Academic Handbook September 2021

Welcome from the Programme Director

I would firstly like to take this opportunity to welcome our new cohort to the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme at the University of Southampton. You should all be very proud of yourselves and congratulations on getting this far. Also, I would also like to say welcome back to our 2nd and 3rd year trainees – you should also be proud of your hard work and skills that you have gained since starting training. I know that the Programme Team are looking forward to seeing you all grow and develop during this exciting new chapter in your lives to becoming qualified Clinical Psychologists.

The Programme Team hope that you all enjoy your time training with us, and we value providing a comprehensive, high quality and rewarding learning experience with a strong emphasis on pastoral support. For me, training is like going on a roller coaster ride as it will be full of highs, lows, twists and turns, and moments that you may find scary or unsettling, but ultimately you will look back on your training with a sense of achievement, pride, contentment and feeling sad that it has ended.

On a personal level, I was delighted to be promoted to Programme Director in November 2020 particularly as the Programme is so strong, the Team are incredible, and the trainees are a pleasure to support over their time in training. Furthermore, this role and Programme is at the University of Southampton with the ethos of providing world-class education, research and innovation that makes a real difference to society, which is in line with my own personal values. Over the next year, there will be exciting changes to all aspects of the Programme to ensure that we meaningfully embed equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives to enhance your training experience further.

Please do not hesitate to contact me whenever you need me – it may be just to say hello or talk to me about an issue on training. I have an ‘open door’ policy so please feel free to knock on it either virtually (via Teams) or in person (Building 44/3089).

Enjoy the year ahead

margo-pic

 

 

 

 

 

Margo

Dr Margo Ononaiye
Programme Director

1 Programme Organisation, Structure and Monitoring

1.1 Programme Team

[under review]

1.2 Programme Organisational Structure

1.2.1 Accountability of the Programme and of the Director

The Programme is administratively placed within the School of Psychology (B44) and the Faculty of environmental Life Sciences (FELS) Graduate School (B85) at the University of Southampton. It is also subject to the approval as a practitioner training programme by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). In addition, it is reliant on the placement learning opportunities provided by local healthcare facilities specifically the NHS; a subcommittee of the Programme Board oversee these arrangements (the Placement Monitoring Group). Accountability to the Psychology Department is via the Head of the Department and the Department committee. Accountability to the NHS is via the Programme Board; accountability to the Local Education and Training Board (LETB) is via Contract Management Meetings. Finally, the Programme ensures that it meets national standards for Clinical Psychology training through the appropriate external validation procedures involving our external examiners.

Each cohort of students has an External Examiner who must be HCPC registered as a Practitioner Psychologist, to monitor samples of the students work and conduct Vivas and note that other ‘Thesis only’ External Examiners are also appointed. The Programme operates in partnership with our NHS colleagues who provide clinical placements constituting approximately half programme across the 3 years.

1.2.2 Clinical Psychology Programme Board

The Programme Board is responsible for policy matters, whilst the Programme Team is responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the Programme. The Programme Board ensures representation and view points of all stakeholders’ views and interests including the Programme Team, Expert by Experience, Trainee Year Group Representatives, Head of the Department of Psychology or other members of the Department of Psychology as appropriate, Clinical Psychologists who act as supervisors from within NHS placements, employee and NHS commissioner representation and library support input.

The Programme Board normally meets once per semester and is concerned with quality issues, including strategic decisions about selection, placement provision and development, student evaluation and curriculum development. The minutes of the Programme Board are sent to the School of Psychology Programme Committee (SPC).

The specific terms of reference of the Programme Board are:

to review and advise on academic and curricular matters of the programme; to consider student evaluation of the programme; to consider programme response to recruitment and selection matters and student numbers; to consider and advise on approval matters; to receive comments and advice from clinical supervisors, to advise the Department and Faculty and programme team on individual student matters.

1.2.3 Programme Examination Boards

The Programme has two examination boards each academic year these are:

Exam Board (Progression) – meets yearly in November and is the formal mechanism where all year 1 and year 2 trainees clinical and academic programme requirements are reviewed and progression to the next year is considered.

