Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

About the course

Our programme is striving towards embedding social justice and anti-racist principles into practice, and we welcome applicants from underrepresented groups.

We are a friendly and supportive staff team, which we feel is integral to creating a collaborative and collegiate learning environment. This is important for assisting trainees through what can be a challenging experience at times but also, we believe, in facilitating trainees to become unique and highly competent clinical psychologists, where personal values and social and cultural background can be integrated with professional development. The programme prepares its graduates for multiple roles in the expanding world of clinical psychology that includes not only therapeutic work, but also supervision, management, applied research, administration, teaching, consultation and public policy making.

Placements are planned across the three years to meet individual training needs and competencies, while preparing trainees for the needs of the NHS workforce.  We have a variety of local specialist placements in terms of clinical group (such as paediatric, health, older adults, eating disorders, psychosis) and therapeutic orientation (CBT, systemic, psychodynamic, CAT and neuropsychology). We follow a core competency model of training. This means that all our placements are used across the three years of training to enable you to develop a wide range of competencies.

We provide high-quality teaching in terms of our course content and teaching methods. We integrate feedback from trainees, professional stakeholders and people who are expert by experience . Trainees can participate in committees to shape and continually improve all aspects of the programme. Our innovative teaching methods ensure learning is stimulating, interactive and progressive. These include problem-based learning (PBL), small group work, peer-led and cross-cohort learning, and using the University's high-tech simulation suites for simulation training. Our trainees have the opportunity to engage in training on organisational and systemic influence and leadership.

Our reputation

The high quality of our teaching is reflected in comments by our trainees in the Alternative Handbook 2020 and 2021, published by the British Psychological Society . The quality of our teaching was rated as "excellent" or "good" by 91% of respondents in 2020 and 87% of respondents in 2021. 

Psychology ranked joint first nationally for research impact, obtaining 100% outstanding rating (Research Excellence Framework, 2022).

Where you’ll study

You’ll be taught in the Health Research Building and other teaching spaces across College Lane Campus. You’ll benefit from our modern Learning Resources Centres, which include bookable hubs (for group student working) and extensive e-learning facilitates.  Find out more about our Learning Resources Centres. Plus, you’ll have access to purpose-built simulation training centres which enable you to practice your skills in a realistic and safe environment. This high-tech centre provides realistic and safe clinical and community-based environments to facilitate scenario-based learning. With control rooms operated by staff, observation rooms and 26 digital cameras recording simulation activities, your learning will benefit from innovation every step of the way. See our clinical simulation centres. After a day of learning, there’s plenty of green spaces and recreational facilities to relax in.

Our values

In keeping with our values of putting trainees, diversity, the participation of service users and carers and the needs of the NHS at the forefront of our programme, our overall programme philosophy is located within a social constructionist approach. This approach examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. For instance, the term "depression" can be thought of as a medical diagnosis as well as a normal response to a detrimental social, cultural or economic environment. This critical position is the lens through which we present the core teaching as required for all UK doctorate clinical psychology courses. It enables a complex analysis of evidence-based practice, resulting in a drive towards higher standards within the profession of clinical psychology.

Experts by Experience Participation

We are committed to the meaningful participation of service users and carers in all aspects of the programme including teaching, research, staff recruitment and admissions and are working towards more co-production on the DClinPsy. We have an Experts by Experience subcommittee which meets regularly, consults to the programme team on these issues and thinks about how we can improve and ensure meaningful involvement.

Our commitment to diversity

We encourage applications from people with a wide range of backgrounds. We strongly believe that diversity of cultures, social and economic experiences and individual perspectives within a trainee cohort substantially benefit the learning environment for all trainees. It is essential that as clinical psychologists we contribute to a cohesive and diverse workforce within the NHS and reflect the client groups we have a duty to serve.

All selection processes are undertaken by the University, which operates Equal Opportunities policies. We aim to implement fair selection procedures and no candidate will be discriminated against on grounds of race, colour, creed, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation. The programme actively encourages applications from psychologists from minority groups and seeks to enhance opportunities for applicants from these groups to obtain a place by allowing discussion of this at various points within the selection process (for example, candidates are invited to consider contextual considerations and reflections).

