Programme Specification

1. Awarding Institution

Lancaster University

2. Teaching Institution

Lancaster University

3. Programme Approved & Accredited by

Health and Care Professions Council, British Psychological Society

4. Final Award


5. Programme Title

Clinical Psychology

6. UCAS Code


7. Subject Benchmark

Clinical Psychology

8. Date of Production

July 2017

9. Educational Aims of the Programme

The programme aims to enable trainees to work as clinical psychologists with the range of clients and services specified below in a range of settings, especially those seen as having high priority within the National Health Service. Newly qualified clinical psychologists should understand and embrace the core purpose and philosophy of the profession as described in the document prepared by the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP). They should be committed to reducing psychological distress and enhancing and promoting psychological well-being through the systematic application of knowledge derived from psychological theory and evidence. Their work will be based on the fundamental acknowledgement that all people have the same human value and the right to be treated as unique individuals. The programme-level learning outcomes are those outlined by the DCP, which are specifically designed to ensure that those who meet them will meet the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Practitioner (Clinical) Psychologists.

10a. Intended Programme Outcomes

By the end of their programme, trainees will have:

2. Required learning outcomes for accredited doctorates in Clinical Psychology

2.1 Clinical psychology programmes will vary in the emphases they place on work with particular clinical groups, therapeutic modalities, curriculum content, non-therapy skills, training methods etc. This is healthy and promotes diversity and richness within the profession. It ensures programmes can be responsive to regional and national priorities, opens up opportunities for some programmes to coordinate and complement their efforts and offers prospective applicants choice of programmes which best suit their own preferences, learning style and goals. Similarly, trainee clinical psychologists within programmes may follow a range of training pathways depending on practice placement experiences, research undertaken, optional modules chosen etc. Thus whilst all graduates will demonstrate core standards of proficiency, with transferability demonstrated across the range of clients and services as specified below, some variation in individual strengths and competencies will be both inevitable and desirable.

This context means that whilst the BPS will accredit programmes as meeting the standards required for their graduates to be eligible for Chartered status, it will be incumbent on programmes to validate the specific portfolio of skills and competencies of graduates in a way which is transparent to employers and commissioners of services. Whilst programmes are free to develop their own portfolio format, examples of how this might look are contained in Appendix 1. These examples should be seen as indicative, rather than prescriptive.

2.2 Overarching goals, outcomes, ethos and values for all programmes include the following:

By the end of their programme, trainees will have:

  1. A value driven commitment to reducing psychological distress and enhancing and promoting psychological well-being through the systematic application of knowledge derived from psychological theory and evidence. Work should be based on the fundamental acknowledgement that all people have the same human value and the right to be treated as unique individuals.
  2. The skills, knowledge and values to develop working alliances with clients, including individuals, carers and/or services, in order to carry out psychological assessment, develop a formulation based on psychological theories and knowledge, carry out psychological interventions, evaluate their work and communicate effectively with clients, referrers and others, orally, electronically and in writing.
  3. Knowledge and understanding of psychological (and other relevant) theory and evidence, related to specific client groups, presentations, psychological therapies, psychological testing, assessment, intervention and secondary prevention required to underpin clinical practice.
  4. The skills, knowledge and values to work effectively with clients from a diverse range of backgrounds, understanding and respecting the impact of difference and diversity upon their lives. Awareness of the clinical, professional and social contexts within which work is undertaken and impact therein.
  5. Clinical and research skills that demonstrate work with clients and systems based on a reflective scientist-practitioner model that incorporates a cycle of assessment, formulation, intervention and evaluation and that draws from across theory and therapy evidence bases as appropriate.
  6. The skills, knowledge and values to work effectively with systems relevant to clients, including for example statutory and voluntary services, self-help and advocacy groups, userled systems and other elements of the wider community.
  7. The skills, knowledge and values to work in a range of indirect ways to improve psychological aspects of health and healthcare. This includes leadership skills and competencies in consultancy, supervision, teaching and training, working collaboratively and influencing psychological mindedness and practices of teams.
  8. The skills, knowledge and values to conduct research and reflect upon outcomes in a way that enables the profession to develop its knowledge base and to monitor and improve the effectiveness of its work.
  9. A professional and ethical value base, including that set out in the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct, the DCP statement of the Core Purpose and Philosophy of the profession and the DCP Professional Practice Guidelines.
  10. High level skills in managing a personal learning agenda and self-care, in critical reflection and self-awareness that enable transfer of knowledge and skills to new settings and problems and professional standards of behaviour as might be expected by the public, employers and colleagues.

2.2.1. Generalisable meta-competencies

  1. Drawing on psychological knowledge of developmental, social and neuropsychological processes across the lifespan to facilitate adaptability and change in individuals, groups, families, organisations and communities.
  2. Deciding, using a broad evidence and knowledge base, how to assess, formulate and intervene psychologically, from a range of possible models and modes of intervention with clients, carers and service systems. Ability to work effectively whilst holding in mind alternative, competing explanations.
  3. Generalising and synthesising prior knowledge and experience in order to apply them critically and creatively in different settings and novel situations.
  4. Being familiar with theoretical frameworks, the evidence base and practice guidance frameworks such as NICE and SIGN, and having the capacity to critically utilise these in complex clinical decision making without being formulaic in application.
  5. Complementing evidence based practice with an ethos of practice based evidence where processes, outcomes, progress and needs are critically and reflectively evaluated.
  6. Ability to collaborate with service users and carers, and other relevant stakeholders, in advancing psychological initiatives such as interventions and research.
  7. Making informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete information.
  8. Ability to communicate psychologically-informed ideas and conclusions to, and to work effectively with, other stakeholders, (specialist and non-specialist), in order to influence practice, facilitate problem solving and decision making.
  9. Exercising personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations in professional practice. Demonstrating self-awareness and sensitivity, and working as a reflective practitioner within ethical and professional practice frameworks.

2.2.2. Psychological assessment

  1. Developing and maintaining effective working alliances with service users, carers, colleagues and other relevant stakeholders.
  2. Ability to choose, use and interpret a broad range of assessment methods appropriate:
    • to the client and service delivery system in which the assessment takes place; and
    • to the type of intervention which is likely to be required.
  3. Assessment procedures in which competence is demonstrated will include:
    • performance based psychometric measures (e.g. of cognition and development);
    • self and other informant reported psychometrics (e.g. of symptoms, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, behaviours);
    • systematic interviewing procedures;
    • other structured methods of assessment (e.g. observation, or gathering information from others); and
    • assessment of social context and organisations.
  4. Understanding of key elements of psychometric theory which have relevance to psychological assessment (e.g. effect sizes, reliable change scores, sources of error and bias, base rates, limitations etc.) and utilising this knowledge to aid assessment practices and interpretations thereof.
  5. Conducting appropriate risk assessment and using this to guide practice.

