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Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate (ForenClinPsyD)

Start date
4 years
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Doctoral research

Our Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate (ForenClinPsyD) offers broad comprehension in two varying branches of Applied Psychology. Upon successful completion, the course leads to a dual qualification, accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

This is the first practitioner Doctorate in the UK to provide people who complete the course eligibility to practise in two different branches of applied psychology, in this case Forensic and Clinical Psychology.

Successful completion of the course will lead to a dual qualification conferring eligibility to practise as a Forensic and Clinical psychologist.

The course is run in collaboration with local service providers who regularly sponsor their assistant psychologists on the course. Trainees on the course are also sponsored by a range of partners including Elysium Healthcare, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust and Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust. We also welcome applications from people who wish to self-fund.

In the Centre for Applied Psychology, we are committed to involving experts by experience in all the different aspects relevant to our teaching and research. The Experts by Experience Steering Committee (EBESC) is a group that meets regularly to discuss, organise and support the work of experts by experience linked to the Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programme. We comprise members from various backgrounds, including local experts by experience who contribute to the course and staff from the Centre for Applied Psychology.

We contribute to our different courses in various ways:

  • Contributing to teaching, including training workshops
  • Reviewing, supporting, designing and contributing to research projects
  • Co-ordinating feedback in the course subcommittee
  • Involvement in the course admissions process

This Doctorate programme in Forensic Clinical Psychology is aimed at psychologists wishing to work in forensic and clinical settings who need skills from both forensic and clinical disciplines. A number of local providers provide sponsorship for current employees. Sponsorship will cover the fees for training alongside the provision of renumeration for trainees (please consult with sponsors for further details). Self funding and international trainees will also be considered. The programme is four years long in duration, and took its first intake of five trainees in September 2013. A typical intake is 5 to 6 trainees.

Approval for the programme has been granted by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and accreditation has been received from the British Psychological Society (BPS) for dual recognition in Forensic and Clinical Psychology.

Candidates who complete the programme successfully will be eligible to become Chartered Forensic and Clinical Psychologists within the BPS and to apply for registration with the HCPC as Forensic and Clinical Psychologists.

The programme seeks to train reflective scientist-practitioners who are able to use their core knowledge and skills to formulate problems in psychological terms and draw creatively on theories and techniques from the discipline of psychology to find feasible solutions to a wide range of presenting issues, considering both clinical and forensic approaches, and in both clinical and forensic contexts.

There is an increasing need in prisons and in the community for skills that draw upon both forensic and clinical disciplines. A large number of individuals within prison and probation settings have mental health problems, while those in forensic mental health settings need robust risk assessment to identify criminogenic need and inform release decisions.

The programme is deliberately generic to promote flexibility but also emphasises evidence-based practice. In line with NICE guidelines and the ‘What Works’ approach, special consideration is given to cognitive-behavioural approaches. 

  • The core principle is to apply psychological theories, principles, knowledge, models and methods in an ethical and evidence based way to promote the wellbeing and effectiveness of individuals, families, groups, organisations and civil society, respecting the dignity and rights of both victims and offenders and remaining mindful of the need to protect the public from harm.
  • The programme encourages an attitude of ‘critical open-mindedness’ to a range of approaches and theories.
  • The programme team works in close partnership with forensic mental health, clinical and correctional colleagues in setting the direction of the programme, in its delivery and in its review.
  • The programme recognises that trainees are mature students who bring a rich variety of experiences to their training and have a clear voice on programme matters.
  • The programme is situated in an area of rich ethnic diversity, and ethnic and cultural issues are fully addressed during training.
  • The essential aim of the programme is to provide professional, doctorate level training, commensurate with the requirements of the HCPC and BPS to qualify individuals to work as both forensic and clinical psychologists in forensic mental health, clinical, prison and other forensic settings. 
  • Trainees are required to gain specialty specific competencies in both forensic and clinical psychology over the four years of training and to complete placements with each of the following four clinical client groups: 

    1. Children and Young People
    2. Adults (Mental Health)
    3. Older People
    4. Neuro-atypical populations
  • In addition to the clinical groups above, trainees will work with offenders and/or victims of crime. To achieve this, typically six placements are completed across the training. These often take place within forensic- clinical mental health and criminal justice settings, alongside mainstream mental health services.

  • The HCPC requirements for both forensic and clinical psychology training are defined through a set of Standards of Proficiency (SoPs), which trainees need to achieve by the end of their training and a set of Standards of Education and Training (SETs) that the training provider needs to meet. Full details can be found on the HCPC website, detailing standards of proficiency and also information on standards of education and training.

Why study this course?

  • This is a unique course integrating forensic and clinical psychological practice at doctoral level
  • The qualification confers a dual qualification, BPS and HCPC approved, for practice in forensic, clinical or combined settings
  • You can expand the knowledge base in this crucial area of psychological practice through your own forensic clinical research
  • You can push the boundaries to improve forensic clinical practice and protect the public


The first two years of the course follow the Clinical Psychology doctorate curriculum. As such trainees will gain grounding in the core elements of clinical practice, including assessment, formulation, intervention and evaluation. Topics delivered in the first two years of the course cover the range of clinical practice and will include working with specific client groups (such as children, adults, older adults etc), various presentations (such as depression, anxiety, psychosis etc) and from a range of therapeutic orientations (including cognitive behavioural, systemic and psychodynamic).