If the information that you require has not been covered here please email the programme administration team with your course enquiries, including any queries regarding the support we offer candidates with disabilities. We aim to respond in a timely however, we do receive a large volume of requests. Every effort is taken to make reasonable adjustments in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire Disability Services.

Important Dates for Applications for course entry September 2023

Applications for NHS Funded posts and Self-Funded posts are managed via the Clearing House Website. Applications for 2023 entry are open in September 2022 and close on 16 November 2022 at 13:00. Applicants will be notified about whether or not they have been short-listed by 17 March 2023. Interviews will be held virtually on 10-12 May 2023.

Applications for Self Funded places

Self-funding applicants can apply via the Clearing House website or directly. The deadline to apply is Friday 27 January 2023.

Download the application form

Interviews will be held virtually on 10-12 May 2023, alongside NHS funded applicants.

Our selection process

If candidates believe their qualifications reflect lack of opportunity (for example, through social disadvantage, earlier life experiences, cultural factors) rather than ability, they should explain this clearly in their application. Similarly, mature candidates who come to psychology after a less conventional educational path will not be disadvantaged, but it will be helpful for them to explain their educational and career pathways in their application. We will consider this information when rating the application. We are including contextual recruitment in our selection process this year.

Application forms are used at all stages in the selection process. Any candidate known well to the reviewer is passed on and rated by another reviewer.

Applications are first screened to ensure they meet the minimum admissions criteria as outlined above. Eligible applications are then independently rated by the programme team and local clinical psychologists with respect to demonstration of academic ability; relevant experience (and the application of learning gained from this experience); and personal and professional suitability. From these ratings, a short-list is compiled of candidates to be invited for interview. We regret that, due to the large numbers of applications and limitations on resources, we are unable to give individual feedback.

Contextual Admissions

We are in the process of developing contextual recruitment processes. This is based on evidence that contextualising individuals’ achievements using additional information about their educational, social and economic background can lead to fairer and more inclusive selection processes. This information could help us to recognise individuals with strong potential for success at doctoral level and within the profession, who otherwise might not have been identified.

The Clearing House will circulate a survey to collect contextual admissions data separately from the application form. The group of trainers in clinical psychology have agreed the questions in this survey, which have evidence for improving the inclusivity and equity of recruitment processes.

Completion of this survey is optional. If you are able to answer any of the questions which provide some additional background about you, and you are happy to provide this to us via the Clearing House, then we would encourage you to do so. 

In due course, we will provide further details about how we will use the data collected in the survey. It is likely to be used in the following ways:

  • as part of our selection processes
  • for audit/research purposes to consider developments to selection processes in future
  • to create reports for external agencies such as Health Education England (which commissions many training programmes).

We are in the process of conducting research on the use of contextual admissions information using a survey completed by applicants to the programme for 2021 entry. The outcomes of the research will inform of use of the data in selection processes for 2022 entry.

Invites to interview

Short-listed candidates are then invited to participate in a range of selection tasks. Interviews will be held 10-12 May 2023 inclusive. A research paper will be sent to you in advance of the interviews, and this will need to be reviewed ahead of the interview as you will be asked about your reflections on it.

The interviewing process consists of two parts: a group task together with other applicants, followed by an individual panel interview addressing academic, research and clinical competency and professional and personal suitability. The aim is for all interviews and assessments to be rated by at least two selectors either from the programme team or clinical psychologists working in local services. Experts by experience will be involved. Our selection process is subject to change and the shortlisted applicants will be notified of details nearer the time.

UH-DClinPsy-Ask Herts page

Teaching methods

The programme takes three years (full-time) to complete and comprises academic, clinical, research, and professional development training. Each academic year starts at the end of September or beginning of October with a four-week, full-time introductory block of teaching (please note leave may not be taken during the induction blocks of teaching). This is followed by teaching all day on Thursdays and Fridays during term-time. All academic teaching takes place at the College Lane Campus in Hatfield and attendance is mandatory. Two and a half days a week are spent on clinical placement (more outside term-time) and half a day each week is allocated to study time. In the second and third year of training, time is allocated on the timetable to complete a small-scale service-related and a major research project.

In line with our on-going commitment to social justice and anti-racist practice, we are currently engaged in a comprehensive process to decolonise all aspects of our training programme.

