Staffordshire University

Course Code: 27

Staffordshire University Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
School of Life Sciences and Education
Staffordshire University
Leek Road

01785 353830

Course Administrator (first point of contact): Holly O'Rourke
Course Director: Dr Jo Heyes

General enquiries should be directed in the first instance to the Course Administrator at the email address above, who can redirect the query to the Course Director if needed. For candidates interested in applying, the course is represented at Postgraduate Open Days throughout the year. Please check the University website for details of the next scheduled open day.


The Staffordshire Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is an integrated three-year full-time course leading to a professional qualification in Clinical Psychology, the award of DClinPsy by Staffordshire University, and is based at Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent. The course values diversity and welcomes applicants from groups under-represented in the profession of clinical psychology.

The course is part of the local clinical psychology community and depends upon collaboration between the University and local NHS and clinical services. Clinical placements take up 50% of your time and are located in services, including those within NHS Trusts, across the large geographical areas of Shropshire and Staffordshire, where clinical psychology is a strong and well-developed profession.

The core purpose of this course is to train skilled clinical psychologists who can function effectively in a range of social, cultural, and organisational environments. Through training, we hope that trainees will develop self-awareness and engage fully in their personal and professional development. As a clinical learning community, we further seek to demonstrate an active engagement with service users and carers in every aspect of the course.

An equally important strand running through the curriculum is the impact of community and context upon psychological wellbeing. We attempt to ensure that issues of difference and diversity are fully addressed and encourage our trainees to be alert to the changing health needs of the local population and the NHS, as well as the research base that informs their clinical practice. We encourage trainees to be mindful of power differences within professional relationships. We highly value service user and carer perspectives, and the active role service users/carers can play in the planning and development of services.

Our curriculum is designed to develop clinicians who can draw on a broad range of psychological models and theories to inform their clinical work and who have the confidence to use a variety of research methods appropriate to clinical questions. There is also a focus on the development of leadership skills throughout the course, including service evaluation work in partnership with your employing NHS Trusts.

The broad aims of the course are:

  • To train psychologists for work in the NHS and related settings as Clinical Psychologists, in accordance with both the Health & Care Professions Council's (HCPC) Standards of Education & Training and Standards of Proficiency, and the British Psychological Society's (BPS) Accreditation Criteria;
  • To provide trainees with the academic, research and clinical skills commensurate with doctoral status;
  • To develop these skills and values based on a model of being a critically reflexive scientist-practitioner working within the local community.

Entry Requirements

The University operates equal opportunities policies and we operate within the parameters of the Equality Act 2010. If you have specific health requirements or learning needs, you are welcome to contact the Admissions Tutor for discussion before application, so that we can ensure that every effort is taken to make reasonable adjustments in partnership with Staffordshire University Disability Support Service.

Academic Criteria

You should have a good honours degree (2:1 or 1st) in psychology. Where your first degree is not in Psychology, a minimum 2:1 must have been achieved in the original degree and this must be supported by a pass in a recognised conversion course to Psychology. We do not consider applicants with a 2:2 in the original degree, even if you have achieved subsequent higher degrees (e.g. Masters). You must also demonstrate eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society. Qualifications that are incomplete at the time of application can only be counted where results are confirmed to the course by the end of January 2022. If English is not your first language and you were not taught in English in your undergraduate degree, you must have an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) minimum Score of 7.5.

Experience Criteria

You must have a minimum of one year full-time (or part-time equivalent) practical experience of working with people in a human service setting. Applicants with experience outside traditional health/caring settings are encouraged to apply and we value candidates with a broad range of experiences that prepare them for working as a clinical psychologist, which may not necessarily be via a traditional assistant psychologist route. You should outline clearly how your experience is relevant to the profession and study of clinical psychology in your application. If necessary, you should include further information about your relevant work experience in the personal statement section of the application.

Relevant examples could include the demonstration of skills in: being able to form supportive relationships with people in distress, or who find it hard to communicate; understanding different issues for people across the life-span; understanding the impact of different social circumstances on psychological distress and wellbeing; making good written reports; working with a range of other professionals; getting good observation of the range of work of clinical psychologists; experience of psychometric assessment or other forms of assessment; assisting service users to have a voice; gaining some understanding or experience of the NHS and Social Care services. Community and voluntary sector experiences are particularly valuable reflecting our commitment to context and community.

