Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology 

Frequently Asked Questions from Potential Candidates  

1. How do I apply to the Oxford Course for Clinical Psychology training?

You cannot apply directly and must apply through the Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology. The Clearing House coordinates and processes applications to 30 Clinical Psychology courses in England, Scotland and Wales. To apply you must follow the instructions on the Clearing House website (address below). The Clearing House website has lots of useful information. This includes detailed information on all 30 courses such as programme content, entry requirements etc. The Clearing House has an online application process and through this process, you can apply for up to four different courses. Applications are only accepted from the start of September to the end of November for courses starting in September the following year. In 2017, the cost of applying for Clinical Psychology training is £23 (there is also a £13 earlybird rate).


2. I am from a European Union (EU) country other than the UK; can I apply to the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology?

Yes. Applications from people living in EU countries will be considered. However, in March 2017 the UK government started the process for the UK to leave the EU. The implications of this process for immigration status are not yet known.

 For updates about the process of the UK leaving the EU you may find the following websites useful:

•           UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is the UK's national advisory body serving the interests of international students and those who work with them.

•           Universities UK is the voice of universities, helping to maintain the world-leading strength of the UK university sector.


It is also worth bearing in mind that the National Health Service (NHS), who funds Clinical Psychology training in the UK, does so to provide Clinical Psychologists for the UK workforce. As such, non-UK candidates need to demonstrate a commitment to working in the NHS or social care following qualification.


3. I am from a non-EU country; can I apply to the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology?

Only if you are already eligible to work in the UK.  This is because all of our trainees are employed by the NHS, who fund their training and pay their salary.  Therefore we are subject to Government regulations regarding the employment of migrant workers.  These regulations prevent us from employing migrant workers because there is no shortage of suitable applicants from within the EU.


4. Would the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology consider an applicant who was intending to fund themselves?

No. All placed on the course are NHS-funded. However, there are some Courses who do take self-funding applicants.  Please check the Clearing House website for details. (Website address below.)


5. What kind of relevant experience would help me get a place on Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology?

There are lots of different ways of getting relevant experience. The Oxford Course is looking for evidence that you would work well with people presenting with a wide range of different problems, and that you could work with people of different backgrounds and life experiences. The Oxford Course is also looking for people who can work well in teams and people who can understand and operate within complex systems. An understanding of the specific role of Clinical Psychology is also valuable. This understanding is important not only because it prepares you well for Clinical Psychology training, but also because it will help you to be sure that Clinical Psychology is the right career for you.

Examples of relevant work experience may include: Assistant Psychologist, Research Assistant, IAPT psychological wellbeing practitioner and some areas of Nursing and Social Work.


6. Is my undergraduate degree class important?

Yes. Because of the academic demands of Clinical Psychology training, it is expected that you will have achieved a first or good upper second class honours degree (or its equivalent). The overall percentage mark achieved will be taken into account.  Occasionally, there are mitigating circumstances where performance at undergraduate level was poor than expected. If this applies to you, your academic referee will need to provide evidence of mitigating circumstances and indicate that your expected results were commensurate with the Oxford Course entry requirements.  Also, it is sometimes possible to demonstrate that your degree class underestimates your academic ability by exceptional performance in postgraduate study.


7. Is it an advantage to have a higher degree?

Some of our trainees do have higher degrees such as MScs and a few of our trainees have previously completed PhDs. However, many of our trainees do not have higher degrees when they start training.  If you find research difficult or have been unable to get any experience of carrying out research other than during your undergraduate degree, you might want to consider completing a higher degree prior to applying for Clinical Psychology training. Also, if you want to provide further evidence of academic ability (see question 6), achieving a good grade at masters level could strengthen your application.


8. If I have a non-UK undergraduate degree, how is this assessed?

If you have obtained your degree from outside the UK or Republic of Ireland, you will need to find out whether it meets the requirements for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). It is essential to have GBC if you are applying for Clinical Psychology training, as it shows courses that your undergraduate degree contained a broad range of psychological knowledge. The BPS will automatically check whether your degree course meets the requirements for GBC if you apply to become a member. Please also note that we require evidence of English proficiency (Level 8 or above on the International Language Testing System IELTS - Academic).  Minimum standards for all courses are stated on the Clearing House website.


