Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Our Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, accredited by the British Psychological Society, has a strong local identity given its partnership with Essex-based NHS trusts, as well as a special link with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London. Essex- and Tavistock-based clinical psychologists make a significant contribution to the teaching, research, placement and other operational activities of the programme.

You can apply for this course as:

  • a self-funded trainee (Home/EU or International fee status applicants)
  • an NHS-funded trainee (Home/EU fee status applicants only)

Self-funded trainees

Self-funded trainees are those who are not salaried employees within the NHS.

As a self-funded trainee you will need to meet the same entry criteria as NHS-funded trainees and will undergo the same rigorous selection procedures to ensure that we maintain the standards of excellence for which our clinical psychology students are renowned. All teaching and placement elements of the programme are the same for both NHS and self-funded students.

International self-funded trainees

International fee status applicants can apply for self-funded places on our Doctorate of Clinical Psychology.

How to apply as a self-funded trainee

Applications for self-funded places are made directly to the University via our online application system:

NHS-funded trainees

A number of NHS-funded training places are commissioned each year, currently 11 places. In addition to the published entry requirements for this course, applicants for NHS-funded training places need to meet the following additional entry criteria:

For NHS-funded trainees the course is completely funded by the Health Education East of England.

Trainees are appointed as full-time NHS employees on a fixed-term, three-year contract and paid on Band 6 of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. Trainees have current standard NHS holiday allowances and other benefits as detailed in the AfC Handbook. University fees are paid directly by the NHS.

The University and North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (NEPFT; the employing NHS Trust) offer equal opportunities with regard to age, race, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Selection processes conform to the principles associated with the Disability Confident Employer scheme and we endeavour to interview all applicants under this scheme who demonstrate essential criteria (as per the person specification) at short listing.

How to apply as an NHS-funded trainee

Applications for NHS funded places must be made through the designated Clearing House.


Frequently asked questions

  • Entry criteria FAQs

    What should I do if my undergraduate result was a low 2.1 (or below)?
    We recommend you undertake a Masters by research (not a taught Masters) or a PhD. You should aim to achieve 65% or higher in your Masters.

    How do I advise of any extenuating circumstances relating to my undergraduate result?
    You advise the course of this on the application form, but if you feel that this is not adequate, you may contact the Course Administrator, who will arrange for your circumstances to be discussed with a member of the course team.

    Is Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL) available?
    No, the course does not offer APEL.

    I have worked full-time in my post for one year, is this enough experience?
    Yes, we ask applicants to have at least one year’s full-time (or equivalent) work experience at the time of application. Experience can be paid or voluntary, full- or part-time (equivalent to one year’s full-time experience). Each separate job or post making up this one year’s experience should be a minimum of 6 months full time equivalent. This is the minimum requirement and applicants with more than one year’s experience and in different clinical settings will rate higher at shortlisting.

    What clinical work experience do you consider to be relevant?
    All experience, whether paid or voluntary, working in a clinical or caring setting with service users is relevant.

    Do I need to have worked directly with a clinical psychologist?
    Experience of working with a clinical psychologist is beneficial, but we realise that this is difficult to obtain. Working in a multi-disciplinary team with, or getting supervision from, a clinical psychologist will also be considered valuable experience. We feel that it is important for you to have knowledge the role to fully understand the training that you are to undertake and have firsthand experience of this if possible.

    What research experience do I need?
    In addition to the experience you would have gained completing your undergraduate dissertation, we value any additional research experience in a field relevant to clinical psychology, particularly if it deals directly with service users. This does not have to be within a research assistant post. Research experience counts towards the work experience entry requirements and if you can demonstrate both research and clinical experience this will be to your advantage. You can also strengthen your application by getting your research published.

    Can you help me find relevant work experience?
    Unfortunately, we cannot offer assistance in finding work experience.

    Do I need experience of the UK National Health Service (NHS)?
    It is not necessary to have worked in the UK NHS, nor in any other government-funded health care setting. You will need to demonstrate some knowledge of how the NHS works in the UK and the role of a clinical psychologist within it.

    I am currently an IAPT worker, will I be considered for the course?
    We will consider IAPT (or any other NHS-trained professionals).

    Do I have to be living in the UK/EU to apply?
    No you don't need to be living in the UK at the time of applying, however in order to apply for a NHS funded place, you need to be eligible for home-based tuition fees (ie a permanent resident of the UK/EU. Overseas applicants will need to have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and have been living on a permanent basis in the UK for the last three years (this excludes being in the UK as a full-time student). For further details on home-based tuition fees visit Clearing House. Anyone may apply for non-funded places on the programme.

