both the academic and experience references have been received. Further references will be required if offered a place on the Programme.

Equal Opportunities

The Trainee places are hosted by Cardiff and Vale UHB, which is an equal opportunities organisation and the Programme actively encourages applications from all sectors of the community and from applicants from diverse backgrounds, and applicants with disabilities. Applicants are asked to notify the Programme of any access or facility requests in advance of the interview so that reasonable adjustments can be put in place.

Selection Procedure

The Programme typically short-lists 54 candidates. Prior to reviewing the application forms to evaluate them against areas noted above, the forms are anonymised to ensure equity for all candidates.

It is important to note that the Programme made several changes to the interview processes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and given current uncertainties some of these changes will likely be kept for the 2021 process.  We reserve the right to conduct some assessment remotely if necessary.

Previously, the Programme had required candidates to undertake an online assessment of General Mental Ability (GMA). For the 2021 intake, applicants will not be required to undertake an online test.

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the selection process on either the 12, 13 or 14 April 2021. The process will involve a written exercise and interviews focusing on both academic and clinical knowledge, and on interpersonal, personal, and professional aptitude and style.

During the selection process there will be an opportunity to meet informally with current trainees not involved in making selection decisions. There will also be an opportunity to hear about the nature of the Programme and region from members of the Programme team and this again will not form part of the selection process.

Please note: Due to the high number of applicants, the Programme does not give feedback to applicants who are not interviewed. Candidates who are unsuccessful at interview are given the opportunity to gain brief verbal feedback from a member of the selection panel. Written feedback is not available.

In addition, it is important to be aware that the Programme will not allow you to enrol if at the start of the programme if you are enrolled on another degree programme (eg a PhD or Masters Programme). If you have any outstanding requirements from another Programme when the Programme is due to start, you would be likely to be required to withdraw.

Welsh Language

The legal status of the Welsh language in all areas of life in Wales (particularly health and social care), means that the Programme welcomes applications from Welsh speakers. The "Strategic framework for Welsh language services in health, social services and social care 2016-2019" emphasised that the use of the Welsh language is especially important for many vulnerable people and their families who need to access services in their first language, such as older people suffering from dementia or stroke who may lose their second language or very young children who may only speak Welsh. In support of this, the Programme is keen to support trainees who are fluent Welsh speakers, or learning to speak Welsh, to apply.

We are very pleased to say that many trainees continue to work in South Wales on qualifying, and we are committed to supporting candidates from outside Wales to relocate and commit to building a new life here.

Equality and Diversity

The Programme is guided by the Equality Policies of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Cardiff University.  The Programme is committed to the principle of equality of opportunity and to providing an environment where respect is shown to all and where individuals are valued and supported in achieving their full potential. The Programme aims to ensure equality of opportunity for all applicants applying to the Programme and to create conditions whereby applicants are considered solely on the basis of merit and that no individual is discriminated against. Diversity of background among applicants is welcomed and the Programme acknowledges the need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of trainees from populations who are currently under-represented within the profession.

Fitness to Practise Requirements

The offer of a place on the programme is subject to appropriate NHS and university fitness to practise checks and also to satisfactory clearance from the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) (previously Criminal Records Bureau). With regard to whether applicants with offences or cautions can be offered a training place, the relevant policies of Cardiff and Vale UHB will be consulted as appropriate.

The offer of a place on the programme is also subject to satisfactory pre-employment health assessment. A health condition or disability will not necessarily preclude the offer of a place on the Programme unless it impairs fitness to practise. Applicants are expected to meet the HCPC recommendations with regard to fitness to practise (HCPC Guidance on Health and Character, 2009). These recommendations include the requirement that students' health should enable them to complete training "safely and effectively". Applicants with a health condition or disability should take advice from their health practitioner about fitness to enter training and will be given an early opportunity to notify the Programme so that reasonable adjustments can be made.

Applicants should note that acceptance on the Programme and successful completion thereof is not a guarantee of registration with the HCPC, which has set standards for conduct, good character and fitness to practise (see HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics). As part of this, training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults. Safeguarding is therefore taken very seriously and the highest standards of behaviour are expected from Trainee Clinical Psychologists. Throughout the selection process and the training Programme we will ensure that the clients that the Trainees work with are kept safe, and the Trainee maintains fitness to practise.