Exam Board (Awarding Body) – meets yearly in September and is the formal mechanism by which it ensures all trainees in their final year of training have successfully completed all course requirements and are suitable to be put forward to the University’s Awards Committee for Award. It also addresses any issues arising from external examiner comments and formally responses to these.

It is normally expected that in addition to the Department of Psychology Director of Programmes, the Exams Officer (Programme Academic Director) and external examiners, all academic staff involved in the marking of assignments that contribute to the modules under consideration by an examination board shall be members of that board. Any special considerations are addressed before the exam board by the Special Considerations Committee and any recommendations are noted at the relevant exam board. See section 2.7 below for information about Special Considerations.

1.2.4 Year Groups and Trainee Representation

Each cohort has two Year Tutors, who meet with the year group once a semester, prior to each Programme Board. Trainees share responsibility with the Year Tutors for developing an agenda and for minute taking. The Year Tutors may take issues requiring action or discuss with the programme team issues to be addressed. Where appropriate, issues may be taken forward from year groups to Programme Board by the year group representatives. Where issues are addressed within the Programme Team the Year Tutor provides written feedback to the Year Group detailing the actions taken in response to their feedback.

In addition to year group representatives, further sets of two trainees from each cohort also act as representatives across several other meetings, working groups, and committees including those within the programme, Psychology Department and across the Faculty.

1.2.5 Geographical boundaries

All placement learning takes place within Hampshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, except in special circumstances (e.g., specialist year placement not available within Strategic Health Authority), and via specific negotiation with other clinical programmes. Trainees are allocated a placement base and the expectation is that Trainees live within 10 miles of that base temporarily during the working week or permanently.

1.2.6 Programme funding

The programme is currently funded by Health Education England (HEE) and students are employed as Trainee Clinical Psychologists within the NHS by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.  A member of the programme team acts as the trainees’ NHS line manager with the Programme Director holding overall responsibility for this role.

1.2.7 Monitoring of programme performance

The quality of the programme is monitored and reviewed through the following mechanisms:

Professional Accreditation Bodies:

All courses are accredited in the first instance by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) in partnership with the British Psychological Society (BPS). This accreditation through partnership reviews clinical training courses every five years and emphasise collaborative working with providers to enable exploration, development, and quality enhancements. They assess (and approve) the programmes against a set of Standards for Education and Training (SETs) which ensure trainees are prepared for safe and effective practice. Completing a programme which meets the SETs therefore ensures trainees also meet the Standards of Proficiency (SOPs), these set out the specific knowledge, skills and understanding needed for the profession. As well as standards of conduct, performance, and ethics (SCPEs) and therefore the ethical principles and expectations of the professional. As such, on successful completion of the programme, Trainees are eligible to apply for HCPC registration.

The University of Southampton’s Review Process

  • All University teaching programmes are formally reviewed through a five yearly revalidation process by the faculty and through annual monitoring which incorporates module and programme level evaluation.

2 Academic Experience

The academic content of the programme covers the knowledge and skills needed for trainees to work with a diverse range of people across the whole life span in a range of contexts and settings. It requires trainees to demonstrate a systematic acquisition and understanding of the substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of professional practice in Clinical Psychology and reflects the creation of new knowledge through original research and enquiry to inform the discipline’s practice.

In accordance with the University’s Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision. The taught element of the programme in Year 1 is assessed at the equivalent of masters’ level (there is however no exit award at this level for Clinical Psychology Training) to support the transition to doctoral level. Teaching and assessment in Years 2 and 3 are at doctoral level. The transition is guided by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Framework for Higher Education qualification descriptors.

2.1    Programme Structure and Curriculum

The curriculum is based on the standards of proficiency specified by the HCPC and the core competencies outlined by the BPS in Accreditation handbook. The programme content is arranged in 24 modules which in total attract the 540 credit points required for a Doctorate (as per the QAA Framework).

The programme is organised over three years on a full-time basis and trainees are expected to complete all elements. There is no alternate exit award. In terms of student effort, the three years each include 180 credit points (1800 hours) which represent teaching hours and independent study.

