Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)

Programme structure

The programme is at Post Graduate Research (PGR) level and consists of clinical, academic and research modules which span the three years. All three modules of the programme are research-led. The clinical component focuses on supervised practice using research and evidence-led approaches to delivering psychological science and practice in healthcare. Trainees have an opportunity to engage in a service-led research project, beginning in the first year, for two years whilst on placement and engage with research literature (including a critical evaluation of this) to inform their clinical practice. The Academic component focuses on teaching on psychological science/practice in healthcare, with assessments on critical appraisal of research evidence, application of research evidence to clinical practice, with an emphasis on theory-practice links, and developing implementation science skills. Academic assignments include clinical practice reports, which can take the form of case studies using single case methodology.

In line with our adult learner philosophy, problem-based learning is a key element in our programme in which trainees are expected to develop as active, collaborative learners working on clinical and research problems in small groups over extended periods of time. As can be seen from the table below, three major psychological therapies will be taught: Cognitive Behavioural, Systemic and Psychodynamic, although others are also covered particularly as we have recently enhanced our CAT training over the three years

We place an emphasis on core competencies, which span clinical specialisms and theoretical orientations through the three modules.

Outline of Main Emphases in Each Year of the Programme


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Placement Setting

Child and family.
Disability services.

Working with adults (working age and beyond)

Research and further experience from a range of specialisms.


Working at the systemic and organisational level.
Generic and core therapeutic competencies in CBT and systemic.

Working at the individual and interpersonal level.
Specific competencies in CBT, CAT and Psychodynamic.

Consolidation and specialisation.

Core Competencies

Therapeutic relationships (assessment, formulation and introduction to intervention and evaluation).

Neuropsychological assessment and interventions skills.
Research design and implementation underpinned by MRC Complex Interventions Framework.
Clinical practice reports.

Intervention (psychological therapies).
Individual assessment and formulation.
Neuropsychological assessment and intervention skills.
Consultancy/facilitation and supervision.
Leadership development within ROP series.

Clinical leadership and organisational behaviour.
Advanced therapeutic assessment and intervention skills.

Academic/ Research Elements

Systemic/organisational development within the ROP series.
Professional issues - the NHS context.
Child and family, people with learning difficulties.
Small-scale service-related project and Thesis planning and design.
Professional practice.
Personal development.
Statistics teaching.

Psychological therapies - psychodynamic, CAT and CBT.
Evidence and values based practice.
Adult and older adults.
Small-scale service-related project completion.
Thesis: ethics and data collection.

Clinical leadership and organisational theory.
Supervision and consultancy skills.
Advanced and specialist therapy skills.
Thesis completion.
Advanced qualitative and quantitative workshops.

Clinical module

The clinical module develops core competencies through four placements over the first two years, and a final year placement to consolidate the previous learning and to develop specialisation. The emphasis in Year 1 is on understanding and working with people in the context in which they live, with placements within child and family services and Learning Disability services. In Year 2 the focus is on integrating psychological therapies into clinical practice, with placement in adult services. The predominant therapeutic focus of the programme is CBT, with Psychodynamic, CAT and Systemic therapy having a strong presence. Placement supervisors provide at least one hour of formal supervision a week, to support trainees in developing the core competencies and making the theory-practice links. Trainees in the 2017 intake will be allocated a placement base within the South West region including Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

A substantial proportion of available training time is dedicated to clinical placement activity, although it also encompasses research and academic activity. Trainees will work with one or more supervisors in each placement to gather the necessary range and depth of clinical experience. Each trainee will be supported by a clinical tutor who assists with the development and negotiation of supervisory relationships and helps ensure that placements meet trainees' learning needs.

The clinical module is assessed by monitoring and evaluation of the trainee's placement performance through the evaluation of clinical competence by the supervisor, and self-evaluation by the trainee; twice a year in the first two years of training and once in the final year. In addition there will be mandatory clinical observation. There is also a "Portfolio of Clinical Experience" completed by trainee, and counter-signed by supervisor, twice a year in the first two years of training and once in the final year.

Academic module

Learning at Exeter is facilitated through a hybrid model of problem-based learning, which includes lectures and seminars as one resource provided by a combination of local clinicians and national leaders in their field. The academic programme is integrated with the placement structure. In each of the first two years, trainees initially attend the University base for block periods of teaching in Term 1. Thereafter academic learning is integrated with placement involving some stays at the University and some at locality bases. A generous allocation of study time will be given in line with BPS requirements. In Year 3 a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) format in preparation for qualified practice is offered with workshops aimed at developing specialist or advanced practice skills in psychological therapies, leadership and supervision.

