University of Leeds

Division of Psychological and Social Medicine | Institute of Health Sciences | Faculty of Medicine and Health

Course code:


Course length:

3 years (full-time)


0113 343 2732

Administration email:

[email protected]
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Training with us

Structure and Content

During clinical placements trainees are normally released two or three days a week in term-time for teaching, academic study, research and private study. Owing to limitations in the availability of certain clinical placements it is not possible for all trainees to do the same type of clinical placement simultaneously. All trainees begin their clinical training with a placement in either a clinical psychology service for adults or a service for children and adolescents.

Academic teaching occurs in all six semesters (October-February and February-June) of the three years of the Programme but is not constrained by term or semester dates. Clinical Placements are for 5 months (November-April and May-September) in Years 1 and 2 and for 12 months in the final year. The teaching in the first two years is timetabled to enable trainees to become prepared for the clinical populations they are likely to meet on placement. Teaching across the range of required competencies is offered throughout the programme. The programme works with an adult learner approach and, as much as possible, teaching sessions are active and participatory rather than didactic. The general weighting of academic, clinical and research components is that the research component increases in the second and third years of the Programme. The taught academic component is heaviest in the first year and reduced significantly in the third year.

Involvement of Service Users and Carers

The Leeds programme selection process has, since 2007, included people who have used psychology and mental health services, and carers of people who have used services. Over more recent years this involvement has developed to influence all of the areas of the programme mentioned below, including teaching and research but also selection and interviewing. Everybody's Voice is the group that is at the heart of these developments; more information can be found on the Everybody's Voice page of our website and at our Extranet Site.

Academic Teaching

The academic syllabus is designed to emphasise the considerable areas of common ground shared by the clinical specialities. It aims to offer a thoroughly generic training, providing trainees with the core skills and knowledge required to approach the range of presenting problems a trained clinical psychologist is likely to encounter. The academic syllabus covers: the assessment of psychological disorders and problems; formulation; basic treatments and interventions; the evaluation of treatments, interventions and services; together with professional issues. The Leeds Programme strives to place special emphasis on an understanding of the social and developmental context in which psychological dysfunction and distress occurs. Teaching is delivered by academic staff, clinical supervisors associated with the Programme and occasional external teachers.

Supervised Clinical Placements

There are five clinical placements to be completed during the three years of the Programme during which trainees are expected to develop a range of core competencies. In the second year of the Programme, some time on clinical placement can be dedicated to clinical work of a research nature, during which trainees are expected to conduct a service evaluation. The elective placement in the third year of training is chosen by the trainee. Third year trainees are normally free to consider placements with a preferred clinical population, type of service or with an emphasis on particular core competencies. It is hoped that this pattern of placements can be maintained during the expansion of training places, however it may be that a change is unavoidable.

Placements are organised by the Clinical Tutors and placement experience is monitored by the Tutors and members of the academic staff who seek to ensure that trainees integrate their clinical work with theoretical teaching, and that they continue to develop the necessary competencies throughout the period of training. Trainees and supervisors undertake a planning exercise at the beginning of each placement to ensure that a balance between the trainees' needs and the Programme requirements are met.


Trainees are required to demonstrate their competence in research in a number of ways. In the first and second years of the Programme they submit a Systematic Case Study report (5,000 words), a Service Evaluation Project (5,000 words) and a thesis transfer report for the transfer viva (10,000 words). In the final year a substantial piece of empirical work is completed and presented as a thesis (40,000 words). This thesis must make an original, critical contribution to the field of clinical psychology and should be publishable. The Programme has major research interests in aspects of health psychology (e.g. eating and eating disorders, pain, cystic fibrosis), adult and child psychopathology (e.g. self-harm and suicide), some aspects of experimental psychopathology, systematic reviewing and meta-analysis, and the process and effectiveness of psychological treatments (to get a more complete overview of current research projects visit our website). Supervision is provided by members of the programme team and colleagues from the faculty, who have expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The Programme recognises that it cannot provide expert supervision in every sub-speciality of clinical psychology and applicants should note that the Programme expects that all trainees will conduct their research with an academic supervisor able to supervise in the chosen field. Applicants with research ambitions outside of the core areas of expertise should note that supervision in their chosen topic may not be available. The University has excellent, widely accessible computing, library and research facilities.