All places on the Programme are NHS funded via the Welsh Government / Llywodraeth Cymru. There are currently no self-funded places on the Programme for either home or overseas fees status applicants.

Trainees are recruited annually, and 18 training places were commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2020. Workforce data for Wales indicates a need for expansion in Clinical Psychology training and the Welsh Government has invested significantly in the infrastructure of the training Programme.

Current trainees are employed by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB) as Band 6 Trainee Clinical Psychologists. Travel and necessary accommodation and subsistence expenses are currently reimbursed according to Agenda for Change rules, and University registration and examination fees are currently paid. In addition, each trainee has access to additional funds to support research (£600) and personal development (£800).  Access to additional funds is not a right and is dependent on an appropriate justification being put forward.

However, applicants for 2021 entry are advised to check the Cardiff University programme website for updates.

Training contracts are for a period of three years and are offered on the strict understanding that applicants will submit themselves for assessments linked to the Programme and maintain their registration for the Programme.

Structure and Content

Training is co-ordinated within a set of five modules over the three years.

Module Area Year
Module 1/2 Older Adult / Adult Mental Health Year 1
Module 3/4 Children and Young People / Intellectual Disabilities Year 2
Module 5 Extended placement Year 3

Academic Programme

Academic teaching is organised around the modular scheme. Content relates to experience on clinical placement in order to facilitate the integration of theory and practice. The Programme is informed by the core competence framework of the BPS, which forms the basis for the HCPC standards of proficiency for clinical psychologists.

Academic teaching is delivered via teaching blocks at the beginning of each module and during individual teaching days throughout each module. Trainees are currently allocated one day a week for self-directed study.


The Programme has a system of continuous assessment of clinical, academic, research and professional competence. Across the three years of training, Trainees submit:

  • Five integrated assignments based on clinical material from placement.
  • Two academic assignments.
  • One Small Service Review Project (completed during one of the first four placements).
  • One Large-Scale Research Project completed during the final year of training and examined through a Viva.

The Programme does not currently evaluate performance via examinations.

Trainees competence development is evaluated by the clinical supervisor on each clinical placement. Emphasis is placed on supervisors using a range of modes and methods of evaluation including observation, evaluation of written work, and in vivo assessment of clinical skills.

Clinical Experience

We work closely with experienced and inspiring clinical psychologists from across west, east, south and mid Wales to ensure trainees experience a range of high-quality clinical placements. In the first year, Trainees gain supervised clinical experience in adult mental health services and in older adult services. During the second year Trainees gain experience in services for children and young people, and in services for people with a diagnosis of intellectual disability. During the final year our trainees have a wealth of clinical placements to select from (over 53 in 2019/20) to continue developing specific clinical interests and skills.

The populations served by the Programme are very varied and encompass the metropolitan cities of Cardiff and Swansea, the post-industrial South Wales valleys and the predominantly rural communities of Monmouthshire and West and Mid Wales.

Regional Placement Model

In 2018 the Programme introduced a regional placement model, whereby Trainees are allocated to one of six Welsh Health Boards for the first two years of training. Trainees are asked to submit Health Board preferences when they are short-listed for interview. Placement allocation carefully considers Trainee preferences and personal circumstances (such as family and/or carer responsibilities and personal disabilities) and successful candidates are informed of the Health Board they have been allocated when they are offered a place on the Programme. Health Board allocation is not considered until the Selection Committee has approved the list of preferred candidates.

In the 2019/2020 cohort, Trainees were allocated to Health Boards as follows:

Health Boards
Health Boards Trainees (2019)
Aneurin Bevan UHB 4
Cardiff and Vale UHB 6
Cwm Taff Morgannwg UHB 2
Swansea Bay UHB 3
Hywel Dda UHB 3
Powys THB 0

The regional model is designed to provide trainees with both predictability and stability in relation to clinical placements during clinical training and may enable Trainees to opt to live across south, west, east and mid Wales (and further afield) depending on their individual circumstances and preferences.


