Postgraduate Research Course

Professional Doctorate Clinical Psychology

(D Clin Psych)

Professional Doctorate Clinical Psychology


The details
Clinical Psychology (D Clin Psych)
September 2021
3 years
Colchester Campus

The University of Essex Doctorate in Clinical Psychology has been training people to become reflective and highly competent clinical psychologists since October 2005. The programme was developed in partnership with commissioners from the Health Education East of England, the University of Essex, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, and NHS Trusts based in Essex.

You can apply for this course as a self-funded trainee (Home/EU or International fee status applicants), or you can apply as an NHS-funded trainee (Home/EU fee status applicants only). To find out more about this, take a look at our 'Information for applicants' page.

Course Features

The programme benefits from the input and support of clinicians based in South and North East Essex, particularly Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. Some input into psychodynamic teaching is also provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. The programme is housed in the vibrant academic and research community of the School of Health and Social Care, which has an excellent reputation for research and teaching in health and social care, and it is committed to inter-professional learning.

Some of the benefits of studying on our programme include:

  • Our relatively small trainee cohorts offer trainees the opportunity to work closely with the programme team and with one another. Such close working relationships, combined with robust and holistic support systems for trainees' personal and professional development, provide an optimal training experience and foundation for trainees' career-long personal and professional development.
  • The programme is particularly well integrated with local research and clinical networks. Clinicians working in the region contribute directly to the course through teaching, supervision (on placements and as field research supervisors) and other aspects of the programme. This close collaboration provides many opportunities for ensuring strong theory-practice integration.
  • Trainees on this programme benefit from teaching input from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the possibility for some trainees to have a 3rd year placement there.
  • The programme aims to develop the critical and reflective competencies of trainees. We provide learning opportunities for developing flexibility, leadership skills and reflective practice that are essential to meet the challenges faced by the profession of clinical psychology and by health services.

We place a priority on responding to trainees' feedback and on reviewing and updating the way in which training is delivered in order to remain responsive to current needs and developments at the forefront of clinical psychology.

Key values and principles that underpin our course include:

  • We view training as a collaborative enterprise between stakeholders including trainees, clients, carers, NHS services and Trusts, local clinicians, and professional/regulatory bodies. The programme engages these stakeholders to remain responsive to local mental health needs.
  • Trainees are adult learners and junior colleagues who contribute to the overall training programme and one another's training experience. The programme team places a premium on clear communication and consultation in decision-making, incorporating the views of trainees, service users and other stakeholders in the effective delivery of the training programme.
  • The programme equips trainees to apply psychological knowledge and theory to research and practice in the service of reducing psychological distress and promoting and enhancing psychological wellbeing.
  • Trainee clinical psychologists on our programme develop all competencies required of clinical psychologists by the HCPC and the BPS. We consider a competent clinical psychologist to be more than the sum of a number of competencies. Our reflective and integrative focus enables trainees to develop meta-competencies required for reflective, integrative, ethical, autonomous research and evidence-based practice.
  • The programme does not focus on one model or approach, but instead draws on a number of different models and approaches including behavioural, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic, systemic and integrative approaches alongside developmental, socio-political, critical and other perspectives. The main therapeutic modalities are CBT, systemic and short term psychodynamic models.
  • The programme is committed to recognising, accommodating and embracing diversity. This is reflected in the recruitment and selection of trainees and throughout the training, which emphasises the importance of developing cultural and diversity-related competence in research and clinical practice.

Professional accreditation

Accredited against the requirements for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC as a practitioner psychologist.

Why we're great.
  • Taught modules help to guide and support your development of your research skills.
  • Gain the tools to demonstrate your expertise in both clinical practice and academic research.
  • Work with staff in our School who have both clinical experience and academic credibility.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Placement year

Placements are generally based in Essex and range from a six-mile radius from the University up to approximately a 40-mile radius.

