Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Information About | Our Programmes | FAQ


Information about the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is a 3-year postgraduate course, which has a clear vocational focus and requires applicants to have some prior relevant experience. This means that most people will have thought long and hard about whether this is the right training for them, and will have chosen Clinical Psychology over some of the alternative careers that are open to them. These include psychotherapy training, or training in one of the alternative areas of applied psychology, such as counseling, educational, forensic or health psychology. Their choice reflects the breadth and depth of training in Clinical Psychology. This gives the opportunity to work with a wide range of client groups, seen in a diversity of clinical settings and using a variety of clinical approaches (which includes psychological as well as psychotherapeutic interventions). Academically there is the chance to learn about and apply a broad range of psychological theories and models, making use of relevant research, and undertaking original clinical research. The course is demanding but is also highly rewarding, and Clinical Psychologists are an important part of the workforce in a wide range of mental health and social care settings.

The course is the largest in the country (with an intake of 42 trainees per annum). Its reputation as one of the leading courses in the UK rests on the fact that it is at the forefront of clinical and professional development, is willing to innovate, and is keen to respond to feedback from trainees. Trainees who have completed the course have praised the degree of care shown by staff in supporting them through a demanding course, and their positive feedback and their pride in being alumni of UCL is very heartening for course staff.


Structure of the Doctorate Programme

During academic terms, trainees spend 3 days a week on clinical placement; the remaining 2 days are spent either on scheduled teaching in college or study/research. As far as possible academic teaching is integrated with the clinical placements. During academic holidays trainees continue work on their clinical placements, in line with their position as full-time NHS employees.

First Year

Trainees start with a full-time, 5-week block of training, which aims to give a general introduction to the key ideas and skills that form the foundation of clinical psychology science and practice. After this, teaching takes place on two days a week during academic terms. The first two terms focus on key scientific and clinical principles and central skills for assessment, engagement and intervention. In addition, specific therapeutic models are introduced (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy), in order to dovetail with the usual pattern of work on trainees’ placements. Teaching on research methods begins in term 2 of the first year. In the third term of year one and the first term of the second year teaching focuses on lifespan developmental processes and systemic therapy.

Second Year

Trainees begin work on their thesis at the beginning of this year. In concert with the lifespan perspective introduced at the end of Year 1, practice-focused teaching in the second year examines psychological work with children, adolescents, adults and older adults in a developmental sequence. The rest of the second year then focuses on disability and health. Statistics teaching is provided during the latter half of the second year.

Third/Final Year

To allow time for research there is a reduced schedule of teaching in the third year with trainees attending teaching a day per fortnight. Teaching in the third year introduces advanced issues in clinical psychology science and practice. This includes consideration of integrative therapies and new developments in theory and research as well as important professional issues designed to smooth the way into qualified professional practice. In the months following submission of the thesis trainees share responsibility for the organisation of the teaching programme.


Applying for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

All applications must be made through the Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology:

Full details, including information about entry criteria can be found at:


What do people do with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology?
Further information

As this is a vocational programme it is no surprise that graduates go on to work in the NHS or similar healthcare organizations, usually undertaking clinical work. Sometimes they go on to take up clinical research posts in universities, making use of their combination of clinical and research skills. For more information about the profession visit the British Psychological Society website:

Please select the links for further information