Clinically related research may also be considered appropriate experience, but this would need to comprise involvement in the research process that has included direct client/participant contact, thereby demonstrating appropriate skills. Completion of a higher research degree does not in itself constitute sufficient experience.

Doctoral training is clinically, emotionally and academically demanding. Therefore, applicants need to demonstrate their aptitude for this level of work and show how they will manage the demands of training.


You must provide two supportive references: one academic and one relevant experience.

The academic referee must be able to comment on your academic ability. This person should be from an academic institution at which you have studied and who has direct experience of your academic performance. If your most recent academic experience was more than five years prior to application, you may provide an alternative reference. However, this person must be appropriately skilled to comment on your ability to manage the academic requirements of Doctoral study (for example, a Consultant Psychologist or Psychiatrist). The reason for choosing an alternative referee in this instance must be included in the Personal Statements section of your application.

The experience referee must have direct experience of and be able to comment on your performance in a relevant clinical (or research if appropriate) context. This reference must be from your most recent experience or current employer. If this is not possible, you must include the reason for this in the Personal Statements section of your application.

Any application received not conforming to this guidance will not be considered further. References will be checked as part of our screening process.

Selection Procedure

Course staff, clinical psychologists from within Shropshire and Staffordshire, and service users/carers all participate in the selection process. Applicants who meet the minimum GBC, reference, academic and experience criteria for entry will need to undertake screening during February 2022 (week commencing 28 February 2022). We will provide candidates with details of the screening test once all applications have been received. We rank scores and select people for interview. We interview on a ratio of three people for each place we can offer.

Following screening, successful applicants will be invited to, or placed on a reserve list for, the second (interview) stage of our selection process (week commencing 23 May 2022), subject to satisfactory references. There are currently two interviews that candidates are required to participate in: a panel interview and a values-based role-play interview. We do not provide individual feedback for those not invited for interview. You will be required to provide both proof of identity (passport or photo driving licence) and eligibility to work in the UK without a work permit at interview. No other form of evidence will be accepted. Following this stage, offers will be made to the most suitable candidates, subject to satisfactory Occupational Health screening and Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks.

We do not give specific feedback to unsuccessful candidates following screening due the large number of applicants. Following interview, we do provide some brief, constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

We recruit to the values of the NHS Constitution. This influences our selection criteria and especially the values we are seeking to be demonstrated in both your application and interview, which we view as essential in any individual involved in working with service users.

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 e.g. as part of 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); etc.


Health Education England (HEE) currently funds the salaries and University fees of trainees throughout their training. However, it is important to note that this process is in review. At present trainees are employed by one of the NHS Trusts in the region, with associated NHS terms and conditions, on Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. All applicants must have settled status within the UK at the time of application. We do not currently accept self-funded places at Staffordshire University.

Travelling expenses are currently paid for travel to placement, and University fees are currently paid directly by the NHS.

Structure and Content

Academic Teaching

The Academic Director oversees the taught elements of the course. Academic teaching consists of workshops, lectures, seminars, and online learning. It covers a broad range of topics in psychology, providing the knowledge base for practice and training in clinical, professional, therapeutic, and research skills. Teaching in Years 1 and 2 is closely linked with the competences that are assessed on placements, whilst teaching in Year 3 focuses more on specialist skills. Attendance at all teaching sessions is compulsory. The Academic Director ensures that the overall teaching programme, and its assessment reflects the BPS competency framework for Clinical Psychologists, the Staffordshire University standards for level 8 (doctorate) learning and the HCPC standards. Teaching is provided by Course staff supported by the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University, and by Clinical Psychologists and Service Users from the course area and beyond.

Clinical Experience

The Clinical Director is responsible for planning placements with each trainee to offer a coherent and effective experience. Clinical placements start after induction blocks and take place in a wide range of hospitals, clinics, community centres, and independent sector agencies. There is some degree of choice in third year clinical placements. During each year, you will work with up to three Main Supervisors who assume responsibility for supervising your work over time periods ranging between 3 and 12 months (typically 6 months), amounting to a minimum number of placement days overall. You may also undertake specific pieces of work with other supervisors. Each trainee maintains an Individual Learning Portfolio drawn up in discussion with the Main Supervisors and Clinical Director/Tutor.

