Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Professional Doctorate

    Course Description

    Our professional doctorate represents a unique blend of academic study, clinical experience and research which will enable you to qualify as a registered Clinical Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

    An important strand running through the course is the impact of society upon psychological wellbeing. We encourage you to be alert to and involved in the wider context of changing health, social and economic needs of the population.

    The teaching elements of the course are closely linked to the work you’ll be doing in your clinical placements and your research activities. The links between theory, practice and personal development are developed through a strong emphasis on reflective practice.

    The course has been commended by the British Psychological Society (BPS) for the high regard in which the course team and its students are held by NHS stakeholders and service users who play an active role in its development and implementation.

    Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council and membership of the Division of Clinical Psychology in the BPS.

    The course is a partnership between Staffordshire University, the NHS and practising clinical psychologists in Shropshire and Staffordshire. As a trainee clinical psychologist, under current funding arrangements, you’ll be employed full-time by one of two local NHS Trusts.

    Course content

    Your time on the course will be divided between academic work, clinical experience and research.


    Following mandatory induction blocks each year, you’ll attend workshops, lectures and seminars and undertake online learning for up to two days per week throughout the course. The mandatory induction blocks will be for 2-5 days each week depending on the stage you’re at.

    You’ll cover a broad range of topics in clinical psychology, giving you the knowledge required for your clinical placements and research.

    In Years 1 and 2, teaching is closely linked with the competencies that are assessed on placements, while Year 3 teaching focuses more on specialist skills.

    Clinical experience

    Throughout the course, you’ll undertake clinical placements in a variety of settings – you could be placed in hospitals, clinics, community centres or voluntary agencies. Placements can be located anywhere across the large geographical area of Staffordshire and Shropshire. You’re likely to be travelling some distance at times during training.

    During each year-long placement module, you’ll typically work with two (and up to three) main supervisors on clinical placements, which can last from 5-12 months (typically six months). In your third year you may have a degree of choice over some of your placements, depending on circumstances and progress.


    Your research activities will include:

    • critical appraisal of literature
    • a research proposal
    • an examination of research methods and processes
    • a service evaluation project
    • a research thesis portfolio

    You’ll have scope for choosing your research topics, provided they’re in line with staff interests, national and/or local research priorities and suitable supervision is available from University academics and local clinicians.

    You’ll start your thesis early in Year 1 and complete it by the end of Year 3. The thesis portfolio is written up as two papers, written in a format suitable for submission to identified peer-reviewed journals, and an executive summary. The first paper, a literature review, is submitted at the end of Year 2.

    You’ll have access to a wide range of University and NHS library and online resources, and you’ll be given training in qualitative and quantitative research methods and the process of conducting clinically relevant research.

    Professional body accreditation

    Accreditation by the British Psychological Society. Graduates from the programme are deemed to have met the requirements for Chartered Membership of the Society (CPsychol) and full membership of the Division of Clinical Psychology.

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


    The course focuses on preparing you for a career in the NHS. Your Clinical Tutors will take account of your career plans when organising your specialist placements, in your third year.

    Workshops in Year 3 include a session on job seeking, which also focuses on Continuing Professional Development and Lifelong Learning.

    NHS Jobs are advertised via the NHS jobs website. The BPS also lists job opportunities and vacancies received by the programme office are circulated by email.

    Teaching and assessment


    We know that everyone learns differently. So not only do we use traditional ways of teaching like lectures and skills development, we also use problem-based learning to help you apply your skills.

    For this course, you will:

    • Work with others on group work
    • Delve deeper into subject areas in workshops
    • Be expected to study independently

    Our teaching is supported through our Virtual Learning Environment called Blackboard. This means you can access a range of materials to support your lectures wherever you are.

    We will also talk with you before agreeing a supervisor to support you throughout your research project.


    You’ll be assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and exams which will evaluate your academic, clinical, and research work. This will include direct observation of practice within both teaching and placement.

    Learning support

    Your course tutors will provide lots of support. But you can also take advantage of our Academic Skills team, who can help you with:

    • Study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
    • Written English (including punctuation, grammar)
    • Academic writing (including how to reference)
    • Research skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Revision, assessment and exam skills (including time management)

    Additional support

    If you have additional needs like dyslexia or a sensory impairment, then our AccessAbility Services are here to help make sure nothing stands in your way.

    Visit the Clinical Psychology Professional Doctorate page on the Staffordshire University website for more details!

    Entry Requirements

    A good honours degree (2:1 or 1st) in Psychology. Where your first degree is not in Psychology, you must have a minimum 2:1 in your original degree, supported by a recognised conversion course to Psychology.
    To demonstrate eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society.
    To have a minimum of one year full-time (or part-time equivalent) practical experience of working with people in a human service setting, including relevant experience outside traditional health/caring settings.

    Course Fees

    Find the specific fees for your chosen programme on the website

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