9. What do I do if I have a degree that does not confer GBC of the BPS and want to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology?

This could apply if your Psychology degree does not meet the requirements for GBC or if you have a degree in a subject other than Psychology. If this is the case you will need to take a BPS accredited conversion course. These are normally one year full time or two years part time.  There is a list of accredited conversion courses on the BPS website.


10. Is there an upper or lower age limit for applicants to the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology?

The lower age limit is determined by the need to have completed an undergraduate degree and gained relevant experience. There is no upper age limit and older applicants are welcome to apply.


11. I’m considering a career change but it is a long time since I completed my first degree in psychology. Is it worth me applying for Clinical Psychology training?

Yes, the Oxford Course is interested in receiving applications from people from a wide range of different backgrounds. People with experience in areas other than Clinical Psychology will often have knowledge and skills that can make a real contribution to the profession.


12. Can the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology take applicants with a disability?

Yes, the Oxford Course would make every effort to meet the needs of a trainee with a disability and is fully compliant with current legislation. “Reasonable adjustments” to the working environment are made for applicants with a disability who are successful in getting a place on the Course.  Reasonable adjustments can also be made to the selection process for candidates with a disability.


13. How much am I expected to know about the National Health Service (NHS) context before starting training?

It is useful to have some background knowledge of the way the NHS works and of the strengths and weaknesses of the public health and social care system in the UK. In addition, there are various policies, procedures and regulations that have an impact on the delivery of Clinical Psychology. This background knowledge is helpful as Trainee Clinical Psychologists on the Oxford Course carry out clinical placements in NHS settings throughout their training.


14. How much am I expected to know about psychological models and theories before starting training?

The philosophy of the Oxford Course stems from both the scientist-practitioner and the reflective-practitioner models. As such, it is expected that trainees will be able to apply the psychological models and theories learnt at undergraduate level, to clinical problems they encounter on placements. Furthermore, trainees should have had some experience of applying psychology in areas they have worked prior to getting a place on a course. The reflective-practitioner model complements the scientist-practitioner model in that the Oxford Course is looking for evidence that applicants are able to think critically about the application of psychological models in clinical settings and reflect on their own experience in relation to clinical work.

It is important to note however, that the Oxford Course does not expect applicants to be competent in the above areas at the start of training. It is more important to demonstrate potential in these areas. The training process enables people to develop these skills and competencies.


15. How much do I need to know about research before starting training?

Research is an important component of the Oxford Course and one of the core competencies of the Clinical Psychologist. Undergraduate study provides some preparation for the research component of the course. It is helpful to have some additional experience of carrying out research, particularly if your undergraduate thesis was in an area unrelated to Clinical Psychology. This will give you experience of carrying out research/audit in a work setting.

The Oxford Course does provide teaching, supervision and support to enable trainees to develop their research skills. There is also access to advice on statistical analysis and qualitative research methodology. As with clinical skills, the Oxford Course does not expect trainees to be fully competent in conducting applied research at the start of training.


16. Would I have to live near Oxford if I got a place?

It is highly beneficial for Trainee Clinical Psychologists on the Oxford Course to live within the area covered by the Oxford Course (i.e., the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire). This is because trainees spend a considerable amount of time on placements which can be in any of these three counties. A majority of trainees choose to live in or near Oxford, as teaching and other meetings during term time are based in Oxford.  The Warneford Hospital in Oxford is the designated base for all trainees so travel expenses generally work out better for trainees who choose to live in or near Oxford.  There are other benefits to living in or near Oxford such as university libraries, social and sports facilities etc.


17. How much would I earn as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist?

Trainee Clinical Psychologists are appointed on band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales.  In 2017 salaries on band 6 start at £26,565.


18. Where do I go for more information?

 British Psychological Society: www.bps.org.uk

 Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology: www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp

Dr David Dean

19th  September, 2017