2.2.3. Psychological formulation

  1. Using assessment to develop formulations which are informed by theory and evidence about relevant individual, systemic, cultural and biological factors.
  2. Constructing formulations of presentations which may be informed by, but which are not premised on, formal diagnostic classification systems; developing formulation in an emergent transdiagnostic context.
  3. Constructing formulations utilising theoretical frameworks with an integrative, multi-model, perspective as appropriate and adapted to circumstance and context.
  4. Developing a formulation through a shared understanding of its personal meaning with the client(s) and / or team in a way which helps the client better understand their experience.
  5. Capacity to develop a formulation collaboratively with service users, carers, teams and services and being respectful of the client or team's feedback about what is accurate and helpful.
  6. Making justifiable choices about the format and complexity of the formulation that is presented or utilised as appropriate to a given situation.
  7. Ensuring that formulations are expressed in accessible language, culturally sensitive, and non-discriminatory in terms of, for example, age, gender, disability and sexuality.
  8. Using formulations to guide appropriate interventions if appropriate.
  9. Reflecting on and revising formulations in the light of on-going feedback and intervention.
  10. Leading on the implementation of formulation in services and utilizing formulation to enhance teamwork, multi-professional communication and psychological mindedness in services.

2.2.4. Psychological intervention

  1. On the basis of a formulation, implementing psychological therapy or other interventions appropriate to the presenting problem and to the psychological and social circumstances of the client(s), and to do this in a collaborative manner with:
    • individuals
    • couples, families or groups
    • services / organisations
  2. Understanding therapeutic techniques and processes as applied when working with a range of different individuals in distress, such as those who experience difficulties related to: anxiety, mood, adjustment to adverse circumstances or life events, eating difficulties, psychosis, misuse of substances, physical health presentations and those with somatoform, psychosexual, developmental, personality, cognitive and neurological presentations.
  3. Ability to implement therapeutic interventions based on knowledge and practice in at least two evidence-based models of formal psychological interventions, of which one must be cognitive-behaviour therapy. Model specific therapeutic skills must be evidenced against a competence framework as described below, though these may be adapted to account for specific ages and presentations etc.
  4. In addition, however, the ability to utilise multi-model interventions, as appropriate to the complexity and / or co-morbidity of the presentation, the clinical and social context and service user opinions, values and goals.
  5. Knowledge of, and capacity to conduct interventions related to, secondary prevention and the promotion of health and well-being.
  6. Conducting interventions in a way which promotes recovery of personal and social functioning as informed by service user values and goals.
  7. Having an awareness of the impact and relevance of psychopharmacological and other multidisciplinary interventions.
  8. Understanding social approaches to intervention; for example, those informed by community, critical, and social constructionist perspectives.
  9. Implementing interventions and care plans through, and with, other professions and/or with individuals who are formal (professional) carers for a client, or who care for a client by virtue of family or partnership arrangements.
  10. Recognising when (further) intervention is inappropriate, or unlikely to be helpful, and communicating this sensitively to clients and carers.

2.2.5. Evaluation

  1. Evaluating practice through the monitoring of processes and outcomes, across multiple dimensions of functioning, in relation to recovery, values and goals and as informed by service user experiences as well as clinical indicators (such as behaviour change and change on standardised psychometric instruments).
  2. Devising innovate evaluative procedures where appropriate.
  3. Capacity to utilise supervision effectively to reflect upon personal effectiveness, shape and change personal and organisational practice including that information offered by outcomes monitoring.
  4. Appreciating outcomes frameworks in wider use within national healthcare systems, the evidence base and theories of outcomes monitoring (e.g. as related to dimensions of accessibility, acceptability, clinical effectiveness and efficacy) and creating synergy with personal evaluative strategies.
  5. Critical appreciation of the strengths and limitations of different evaluative strategies, including psychometric theory and knowledge related to indices of change.
  6. Capacity to evaluate processes and outcomes at the organisational and systemic levels as well as the individual level.

2.2.6. Research

  1. Being a critical and effective consumer, interpreter and disseminator of the research evidence base relevant to clinical psychology practice and that of psychological services and interventions more widely. Utilising such research to influence and inform the practice of self and others.
  2. Conceptualising, designing and conducting independent, original and translational research of a quality to satisfy peer review, contribute to the knowledge base of the discipline, and merit publication including: identifying research questions, demonstrating an understanding of ethical issues, choosing appropriate research methods and analysis (both quantitative and qualitative), reporting outcomes and identifying appropriate pathways for dissemination.
  3. Understanding the need and value of undertaking translational (applied and applicable) clinical research post-qualification, contributing substantially to the development of theory and practice in clinical psychology.
  4. The capacity to conduct service evaluation, small N, pilot and feasibility studies and other research which is consistent with the values of both evidence based practice and practice based evidence.
  5. Conducting research in respectful collaboration with others (e.g. service users, supervisors, other disciplines and collaborators, funders, community groups etc.) and within the ethical and governance frameworks of the Society, the Division, HCPC, universities and other statutory regulators as appropriate.

2.2.7. Personal and professional skills and values

  1. Understanding of ethical issues and applying these in complex clinical contexts, ensuring that informed consent underpins all contact with clients and research participants.
  2. Appreciating the inherent power imbalance between practitioners and clients and how abuse of this can be minimised.
  3. Understanding the impact of differences, diversity and social inequalities on people's lives, and their implications for working practices.
  4. Understanding the impact of one's own value base upon clinical practice.
  5. Working effectively at an appropriate level of autonomy, with awareness of the limits of own competence and accepting accountability to relevant professional and service managers.
  6. Capacity to adapt to, and comply with, the policies and practices of a host organisation with respect to time-keeping, record keeping, meeting deadlines, managing leave, health and safety and good working relations.
  7. Managing own personal learning needs and developing strategies for meeting these. Using supervision to reflect on practice, and making appropriate use of feedback received.
  8. Developing strategies to handle the emotional and physical impact of practice and seeking appropriate support when necessary, with good awareness of boundary issues.
  9. Developing resilience but also the capacity to recognize when own fitness to practice is compromised and take steps to manage this risk as appropriate.
  10. Working collaboratively and constructively with fellow psychologists and other colleagues and users of services, respecting diverse viewpoints.

2.2.8. Communication and teaching

  1. Communicating effectively clinical and non-clinical information from a psychological perspective in a style appropriate to a variety of different audiences (for example, to professional colleagues, and to users and their carers).
  2. Adapting style of communication to people with a wide range of levels of cognitive ability, sensory acuity and modes of communication.
  3. Preparing and delivering teaching and training which takes into account the needs and goals of the participants (for example, by appropriate adaptations to methods and content).
  4. Understanding of the supervision process for both supervisee and supervisor roles.
  5. Understanding the process of providing expert psychological opinion and advice, including the preparation and presentation of evidence in formal settings.
  6. Understanding the process of communicating effectively through interpreters and having an awareness of the limitations thereof.
  7. Supporting others' learning in the application of psychological skills, knowledge, practices and procedures.