  • General FAQs

    If I am offered a place, will I need to live in Essex?
    Since teaching and placements are in Essex, we encourage successful applicants to relocate to Essex to avoid long daily travel times to and from teaching and placements.

    Do I need a driving licence?
    You will need to have the ability to travel within the region whilst on placement. We strongly recommend that you have a UK or international driving licence and use of a vehicle as placement locations are varied and some require you to go out into the community.

    How many days a week will I be at University?
    Trainees are generally at the University for teaching on Mondays and Tuesdays. In the main, teaching coincides with the University’s term structure, but it tends to extend a week or two into the summer break and there are occasions outside of this when there will be compulsory teaching sessions.

    In addition, at the beginning of each academic year, there is a teaching block when trainees will be at the University full-time. Teaching blocks are scheduled for four weeks for first year trainees and two weeks for second and third year trainees.

    Where are the placements based?
    Placements are generally within a 40 mile radius of the University. There may be occasions when placements are further away than this.

    Are there opportunities for placements at the Tavistock Clinic?
    Trainees are eligible to apply for a third year specialist placement at the Tavistock Clinic. Those who apply are interviewed and will be in competition with other trainees. The programmes has three placements with the Tavistock which trainees can access if they are selected during the interview process.

Post-qualification training

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Post-Qualification Training (PQT) Group offers post-qualification training opportunities tailored to meet its members' needs, and is open to all University of Essex clinical psychology graduates and any clinical psychologists who have qualified within the last two years and are working within North or South Essex.

As a PQT member, you are eligible to attend our specialist PQT events, which are planned with your training needs in mind and are scheduled to take place three times each year. We will also invite you to attend all of our supervisor workshops and will keep you informed of any new supervisor training taking place locally.

Recent events have included:

  • Multi-systemic Therapy, presented by Lisa Shostak from the Hackney MST Team
  • Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy, presented by Professor Alessandra Lemma, Director Psychological Therapies Development Unit Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

If you are eligible and interested in joining our PQT Group, please email

Student profiles

  • Melanie Rowsell-Docherty

    After completing my undergraduate degree at Essex I worked within a number of different roles. I worked as a care assistant at a National Epilepsy Centre, and a support worker in a modified therapeutic community for adults with mental health difficulties.

    I then worked as an assistant psychologist in three different settings, including a specialist psychiatric hospital, a learning disability medium secure unit, and a specialist residential school for children with autistic spectrum disorders.

    Following this I worked as a clinical studies officer, working on research projects in my local NHS research and design department.

    Why I applied to Essex

    I chose Essex because it was a small course and offers an equal weighting to CBT, systemic and psychodynamic approaches, rather than focusing mainly on one. Links with the Tavistock also made the university more appealing.

    Additionally I had completed my undergraduate degree at Essex so know the university and local area fairly well.

    What I like about the programme

    I have really enjoyed the use of integrative approaches throughout training and the opportunities to formulate with several different approaches.

    As Essex is a relatively small course, you get to know the others in your cohort really well, which creates a good support network. Additionally having a regular reflective group throughout the three years enables you to explore your experiences on and off the course, aiding reflective practice.

    The majority of our teaching is delivered by local clinical psychologists which offers great networking opportunities and supports our placement experience.

  • Louise Sparrow

    I completed by undergraduate degree in Psychosocial Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 2006. I then studied for my Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (conversion course) at Aston University in Birmingham. Following my graduation in 2007, I worked for two and a half years in two different Assistant Psychologist posts. My first Assistant Psychologist job was in a private dual-diagnosis psychiatric hospital. The second was a split post between a Clinical Health Psychology department in a hospital and a residential brain injury rehabilitation centre. During my undergraduate degree I had also volunteered on a national eating disorders helpline, and later worked for a short time before my first Assistant Psychologist post in a residential eating disorders unit.

    Why I applied to the University of Essex

    I applied to the University of Essex because of the equal attention given to CBT, Systemic and Psychodynamic perspectives. I particularly wanted the experience of integrating these three main models, and felt that the course at Essex would afford me the opportunity to do so. A further consideration for me was the geographical location of the course, since I lived in Norfolk before moving to Colchester for training, and wanted to remain close to my family and friends.

