Royal Holloway

University of London
Department of Psychology | School of Life Sciences and the Environment

Course code:


Course length:

3 years (full-time)


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Administration email:

[email protected]

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About the programme

The Royal Holloway Clinical Doctorate follows an Adult Learner model in which trainees are encouraged to take increasing responsibility over the course of the course for their own learning as the course progresses. As with all courses, we aim to enable the trainee to cover the academic, clinical practice and research knowledge and skills that underpin and guide clinical practice. The course timetable includes formal teaching, tutorials, and clinical and academic seminars with clear blocks of time for independent study.

Attendance is compulsory for all teaching, tutorials and seminars. After a one month full-time Induction Block in the first year, trainees will be expected to attend teaching for two days per week during the College Terms for Years 1 and 2 of the course. Additional service familiarisation may also be required for those trainees not familiar with the NHS context. There is a further one week teaching block at the start of the second year. During the third year, teaching requirements are minimal to allow trainees to concentrate on their research projects. 

The Induction Block introduces the course, provides a background to the NHS and Psychology services, and introduces those clinical and other skills needed for placement. Thereafter, the course is geared to enabling trainees to cover areas relevant to the practice of Clinical Psychology. The core areas of clinical skills, theory, empirical research and clinical topics spanning the age and client groups are covered. The syllabus is continually evolving in the light of trainee feedback and professional requirements.

The research teaching covers psychological measurement, research design and methodology. This is to ensure that trainees have the knowledge and skills necessary to approach the theory and research literature at a level expected of a postgraduate in psychology and in a manner that is helpful for clinical practice. As the completion of a substantial thesis is a major requirement for the award of the degree, trainees are encouraged to begin to develop research proposals by the end of the first year.

Clinical placements will normally be in North London. Placements are co-ordinated across three regional programmes and allocation of placements is made on the basis of trainee, professional and course requirements. Trainees have the opportunity to indicate areas of special interest when planning their third year placements. Most trainees commence training with a 12-month placement, with later placements of 6 or 12 months' duration. Trainees are informed of their first placement once they have started the course. They are informed of subsequent placements as far in advance as it is practical to do so.

Each cohort has a clinical tutor to support and monitor trainees' progress. Within each placement (or twice in a year-long placement) a mid-placement meeting is undertaken to monitor progress and resolve any difficulties. An individually allocated member of course staff or an honorary Associate Clinical Tutor carries out this task. Quality supervision is seen as a major determinant of good training and we work together with the other course to provide training to ensure that trainees have a good experience of supervision, and supervisors a good experience of trainees.

Service User Involvement

The course has had an active Service User and Carer Involvement Group (SUCIG) since 2007. The group includes a number of trainee representatives and meets four times per year. Service users and carers contribute to multiple aspects of the training course, including specific teaching sessions, selection and curriculum development. However, we are keen to develop this further and SUCIG plays an important role in generating and providing feedback on ideas for increasing involvement opportunities.


Different procedures assess various aspects of the course, as described below.

Clinical Skills

Clinical supervisors from placements are required to complete an assessment of the trainee's clinical competence at the end of each placement. Trainees are also required to submit three Reports of Clinical Activity over the three-year period of training, one of which is a reflective practice assessment.

Academic Work

Academic work is assessed by a combination of essays and examination methods. The course requires trainees to submit an essay in Year 1. Formal examinations (one paper) are held at the end of the first year.


The Research Dissertation is the major research component to the course. It is submitted in June of the third year and examined in July. Trainees are encouraged to pursue a topic in an area of active research within the department. These can cover a wide range of mental health and health topics. The overall standard of the research will be expected to be commensurate with a PhD, but the dissertation will be considerably shorter. A Service Related Research Project is completed on one of the placements. There is also a research critical rreview exercise at the end of the first year and a practical statistics assessment at the end of the second year.

Last updated:

15th August 2023