Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Trainees on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology undertake clinical placements within psychology services in our partner organizations across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (see locations of clinical placements in last academic year).

Clinical placements enable trainees to develop a comprehensive portfolio of clinical skills, so that by the end of training they should be well prepared to start working in a clinical service.  Trainees will normally complete five placements over the three years of the Course.  Four of these placements are usually in the areas of adult mental health; children young people and families; people with learning disabilities; and older people.  These placements are approximately 5½ months in duration and trainees will normally spend between 60 and 70 days on each placement.  Placements are fully integrated with the academic programme.  Over the course of training, trainees may express preferences for the opportunity to develop particular clinical competencies.  These preferences are considered by the trainee’s clinical tutor alongside the availability of supervision and their individual training needs.  At regular intervals, there are scheduled individual discussions with the trainee’s clinical tutor about future learning needs.  In the third year of the Course, trainees will normally complete one 12-month placement which will cover a wide range of clinical competencies.  A further aim of this placement is to equip trainees with additional skills such as leadership, consultancy, supervision and effective team-working to meet the needs of the modern NHS. 

Placements are carefully monitored and clinical tutors visit three times over the course of each placement. To help facilitate the effective development of clinical and professional competence, trainees normally keep the same clinical tutor throughout their training. Trainees are encouraged to work wherever possible with staff from other professions and with service users and carers.  Trainees normally receive a minimum of 1 hour formal individual clinical supervision each week whilst on placement in addition to less formal supervision and support.

Academic programme

The academic programme is carried out over three 10-week terms in each year of the Course.


Following a four-week induction block, academic teaching closely parallels the clinical experience of trainees on placement, taking a developmental and lifespan perspective. Teaching modules include: adult mental health; children, young people and families; learning disability; older people; health psychology; neuropsychology; substance abuse; psychology and the law, and professional issues.


Clinical skills and a variety of theoretical and therapeutic models including cognitive-behavioural, systems, psychodynamic psychotherapy and group work are taught and opportunities are available to encourage trainees to integrate these into their clinical work. In the third year there is a less intensive programme of teaching with an emphasis on current developments, ethical issues and professional concerns.

The Course aims to encourage creative self-directed learning and where possible the academic programme provides workshops, seminars and interactive sessions, rather than formal lectures. Teaching is delivered by Course staff, clinical supervisors working in the three counties, and external lecturers. Trainees have access to world class libraries in Oxford, including the Bodleian. Recent innovations to the academic programme include enquiry-based learning, strengthening leadership and resilience modules, and greater involvement of service users and carers within the academic programme.

Research training at the Institute aims to provide trainees with a positive learning experience that will develop their research skills to a high level and increase their confidence in their ability to conduct research in clinical settings.  Research is emphasised as an integral part of clinical practice.During the three year course, trainees develop their knowledge and understanding of research designs and methods, statistics, computing and qualitative data analysis. They grow in their competence to plan, conduct, write up and present their own original clinical research as well as critique research across all domains.

Initially these skills are explored through the development of a Service Related Project (SRP) jointly with their supervisor on clinical placement. This gives the trainee first-hand experience of how research skills can contribute to service development in a typically multi-disciplinary context.These skills are then further refined as the trainees identify a topic for their Research Dissertation. This is a substantial piece of work that must reach doctoral level in conceptualisation, design and execution and investigate a topic which is of clinical relevance. The Research Dissertation has two components: Paper A forming a literature review and Paper B a report of an empirical investigation.

Many novel and influential projects have been developed at the Institute, and many trainees have pursued careers in clinical research on graduation.


Taught syllabus: Teaching takes place across all three years of the Course. Quantitative and qualitative designs and methods are taught, together with statistics and computing skills. Specific sessions are provided on research ethics and to familiarise trainees with the University and Course rules and regulations on the assessed research work. Teaching also aims to help trainees plan and organise their research work.


Service related project: This is normally conducted before beginning work on the Dissertation, typically on the first clinical placement. It is supervised by the placement supervisor with the support of the trainee’s research tutor. Together with their supervisor, trainees are encouraged to consult national and local audit plans in order to select a suitable topic, bearing in mind the needs of the service. Projects require local audit committee approval.


Dissertation: This is a major piece of research work. It must be original, with human participants, and relevant to the practice of clinical psychology. It is written as two journal style papers, consisting of a review and an empirical paper. Planning begins before the summer of year 1, and it is handed in in mid-July, with a viva voce in early September. Projects require NHS or University ethical committee approval, as appropriate. The Course Research Sub-Committee must approve the proposed project before it can proceed to ethics.


Examples of recent dissertation titles/topics:

  • A qualitative investigation of the experiences of young people with low mood who attend CAMHS
  • The impact of social anxiety on cognitive processes and safety behaviours when using Facebook
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and the cognitive model, in women with in patient admission for anorexia nervosa
  • Neurofeedback and positive reappraisal: a novel method of regulating emotion in adolescents
  • Emotional distress, hot-spots and imagery, in the relatives of intensive care patients

Trainee Support & Personal and Professional Development


The Course provides a range of support systems that trainees can use flexibly depending on their individual needs and preferences.  Each trainee is allocated a Clinical Tutor and a Research Tutor. Clinical Tutors are responsible for coordinating and monitoring the clinical placement experience for each trainee, and facilitating and supporting the development of clinical competencies across the three years of training.


Research Tutors facilitate the development of each trainee’s research competence, and provide individual support with the service related project and the research dissertation. Academic Tutors also meet regularly with trainees to discuss academic and general Course related issues.


Personal and professional development is facilitated through supporting reflective practice in a variety of ways, including professional reflection seminars, trainee led reflection sessions, and six-monthly confidential appraisal meetings with a member of Course staff.  There is a “Buddy” system where each new trainee is offered support from a trainee in the year above. There is an optional Personal Tutor system where trainees can select a Personal Tutor, from a list of local clinical psychologists, for confidential mentoring. There is also a list of local therapists available for trainees who decide to self-fund personal therapy.

Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology 

Frequently Asked Questions from Potential Candidates  

This is currently being updated.


The Oxford Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society.


The programme underwent a reaccreditation visit in June 2017 and received unconditional accreditation for a further 6 years. The full accreditation report can be accessed here.


BPS accredited