At the University of Hertfordshire trainees are regarded as mature students, and for this reason an adult learning model is adopted. In line with this model and the overall programme philosophy, it is recognised that not only do trainees learn in different ways, but also that they can pursue their own perceptions of the material being taught and interpret it for themselves.

You’ll take part in the following training:

  • academic
  • clinical
  • research
  • professional development.

Attendance is mandatory to all aspects of training. Two and a half days a week are spent on clinical placement (more outside term-time) and half a day each week is allocated to study time. In the second and third year of training, time is allocated on the timetable to complete a small-scale service-related and a major research project.

Academic Training

The academic programme is based on the standards for accreditation for Doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology (BPS, 2016) and comprises six main areas of teaching:

  1. Epistemology and Context
  2. Reflective Practice
  3. People and Presentations
  4. Assessment, Formulation, Intervention and Evaluation
  5. Organisational and Systemic Influence and Leadership
  6. Research

Each of these six areas is further divided into a number of specific teaching modules that span the three years of training and correspond as much as possible with the structure and sequence of clinical placements. Attention to ethical practice, reflective learning, equality and cultural humility is highlighted across all modules. Particular consideration is given to the many ways in which issues relating to diversity and inequality impact on the work of practising clinical psychologists within the lectures, and all lectures are formally evaluated on this by the trainees.

The main models of psychological therapy taught on the programme are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and systemic. We are working on bringing the systemic elements in line with AFT foundation accreditation criteria.

The academic programme at the University of Hertfordshire is located within the overall programme philosophy, which places particular emphasis on incorporating a social constructionist approach to conceptualising psychological difficulties and their management. In line with the programme philosophy, an important aim of the academic programme is to train clinical psychologists who can critically understand and apply a range of psychological theories and approaches to both clinical practice and research, including those from beyond Western knowledge.

We teach our trainees to draw on multiple theoretical perspectives and the evidence base to develop individually tailored assessments, formulations, interventions and evaluations of complex psychological problems. We emphasise the flexibility to adapt and combine different approaches as a key competence, and our curriculum, therefore, aims to develop a broad, thorough and sophisticated understanding of various psychological theories and therapeutic approaches.

The programme utilises novel methods for learning:

  • problem based learning exercises, in small groups. These promote reflective, collaborative and self-directed learning
  • real-world training scenarios in our high-tech simulation centre
  • small group discussions to consider academic papers and clinical cases
  • peer assisted learning with Year 3 trainees facilitating group discussions. These are an opportunity to integrate theory and research and highlight links between theory and practice. Plus, they’ll give a chance for peer review of formulation and intervention plans. Training is given to facilitators
  • cross-cohort learning forums, including an annual whole course event which welcomes a range of speakers from inside and outside the profession. This day often has a community psychology focus, a multi-media approach and input from experts by experience. In recent years these workshops have included: "African Psychology Assessment, Formulation and Interventions for Emotional and Behavioural Problems; Illuminating the spirit of wellness for transformation" (Dr Erica McInnis); "A day with Re:assure" (AIDS charity); and "Reflections on trauma and psychiatric diagnoses" (Jacqui Dillon)
  • debating opportunities provide opportunities for all three year groups to work together.

In line with HCPC requirements for all clinical training programmes, all trainees selected will be informed of the various activities that form part of the academic curriculum (e.g. role-plays, problem-based learning, simulation training, small group discussions etc). Consent to participate in all aspects of the academic programme will be sought prior to the programme commencing.

Clinical Experience

Our placements are located over a wide geographical area encompassing Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, West Essex and South Essex, and most are not easily accessible by public transport. We recommend you live within appropriate travelling distance to your NHS base and University base. We cannot accommodate requests to minimise travelling distances, particularly if you choose to live outside of the geographical area covered by the programme. The programme enjoys excellent relations with clinical psychologists in the region, and this is reflected in the quality of placements available.

Our trainees generally undertake six placements, each of approximately six months. Year-long placements are also used in some settings. Placements are allocated to ensure the development of core competencies and experiences for all our trainees, as well as to meet the specific training needs of individuals. We work closely with placement providers to consider how our placement pool is best utilised to provide a meaningful and quality placement experience.