Clinically-relevant research forms a substantive part of clinical training on the Programme. All trainees undertake both a Small Service Review Project (SSRP) whilst on placement within the first two years of training and a doctoral standard Large-Scale Research Project (LSRP), which is completed over the three years of training and examined by viva voce examination in Year 3.

All LSRPs are part of ongoing or emerging programmes of clinical and scientific research led by experienced supervisors in the Programme team, the wider School of Psychology and associated research centres at Cardiff University.  Research is often conducted in close collaboration with research-active supervisors in the NHS and Third Sector organisations. Research interests over the past years have included neuro-rehabilitation, impact of trauma and adverse experiences, forensic clinical psychology,  eating disorders, recovery in mental health services, autism, intellectual disability and genetic disorders, clinical health psychology (particularly adaptation to conditions affecting appearance), wellbeing in elite athletes, psychological therapies (particularly CBT, ACT); and child and adolescent mental health.

The emphasis on the Programme is on high quality empirical research that is "close to practice", and that has the potential to benefit service users, clinicians and the wider profession. To this end, the research methods and techniques for the LSRP are selected according to what is required to address particular research questions.

Both the LSRP and SSRP are supported by teaching on research, service evaluation and audit. All trainees are supported to disseminate their work appropriately and publication is expected. To facilitate this, the LSRP is written up as a portfolio thesis that includes both a systematic literature review and an empirical research paper written for submission to specific journals. In addition, trainees are actively encouraged to present their work at national and international conferences as well to local services and service users.

Accreditation of Prior Learning

The Programme is full-time for three years and attendance at all Programme components is mandatory, including the induction period. The length of the Programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of any prior learning, experience or research work and trainees are required to complete the full Programme of training in order to qualify.


The programme team is committed to supporting trainee personal and professional development and a range of systems are in place to facilitate this. These include:

  • An appraisal tutor for the three years of training to monitor and support trainee competence development throughout training.
  • A professional mentor for the three years of training who is a clinical psychologist independent of the Programme team and not normally involved in the assessment of trainees. Professional mentors provide an opportunity for trainees to reflect on and make sense of their experience of training and to consider personal professional issues.
  • A buddy system is in operation whereby more experienced trainees support trainees new to the Programme and this is co-ordinated by the trainees themselves.
  • Cardiff and Vale UHB Employee Wellbeing and Occupational Health Services.
  • Cardiff University student counselling and disability support service.
  • Regular trainee meetings. Trainee involvement in the Programme is highly valued and trainees have representation on key Programme committees.
  • Regular (6 weekly) reflective practice groups throughout training.
  • Each year group also has at least twice yearly "Module Reviews". This is an opportunity for Trainees to provide feedback to the course team around strengths, limitations and areas for improvement in different areas of the training Programme (eg academic, research, placement and other components).


The Programme has 16 staff, and a further two to be appointed, with a wide range of expertise and interests and who undertake clinical work or clinical research in addition to their role with the DClinPsy and hold substantive or honorary positions with Cardiff University. The team receives excellent in-house administrative and technical support.

Professor Andrew Thompson - Programme Director
Dr John Fox - Clinical Director
Dr Jennifer Moses - Academic Director
Dr Louise Waddington - Therapies Director
Dr Victoria Samuel - Senior Research Tutor
Dr Christopher Hobson - Senior Clinical Tutor
Dr Heledd Lewis - Senior Clinical Tutor
Dr Aimee Pudduck - Senior Clinical Tutor
Dr Helen Penny - Senior Academic/Therapies Tutor and Selection Tutor
Dr Marc Williams - Senior Academic Tutor
Dr James Stroud – Senior Academic Tutor and Selection Tutor
Ms Clare Crole-Rees – Therapies Tutor and CBT Therapist
Kerrianne Trotman - Senior Programme Administration Manager
Andrea Osborne - Programme Secretary
Rebecca Cleverley - Personal Assistant and Programme Co-ordinator (Part-time)
Rhiannon Spence - Programme Secretary (Part-time)
To be appointed – Senior Clinical Tutor
To be appointed – Research Director