In years three and four, the curriculum then aligns to the Forensic Psychology doctorate. During these years, trainees will gain a thorough understanding of the application of psychological theory and practice in forensic, criminal justice and other law settings. Module topics include Working with Offenders, Psychology and the Court System and Psychological Theories and the Understanding of Crime.

The programme is full time for four years, delivered partly at the University and partly in supervised practice on placement. The general pattern throughout is of one taught day a week during term-time, one day study leave and three days a week on placement. Attendance at University sessions is compulsory for all four years, and placements continue outside of term-time.

Throughout their four years trainees also pursue a research interest that builds into a research thesis to be completed in Year 4. It consists of two volumes. The forensic-clinical volume contains five Forensic Clinical Practice Reports (FCPRs) which are submitted and assessed at intervals during the programme, and the research volume reflects research work carried out over the four years of the programme, containing a literature review, a report of an empirical study and a lay summary.



Fees for 2024/25 are as follows:

Self-funded applicants:

  • UK students £15,030 FT
  • International students £26,280 FT

Please note that fees are charged per year/per annum, and that they may change from the figure quoted.


  • Sponsored places are available for existing employees of Elysium Healthcare, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust and Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust
    • Employees of these organisations are encouraged to speak to their line manager for more information
  • For applicants considering self-funding, please contact the admissions tutor for more information and advice, if required

Learn more about fees and funding.

How To Apply

Applications for 2024 entry are now closed. Please note that we are unable to consider late applications. Interviews are due to be held on 24-25 April 2024.

To help candidates to submit their application, please see the guidance notes in the application proforma. This will provide guidance on formulating the personal statement, research proposal and inclusion of any work experience. It's important to adhere to the word limits and guidance in the proforma section. Information provided outside of word limits may not be included in decisions around shortlisting and offers.

Application guide - please read

Our Standard Requirements

  • A good honours degree (2:1 or above) in psychology that confers Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) from the British Psychological Society. A 2:2 degree classification that confers GBC plus a Masters degree would be considered equivalent to the above criteria. A Masters degree or other relevant academic qualifications would also support an application. Conversion degrees that confer GBC are also acceptable.
  • HCPC requirement of English language proficiency (IELTS level 7.0 with no element below 6.5)
  • Enhanced DBS check
  • No criminal convictions (Psychology is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act so no criminal convictions are ever considered 'spent')
  • At least 12 months relevant experience of working in a clinical and/or forensic setting which has involved face-to-face contact with clients under the supervision of a qualified clinical or forensic psychologist (where this is not possible, such as in the case of international students, please contact the admissions tutor for advice on meeting this requirement)

  • Candidates should apply through the University of Birmingham
  • More information regarding what needs to be submitted at the application stage can be found on the admissions proforma on the application page

The selection process will consist of an interview and a written exercise. The interview will be conducted by a panel of academic staff, practitioners from relevant services and experts by experience. Topics will cover personal suitability and academic/research proficiency. The written exercise will focus on an applied or academic aspect relevant to the practice of both forensic and clinical psychology. Selection will normally be held over the course of a single day.

To help candidates to submit their application, please see the guidance notes in the application proforma.  This will provide guidance on formulating the personal statement, research proposal and inclusion of any work experience.

International Requirements

International Students

  • IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 95 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 76 with no less than 67 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced or Proficiency – minimum overall score of 185, with no less than 176 in any component

Teaching and learning

In the first year a block of University based study prepares trainees for a ten-month forensic clinical foundation placement with a shorter teaching block part way through the year.

In the following years trainees follow individually tailored programmes generally with two five month clinical placements in Year 2, forensic placements in Year 3 and a ten month forensic clinical placement in Year 4.  However, this can vary depending on placement availability and the opportunities that are available within placements.

Further teaching takes place a day a week during term time complemented by teaching blocks to prepare trainees for forensic and clinical work and provide space for reflection, review and integration of theory and practice.

Assessment Methods

The course is assessed by means of:

  • A thesis containing a practice volume with five clinical practice reports and a research volume compiled over four years
  • Two credit bearing forensic clinical practice courses completed in the first two years
  • Six credit bearing forensic courses related to practice in the criminal justice system completed in the third and fourth years

The course will confer a qualification to work as both a clinical and forensic psychologist at doctorate level within the legal and ethical boundaries of both professions. It is particularly appropriate for those planning to work in a forensic mental health setting where clinical skills need to be supplemented by the ability to carry out risk assessment for public protection purposes, and for those working in forensic settings where mental health needs can be overlooked.

There is a high demand for qualified and accreddited clinical and forensic psychologists and the opportunities for employment for graduates are likely to remain very good.