The overall structure of the programme is outline in Table 1 below. Year 1 involves two teaching blocks with two core clinical placements, teaching is generally Mondays and possibly some Fridays outside of blocks. Some independent study time is timetable often on Fridays. Trainees are expected plan and manage their own study in line with timetabled deadlines. Year 2 replicates this structure with slightly shorter teaching blocks and two core clinical placements. Year 3 is unique with a dedicated three-month research block and a nine-month final clinical placement.

Table 1. Overall Yearly Structure

Year/Semester Teaching Block Clinical Placement Teaching days

Year 1

Semester 1 (September to January)

 

Semester 2 (February to June)

October to November – 6 weeks

 

April – 2 weeks

 

Placement 1 (Tues -Thurs) – 22 weeks

 

 

Placement 2 (Tues -Thurs) – 21 weeks

 

Mondays (some Fridays)

 

 

Mondays (some Fridays)

Year 2

Semester 1 (September to January)

 

Semester 2 (February to June)

 

October to November – 6 weeks

 

April – 2 weeks

 

Placement 3 (Tues -Thurs) – 22 weeks

 

Placement 4 (Tue-Thurs) – 21 weeks

 

 

Mondays (some Fridays)

 

 

Mondays (some Fridays)

Year 3

Semester 1 (September to January)

 

Semester 2 (February to June)

 

None

 

 

None

 

Research Block October – January (3 month)

Placement 6 (Tues – Thurs up to 4 days last 2.5 months) – 38 weeks

 

No teaching

 

 

Mondays (some Fridays)

The programme aims to train candidates to a professional standard to enable them to deliver high quality clinical psychology service to the public. The programme learning outcomes including the educational aims of the programme and the programme structure are further detailed in the Programme Specification which is the formal course description document.

Each year of training is focused around working with particular populations. The Programme does however train to the BPS competencies model which means throughout training you will develop all the necessary knowledge, skills and ability to work across different populations, settings and services. As adult learners, Trainees are expected to take responsibility for their own learning and there is a strong focus on working collaboratively with the Programme Team throughout training. Table 2 outlines the academic modules across the three years of the programme.

Table 2. Academic Modules

Year 1

PSCY6119 – Foundations of Clinical Practice

PSYC6118 – CBT 1: Core skills in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

PSYC6137 – CBT 2: Advanced Intervention skills in CBT

PSYC6116 – Neuropsychology and the older population

PSYC6117 – Evidence-Based Practice

PSYC6120 – Systemic Theory and Practice 1

Year 2

PSYC8036 – Systemic Theory and Practice 2

PSYC8032 – Clinical practice in relation to people with Intellectual disabilities

PSYC8033 –  Child and Adolescence

Year 3

PSYC8030 – Specialist Skills

PSYC8031 – Professional development and leadership

PSYC8037 – Trans-diagnostic processes

Year 1

The first year of the programme covers the fundamental knowledge and skills needed by a clinical psychologist; two principal theoretical orientations (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Systemic Therapy); neuropsychology and working with older persons; and the application of evidence and theory (or development thereof) to clinical practice. Alongside applied research methods teaching (see section 3 below).

Year 2

The second year of the programme covers the fundamentals of working with children and adolescences, and intellectually disabled population and further builds on the two theoretical orientations within these populations. This specifically covers enhanced knowledge and application of systemic theory in practice. This is alongside further development of applied research skills thought completion of a Small -Scale Research project and the development of a doctoral research project.

Year 3

The third year is transitional period in which you can develop specific clinical skills, consolidate those you have already acquired, and prepare for post- qualification practice. The focus is on advanced therapy skills; transdiagnostic working, leadership, supervision, and consultancy skills; and developing knowledge of legislation relevant to professional practice. To facilitate this transition, a large part of the third year involves designing and implementing an individual programme of study focusing on a particular area of clinical practice. This includes attending appropriate specific training (often external to the University), further self-directed study and gaining experience of applying such knowledge, skills, and training, to practice within the final clinical placement. Alongside this Trainees complete their Doctoral research and a distinctive feature of the programme is a dedicated three-month research placement (see section 3.4 below).