Clinical supervision is provided in accordance with BPS guidance for doctoral training. An agreed placement contract between supervisor and trainee is drawn up at the start of the placement, with guidance from a University programme team member and will govern all placement arrangements. Our trainees consistently remark on the excellent supervision offered by their clinical supervisors, who offer at least one hour of formal supervision a week in addition to further informal contact. Supervision includes discussion on personal and professional development issues, including the resolution of any difficulties that might impede the trainee's capacity to fulfil their training contract. Supervision includes opportunities not only for such discussion of placement experiences and learning but also for direct observation of clinical work, both by the trainee of the supervisor and by the supervisor of the trainee. The trainee's university tutor carries out all placement reviews mid-way through the placement.

Our expert staff

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Before making your application please read Clinical Psychology page which includes FAQs and guidance for all applicants, and the pro-formas required for a self-funded application (Links to the pro-formas are also provided below).

Whether you are a Home/EU or overseas applicant, the entry requirements are the same.

All applicants should apply via the Clearing House,

• Applicants taking up a self-funded place will not be employed as a salaried NHS employee but the department would help to arrange an unsalaried contract with the host NHS Trust for the duration of training.

• Applicants taking up an NHS funded place will be employed as a salaried trainee clinical psychologist by the host NHS Trust for the duration of the training.

Applicants to the programme should:

  • Have Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the BPS.
  • Demonstrate at least one year's full-time, or equivalent, clinical or research experience relevant to clinical psychology. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have a realistic understanding of what the work of clinical psychologists entails and demonstrate experience of applying psychological theory in a clinical setting.
AND possess one of the following:
  • A BPS accredited degree in Psychology with a high 2:1 or above. The average mark for third year modules must be 65% or above.
  • OR
  • A recognised international degree in Psychology, equivalent to a UK high 2:1 degree (over 65%).
  • OR
  • A BPS accredited conversion degree in Psychology with an average mark of 65% or above.
  • OR
  • A 2:2 honours degree in Psychology with subsequent demonstration of academic competence, for example through achieving 65% or above (or equivalent) at Masters/Doctoral level in a research degree relevant to clinical psychology.

Applicants also need to understand the role of clinical psychologists working within the UK healthcare system and demonstrate their understanding and adherence to core NHS principles and values. Applicants need to demonstrate a commitment to applying psychological research and theories in a clinical setting. Applicants applying to NHS funded places on the programme need to demonstrate a commitment to working within the UK NHS and social care.

The programme does not offer Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL).

You must also have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) and a Occupational Health Check - both of these are organised by the University.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

Demonstrate proficiency in English. If your first language is not English you will need to obtain at least level 7 (with no component below 7) on the IELTS or equivalent (eg TOEFL). The IELTS test should have been taken within the last two years. Note, there are no exceptions to this requirement.


Example structure

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current students, including details of all optional modules.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Supervised Clinical Practice 1

This module involves the processes and assessments relating to the development of ten core competencies at a level commensurate with the first year of training and relevant to working with adults and older adults. You complete two supervised practice placements (or their equivalent).

View Supervised Clinical Practice 1 on our Module Directory

Clinical Applications 1

This module covers three topic areas: Adult Mental Health, Older Adult Mental Health, and Neuropsychology. It allows you to gain the knowledge, understanding and competencies required to provide clinical psychological services to Adults, Older Adults, and people who require neuropsychological assessment and related interventions.

View Clinical Applications 1 on our Module Directory

Personal and Professional Development 1

On this module, you will attend fortnightly clinical seminars which foster reflective practice regarding your experience of training and your clinical practice placements; attend a reflective group; focus on diversity issues relevant to clinical psychology practice, theory and research; and explore the professional role and identity of clinical psychologist trainees.

View Personal and Professional Development 1 on our Module Directory

Clinical Interventions and Skills 1

This module lays the foundation for the clinical skills needed to work with adults and older people in the NHS and private and voluntary sectors. This includes both generic clinical skills and specific skills in two major approaches: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic therapy. The module combines a range of approaches to facilitate your knowledge, understanding and skills in relation to these approaches.

