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UCL Doctorate In Clinical Psychology

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Minimum Placement Days and Study Leave

How many days are required in each placement? 
The BPS specify that at least 50% of trainees' time on the Course is spent on placement. They do not specify a day requirement in relation to each placement, but in practice trainees are expected to accrue between 60 and 65 clinical days in any one six-month block of placement time. In a one-year placement they should accrue between 120 and 130 days.

On some placements unforeseen circumstances may mean that the number of days may drop slightly below these figures - for example if a trainee is ill. However, they should not have less than 55 days on placement - if this looks likely the Course needs to be alerted to the possible shortfall.

How many days a week are trainees on placement?

  • Trainees are usually on placement for 3 days in each week: - First Years on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; - Second and Third Years on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
  • During academic terms, First Year trainees are in college on Tuesday and Thursday; Second Year trainees are in College on Wednesday and Friday; Third Year trainees are usually in College on Friday.
  • Outside academic terms, trainees will be on placement for either 3 or 4 days a week, depending on their year-group. Specific details can be found in the chart which follows. 

What is the detailed pattern of placement days throughout the year?
This chart shows the placement schedule across the three years of training:

Year 1No of days per week on placement
Term 1 (usually late September - mid-December)3
Christmas holiday4
Term 2 (usually mid-January - late March)3
Easter holiday4
Term 3 (usually late April - early July)3
Summer holiday4
Year 2No of days per week on placement
Term 1 (usually late September - mid-December)3
Christmas holiday3
Term 2 (usually mid-January - late March)3
Easter holiday3
Term 3 (usually late April - early July)3
Summer holiday3
Year 3No of days per week on placement
Term 1 (usually late September - mid-December)3
Christmas holiday3
Term 2 (usually mid-January - late March)3
Easter holiday3
Term 3 (usually late April - early July)3
Summer holiday3 or 4*

* Strictly by negotiation with college and with supervisor, some trainees can take 1 research day per week to write-up their research for publication


Why are second and third year trainees only on placement 3 days a week during holiday periods?
Because they are undertaking their research - the two days per week away from placement during holiday periods are to undertake the DClinPsy thesis project.


What other variations are there to the standard pattern?
There are occasional one-week blocks of teaching in college. Because these are timetabled well in advance, supervisors will have good notice. 


Research study leave - time allowed for research

From the second year trainees can take up to two weeks of research study leave from each six month placement, in order to focus on their research (in effect this means that they can take up to six days away from the placement). Study time needs to be negotiated with clinical supervisors at the start of the placement. This will include decisions about how the time is taken (e.g. as one block, as two blocks, or as separate days). It is important to note that there is no automatic entitlement to six days study time – there needs to be a good reason for taking it.

Trainees need to ensure that (if they do take research study leave) they will have undertaken enough placement days. And supervisors are entitled to balance the needs of the clinical placement against the trainee's need to undertake research. In practice this means that trainees may have to take fewer than six days study time, or even no study time at all.

STUDY ON PLACEMENT: CLINICALLY-RELATED STUDY TIME

Clinically-related study time is distinct from academic study time (which is used to help meet academic requirements of the Course and is usually taken on one of the academic days).

Clinical study time is used to read up about clinical work trainees are undertaking - for example, to read about tests they are using, or about theories or models which relate to clients they are seeing. Identifying time for study during the placement ensures this happens.

How much study time?
We suggest that trainees have the equivalent of half a day a week for clinically-related study. However, the ‘default' assumptions are that:

a) clinical study time is spent on placement, unless there is a good reason for study to be taken off-site.

b) that both trainee and supervisor are flexible about when and how the time is taken. The basic issue is whether clinical study time is taken as a block, or (for example) an hour a day. Equally there may be times when there is little relevant reading to do, and rather than spend time studying they could undertake a more direct piece of clinical activity.

We are keen to move away from a pattern whereby clinical study time is spent off placement, and rigidly scheduled, with the result that trainees spend just 2½ days a week at their placement. Equally, we want trainees to have the time to study, and we would be concerned if trainees had no time for reflection and learning.

At the start of the placement supervisors and trainees should agree how clinically-related study is to be taken, and review these arrangements from time-to-time to see how well they are working. This means that supervisors and trainees can decide for themselves the most efficient way in which this time is taken, with an explicit sense that arrangements are flexible and responsive to need.

The course will monitor these arrangements as part of the Mid Placement Review.