2.2.9. Organisational and systemic influence and leadership

  1. Awareness of the legislative and national planning contexts for service delivery and clinical practice.
  2. Capacity to adapt practice to different organisational contexts for service delivery. This should include a variety of settings such as in-patient and community, primary, secondary and tertiary care and may include work with providers outside of the NHS.
  3. Providing supervision at an appropriate level within own sphere of competence.
  4. Indirect influence of service delivery including through consultancy, training and working effectively in multidisciplinary and cross-professional teams. Bringing psychological influence to bear in the service delivery of others.
  5. Understanding of leadership theories and models, and their application to service development and delivery. Demonstrating leadership qualities such as being aware of and working with interpersonal processes, proactivity, influencing the psychological mindedness of teams and organisations, contributing to and fostering collaborative working practices within teams.

10bi. Teaching/Learning Methods and Strategies

The following describes the learning and teaching methods, as these relate to the academic programme, research programme, and to the integration of theory and clinical practice:

Formal teaching

Structure of teaching

Teaching relates to the full range of clinical activity. A team of staff and stakeholders is responsible for co-ordinating each of the 'teaching strands' that are used to organise the teaching across the three years of training. In the first weeks of the programme trainees attend the induction block of teaching for four days per week. They have one day for non-contact learning and other training-related activity. In addition, prior to each of the subsequent three placements, there is one to two week(s) of introductory teaching that is designed to prepare trainees for the upcoming placement and for working with the relevant client group(s). Teaching in the third year focuses on advanced skills, influencing, and addresses topics that tend to be of particular relevance to third year placements.

Teaching sessions which are mandatory are indicated on the appropriate teaching schedules. Arrangements are made on an individual basis where mandatory teaching has been missed.

Delivery of learning and teaching experiences

Teaching and learning on the programme (with the exception of mandatory NHS trust training sessions) is designed specifically for clinical psychology trainees. To ensure that teaching is as relevant as possible to current practice and is based on the most up-to-date evidence, much of the teaching is delivered by practising clinical psychologists. Teaching is also delivered by other health and social services professionals, as well as users of services and other experts by experience. The majority of teaching on communication skills, research skills and personal development and reflection is delivered by members of the programme staff.

Programme staff work in small teams to plan and co-ordinate teaching within the nine thematic 'strands' that run throughout the three years of training, and these staff liaise closely with external teachers to ensure the learning experience for trainees is coherent and consistent. Learning and Teaching activities are designed to work towards the programme's Learning and Teaching Vision The programme also runs occasional 'good practice in teaching' workshops for all those who teach for the programme.

The format of teaching is varied, adopting a broad range of approaches, often within a single teaching session. Teaching is mostly delivered in 'whole day' (5 hours) or 'half day' (2.5 hours) sessions which will usually involve a combination of delivery modes including such elements as didactic presentations, small and large group discussion, workshop exercises, role-play and use the use of audio-visual materials as appropriate. The programme issues guidance to teachers on the production of teaching materials to maximise their accessibility to any trainees with visual impairment or dyslexia.

Content of teaching

The content of teaching is organised around nine conceptual strands, each of which runs throughout the three years of the programme.

A brief description of each of the nine conceptual strands and its function, as part of the overall learning and teaching programme, can be found below. There is also the general reading list for the programme as a whole, which can found in the appendix below.

The actual teaching timetables for the year are available to trainees via the Moodle virtual learning environment.

Assignment Preparation

Assignments are a central aspect of the assessment of competence leading to the award of DClinPsy. This strand introduces information about the different assignments which have to be submitted as part of the requirements of the DClinPsy. It explains the processes and preparation required for each assignment and how they will be assessed. Each assignment will have its own associated teaching and development/support/feedback sessions which are scheduled and delivered in a timely manner where knowledge and support is required to prepare for submission.

From Theory to Practice

The integration of theory and practice is considered central to the curriculum. This strand will introduce trainees to a selected number of major therapeutic models and emerging therapeutic approaches. It aims to develop trainee understanding of theoretical aspects of therapeutic models and how they can be applied in clinical practice across a range of specialities.

The overarching models/approaches which the programme will be delivering are: -

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)
  • Systemic Practice
The aim is for all trainees who graduate the programme to be accreditable with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychologists) as CBT practitioners. In addition each trainee will have the option of completing:
  • Foundation level training in systemic practice as accredited by the Association for Family Therapy OR
  • The equivalent of the first year of CAT Foundation Training as accredited by the Association of Cognitive Analytic Therapists
The strand takes a developmental approach by initially considering the theoretical underpinnings of each model before moving on to consider the clinical application of each therapeutic model in a relevant and timely way (i.e. fitting with the speciality placement trainees are on). Over the three years of training the strand will develop the trainee's learning of each model and relevant aspects of its application such as assessment, formulation and intervention.

Critical and Contextual Psychology

This strand examines the assumptions which inform scientific activity in relation to clinical psychology, the problems in applying philosophies and methods from the natural sciences to human behaviour and the relationship between the philosophy of science and research activity. The strand provides trainees with conceptual frameworks to enable them to develop a scholarly and constructively critical approach to clinical psychology theory, research evidence and practice, and an awareness of issues of power and diversity as they apply to the role and profession of the clinical psychologist.

Personal Development and Reflection

The nature of clinical psychology work includes access to and use of the personal self of the clinical psychologist. In line with the acknowledgement that the work impacts on the self and the self impacts on the work (Scaife & Walsh, 2001) the personal development and reflection (PDR) strand aims to:

  • support trainees in the development of self-knowledge and self-awareness
  • support personal growth
  • facilitate the development of resilience in relation to changes and challenges
The strand provides trainees with opportunities and experiences to enable them to become reflective and reflexive practitioners (Lavender, 2003) and to use these skills and competencies in the role of a trainee clinical psychologist and beyond.

In recognition that different trainees and/or cohorts may have different needs and preferences there is flexibility in the way the PDR curriculum develops. However, overall there is a developmental progression from a taught curriculum, introducing the strand and helping trainees to think about what PDR means to them, to more experiential sessions as they progress through the course. Within this structure there is protected time for PDR sessions over the three years indicating the value that the programme places on the process of personal development. There is also consultation with trainees to offer them some ownership of how their PDR needs are met and a system to review how the process is progressing.

In relation to the taught curriculum, topics include; training as a personal journey, self-care and support systems, boundaries, use of self in teaching and on placement, theory of change and cultural maps and their influence. Within the experiential component there is the opportunity for trainees to access individual and group sessions (e.g. mini-CAT sessions, Action Learning Sets).

Personal development and reflection influences and is influenced by teaching across the programme. The PDR curriculum provides the foundation for the development of skills that can be used in different contexts and a place where skills developed in different contexts can be reflected upon. Given the interface between personal and professional development the PDR strand has a particular affinity with the professional issues strand and sessions within the transferable clinician skills strand which focus on the developing self as a professional/therapist e.g. the leadership module. However, sessions in other strands which include a consideration of PDR will usually do so from another perspective e.g. professional or skills-based.