View Clinical Interventions and Skills 1 on our Module Directory

Postgraduate Research Methods

To scrutinise the knowledge that informs evidence based practice, health and social care professionals need to be critical thinkers who are research-literate. This module explores the different ways that health and social research is carried out, with a focus on critical appraisal, research design, data collection and analysis. The module covers qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research. This learning enables students to embark more confidently and creatively on their own dissertations, as well as helping them to engage more critically with the research of others.

View Postgraduate Research Methods on our Module Directory

Supervised Clinical Practise 2

This module involves the processes and assessments relating to the development of ten core competencies at a level commensurate with the second year of training and relevant to working with people with intellectual disabilities, children and adolescents. You complete two supervised practice placements (or their equivalent), involving work with people with intellectual disabilities and children and adolescents (CAMHS).

View Supervised Clinical Practise 2 on our Module Directory

Clinical Applications 2

This module develops your knowledge, understanding and core competencies in working with children and adolescents, their families, and people with intellectual disabilities. It provides you with the required knowledge, understanding and skills to make links between theory and practice within second-year placements in CAMHS and in services for people with intellectual disabilities.

View Clinical Applications 2 on our Module Directory

Clinical Research 2

Start to develop specialist research-related competencies, building on the foundation of some of your first-year modules. Your learning and development will be supported by research tutors and other academic staff who will be available to discuss your developing research ideas. Module assessment involves submission of a Service Related Project (SRP).

View Clinical Research 2 on our Module Directory

Personal and Professional Development 2

On this module, you will attend fortnightly clinical seminars which foster reflective practice regarding your experience of training and your clinical practice placements; attend a reflective group; focus on diversity issues relevant to your second year of training, especially in relation to learning disability and working with children and families; and explore the professional role and identity of clinical psychologist trainees.

View Personal and Professional Development 2 on our Module Directory

Clinical Interventions and Skills 2

This module provides you with the clinical skills required for your second-year placement, working within services for children and adolescents (CAMHS) and people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, this module includes teaching on the theory and practice of systemic therapy.

View Clinical Interventions and Skills 2 on our Module Directory

Supervised Clinical Practice 3

This module aims to enable you to develop the knowledge, skills and values to work effectively in specialist service settings such as physical health, drugs and alcohol, neuropsychology, forensic, specialist CBT, and other settings. This modules comprises supervised clinical practice on two six-month clinical placements (in some cases on one year-long placement). The precise nature of each placement will vary in accordance with the nature of the service and the needs of the service users.

View Supervised Clinical Practice 3 on our Module Directory

Clinical Applications 3

This module further develops your understanding of integrative therapies and community psychology. The critical psychology topic area draws on critical psychology perspectives. Throughout this module, the emphasis is on developing your competencies in relation to the evaluation of and critical reflection on a broad range of psychological models and approaches relevant to working within complex settings.

View Clinical Applications 3 on our Module Directory

Clinical Research 3

This module supports you in producing your thesis and provides you with further support in working towards the dissemination of your findings.

View Clinical Research 3 on our Module Directory

Personal and Professional Development 3

On this module, clinical seminars and a reflective group focus on further developing your competencies and sense of your professional identity as you near the end of your training. You also focus on a diversity topic relevant to your third year of training, and consider your professional move to qualified status.

View Personal and Professional Development 3 on our Module Directory

Clinical Intervention and Skills 3

This module provides you with the competencies to work effectively with people with personality disorder and to work within forensic settings, including understanding requirements relating to providing court reports and expert witness work. Additionally, provision is made for specialist, elective teaching on the basis of topics identified in consultation with trainees.

View Clinical Intervention and Skills 3 on our Module Directory


  • Undertake a dissertation of 40,000 words on a subject relevant to your specialist area of practice

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


Fees for funded places are paid by Health Education East of England.

International fee


Fee includes £5000 bench fee. EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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