2.2 Teaching and Learning Methods

Clinical skills teaching is delivered mainly through experiential workshops, lectures, small group teaching and problem-based learning. As adult learner Trainees are expected to manage their own learning and engage in independent study to support their learning and clinical application in practice. A blended model of delivery involves mainly in person teaching but can also include pre-recorded material and sessions being delivered remotely. The University of Southampton promote equality and inclusivity and Trainees are encouraged to consider diversity and difference throughout all their learning. Trainees follow classroom guidelines which encourage respectful, professional, and positive participation and sharing within teaching. As such Trainees give informed consent to participate in clinical teaching and information sharing ([insert link to docs on main CP blackboard site?]).

Trainees are required to attend all teaching. Trainees may request to miss up to two days of teaching per academic year but permission to do this will be at the discretion of the programme team. Missed teaching days must be recorded as annual leave or sickness. In the event of missing teaching days trainees must complete either a brief or extended form detailing how they will make up for missed teaching. [insert link to relevant docs]

2.3 Assessment Methods

The programme uses a variety of assessment methods all of which are in line with the University assessment policies and procedures. For example, written and oral case reports, practical and videoed demonstration of clinical skills, written research reports, reviews of journal articles, administration of a neuropsychological assessment, and group and individual presentations of clinical material. Each module is assessed by at least one summative assignment and formative feedback is given for each assignment indicating the strengths and areas which could be enhanced. Formative feedback is also given during workshop-based teaching. Please see the Programme Specification for further details. Specific information on assessments and weightings can be found in each module profile (see Table 1 for the links to these).

All assessments are designed to assess learning outcomes and have clear assessment guidelines and marking criteria. Please see each module profile for further information on assessments and weightings (see links in Table 2 above) in addition to each module Blackboard site which contains all course information (i.e., module) including assignment guidelines.

All work is submitted via eAssignments with the DClin Cover Sheet as the first page of the document. Assignments are marked through a combination of internal (programme team and wider psychology department) and external markers (usually local practicing clinical psychologists).

2.4 Assessment Grades/Categories

All summative assessments will receive an overall numerical grade within four categories (fail, pass, merit, and distinction) and formative feedback. Formative feedback generally indicates the strengths and areas for improvement in relation to each of the learning outcomes being assessed. Trainees are expected to pass all modules and the pass mark for the programme is 50. Please see Table 3 for marking scheme.

2.4.1 Failure and resubmission

In the event of a trainee failing any assessed piece of work, the trainee is required to liaise with the Module Coordinator and submit either a substantially revised (where grade was 48) or a new piece of work (where graded was <48). Resubmission is normally within six weeks of receiving the fail grade. Trainees usually have only one chance to resubmit a piece of work. Trainees must also submit a word document showing how they have addressed the requested changes.

Please note separate rules apply to the applied research methods modules, with resubmissions taking place during the October referral period.

Table 3. Marking Scheme

Category Numerical grade Description
Distinction 100 Work that is awarded a distinction will display a sophisticated understanding of the topic under consideration. Students should show in-depth knowledge of current theoretical models and be able to critically appraise and synthesise relevant research studies. Theories and evidence will be integrated with discussions of clinical practice and students will show evidence of original thought and creativity in their analysis. Work that is awarded a distinction should be well-organised, coherent, and articulate.
95
87
78
72
Merit 68 Work of this standard will not demonstrate all the features expected for a distinction but is nevertheless an extremely competent piece of work. Arguments should be logical and coherent and there should be evidence of sustained critical thinking. Students should be competent in assessing theories and evaluation of research evidence. There should be clear evidence of linking theory to practice. Assignments will be well-organised and clearly written but will not attain the fluency required for a distinction.
65
62
Pass 58 Work of this standard will show some understanding of the implications of relevant theory and research. Answers at this level will show evidence of independent thought, but this will be more limited than assignments that gain a Merit. There will only be minor errors of fact or reasoning. Work must be presented well overall, but there may be some minor typographical, grammatical, or referencing errors.
55
52
Fail 48 Assignments at this level will demonstrate only basic understanding of the topic and will be poorly argued or evidenced. Students will show little evidence of ability to reason, critically analyse, or to link theory to practice. There will be little evidence of independent thought and the student may find it difficult to present a logically reasoned argument. There may be significant errors of fact or interpretation. Presentation will lack coherence, and may include confused expression, poor punctuation, grammatical mistakes, and errors in referencing.
45
42
38
30
18
Special circumstances 0

Note. Only specific numerical grades can be awarded.