Physical Health & Cognitive Development

This strand covers health and medical related issues that may occur during a person's life. The strand takes a developmental lifespan approach in relation to both process and content. Teaching in this area begins with an exploration of some of the essential aspects of clinical psychology in health and neuropsychological settings, such as assessment, functional neuroanatomy, and the range of psychological models applicable to these areas. As the teaching develops to the more advanced stages, it considers specific physical health and neurological conditions such as stroke, cancer, and brain injury. There are also sessions on some of the associated broader themes that can influence a person's psychological such as pain, fatigue, body image, and subsequent emotional distress.

Whilst this strand inevitably has a focus on what may be termed 'organic' conditions such as neurological conditions and physical disabilities, there is an emphasis on considering those issues in context. This includes the context of the person / people accessing psychological support, as well as the context in which clinical psychology may be situated (e.g. medical settings / diagnostic-based services). Teaching encourages trainees to critique traditional and contemporary models of working in these areas, and take a developmental approach to positioning themselves and the profession, in relation to associated professions in physical health and medical settings.

Professional Issues

The Professional Issues curriculum strand aims to ensure that trainees develop a professional and ethical value base and aims to increase understanding of the professional and organisational context within which clinical psychologists practise. The key and unique elements of this strand relate to the process of developing professional values, identity and ethical practices as a clinical psychologist as part of a distinct profession, and developing competence to practise autonomously yet within the boundaries of agreed frameworks. Within this, trainees must also understand the relevant guidance, policy and research which inform safe and effective professional practice.

Learning topics within this strand will include issues such as: ethical practice and decision-making, confidentiality, consent, record-keeping, fitness to practice and managing professional concerns and dilemmas, and other methods of establishing and maintaining a safe practice environment. The strand will also cover developments within the NHS organisational context and will help trainees better understand service user perspectives on psychological services and ways of involving service users in practice.

Quality Assurance

The Quality Assurance curriculum strand covers matters to do with clinical governance, quality, continuous improvement and the standards required by our regulatory body, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and professional guidance and good practice identified by the British Psychological Society (BPS). The aim is to ensure that trainees are equipped to meet all mandatory requirements that apply to them on the programme: the mandatory training requirements of their employing NHS Trust and the requirements of the HCPC, BPS and NHS clinical governance legislation. It covers a range of learning activities as well as some formally delivered teaching sessions.


The programme adopts the position that research is integral to the role of clinical psychologists. The ability to draw upon research evidence is essential for good clinical practice, as is an understanding of how to conduct original research. Research and clinical practice also share several common aims and methods. With this in mind, the programme aims to produce research-minded practitioners who should be applying a critical, analytic stance to both clinical and research practice. In pursuit of this aim, the objectives of the research teaching are therefore to enable trainees to:

  • Conduct research to a high standard which advances both psychological theory and service practice;
  • Apply ethical principles to their research work;
  • Understand the basic principles of a range of research strategies, methods and approaches to data analysis, and how they can be applied in NHS settings;
  • Critically evaluate their own and others' research;
  • Develop the skills and knowledge to disseminate their research work appropriately and to understand the importance of doing so.
The research strand consists of a series of separate but interlinked teaching sessions delivered over the course of the training programme, with the majority of teaching delivered in the first two years. These teaching sessions are designed to provide trainees with grounding in all aspects of the research process, from design to dissemination, and in the major research designs used in clinical psychology research. These include quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis, such as survey design and statistical analysis techniques; and qualitative approaches such as Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Grounded Theory and Narrative Analysis. The delivery of the sessions is planned in order to support trainees in the development, implementation and completion of their research assignments, in which trainees have the opportunity to consolidate the skills and knowledge developed through the teaching sessions.

Transferable Clinician Skills

This strand supports the development of the trans-theoretical skills required of a clinical psychologist. Teaching sessions across the three years cover core abilities within the professional role, such as interviewing; adapting communication to a range of listeners; formulation; engaging with difference; managing risk; leadership; consultation; and working with families, staff and carers. The curriculum is planned to follow a developmental path, and aims to build upon trainees' existing interpersonal skills and life experiences to inform and develop their clinical practice. From the first year, sessions include foundation level and 'direct' skills as well as broader abilities required within a clinical psychology role such as indirect/consultation work and leadership, with an increase in complexity, expected autonomy and integration of psychological theory as training progresses. This strand inevitably links closely with the content of other strands, for example the 'Theory to Practice' strand, given that generic clinician skills will underlie the implementation of all theoretical approaches. Similarly, much of the work in this strand involves reflective components and overlaps strongly with the Personal Development and Reflection curriculum.

In addition to teaching around the skills required of a clinician, this strand contains sessions to 'set the clinical context' for trainees, in order to prepare them for clinical work on placement and to develop their understanding of the key issues (clinical, service related or professional) pertinent to different clinical specialities or settings.

A key component of this strand is the opportunity to observe, practise and develop one's own clinical skills, which occurs throughout the teaching in role play and other exercises, and also in the Clinical Skills workshops which occur within every teaching block (six monthly). These involve trainees working in small groups to practise new skills or techniques, problem solve challenges, work with clinical dilemmas in a safe place, and to receive constructive feedback. Video recording allows trainees to reflect upon their own skills and style, as well as watching demonstrations by facilitators both from the course team and local clinicians within each clinical speciality.

10bii. Assessment Strategy and Methods

Assessment - general principles

Assessment on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is guided by a number of different frameworks including the Health and Care Professions Council's (HCPC's) standards of education and training and standards of proficiency, the British Psychological Society's (BPS's) accreditation through partnership framework and Lancaster University's own guidance for postgraduate students . Links to all relevant documentation are included at the end of this section.

The programme's assessment strategy is developed and monitored by the Assessment Policy Group. The aims of the Policy Group are to monitor and review each academic assignment, and to develop the framework of academic assessment to best fit trainee competencies. Each assignment is reviewed annually by the Assessment Policy Group. Once results have been ratified by the Exam Board, the coordinator for each assignment submits a report for discussion by the Policy Group on the process of the assignment, including feedback from external examiners and other stakeholders. Any proposed changes to assignments are initially discussed at the Assessment Policy Group, and then brought to the Policy Group Forum for approval.

The programme's assessment strategy is informed by the HCPC's standards of proficiency for practitioner psychologists and the BPS's learning outcomes and objectives. These are often used as indicators in the assessment of evidence. Evidence for specific competencies is collected and rated for each assessment. The programme's competency-based approach to assessment means that a number of competencies (e.g., analysis and critical thinking) will be assessed throughout training but the demonstration of these will be different according to the specific assignments or placements.

However, the indicators for the systematic literature review also allow examiners to assess trainees' ability to understand a wide range of research designs (HPS SoP 2.b.1/assessed in the SLR Knowledge and Skills competency) and their understanding of service planning and contextual issues (BPS Service Delivery B.1.3.9/assessed in the SLR Knowledge and Skills competency).

It should be noted that only by successfully completing the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology can trainees become eligible to apply to the HCPC to be registered as a clinical psychologist. Furthermore, only HCPC approved programmes can confer eligibility to apply for HCPC registration. The programme does not offer any other route except to the full award of the doctorate in clinical psychology: no aegrogat award is offered.