Current placements include opportunities for specialising in therapy approaches including:

  • cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • systemic family therapy
  • psychodynamic therapy
  • cognitive analytic therapy.

Placements also cover a wide range of clinical psychology fields, including:

  • paediatrics
  • forensic
  • inpatient
  • eating disorders
  • early intervention in psychosis
  • neuropsychology
  • neurological rehabilitation.

Health psychology placements include:

  • HIV
  • chronic fatigue
  • a specialist burns unit.

You’ll have the option of applying for nationally accessible placements. For example, at the Tavistock, Portman NHS Trust and the Anna Freud Centre. We are actively developing community psychology placements to enable practice of social justice principles across the programme.

Each trainee is allocated a programme tutor for the duration of your training. The programme tutor undertakes reviews with all trainees and supervisors at the mid-point and end of each placement. The tutor also meets individually with trainees at the start of each placement, in order to review and facilitate your clinical development. The programme tutor will complete annual appraisals and provide pastoral support.

Research Requirements

Research is a key aspect of the identity and skill set of a clinical psychologist. We strive to inspire a passion for research in all our trainees. In line with the concept of the "scientist-practitioner", we will equip you with the knowledge and skills to undertake high-quality research, appraise literature critically, and adopt an evidence-based approach to clinical practice, where possible. We also aim to foster in trainees an awareness of the need for, and motivation to undertake, research in clinical settings - both during their placements and after qualification - to contribute to the evidence base of the profession.

Formal teaching introduces trainees to a range of methods and issues arising in the conduct of clinical research. These include:

  • research design
  • foundational research skills
  • qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis
  • guidance in the use of statistics
  • the process of planning and organising research projects.

We focus on meaningful participation and public involvement in research and a commitment to decolonise research approaches. Dissemination is considered an ethical responsibility, and support towards this is offered through writing and dissemination workshops. A wide range of statistical and computing facilities is available, with excellent support from departmental technical staff.

At the beginning of the first year, our trainees conduct a Small-Scale Service-Related Project while on placement (typically an audit, service evaluation, or Quality Improvement project). Work towards the Major Research Project (MRP) begins late in your first year. You’ll be given information about regional research opportunities. Plus, the research interests and contacts offered by our programme team. Our programme team has qualitative and quantitative research expertise. Clear research expertise and networks have been developed in relation to programme research streams, including:

  • children, young people and families
  • health psychology and wellbeing
  • food and eating
  • health equality, inclusion and communities
  • clinical psychology training and professional issues.

These align with the wider research themes of the University of Hertfordshire and the wider University research strategy. In the second and third years, substantial blocks of time are set aside to complete the literature review for the MRP. This will involve collecting and analysing data, writing a dissertation, and summarising the research in a format suitable for submission to a journal. Supervision is provided at all these stages. Submission of a paper-based on this research to a peer-reviewed journal is a final research requirement of the programme.


The final degree is awarded subject to satisfactory performance in the clinical, academic and research components of the programme. These aspects are evaluated formally within a system of continuous assessment. Academic performance is formally assessed through a written exercise, and the presentation and reflective accounts of problem-based learning assignments. Research assessments include:

  • a Small-Scale Service-Related Research project
  • Major Research Project (up to 30,000 words)
  • associated journal paper (2,000 - 5,000 words)
  • oral examination in Research Design during the first year.

Clinical skills are assessed through:

  • placement-related documents (Supervisor Evaluation of Clinical Competence, Log of Clinical Experience and Skills)
  • Clinical Practice Reports based on clinical work conducted on placements.

In addition to these formal evaluations, you’ll be monitored throughout training by your programme tutors, in order to provide them with qualitative feedback, and opportunities for the development of competencies. You’ll also be required to undertake presentations regarding your clinical practice and a videotaped clinical skills exercise, for which you’ll receive qualitative feedback.

Support Available

We recognise that the programme is a demanding one and offer a supportive climate during training. Seeking support is viewed as a professionally responsible course of action. A range of structures and procedures have been put in place to provide you with adequate support. Advice and support are provided from the programme tutors, who’ll meet with you regularly to address any concerns. Plus, you’ll be allocated a professional mentor. These are local clinical psychologists whose roles are kept separate from any evaluative component, and who may provide support, guidance and advocacy. All our new trainees are allocated a "buddy" from the year above for peer support. Finally, each cohort participates in reflective group work with an independent facilitator, focusing on reflective learning and support. Participation is compulsory and time is provided within the academic timetable for this.