2.5 Assessment feedback

Trainees receive feedback for all assessed components of academic modules. The Department of Psychology aims to return all coursework with feedback within four weeks of the submission date, unless work is being marked by external markers, in which case the timeframe is six weeks of the submission date. This will be shared with Trainees via eAssignment according to yearly assignment deadlines. Please see University Assessment Feedback Policy

2.6 Moderation Policy

The programme follows the University Moderation Policy to ensure that marks awarded are appropriate and consistent with the assessment criteria.

Once work has been moderated, a selection from all marking categories is sent to the External Examiners who ensure standards are being maintained. All marks trainees receive are provisional until they are confirmed by either the progression or award Examination Board.

Trainees may formally appeal the decision of the Examination Board. Note, however, that disagreement with the academic judgment of the Board is not considered legitimate grounds for appeal.

2.7 Extensions and Special Considerations

Trainees should submit all assignments by the specific deadline indicted in the relevant timetable and within relevant course documentation and on eassignments. A delay in submitting coursework without a valid reason will result in an assignment being marked as failed. Should trainees feel they have grounds for an extension and would like to request one. This needs to be discussed in advance with their PCT and a completed ‘Extension Request for Assessment Form’ should be submitted to the Programme Administrator (clinicalpsychology-fels@soton.ac.uk) at least 48 hours before the published deadline. Such requests are reviewed by two Programme Directors and Trainees are informed of the outcome.

In the case where trainees have submitted work but feel they have been affected by exceptional circumstance and would like to submit a request for these to be taken into consideration. This also needs to be discussed with their PCT to discuss the factors and the required supporting information and Trainees should submit a completed ‘Special Considerations Request’ from including any relevant documentation to the Programme Administrator no more than 5 working days after any assessment or deadline. Further information about the Special Considerations procedure can be found in the University of Southampton Quality handbook here.

Please note that if trainees want to seek an extension or request special considerations for an applied research methods assignment they should discuss this with the relevant module lead and submit the completed relevant form to the Psychology Student Office (psyc-studentoffice@soton.ac.uk).

2.8 Rules of Progression and Programme Failure

2.8.1 Yearly Progression Rules

To formally progress from one year to the next, trainees are expected to pass all components within the respective year (all academic, research and placement modules).

To pass an academic module, the following rules apply:

  • Only one resubmission of any summative assignment is allowed and is capped at 50%.*
  • Failure of a resubmission and/or failure of all summative assignments within a module constitutes module failure.*

*This contributes towards ‘needing to pass at least 50% of all credits in each year on first attempt’ as detailed in programme regulations and as such is considered one of the grounds of programme failure.

Yearly progression is pending until the relevant exam board has formally reviewed and approved that all requirements have been met. Please note that failure to progress may result in programme failure.

2.8.2 Programme Failure Rules

The Faculty will normally deem a candidate to have failed the programme on any part of the examination without the right of re-entry, on one or more of the following grounds:

  • Failure to successfully complete all parts of the examination within five years of first registration, or by such a date as will have been agreed by the Board of Examiners.
  • Failure of two clinical practitioner placements on first attempt. Note that one placement failure will lead to a formal review with the Programme Directors where all aspects of the programme will be considered. A second placement failure will result in failure of the programme.
  • Failure on 50% or more of academic and research modules on first attempt in each year (excluding the thesis)
  • A candidate failing the research thesis oral examination will be permitted to submit a revised thesis (including oral examination) for re-examination.
  • In exceptional circumstances, such as gross misconduct or a serious breach of the Code of Conduct of the British Psychological Society, or if a clinical placement is terminated or suspended after disciplinary action, the Board of Examiners reserves the right to fail a candidate without permitting re-entry.

All circumstances of discontinuation will be discussed at the relevant Exam Board and extenuating circumstances may be considered.

Please note the Programme Regulations always supersede the details within this handbook. The detail herein is designed to expand on such regulations.

2.9 Awards

Candidates are put forward to the HCPC to be considered for registration as a Practitioner Psychologist when they are deemed to have:

  • passed all summative assessments
  • all clinical placements
  • submitted their final Thesis
  • and this has all been ratified by the awarding Exam Board
  • Trainees have received the Award of Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University

Successful completion of the Doctoral Training Programme confers the right to use the title Dr, but not to use the title Clinical Psychologist which is protected under law and may only be used once registered with the HCPC. Completion of training entitles the candidate to apply to the HCPC for registration but does not guarantee acceptance.

