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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