Please see the HCPC Standards of Proficiency, Standards of eductions and training and BPS accreditation criteria in the appendix.

Assessment through practice placement experience

The Supervisor's Assessment of Trainee (SAT) is used to indicate whether or not the trainee has met the required learning outcomes for the practice placement and subsequently to recommend to the exam board whether the placement should be considered satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily completed. Trainees are also required to complete a log-book for each practice placement, which includes a self-assessment component where they are asked to rate themselves against a range of objectives that stem directly from the programme-level learning outcomes.

Assessment through research thesis

The doctoral thesis is a substantial piece of work (up to 56,000 words including tables, figures and appendices) trainees usually complete during their second and third year of training. The thesis provides evidence of a number of research competencies which need to be demonstrated at a doctoral level for the piece of work to be passed. As well as providing additional evidence of many of the HCPC's Standards of Proficiency, the thesis indicates that the trainee is able to undertake work to a standard which is consistent with Lancaster University's guidance on doctoral level research, and complete primary, investigative research which is relevant to the theory and practice of clinical psychology. In terms of quality, the thesis needs to demonstrate a substantial contribution to knowledge and should afford originality by the discovery of new findings and by the exercise of independent critical power.

Assessment through academic coursework submission

Assessment of Learning Outcomes

The assessed academic coursework completed as part of the programme is largely evaluated using a series of 'core competencies' that are required to perform these skill sets proficiently. These competencies are derived from the a job, task and role analysis for clinical psychology arising from a research project commissioned by the Clearing House for Postgraduate Course in Clinical Psychology (Baron & O'Reilly, 2012). The competencies are designed to be transferable across the multiple activities in which clinical psychologists are expected to engage. A brief definition of each of them follows:

Knowledge and skills - this is evidence that the trainee has a broad knowledge and clear understanding of the knowledge and evidence base being referred to in the assignment. This will include, for example, knowledge and understanding of theory and clinical technique in relation to a clinical situation, of research methodology and application, and of the evidence and literature base more generally in a relevant subject area.

Analysis and critical thinking - this relates to evidence of the ability to evaluate literature critically and to adapt and apply knowledge and skills to specific situations. It can include, for example, adapting theory for use with a particular client, critical evaluation of the work of others and analysis of data collected through research.

Reflection and integration - this relates to evidence of the trainee being able to adopt a reflective stance to facilitate learning, and the application of learning to practice.

Professional behaviour - this relates to evidence of the trainee conducting themselves in a manner consistent with the professional role of clinical psychologist. This will include an awareness and use of relevant guidelines and standards regarding ethics, boundaries etc., and interacting with other professionals in an appropriate manner.

Written communication - This refers to the adequate written expression of a range of ideas, concepts and arguments, in a coherent, flowing and appropriately structured way. The style adopted should be appropriate for the intended audience.

Resilience - this reflects evidence of the trainee's ability to face challenges confidently and learn from setbacks.

Presentation skills - evidence of the ability to effectively communicate information in a live presentation environment is assessed under this competency. It includes verbal communication skills plus associated planning and performance skills in presenting.

Literature search skills - this relates to evidence of the trainee showing the technical skills required in locating and using relevant literature and other sources of knowledge and evidence.

Contextual Awareness - competency refers to an awareness of the contexts that clinical psychologists work in, and the professional role of a clinical psychologist within them.

10c. Reference Points Used to Inform

  • HCPC Standards of Education & Training
  • HCPC Standards of Proficiency
  • Standards for Doctoral Programmes in Clinical Psychology (BPS document)
  • BPS accreditation through partnership handbook
  • BPS accreditation through partnership additional guidance for clinical psychology training programmes: The Ten Essential Shared Capabilities
  • BPS Generic Professional Practice Guidelines
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Professional Practice Guidelines
  • Clinical Psychology - a quick guide to the profession and its training
  • Clinical Psychology: The core purpose and philosophy of the profession (BPS Division of Clinical Psychology)
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guide :Service User and Carer Involvement within Clinical Psychology Training
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guidelines: Training in Forensic Clinical Psychology
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology Training Providers for the Training and Consolidation of Clinical Practice in Relation to People with Learning Disabilities
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology for Training Providers - Training and consolidation of clinical practice in relation to children and young people
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology Training Providers for the Training and Consolidation of Clinical Practice in Relation to Older People
  • BPS Division of Clinical Psychology Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology Training Providers. Training and Consolidation of Clinical Practice in Clinical Health Psychology.
  • BPS Division of Neuropsychology Competency Framework for the UK Clinical Neuropsychology Profession.
  • NHS National Service Frameworks
  • NHS Knowledge & Skills Framework
  • QAA Benchmark statement Healthcare programmes - Clinical Psychology.
  • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 'Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education'
  • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 'A framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland'
  • National Qualifications Framework in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and associated regulations
  • The Children Act 2004
  • Selection of Clinical Psychologist Trainees Job Analysis Final Report
  • Lancaster University DClinPsy programme vision statement
  • Input from stakeholders (including local employers, trainees, service users and carers, Health Education England) through the programme's stakeholder events, and stakeholder representation on programme policy groups.

11. Scheme of Study Structure and Features

This table gives a typical outline of the programme as it develops over the three years for each student. The programme structure normally follows this format, although more individualised training plans may become necessary for some trainees.

Clinical Placement Self-directed study time Teaching 'blocks': From April of year one teaching takes place one day each week at University base. All Teaching belongs to both a 'block' which reflects the current placement and assessment activities the trainee is conducting at that point in the programme, and a thematic 'strand' that develops learning over the three years of training.
Sept-Oct One month induction
Oct - Mar Children and families
starting at 2 days per week, increasing to 4 days per week)
1 day per week Mostly aimed at working with children and families; teaching is two days per week through to November, and then from January is one day each fortnight until the first placement ends.
Apr - Sept Adult mental health
(3 days per week)
1 day per week Mostly aimed at working with adults with mental health problems
Oct - Mar Older adults, health psychology, or neuropsychology
(3 days per week)
1 day per week Mostly aimed at working with older adults and within health psychology
Apr - Sep Learning disabilities
(3 days per week)
1 day per week Mostly aimed at working with adults with learning disabilities
Oct - Dec Research work 4 days per week Mostly focused on advanced clinical skills and practice - one day per week through to May, then one day per fortnight
Jan - Aug One long third year placement
(3 days per week until May, 4 days per week thereafter)
1 day per week until May, then one day per fortnight
Teaching thematic 'strands': Teaching that forms part of each strand listed take place across the three years of training.
  • Assignment preparation
  • Clinical skills
  • Critical & contextual psychology
  • From theory to practice
  • Personal development & reflection
  • Physical aspects of psychology across the lifespan
  • Professional issues & context
  • Quality assurance
  • Research

Through the three-year training, trainees acquire core competencies that span the roles expected of a clinical psychologist. These not only relate to the ability to work individually and with other key professionals and carers, with clients across the life span, across client ability and in a range of clinical settings, but also include skills in leadership, consultancy and service development.