2.10 Methods for Evaluating Teaching & Learning Quality

The Psychology Department is keen to ensure that evaluation by trainees is deemed important and encouraged and when received, that appropriate action is taken, and response given.  It is a University requirement that trainees should be informed of the results of their feedback. The Programme Board and School of Psychology Programme Committee oversee this process. The programmes key feedback mechanisms are:

2.10.1 Trainee feedback on teaching

Trainees are asked to complete teaching session feedback forms following each individual teaching session. These ask about how well learning objectives were achieved, the strengths, areas for improvement and what trainees will do diffidently because of the teaching as well as how well issue of power, privilege, equality, diversity, and inclusion were considered, how and ways this could be improved. The process of obtaining this feedback is overseen by module leads who review such feedback and share summaries with respective lecturers to continually improve learning and teaching.

2.10.2 Module Evaluation

At the end of a module trainees are also asked to complete module evaluations. These ask about the overall ogransiation and delivery, the explanation of teaching, learning activities and assessment(s), the accessibility of resources and if the module prepared trainees for placement. Module leads use this feedback in addition to teaching session feedback to inform module reports which are presented at Programme Board Meetings. Such feedback is used to inform any changes or improvements needed for the next academic year.

2.10.3 Programme Evaluation

The module reports are presented in an Annual Report to the School of Psychology Programme Committee. This overview is used to raise broader issues regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum and to demonstrate the programmes response.

2.10.4 University Anonymous Feedback System

The University operates a system of anonymous feedback, called Student Voice, is also available and enables the trainee to provide both positive and negative feedback directly to the Director of Student Support and hence receives the highest priority.

Feedback can be anonymous or signed and positive or negative. Each piece of feedback will be read and acted on appropriately, which may include feeding back to the School of Psychology President and Year group representatives for consideration at the Psychology Department’s Staff-Student Liaison Committee.

2.11 Academic support

2.11.1 Independent Study

Clinical training requires trainees to be disciplined and take responsibility for their own learning. Trainees are required to engage in independent study both for the academic aspects of training and for clinical placements. The programme attempts to allocate a proportion of independent study time, usually on Fridays (generally alternate Fridays in the first year) through teaching blocks and whilst you are on clinical placement. This includes time allocated for academic assignments and further reading, assessed clinical reports and clinical and research related work linked to placements and research however Trainees will need to work to the demands of training at any given time.

2.11.2 Tutorials and Appraisal

Trainees Personal Clinical Tutor (PCT) monitors their progress through training across all aspects (academic, clinical and research). In addition to visiting trainees on placement they conduct an annual review where trainees progress on all aspects of the programme are considered and satisfactory performance is necessary before trainees can progress to the next academic year.

2.11.3 Further help

Trainees who experience difficulties with their academic studies or personal life including their emotional well-being can ask for further support from their PCT (recommend in the first instance), or any members of the Programme team including the Programme Director and other Directors. Advice or support can also be sought from the Psychology Department Director of Programmes or Head of the Department of Psychology and there is a specific team within the Psychology Department who offer support, advice, and advocacy for postgraduates (Postgraduate Support Team) who are available on Psy-support-pg@soton.ac.uk

The University Enabling Services (who are part of Student Services) also offer a range of support for students with disabilities, mental health conditions or specific learning difficulties.

2.11.4 Student Support Review (formerly Fitness to study)

The University also has policies and procedures in place to support and respond to students needs these ensure that measures are put in place to support students to have a positive experience. Where it is thought helpful the Programme Director in conjunction with relevant PCT’s or programme staff may implement a Student Support Review to assist Trainees in engaging in their studies.

3 Research

Research is an integral part of being a scientist practitioner and forms the basis for practice in Clinical Psychology. Learning to select appropriately, judge critically and use relevant aspects of psychological research is a fundamental part of training and is one of the profession’s key strengths. The Programme aims to provide trainees with the necessary research skills to allow them to read research reports with critical understanding and to conduct innovative research relevant to healthcare settings and populations.

