The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme is taught in blocks spaced throughout the years of training and interspersed with supervised NHS placements in linked areas.

Teaching is structured in six blocks, rather than semesters, spaced through the years of training and interspersed with placements in linked areas.

One of the teaching innovations we are developing is distance participation. This uses eLearning, interactive discussion boards / chat rooms, self-directed study, locally organised small group work, and video conference technology to enable distance participation for a proportion of our teaching. This will reduce travel disruption for trainees in NHS Boards that are further from Edinburgh and enable us to offer input from lecturers based in these Boards.


Trainees undertake two taught courses in each of the first two years of training. In the final year trainees attend Advanced Practice Seminars and complete work on their thesis.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Clinical Psychology 1 Clinical Psychology 2 Thesis
Research 1 Research 2 Advanced Practice Seminars

Teaching themes

The taught component of the programme is structured around several overarching psychological and practice themes that run through each of the years, balanced with the need for population specific teaching to orient trainees to and to prepare for clinical work on placements.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Fundamentals of Clinical Psychology Fundamentals of Clinical Psychology Professionalism and Practice
Professionalism and Practice Professionalism and Practice Thesis and Viva Preparation
Assessment and Measurement Applications with Older People Advanced Practice Seminars
Interventions Applications with Children and Families  
Applications with People with Intellectual Disabilities  Research 2  
Applications with Adults of Working Age    
Research 1    

Clinical placements 

In the six placements, which are whenever possible synchronised with academic teaching, the trainee learns to deal with problems across the life span, including children, people with intellectual disability, adults of working age and older adults.

Clinical placements cover a wide range of work in psychiatric, general, intellectual disability and rehabilitation hospitals, in primary care settings and in the community. Over 250 clinical supervisors throughout Scotland contribute to the programme.

Case conceptualisations

At the end of each of the first two years, trainees submit a case conceptualisation for examination. The case conceptualisations combine a pragmatic literature review and an outline of the theoretical and conceptual context of the case as well as the clinical case report.


Two research assignments are submitted for examination during training; one research proposal and one small scale research project, usually based on a service evaluation or service audit, that facilitate the development of research competencies in preparation for the larger thesis project.

The thesis offers trainees the opportunity to engage in a significant piece of service related research, supported by both an academic and a clinical supervisor.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) will be applied for candidates who have completed the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People at the University of Edinburgh or the MSc in Psychological Therapy in Primary Care provided jointly by the Universities of Stirling and Dundee, which have significant clinical practice (placement) components. Any consideration of RPL will not have any impact on the selection of trainees. Trainees for whom RPL applies will be offered a training place for approximately 2 years and 7 months until 30th April of their third year. They will not be required to complete a Small Scale Research Project and will have one Specialist Placement in 3rd year instead of two. This recognises the competencies demonstrated in the successful completion of the MSc programme.

Successful completion of the 2 year 7 months RPL training will confer the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC and work in the NHS in all parts of the UK in exactly the same way as for graduates of the 3-year full-time training. The major advantage is that trainees on this route will be available to take up qualified Clinical Psychologist posts earlier than those on the 3-year training.

Aligned training places

In recent years, the programme has responded to Scottish Government priorities by introducing training places aligned to a specific clinical population such as Older Adults, Forensic, Learning Disabilities or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). In these aligned training places, placements in years 1 and 2 remain the same as for non-aligned places, however specialist placements and theses are expected to be completed within the designated aligned areas where possible. The principle underlying aligned training pathways is one of increasing experience with a defined clinical population whilst ensuring that the trainees on aligned pathways have the opportunity to develop the same core competences and hold the equivalent workload to trainees on the non-aligned pathway. The aim is to help expand workforce capacity in high priority clinical areas and contribute to the delivery of NHS services in areas of need.

All trainees undergo the same selection procedure. Completion of an aligned training route offers an opportunity for in-depth experience with a specific client group whilst gaining the same qualification with the same career choices post-qualification.  As the training is based on core competencies and transferrable skills, trainees will be eligible to apply for jobs in other clinical areas and all successful trainees qualify with the same Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, conferring eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to apply to the British Psychological Society for Chartered Clinical Psychologist status.