Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Programme structure and content

Academic teaching occurs in all 6 semesters (October - February and February - June) of the three years of the programme. Clinical placements are for approximately 5 1/2 months (October - March and April - September) in years 1 and 2, and for 12 months in the final year.

There is considerable overlap between the academic and clinical components especially in the first and second years of the programme. The general weighting of academic, clinical and research components means that the research component increases in the second and third years of the programme. The taught academic component is heaviest in the first year and reduced significantly in the third year.

During clinical placements trainees are released for 2 or 3 days a week in term time for academic study, research and private study. Each core clinical placement is preceded by a short orientation course. Where possible, teaching on the programme is active and participatory rather than didactic.

Due to limited availability of certain clinical placements, it is not possible for all trainees to do the same type of clinical placement simultaneously. All trainees begin their clinical training with either a placement in adult psychological therapies or in child and family services.

Academic teaching

The academic syllabus is designed to emphasise the considerable areas of common ground shared by the clinical specialities. It aims to offer a thoroughly generic training providing trainees with the core skills and knowledge required to approach a whole range of presenting problems which a trained clinical psychologist is likely to encounter.

The academic syllabus covers the assessment of psychological disorders and problems, methods of formulation and basic treatments and interventions, the evaluation of treatments, interventions and services together with professional issues.

The Leeds programme strives to place special emphasis on an understanding of the social and developmental context in which psychological difficulties occur. Teaching is delivered by academic staff, clinical supervisors associated with the programme and occasional external teachers. 

Supervised clinical placements

There are five clinical placements to be completed during the three years of the programme. In the first year trainees have two placements and work with adults with psychological problems and with children and their families. In their second year trainees work with more diverse populations and work more with teams and systems. There are two placements in the second year which include those working with people with learning disabilities or those experiencing psychosis or older people; there are also placements in clinical health psychology, neuropsychology and forensic services. During the final year of the programme trainees choose an elective placement which can be within any of the service areas in which clinical psychologists work. The vast majority of placements are within West Yorkshire in the NHS.

Placements are organised by clinical tutors and the development of core competencies are monitored by tutors, who seek to ensure that trainees integrate their clinical work with more theoretical teaching. Trainees and supervisors undertake a planning exercise at the beginning of each placement to ensure that a balance between the trainees' needs and the programme requirements are met, and this is reviewed at mid placement and end of placement meetings with the clinical tutor.  


Trainees are required to demonstrate their competence in research in a number of ways. In the first and second year of the programme they submit a systematic case report (5,000 words), a piece of research of a service-oriented nature (5,000 words) and a thesis transfer document (10,000 words). In the final year a substantial piece of empirical work is completed and presented as a thesis (40,000 words).

This piece of work must make an original, critical contribution to the field of clinical psychology and should be of a publishable standard. The programme covers major research interests in a number of areas including aspects of health psychology (eating, pain, chronic illness), some aspects of experimental psychopathology, systematic reviewing and meta-analysis, and the process and effectiveness of psychological treatments.

Academic staff expertise exists in a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Applicants should note that trainees are expected to conduct their research in a field for which academic research supervision is available. Expert supervision cannot be provided in every sub-speciality of clinical psychology.

Topics which may be available are included in the online profiles of members of the course team and colleagues in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences. Applicants with research ambitions outside of these areas of expertise should note that supervision in their chosen topic may not be available. The University has excellent, widely accessible computing, library and research facilities.  

PPD (Personal and Professional Development)

The staff team is committed to promoting and encouraging personal and professional development (PPD) throughout training and beyond. An integrated training programme in personal and professional development comprises nine three hour workshops in each year of training.

This programme considers: the development of self-knowledge and self-awareness (on an individual and group basis); the socio-political context of our lives; understanding and working with difference and diversity; current and relevant professional issues; current and relevant legislation. The overall aim is to help psychologists in clinical training become reflective practitioners. The personal and professional development programme is explained and outlined to those in clinical training in the introductory block, and each trainee is given a resource pack and a personal development journal.

A Personal and Professional Development Subcommittee is both reactive to expressed need and proactive in terms of promoting awareness and understanding of PPD needs throughout the training community. Trainee representatives from each of the three years are members of this subcommittee. Each psychologist in clinical training has a named academic tutor and a clinical tutor, and regular meetings are timetabled throughout the three years to review and reflect on the training experience.

Overall, there is an emphasis from the staff team on the need for a supportive climate throughout training that recognises that seeking support at varying times is a responsible and professional course of action.