The objectives of the research training programme are:

  1. to familiarise trainees with the research base of the profession
  2. to facilitate the development of skills of critical analysis of the research base
  3. to acquire competence in core aspects of research design and statistical analysis
  4. to enable trainees to independently develop, design and execute research in relevant settings
  5. to teach trainees skills to communicate research findings for different audiences (e.g. presentations, writing papers, press releases).


3.1 Research and enquiry skills

Trainees are supported to develop key knowledge of research design, data collection and analysis appropriate to producing an evidence base to guide professional practice. The research skills trainees gain also inform their practice through the fostering of critical thinking in relation to empirical findings.  Trainees are expected to use the skills they develop in all aspects of their training and related assessments across the three years.

Across training there are three main research components summarised in table 3. In the first year there are four taught research modules which are delivered as part of joint teaching sessions with other postgraduate research students in the Psychology Department. During the first year trainees also carry out a small-scale research project which is a service-related project usually conducted while on clinical placement. Towards the end of the first year, trainees start planning their research dissertation which they conduct throughout their second and third year and have a dedicated 3-month research placement to focus solely on their thesis.

Table 3. Research Modules

RESM6012 – Applied Research Methods: Planning & Designing Research

RESM6009 – Applied Research Methods: Qualitative Methods

RESM6011 – Applied Research Methods: correlational Methods

RESM6010 – Applied Research Methods: Statistical Analysis of Comparisons & Group Difference

PSYC8034 – Small Scale Research Project

PSYC8047 – Research Thesis

3.2 Applied Research Methods Modules

Scientific evidence underpins professional practice in clinical psychology and the aim of the applied research methods modules is to develop research skills so that trainees can both conduct research and critically evaluate the research evidence base across all types of clinical settings.

For further information about each of these modules (i.e. aims and objectives, the syllabus, learning and teaching methods and details about assessments) see links in table 3.

3.3 Small-scale Research Project (SSRP)

The small-scale research project is completed in either the first or second year. The SSRP is the opportunity for trainees to utilise the research skills acquired in the applied research methods modules to develop a project with practicing Clinical Psychologists. As such this assignment provides trainees with opportunity and experience to integrate their research knowledge and skills into their clinical placements and start to appreciate the value of evidence based and evidence generating practice.

Trainees tend to either generate projects with their supervisor on their first or second placement or where this may not be possible Trainees have worked with other services / supervisors who have existing projects or routine data which is ideal for a small-scale service project. These projects are often service evaluation or service development projects looking at for example evaluating service outcome measures or therapeutic / psychoeducation group work or staff training.

The SSRP also acts as a steppingstone for trainees’ thesis in the sense that it gives them the experience of developing a project proposal, consideration of research and development and ethical issues, applying for ethical approval, and communicating the key findings.

3.4 Thesis

The research thesis represents a more substantial piece of work than the SSRP. It must make an original contribution to knowledge in the field of Clinical Psychology. Research design, execution, analysis, and interpretation should be of a high standard and appropriate to the research problem.  It is an opportunity for trainees to pull together the research skills developed throughout the first and second years of training. It consists of two sections: a systematic review and an empirical paper. Trainees work with research supervisors to develop a set of research questions. They have the opportunity to place these questions within a clear theoretical framework in the systematic review. The empirical paper involves working closely with supervisors to design and implement a study, using appropriate methods and data-analysis techniques.

On completion of the thesis, trainees should be able to:

  1. demonstrate skills involved in formulating a research question
  2. place a research question clearly within a broad theoretical and empirical psychological literature
  3. think through appropriate methodologies to test a research question
  4. collect, analyse, and interpret data for the generation of new knowledge
  5. disseminate results through the production of a clear and concise empirical paper to extend the discipline.

3.4.1 Research in Year 1

During the latter part of Year 1 trainees start to develop their research proposal and supervisory team which should consist of at least one internal supervisor from the Psychology Department (including the programme team) and a second supervisor who can be an external clinician or researcher. Attendance at the Post-Graduate Research conference is one way of helping trainees think about their research, following which they have opportunities to think, discuss, and develop their ideas.