    What I like about the programme

    I think one of the strongest components of the course is the quality and range of the teaching given. The links with the Tavistock Clinic in London have allowed us the opportunity to receive lecturers from a prominent and well respected centre of psychodynamic thought. The University also regularly invite practicing clinicians from the local area to lecture on the course. The clinicians often bring live case material to illustrate theory to practice links, which is an aspect of teaching I have come to highly value.

    Since the cohorts at Essex are very small, it has been possible to form a very supportive friendship group which I have benefitted from greatly during my time on the course so far. We have also been able to get to know the trainees in the year above and year below not least through the 'buddy' system that the course employs. This seems to work really well, and means that there is always someone to go to for informal support and to ask questions about different aspects of the course. We often use the clinical seminar slots to present case vignettes, and ask the rest of the cohort to think with us about formulation and treatment options. This has been really valuable to me over the last two years, and has allowed us practice in integrating different theories and models.

  • Victoria Wallis

    Between completing my undergraduate degree and starting the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Essex, I worked for four years in various psychological settings. This included working as a Family Support Worker / Assistant Psychologist with young children with emotional difficulties and their families, a Research Assistant for a randomised control trial comparing interventions for people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, and as a Support Worker in a residential home for young adults with severe learning disabilities and a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Condition.

    Although most of my experience was gained in the UK, my research post was in a specialist service in Australia and I also did some voluntary work in Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific.

    Why I applied to the University of Essex

    I had three main reasons for applying to the University of Essex:

    • It seemed to have an equal focus on CBT, psychodynamic and systemic approaches. I thought that this would be beneficial for me to get a feel for the models I would prefer.
    • Links with the Tavistock and therefore more multicultural and specialist teaching.
    • I already live close to the University and know the local area.

    What I like about the programme

    On the whole my experience of training at Essex was positive. Some aspects of my experience particularly stood out, these included:

    • The genuinely integrative approach and equal focus on CBT, psychodynamic and systemic ways of working. This allowed me to discover which models fit best with my individual style and improved my flexibility for adapting work for individual clients.
    • The quality of the placements and the clinical supervision. The diversity of placements allowed me to gain experience of working in a range of clinical settings and the quality of supervision enabled me to develop my practice.
    • The specialist third year placements in a Family Therapy Team and Paediatric Psychology allowed me to build upon my interests in systemic working.
    • Being in a small year group allowed me to build close relationships with the other trainees. Together we had fun, as well as supporting each other throughout the three years.
    • The opportunities that the University offered were broad. For example, I worked alongside of the Biological Sciences Department to complete my thesis in which I evaluated a Wilderness Therapy programme for 'Youth at Risk'.

    What next?

    I am looking forward to starting my job as a Multisystemic Therapist in a team specialising in child abuse and neglect. This position will allow me to utilise and build upon the skills that I acquired during my third year specialist placement. This post will also allow me to develop my CBT skills and work with professionals from a range of backgrounds.

  • Jessica Floris

    I had previously worked for several years as a care-coordinator for people with ‘severe and enduring’ mental health needs in a community and rehab setting which gave me a good base for the clinical psychology doctorate. Additionally I had volunteered for the NSPCC, Mencap and MIND. My previous training as a psychotherapeutic counsellor has also been invaluable in helping to establish therapeutic relationships with the range of people I meet on different placements.

    Why I chose Essex and what I like about the programme

    I chose Essex for its integrative orientation and links with the Tavistock Clinic. I was keen to develop a variety of skills that would equip me to work within an ever demanding NHS and people with increasingly complex difficulties. I felt that an integrative approach would allow me greater flexibility to adapt to such a climate and tailor interventions to meet the individual needs of the clients. I liked the fact that the Essex course has a smaller intimate cohort/staff team as it means you can really get to know one another and this helps you feel supported as the course can feel stressful at times with the competing demands of placements, research and academic assignments.

    Life after the course

    Since finishing the course I have started in my first post, working in a community psychology service for adults with mental health difficulties. This has been a great first job post qualifying as I get to gain further experience doing assessments and therapeutic work. The clients have a range of presenting problems so there is still plenty to learn, but I feel that this presents me with an opportunity to build on the knowledge gained during training which is exciting. Unfortunately as this is a short-term post, I am leaving in the near future. I start a new post in a forensic service (medium secure unit in London) in the New Year, which is very exciting too.

More information

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme Administrator

School of Health and Human Sciences

University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ

Telephone +44(0)1206 873910