If offered a place on the course, you should note that you would need to travel considerable distances at times during training; travel times from home should not impact upon your ability to adhere to any course requirements. You will need to travel in a cost-effective manner, which may be through use of a car; those trainees who do not have access to a car will be expected to use public transport or taxis as necessary to engage fully in all placement-related activities. If you have a disability which directly impacts upon your ability to drive, you may be able to obtain funding for travel within work-based placements through the Access to Work scheme provided by the employer.


The research component of the course is led by the Research Director and encompasses research methods training (qualitative and quantitative methods) and the process of conducting clinically relevant research. Assessed research activities include critical appraisal of literature; a research proposal; a research methods examination; a service evaluation project; and a thesis portfolio incorporating a literature review, an empirical paper, and a summary report. Thesis papers should be of publishable standard and at least one paper must be submitted to a nominated journal. The thesis is initiated early in Year 1 with a literature review paper submitted in Year 2, and empirical paper and executive summary submitted in Year 3. There is considerable scope for choice of research topic and methodologies, provided that they are in line with national and/or local research priorities and with available supervision. Research supervision is provided by academics from Staffordshire University and local clinicians, and there is a wide range of University and NHS library and online resources to support research activity.

Course Structure

The course is full-time for three years and attendance at all course components is mandatory, 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 course of training in order to qualify.

Time on the course is divided between academic work, research, individual study time and clinical experience. Each academic year begins with a mandatory induction block of up to six weeks, plus mandatory NHS Trust training in Year 1, to prepare trainees for safe and effective practice in their supervised clinical work. Planned leave may not be authorised during the Induction Block.

Current modules
Title (all modules at Level 8) Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Assessment, Formulation, Intervention and Evaluation 1 30    
Assessment, Formulation, Intervention and Evaluation 2   30  
Professional Research 1 30    
Professional Research 2   30  
Professional Research 3     60
Leadership: Organisational and Systemic Influence 30  
Assessment, Formulation, Intervention and Evaluation 3   30
Personal and Professional Values and Skills 30  
Placement 1 90    
Placement 2   90  
Placement 3     90
Credit total per year 180 180 180


The assessment strategy comprises a system of continuous assessment and examinations designed to sample fully and equally academic, clinical, and research work. The degree of Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is awarded by Staffordshire University after successful completion of the course. There is no Aegrotat award. Alongside the research assignments listed above, trainees will complete a formulation case study, a single case n=1 design, a process focused case study, reflective reports and a range of presentations across the three years.


Each trainee has an Academic Mentor (a member of the course team, who meets with the trainee throughout the course); a buddy from the previous trainee cohort; and if they desire, we can facilitate access to an individual mentor. In addition, trainees participate in a mandatory facilitated Reflective Group throughout the course. Trainees have access to NHS Occupational Health Services and University Counselling Services and are also entitled to access the West Midlands Therapy Network. This provides free (usually brief) therapy delivered by volunteers from Clinical Psychology Services in the region.

Clinical Psychologists across Shropshire and Staffordshire provide the clinical supervision and contribute to the academic teaching in specialist areas. Other clinicians with specialist skills or knowledge may also provide supervision alongside the Clinical Psychologist. Supervisors take part in regular workshops and meetings for training and the discussion of issues relating to supervision.

Covid-19 Update

During this COVID outbreak the course is continually monitoring its impact on training. We aim to provide a blended approach to learning, comprising both some online teaching and learning in addition to on-campus teaching and learning. We are doing all we can to ensure that training is not compromised and that we continue to ensure that all trainees, on completion, have been given an equal opportunity to achieve the core professional competences detailed by the BPS and HCPC.


Current staff, correct at the time of writing, are:

Dr Jo Heyes - Course Lead

Academic Team

Dr Yvonne Melia - Academic Director
TBC - Academic Tutor

Clinical Team

Dr Jo Heyes - Clinical Director
Ms Sue Ledwith - Clinical Tutor
Dr Emma Turl - Clinical Tutor

Research Team

Dr Helen Scott - Research Director
Dr Kim Gordon - Research Tutor

Administration Team

Ms Holly O'Rourke - Student and Course Administrator