This competency acquisition is achieved through organising teaching so that it reflects the focus of trainee placements and assessed work activity at any given point of the programme. However, learning and teaching is also co-ordinated thematically in 'strands' to ensure a coherent developmental approach. More detail on the strands can be found in the document below.

The programme specifically enables students to develop academic and research competencies at a level commensurate with a doctoral level degree and related to those skills and abilities necessary to have the Standards of Proficiency (SoP) for a clinical psychologist as set out by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Within work during placements, as well as academic activity outside of placements, the programme fosters students' ability to appraise evidence critically and modify practice appropriately.

12. Support for Learning

Supervision & learning on practice placements

Trainees should spend between 50-60 per cent of their time on clinical placement, and are actively guided in their clinical learning and practice by their practice placement supervisors. The focus of the learning to take place is specified in the placement contract agreed between trainee and supervisor(s) at the beginning of the placement and submitted to the programme. Contracts are written using a proforma that is structured using the programme's learning objectives, available in the appendix below.

Oversight of academic work

For the PIA1, Systematic Literature Review and PPR1 assignments, trainees are offered the opportunity to have a draft of their work read and commented upon prior to submission. For the thesis and SRP each trainee is allocated an academic supervisor (usually a member of the programme team) and a field supervisor (who is usually a clinician in the field) who provides support to the trainee on a negotiated basis in relation to the piece of work. The programme's research consistency framework, available in the online handbook, outlines the typical level of support a trainee can expect from the academic supervisor. The specific levels of support and responsibilities of the trainee and supervisors is agreed in a meeting between the parties where a contract and action plan is drawn up.

In addition, all trainees are allocated an individual clinical tutor at the start of training who is available as a point of contact to discuss assignment preparation issues when there is no supervisor allocated.

Peer support and discussion groups

The programme encourages trainees to meet in self directed groups (which can be facilitated or un-facilitated) around specific issues such as analysis methods in research. Whilst trainees arrange such meetings, the programme is able to book rooms, provide any necessary resources and offer facilitation for such meetings on request.

General learning & pastoral support

In addition to the structures directly designed to support learning, the programme makes available to trainees a number of other more general support process to assist trainee in their progress on the programme. These include a system of independent mentors, a 'buddy' system and facilitating access to the faculty's student learning advisor who offers clinics and one-to-one session to help students develop generic academic skills. These processes are overseen by the programme's Pastoral Policy Implementation Group

Personal and professional development
Tutor pair and training progress review (TPR) Programme staff: one member of the clinical team oversees the three years in partnership with each trainee's current academic supervisor from the research team Training progress reviews/end of placement meetings twice per year, plus other meetings as necessary
Mentoring Scheme Clinical psychologists and other appropriately registered professionals external to the course that are working in the region. The system is coordinated by the Mentoring and Personal Reformulation/ Therapy Associate Tutor There is no specific frequency; varies in accordance with trainee (mentee) needs and wishes and mentor availability.
Mini Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) Cognitive Analytic Therapist external to the programme. Funded by the programme. Up to six meetings over the three years of training.
Personal Therapy Individual tutors and/or the Mentoring Scheme Coordinator will support trainees in finding appropriate therapeutic input. Funded mini-CAT currently available. Other therapies self-funded. As necessary
Placement-Programme links Trainees' individual clinical tutors visit placements 1-2 meetings per placement
Clinical Placement For each of the five placements, one main supervisor, plus other supervisors which may also form part of a supervisory team A minimum of three hours contact weekly including 60-90 minutes of formal supervision.
Peer support; buddy system Trainees. Clare Dixon coordinates the buddy system and a list of buddies is kept in the office. Peer support: during teaching days (generally weekly) and as arranged by trainees. Buddy system: as necessary.
Student Learning Advisor Service No programme staff involved. A student learning advisor is based in the faculty who can provide study and learning support for trainees on an individual needs-led basis Frequency of meetings agreed as necessary
Research The Research Team plus research supervisors, overseen by the Research Director There is no specified frequency: liaison through teaching, workshops and individual tuition throughout each year

The programme's support systems are designed to be complementary and to optimise each trainee's personal and professional development through the three years of training. Often, even before entry to the programme, potential trainees may contact the office in regard to any special requirements they may have. Where any trainee has a registered disability, and a need for particular equipment or special procedures to be followed to facilitate training, office staff (usually the Programme Administrator) liaise with staff, the funding authority, and the student support unit within the university to ensure requirements are assessed and then met as efficiently as possible.

13. Criteria for Admissions

Summary of a Successful Admissions Process

  1. The candidate applies via the Clearing House in Clinical Psychology.
  2. Lancaster programme staff check that all applicants to the Lancaster DClinPsy meet the entry requirements. If the candidate discloses a disability they are contacted by programme staff to check what modifications to the admissions process might be needed.
  3. The candidate takes an online general mental ability screening test. Applicants with the top 70 scores on this test, plus those declaring a disability who score above the most recently published threshold (see the DClinPsy admissions webpages near the time of application) are invited to attend the selection event.
  4. The candidate attends a day long selection event at Lancaster University
  5. A provisional verbal offer of a place is made subject to:
    • An up to date reference from the current employer plus one other.
    • The completion of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust's 'Self Declaration Form A'.
    • An occupational health check.
    • A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Selection criteria

Selection from application form

At the time of application candidates must be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society. Only those candidates who have GBC will be considered. The application forms are considered and all candidates with at least one satisfactory reference and Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership will be invited to take part in a general mental ability test. Candidates whose first language is not English must also meet English Language Proficiency Requirements which comprise a minimum IELTS score of 7.0.

In the remaining stages of selection, the programme utilises a competency based selection system. Activities during the selection event offer candidates the opportunity to demonstrate: competence in oral communication skills, self-awareness and openness to learning, personal maturity, warmth and empathy, resilience, professional skills, motivation and application, contextual awareness, problem solving and decision making and their commitment to fairness and inclusivity. Ratings of all the competencies above contribute equally to the candidate's score.

After the selection event

Successful candidates are notified verbally, by telephone, whether they are to be offered a provisional place. This occurs on the last selection event day or the day after. The university Postgraduate Office will then send an email to each successful applicant asking them to decline or accept an offer of a place. This offer is conditional on the candidate supplying satisfactory references as described above, satisfactory completion of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust's 'Self Declaration Form A', satisfactory outcome of the DBS check, the outcome of an occupational health assessment and evidence for graduate basis for chartered membership of the BPS. Candidates must answer via this route and decline or accept the offer via the Clearing House in Clinical Psychology.

14. Evaluation and Improvement of Quality and Standards

Quality assurance of teaching

The quality and appropriateness of teaching is monitored in several ways. When planning the teaching programme, strand teams and teachers agree a plan for each teaching session which describes the content and methods to be used, and indicates which of the programme learning outcomes each of these aim to focus on addressing. Peer Observation

The programme uses a system of peer observation of teaching that is in line with the university's policy on this matter, and which includes the peer observation of teaching by visiting lecturers. The guidelines for peer observation used by the programme include a process for feeding back to the observed teacher.