To complete the Programme successfully the student must satisfy the examiners in all components of the Programme (Academic, Clinical and Research).

Academic Competence

During Year 1 of the Programme trainees produce a 5,000 word essay, concerned with current issues in Clinical Psychology and its practice, and complete a clinical problem-solving examination (Problem-Based Learning, with group presentation and individual reflective report) at the end of the year. One essay is required in the third year (therapeutic work), also 5,000 words.


Clinical competence is assessed in a number of ways. Clinical Tutors meet with trainees and supervisors at Mid Placement Visits and End of Placement Reviews in order to discuss and assess the development of core competencies by the trainee. Process and outcome data from each trainee's work is actively used in this process. Supervisors and trainees complete a structured assessment form at each of these meetings. The outcomes of these assessments are submitted to the Programme's Examination Board. Trainees also give oral and written presentations of clinical work undertaken on placement. This includes a summative assessment of a placement presentation in Year 2 delivered to Years 1 and 2.

All clinical psychology training programmes are required to develop competence in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and at least one other model. The Leeds Programme does not dictate what the additional model will be for each trainee. Competency frameworks are available for the major models of psychological therapy and trainees work with tutors to evidence their competence. This is done with consideration given to trainees' interests/preferences, but must always fit with the academic support available through teaching and the opportunities for practice within the placements available to the programme.


The assessed components of research are outlined in the Research section above.

External Examiners

The examination of academic and clinical performance is conducted by University staff. An external examiner is appointed to oversee the examinations and can be involved in appeals against the decisions of the internal examiners. The research theses are examined by individual external examiners with specialist knowledge of the subject area.


Personal and professional development is one of the core themes in Leeds, and the staff team is committed to promoting and encouraging personal and professional development throughout training and beyond. The overall aim is to help trainee clinical psychologists to become reflective practitioners. A variety of methods and strategies are utilised: timetabled workshops throughout the three years; reflective groups in all years (including an ACT group in Year 1); a personal development journal; set conversations with a clinical tutor focusing on personal development gains and aims. It is an ever-evolving process, and we continually ask for trainee feedback to inform future developments.

The Personal and Professional Development Sub-committee (part of the overall Programme Management Committee) is both reactive to expressed need, and proactive in terms of promoting awareness and understanding of personal and professional development needs. Trainees from each of the three years are members of this sub-committee.

Each psychologist in clinical training has a named academic tutor, and a named clinical tutor, and regular meetings are timetabled throughout the three years to reflect on the training experience and to receive support. Clinical and academic tutors also conduct annual appraisal meetings. We do not have a named personal tutor, as the feedback from trainees has been that they wish to be able to choose whom to approach depending on their relationship with individual staff members, and the nature of their concerns or difficulties. We also have a mentor scheme where every trainee is allocated a qualified clinical psychologist as their mentor with the aim of developing a confidential and supportive relationship across training.

Overall, there is recognition by the staff team of the need for a supportive climate throughout training, and that seeking support when it is needed is a responsible and professional course of action. We hope and believe that we offer sensitive, responsive and flexible care to those in clinical training; and that we are open to critical comment, and seek to offer training of the highest quality.

Many members of the Division of Psychological and Social Medicine, other Divisions within the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, and the School of Psychology contribute teaching and research supervision to the programme. We encourage trainees to make professional and academic links within the discipline of psychology and at an interdisciplinary level with psychiatry and other healthcare professions.

Trainee Involvement in Course Management

As well as the aforementioned sub-committee, trainees from each year are representatives on a range of other sub-committees (e.g. Academic, Selection, Research, Placements) as well as on the Programme Management Committee.

Last updated:

25th April 2024