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.
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.
We welcome applicants from a wide range of backgrounds. All applications are processed through a central clearing house for all 30 clinical psychology training courses across England, Wales and Scotland and is hosted by the University of Leeds. There is a lot of useful information about how to apply on the clearing house website and information about each of the individual courses it represents. See www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp Courses have one intake per year and candidates can apply from September to early December for entry the following September.
The Oxford Course is funded by the National Health Service (NHS) with the aim of training sufficient numbers to meet workforce needs. All of our trainees (currently 17 per year) become NHS employees when they start the course, so we are only able to accept applications from people who are eligible to work in the UK. The course is not a university PhD programme and trainees spend much of their time on placements across the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
Detailed information on entry requirements is available on the clearing house website https://www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp/Clin20Oxford.html . We require all of our candidates to have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society (BPS). This means that the professional body for psychology in the UK has approved the undergraduate course or postgraduate conversion course completed by the candidate. Further information about this is available on the BPS website http://www.bps.org.uk/what-we-do/membership/graduate-member-mbpss/graduate-member-mbpss As clinical psychology training requires high levels of academic and research ability, we normally expect candidates to have achieved a high grade in their undergraduate degree. For British universities, this would mean a good 2.1 or first class honours degree. Clinical skills are also highly valued, so we expect candidates to have obtained at least one year of clinically relevant practical experience prior to starting the course. Working as a clinical psychologist requires excellent written and verbal communication skills, so we also require evidence of English language proficiency.
A range of skills, abilities and personal qualities are taken into account during the selection process, which are based on the person specification for a trainee clinical psychologist. This can be accessed via the following link [Person Specification]. Some understanding of the specific role of a clinical psychologist within the UK healthcare system is also helpful. Trainee clinical psychologists work with a wide range of clients, including vulnerable adults and children and are therefore subject to various checks before being accepted onto the course, including a criminal records check and occupational health clearance. The Course makes reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of trainees with disabilities.
Applications are initially processed by the clearing house before they are sent to individual courses. We receive over 600 applications per year, from which we expect to short-list 54 candidates for interview. Short-listing is carried out by course team members and experienced clinicians working in pairs. Each application is assessed according to specific criteria. These criteria are not available to candidates but are based on the person specification for a trainee clinical psychologist.
Applicants who are short-listed for interview spend half a day at the Isis Education Centre in Oxford, during which time they are observed participating in a group task and are given an individual interview. Both of these elements establish whether the candidate has the required competencies to work as a trainee clinical psychologist. These include academic, research and clinical competencies. The interview is conducted by a panel composed of Course staff and local supervisors. The group task additionally has a service user or carer as one of its panel members. During the selection days candidates have the opportunity to meet with current trainees. A video interview in which current trainees talk about their experiences of coming for interview can be found here.
Following completion of this process, candidates are either offered a place, placed on a reserve list or informed that they have not been successful.
It is expected that there will be 17 places in our 2018 intake. However, this is subject to confirmation from our commissioners.
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.