There are minimum requirements for permanent staff members to be peer-observed regularly, and staff are encouraged to discuss feedback they have received during their annual appraisal. Feedback from the peer review process is collated and a report produced for the Teaching and Learning Policy Group annually, and a summary of the findings are sent by this group to the programme's Senior Management Committee.

Trainee feedback

Following teaching sessions, feedback is obtained in several ways, and is reviewed and acted upon by block and strand co-ordinators. Following each teaching session each trainee is prompted to complete an online questionnaire, outlining their views on to what extent the learning outcomes for the session were made clear and were attained. The online questionnaire maps on to the teaching outline proforma that is prepared by teachers prior to the teaching session. The questionnaire also gives the opportunity to provide open-ended anonymous written feedback. Trainees are also invited to provide individual feedback direct to the co-ordinator, and are also asked for feedback individually during their training progress reviews which occur every six months during training.

At the end of each teaching block (i.e. twice-yearly), the chair and deputy chair of the Learning and Teaching Policy Group meets with the relevant cohort as a group to request more general feedback about the delivery of the block as a whole. They also conduct an email review of the teaching block, inviting all those involved in the teaching to contribute their reflections and suggestions. All feedback received is discussed within the Learning and Teaching Policy Group and an action plan in response to it is formulated. A report summarising the feedback and the response to it is produced and is fed back to staff and trainees though the programme's management committee and is also made available to stakeholders.

Teacher feedback

Teachers are asked to complete an online questionnaire following the session giving their feedback on the teaching experience and identifying any areas where changes might be beneficial in future.

Quality assurance of practice placements

Suitability of placements and quality are checked according to the following criteria (the relevant HCPC standards of education and training will be referenced by number after each of the below):

  1. Does the placement have the potential to meet the learning needs of the trainees at the specific point in their training (e.g. are there enough appropriately qualified staff available in a small service to supervise and support the trainee, or does a third year placement have access to work suitable to address any gaps remaining in the trainee's learning) (SET 5.2; 5.6; 5.7)?
  2. Will the placement provide a safe and supportive environment for the trainees (SET 5.3)?
  3. Is the placement situated in a service which has all the necessary governance and assurance frameworks in place to ensure the safety and promote the wellbeing of clients and trainees (SET 5.5)?
  4. Are the prospective supervisors appropriately registered (SET 5.9)?
  5. Have they undertaken appropriate training as supervisors (SET 5.8)?
In addition, placement providers must be capable of providing supervised practice consistent with the standards set out in BPS Accreditation through Partnership Handbook; Guidance for Clinical Psychology Programmes, enabling the trainees to achieve the learning outcomes set out in that same document (sections 1 and 2).

Checks for compliance of offered placements with the above standards are carried out first by checking the registration of potential supervisors with the HCPC, and also checking their successful completion of appropriate supervisor training against records held by all three northwest clinical psychology training programmes. The programme team will review any of the records the programme holds about previous placements provided by that potential supervisor and the service in question (see placement audit form below) and whether there has been a serious concern raised about the quality of this placement or supervisor before (see placement support below). In addition, regular liaison takes place between the three northwest training programmes who share the majority of the practice placements in the northwest, so that any previous difficulties can be identified and addressed. Should any problems have been identified that have put into question the appropriateness of a specific placement, the placement providers are consulted and assurance sought that (i) any issues identified have been addressed and (ii) there is a process in place to assure the ongoing quality of the placement. If such assurances are not received, the offer of a placement will not be taken up by the programme.

For those supervisors who and/ or placements that have not been used by the programme before (even if they have provided placements for other northwest programmes), there will also be direct contact made by a member of the programme team with the placement supervisor to check that all suitability criteria are able to be met by the placement and by the supervisor. When a practice placement opportunity is being offered in a particular service for the first time then an enhanced quality assurance process takes place. Following an initial request for expressions of interest in supervising, the placement policy group will identify all first time practice placement opportunities which have been offered. A blank Placement Description Form (see appendix below) will be sent to the potential supervisor and a pre-placement visit to the practice placement will be arranged by a Clinical Tutor. This pre-placement visit must be completed prior to the allocation of any trainee to the practice placement. The pre-placement visit must take place at the site where the trainee will be spending the majority of their practice placement. If the placement is split between two or more sites, visits must be made to all locations and separate Placement Quality Assurance Forms (see appendix below) completed for each location. Similarly, if there is more than one supervisor jointly offering a practice placement opportunity, all of those identified as first time supervisors will require a separately completed Placement Quality Assurance Form and Placement Description Form. The Placement Quality Assurance Form must be completed by the clinical tutor visiting the placement site during the pre-placement visit. The form asks for evidence of appropriate facilities, accessibility, safety, governance and assurance, as well as confirmation of supervisor qualification and professional registration. Only when the placement quality assurance form records that all assurance benchmarks have been met will the practice placement and supervisor be considered suitable for allocation of a trainee.

From a more general perspective, the programme takes a number of measures to ensure that enough placements of suitable quality are available. This includes the agreed schedule of core placements across the three northwest courses described above, which is designed to prevent all three courses from requiring placements in the same core field at the same time, as well as to limit the impact of two NW programmes requiring placements from the same field at the same time. Part of the clinical tutors' role is also to develop and maintain links between the programme and practice placement providers, services and special interest groups within the profession, so that the impact of local and national workforce issues can be noted and, if necessary, acted upon to keep the availability of good quality placements high on the agenda of local services and practitioners in the northwest.

Quality assurance of assessments

Marking for all assignments except the thesis

This process ensures that they are appropriately qualified and have sufficient experience. Markers, who tend to be local clinical psychologists, are also required to attend training for specific assignments and are not asked to mark unless they have attended this training. All assignments are double-marked and, with the exception of the PPR presentation, all markers will mark the work independently before reaching an agreed final mark with their co-marker. All assignments except the PPR and Direct Assessment of Clinical Skills are marked blind. All assignments are marked against a competency-based framework and a single, agreed mark is communicated to the trainees. Markers are invited to attend the Exam board meeting where the work they have marked is being considered.

External examiners

The programme has a number of standing external examiners who are appointed for a four year period. All external examiners are experienced clinical psychologists involved in training on other Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programmes and all are from the relevant part of the HCPC Register. The appointment process for external examiners is approved by the university. There are usually at least three external examiners involved in the programme.