Over the three years of the programme, trainees complete ten assessed pieces of work. All written assessments are blind marked and moderated. These are:

Four problem-based learning (PBL) tasks (presentation and reports). A PBL is a learning approach where trainees work together in their locality groups to develop their competencies in relation to a particular clinical problem. The outcome of the PBL is presented to the cohort and team members. Feedback is provided to help develop the trainees understanding of the area and enhance their presentations skills.

One leadership/institutional observation project (presentation and report) where the trainee identifies an issue in a work setting that can be understood from a psychological perspective.

Four clinical practice reports (CPRs) covering a range of clinical work.

An essay focusing on a professional issue.

Research module

The research module assumes a good understanding of undergraduate-level statistics and research methods, and encourages trainees to develop their critical and analytic skills, strengthening their understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, using the MRC Complex Interventions Framework.  In Year 1, alongside PhD students, the trainee is registered with MyPGR and starts a service-related research project, which is co-supervised by a clinical supervisor and an internal research supervisor (research tutor). Work on the DClinPsy thesis also begins at the start of the programme, with trainees being assigned a research supervisor in their field of research interest by the middle of the first year. Research supervisors are normally at least senior lecturer grade and have an active research programme of their own. The trainee works closely with their research supervisor to create a theory-driven research thesis. Formal regular research supervision is provided throughout, monitored by MyPGR. The trainee submits a research proposal for assessment (both written and oral assessment) at the beginning of Year 2. In Year 3, the trainee submits a research thesis (comprising a structured literature review and empirical paper) for examination by viva (with an internal and expert external examiner). Research, is therefore, an integral part of the programme and runs throughout the three years of training.

Through this module trainees will be encouraged to become independent research practitioners and critical consumers of clinically relevant research. In Year 2 a small-scale research project (SSRP) will be submitted. As noted above, in all three years trainees have allocated independent study time to pursue their thesis. The research curriculum follows the MRC Complex Interventions Framework to enhance ability of trainees to be applied researchers and leaders in the complex environment of the NHS.

Trainees will complete one PBL (problem-based learning) exercise involving a critical review of a piece of research with individual and group submissions (Year 1); complete a small-scale service-related research project and submit a thesis proposal (Year 2); complete a research thesis comprising a structured literature review and empirical paper (submissions and viva in Year 3). The thesis is marked by an internal marker with the external examiner taking the lead examiner role.

The programme has a number of distinctive features, and students are thoughtful and reflective, showing good critical awareness in relation to their subject area.
External Examiner

When I started on the Programme I was frankly terrified about research and statistics. With all the support from the Research Tutors I finally got my head round it. I'm really proud of my doctoral submission which was also published in the leading journal.
Recent third year trainee

Exeter trainees seem to have a strong sense of self and ability to reflect coupled with a genuine concern for the needs and rights of our young patients.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Paediatrics

Quality Assurance

Feedback is regularly sought from trainees on the quality of teaching, placements and all other aspects of the programme. Trainees meet regularly with staff in trainee-led meetings. All stakeholders, including trainees, are key members of decision-making bodies within the programme. Stakeholders' views are valued highly and influence programme development.


Progression through the programme requires successful completion of continuously assessed tasks. These are co-ordinated across the three modules to ensure a reasonable workload and the programme has an annual progression process.  These assessed tasks are supplemented with a number of assignments, which are assessed formatively. Continuously assessed work is marked by programme staff and other trained clinicians/researchers. It is moderated by the Director for the relevant module and the process is overseen by the External Examiner who sees sample work and feedback.


For details of assessment of the clinical module and research module see the Course Structure section above.

Trainee Support

We take the health and welfare of trainees very seriously and there are a number of support systems and structures in place. Trainees meet regularly on an individual basis with an appraiser who provides an overview of academic, research, and clinical development. A clinical tutor provides support for all matters to do with placements and supervision. Research thesis supervisors are allocated in Year 1 and work with the trainee until the thesis is passed. In addition, research tutors and research stream leads provide additional research support throughout the three years of study. Trainees are strongly encouraged to have a mentor. Trainees are encouraged to develop "buddy" relationships with second and third year trainees. There is also a reflective group experience which runs for the duration of the programme.


The programme team have a wide range of clinical experience and research interest and details can be found on our website along with details on CEDARand MDC.