3.4.2 Research in Year 2

During Year 2 trainees build on the work started in Year 1 to develop their research further. Trainees prepare and submit their proposal having developed this with their supervisory team. This will go through two levels of approval, the first being their internal supervisor and the second being the research directors. Following approval, trainees submit applications for ethics and research governance approval as appropriate to their project.

3.4.3 Research in Year 3

During Year 3 trainees continue to work towards the completion of their research project and therefore research thesis. To achieve this our programme is quite unique in offering trainees a 3-month dedicated research block providing time for data collection, analysis, and writing as well as focused work on their systematic review. The research block runs from October to January of Year 3.

The progress trainees make on their doctoral thesis is closely monitored by their supervisory team with whom they have regular meetings and via the completion of two progress reports (submitted before and after the research block) where they and their supervisors’ comment on their progress and highlight any issues needing further consideration.

For further information about all research modules please visit the relevant module pages on Blackboard.

4 Resources

4.1 Psychology Computer Resources

Postgraduate computer needs are met in a variety of ways according to principles agreed by Policy and Resources Committee. The Department has a large teaching laboratory (seating 100 people) equipped with many computers. There are two further public clusters in the Shackleton Building (rooms 1061 and 1063) and there is also a Postgraduate Computer room – additional workstations are available across campus and are listed on the iSolutions website.

The Department has also opened an informal learning environment called i-Zone which is designed to foster team and collaborative learning and to also provide a structure which helps staff-student interaction. It provides a comfortable work environment, facilities for refreshments, and a wireless ‘hot-spot’.

4.2 University Computer Services

iSolutions provides over 1,400 computers for learning and teaching purposes. Located in rooms on all major campuses and in most halls of residence. Many of these rooms are open evenings and weekends with some offering 24 hour opening. Please contact the iSolutions Service Line with enquiries about the facilities (phone 25656 internal, 023 8059 5656 external, or email serviceline@soton.ac.uk). Please visit the iSolutions website for information on regulations for use.

Trainees can obtain licensed copies of word processing, database, spread sheet and data analysis software packages for installation on your own computers.

4.3 Psychology Technical Support

The Psychology Technical Support Team augment the support provided centrally by other Professional Services such as iSolutions and the Library. Where necessary, they setup and run extra services which are needed specifically by Psychologists.  The team have skills in web programming and design, software development, hardware maintenance, electronic design and construction, mechanical construction, systems engineering and digital media production.

To make the best use of innovative teaching technologies, the intranet links each trainee directly to your personal ‘portal’ which is a configurable interface to all the Department and University information and systems that trainees will require during their time on the Programme. If trainees need help, the intranet should be the first resource. It has a Knowledge and Newsfeed to address frequently asked questions. Further help is available from a Technical Help Point (Ext 28528) which is manned during teaching hours.

4.4 Health and Safety

The University guidelines should be noted, see University Health and Safety Policy. Staff and trainees have a duty to co-operate to enable the University to comply with the law and to ensure that the workplace is safe for everyone. Trainees must consider health and safety (Psychology Health & Safety) in all their activities and use the control measures identified by risk assessments. All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure personal health and safety, as well as that of others. During their work, if any member of the University becomes aware of any hazard, or any situation arises for which they have not been trained, they should inform their manager or supervisor (or PCT) so that appropriate corrective action can be taken.

Trainees are responsible for the safety of all equipment brought to the University. All electrical items, e.g., computers, laptops, mobile phone chargers etc. must be safe to use in the UK. Electrical equipment should be checked regularly for any obvious sign of damage, and not used it if it is damaged. Obvious examples of damage are cracked cases/plug tops and cuts to electrical leads. If further advice on the safety of equipment is needed, please contact your PCT or the Psychology Department Safety Officer, Peter Dargie (p.dargie@soton.ac.uk), in the first instance.

4.5 Library resources

Trainees have access to the University of Southampton Library service and resources. Please review the information available on the library’s web pages.

4.6 Psychology Department Test Library

The Psychology Department has a range of Psychological tests and equipment available for staff and students use. For further information and to book Psychological tests or equipment click here.

Trainees will need to enter the name of your PCT or research supervisor, where suitable, so that they can authorise any loan. This should be sent to psy.support@soton.ac.uk