The role of the external examiners can be summarised as follows:

  • Moderating academic assignments. External examiners are sent at least one example of a low pass, mid-range pass and a high pass for each academic piece of work submitted. Individual assignments are then commented on briefly and any general issues can be reported at the relevant Exam Board. For pieces of work which markers have passed, the external examiner only comments on the marks and would not, unless in exceptional circumstances, recommend a mark change. Where the internal markers cannot agree a mark or where there is a recommended fail grade, then the external examiner can change the mark recommended by the internal markers.
  • Moderating placement assessments. External examiners are sent examples of the supervisor's assessment of trainee forms. Placement assessment is then commented on and any general issues can be reported at the relevant Exam Board.
  • Attendance at Exam Boards. At least one external examiner attends each Exam Board to make the Exam Board quorate. The role of the external examiner in this setting is to report on moderated work, provide more general comments on progression/performance, make comments on Exam Board procedures and provide an experienced opinion on issues of debate or contention.
  • Providing an annual report. Each external examiner is requested to provide an annual report on their experience and where issues have been raised, these are replied to from the Chair of the Exam Board or the Head of DHR depending on their topic.
  • Providing expert opinion. Where a special Exam Board is called, an external examiner would be asked to attend to provide expert opinion on the assessments/processes carried out to that point.

Thesis External Examiners

External examiners are also specifically appointed for the examination of a thesis. These are one-off contracts and examiners are chosen for their expertise in an area relevant to the trainee's thesis topic. Where the external examiner is not a clinical psychologist the internal examiner would be a clinical psychologist so that there is always someone from the HCPC register of clinical psychologists on the examiner panel. Appointments for thesis external examining are approved at a university level and criteria need to be met regarding the appropriate level of research expertise of the examiner (evidence by publications and grant income), the need to have an equivalent level of qualification (e.g., other doctorate level qualification) and their lack of significant prior contact with the trainee.

Over-arching quality assurance mechanisms

The following programme-level structures monitor quality on the programme:

  • The Policy Groups. The policy groups are designed to create a space for strategic thinking and advice on course procedures, policies and directions. Trainees, LUPIN members and other stakeholders are represented across the policy groups. The policy groups report to the Policy Group Forum on a monthly basis.
  • The Policy Group Forum. The membership of the senior management group is the chair of each of the policy groups plus the Directors and the Programme Administrator. The Policy Group Forum meets on a monthly basis to consider the suggestions made by the policy groups. After discussion, the outcomes are fed back to the policy groups. Decisions ratified or outcomes decided are then collated into a short action-based report and reported under the appropriate item at the Management Committee.
  • The Management Committee. The membership of the management committee is the programme staff, trainee, LUPIN and stakeholder representatives, with the Head of the Division of Health Research as an ex-officio member. The committee meets quarterly and acts as an advisory group to the senior management group and provides a forum for the introduction and discussion of new operational and strategic issues concerning the DClinPsy. There is also a separate meeting after the main meeting which discusses issues without the presence of trainees. The minutes of this part of the Management Committee (called Reserve Business) are circulated to all programme staff.
  • The programme Examination Board. The Examination Board has the authority delegated to it by the University to reach decisions regarding the academic status of students' assignments and the completion status of students' practice placements. The membership of the examination board is the programme staff, appointed external examiners, with the Vice Chancellor, the Assistant Dean for Teaching and the Head of the Division of Health Research as ex-officio members
  • The Directors meet monthly with the Head of the Division of Health Research to consider broader policies and review.
  • There is regular review between the Directors of the programme and the purchasing authority - Health Education North West
  • There is close liaison with the programmes based at the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester, and NHS partners in training
  • There is an annual review of all aspects of the programme which is collated at faculty level. The Learning and Teaching Policy Group maintain responsibility for the quality of teaching and review of the processes. New clinical psychologists and members of staff may be approached to contribute. Feedback from trainees is taken into consideration, and draft programmes for the future year discussed with them as well as the teachers. Action on feedback is communicated to all involved.
  • There are workshops for all those who contribute to the scheme: assessors, teachers, supervisors.
  • Markers and External Examiners provide comments and feedback to the programme. These are reviewed and feedback provided.
  • Supervisors provide feedback to staff on any element in which they are involved (clinical, research or academic support)
  • The programme operates a system of peer observation consistent with the University's procedures.

Regulation of Assessment

Examination and assessment regulations are contained in full within the University Examinations Regulations. However, given that the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology has an unusual structure, particular details of the assessment regulations are reproduced below:

Scheme of assessment

To obtain the award students are required to complete all three elements of the programme. These comprise:

  1. All five clinical placements
  2. Submission (and if failed, resubmission) of all six coursework assignments (of which they must pass five)
  3. A doctoral thesis
Course work and evaluation of clinical placements are considered at regular programme examination board meetings. The thesis is examined towards the end of the three years.

Requirements for pass

Clinical placements: The student undertakes five clinical placements. In the event of a placement failure, the student may be required to re-take the placement (and completion of the programme may be extended accordingly). Students who fail more than one placement are deemed to have failed the programme and are not allowed to proceed.

Coursework: The student is required to submit a total of six distinct pieces of assessed coursework: one critical review, one service-related project, professional issues assignments I & II, and placement presentation and report exercises I & II. For the 2015 intake onwards the PPR will be replaced by the direct assessment of clinical skills.

If a student has more than two failures of coursework assignments recorded in total, then he or she is deemed to have failed the programme and is not allowed to proceed. In the event of a coursework assignment receiving a fail mark, this is counted as one failure and the student is required to resubmit the assignment. If the resubmission also fails, two failures are recorded for the student but a further resubmission of that particular piece of coursework is not undertaken.

Thesis : This is examined in accordance with the University regulations for doctoral theses.

There is no distinction grade associated with the award.

Should it be necessary for a student to resubmit a piece of coursework, a proposed resubmission date is agreed at a support plan meeting for the student, and this is subsequently agreed and ratified by the programme examination board. Arrangements for re-taking a placement are dependent on the individual case and the advice of the external examiner. Arrangements for re-submission of the dissertation are in accordance with Lancaster Ph.D. regulations.

To be eligible to apply to be registered with the HCPC as practitioner psychologists, it is essential that students pass with a doctoral qualification.

Students are full-time employees of the NHS. In the event of the student being dismissed from employment, he or she will also be deemed to have failed the programme.

Students have access to University appeal and review procedures, including the right to appeal to the Vice Chancellor under Statute 21 of the University Regulations.

16. Indicators of Quality

  1. Indicator: maintenance or expansion in number of training commissions.
    Recent performance: the number of training commissions per year has tripled since 1997.
  2. Indicator: number of applications made to the programme.
    Recent performance: typically there are at least 400 applications for places each year, and in 2015 there were over 420 applications). The number of places on the programme per year is currently 24.
  3. Indicator: attrition of students from the programme.
    Recent performance: The programme has a very low dropout rate (currently less than 1% across the history of the programme). The failure rate is similarly low.
  4. Indicator: Recruitment and retention of graduates.
    Recent performance: Most students work in the NHS on qualifying, the vast majority within the northwest. Across the comprehensive records have been kept, all eligible graduates from the programme have found employment within 2 months of completing the programme.

General reading list
The HCPC Standards of Proficiency for practitioner psychologists
HCPC Standards of education and training
BPS Accreditation through partnership handbook
Supervisor's Assessment of Trainee (SAT) form
Supervisor's Assessment of Trainee (SAT) form - final placement version
Trainee log book
Learning outcome assessment map
Placement contract
Clearing House in Clinical Psychology
Placement description form
Placement quality assurance form