The University's Counselling Service is available to trainees; in addition, the programme team can advise you on how to access personal therapy and access to disability support.

Course experts

Dr Barbara Rishworth
Academic Lead

Dr Emma Karwatzki
Programme Director

Dr Lizette Nolte
Research Lead

Dr Rebecca Adlington
Acting Clinical Lead

What’s next for my career?

How to contact us

Please email us to find out more about the Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Due to the large volume of emails we receive with questions about the course, we can’t respond to queries regarding individual careers advice and we would advise candidates to only contact the course with specific queries that are not answered here or on the links provided. we are unable to respond individually to each inquiry from applicants. If you wish to seek advice and support relating to applications or have questions about who to seek appropriate work experiences within clinical psychology, please refer to the links for further information detailed below. The Clearing House website or Alternative Handbook may provide some answers, or alternatively, please consider contacting the Pre-Qualification Group or Minorities in Clinical Training for further guidance and support.

You can also follow us on Twitter

Further information

The Clearing House website has further information on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, application forms and a FAQ relating to when and how to apply for a place on the course.

Find out more information on the Clearing House website

The Alternative Handbook: This is a publication from the Pre-Qualification Group of the Division of Clinical Psychology (BPS). This is an annual survey of trainees from across the country that seeks to get feedback on course content, processes, supports and trainee experiences. The publication is free and released annually. The publication is released in the September of each year before application forms are released.

View the Alternative Handbook

The Pre-Qualification Group (PQG) of the Division of Clinical Psychology: The PQG support individuals seeking a career in clinical psychology, offer events and advocate for its members at an organisational level nationally. They offer lots of resources, supports and advice for aspiring psychologists.

Find out more about careers on the British Psychological Society website or email the British Psychological Society

The Minorities in Clinical Training Group (PQG, DCP): The Minorities Group specifically support and advocate on behalf of aspiring psychologists who identify with a minority group.

Find out more information about the Minorities in Clinical Training Group

Herts supports trainees to be activists in every sense of the word, they inspire and encourage individuality and support trainees to develop their own sense of personal and professional identity to address injustice and support change. I feel very fortunate to be training on such an amazing course!




Start DateEnd DateLink
27/09/202331/07/2024Apply online (Full Time)


Start DateEnd DateLink
19/09/202431/07/2025Apply online (Full Time)

Course fees

All students will follow the same programme of study regardless of how their place is funded.

NHS funded places

52 NHS funded places are expected per cohort. Current NHS trainees are employed full-time as trainee clinical psychologists on a three-year, fixed-term contract, with a hosting NHS Trust. Funding for current NHS trainees includes University fees, full-time salary (currently at the starting salary for Band 6, point 21, of Agenda for Change pay scales) and expenses (for example, travel) in line with standard NHS Terms and Conditions. The University conducts all aspects of the selection and interviews of applicants to the programme.

There are a number of ways in which the programme may support trainees regarding financial and practical matters. Some funding is available to contribute to costs related to completing a Major Research Project (MRP).

Fee-Paying Places

Self-funded trainees follow the same full-time three-year programme as NHS funded trainees.

Two fee-paying places will be available on the University of Hertfordshire programme in 2023. These are open to International, European and British applicants. Applications for our fee-paying places can be made directly to the programme through this webpage or through the Clearing House website using Course Code 11 - X.

In addition to the standard course fees, annual placement fees are in the region of £2,500 with some variation related to the specific number of days on placement in each academic year. Placement fees are subject to change. There is not a salary attached and it is the individual candidate's responsibility to ensure they have the means for funding prior to the start of the programme. Travel expenses and living costs would need to be financed by the applicant. The full three-year programme would need to be committed to. Please note that we are not aware of any current grants available from the University towards the fees or living costs. While the programme is identical for NHS funded and self-funded trainees, we recognise that being self-funded can involve additional complexities. We, therefore, have a tutor who works with and support the needs of self-funded trainees.

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