Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate (ForenClinPsyD)

Start date
September. Applications Open - 25 January 2021; Applications Close - 14 May 2021
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 St Andrew’s Healthcare who regularly sponsor their assistant psychologists on the course.  Trainees on the course are also sponsored by a range of other partners including Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS 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.  St Andrews Health Care and other employers also sponsor trainees. Sponsorship generally amounts to the payment of fees and the provision of a modest bursary however this is normally limited to current employees of these organisations.  Self funding trainees will also normally be considered. The programme is four years long in duration, and took its first intake of five trainees in September 2013.

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.

1231_LE-PSYps-048-475x475A number of principles underpin the provision of training:

"This course has equipped me with skills and knowledge to work in a wide range of criminal justice and mental health settings." 

Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate student


  • 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. People with Disabilities 
    as well as victims of crime and/or offenders, appellants and litigants in forensic settings. To achieve this two of the six placements will be in clinical settings, two in forensic settings and two in forensic clinical settings.
  • 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.


In terms of the quality of education, reputation and the value of the experience I could gain, I would say that I was fortunate that the University of Birmingham chose me. My experience has been wonderful.

Malvika Iyer

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
Picture of student

"I feel that the course has definitely helped me to grow personally and professionally, and I feel fully equipped and ready to face the world as a qualified Psychologist. You are kept busy from start to end; with some weeks and months being more emotionally and physically draining than others. However, all of the emotional highs and lows you experience along the journey are worth it because of what we have accomplished at the end of our training." 

Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate student

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Year 1

  • Research in Clinical Psychology
  • Reflective Practice in Clinical Psychology

Year 2

During year 2 of the programme, you continue to attend workshops relating to the academic underpinning of clinical practice, work under supervision on a clinical psychology placement(s) in the NHS and undertake self-directed learning. You are required to complete one clinical practice report which in due course is bound into the thesis. You also pursue your research project.

Year 3

  • Psychological Theories and the Understanding of Crime
  • Psychology, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
  • Working with Offenders

Year 4

  • Psychology and the Court System
  • Forensic Psychotherapy and Forensic Issues
  • Assessment Issues (Offenders and Victims)
  • Professional Writing, Training and Presentation


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.

The first two years of the programme provide clinical training with some additional specialist forensic input, taught alongside clinical doctorate students. In their first year trainees receive a block of full time teaching in preparation for their placement at the University prior to the start of a ten month placement. Individual placements are negotiated with each student to provide foundation competencies in forensic-clinical psychology. Monday is available as a study day and teaching at the University continues on Friday during term-time. In their second year trainees follow two individually tailored placements of five months each in the community, within an adult, child or older adult service to complement experience that has been gained in Year 1.

In their third and fourth years trainees receive forensic training alongside forensic psychology postgraduate students. Teaching takes place on Thursdays following placements which are generally Monday to Wednesday; Friday becomes a study day. In their third year trainees are placed in prison or probation settings in the community, or with a provider of clinical forensic services where equivalent experience can be obtained, normally in either a single ten-month or two five-month placements. In their fourth year trainees return to a forensic-clinical setting for a final placement that ensures that all of the required competencies and specialities for clinical and forensic training are covered. Placements are assessed by the placement supervisor in conjunction with appraisal tutors from the University, under the direction of a Coordinator of Training. Given the broad range of competencies and core roles that are required to be both a forensic and clinical psychologist we do not anticipate trainees having a great deal of choice in the selection of placements. Trainees may also have to travel some distance to and while on placement.

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. .   All trainees have to demonstrate competence in applying two therapeutic models in clinical and forensic settings over the course of the four years.  These models include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and one of either Behavioural or Systemic Psychotherapy.



Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

Self-funded applicants:

  • Home/EU students £13,500 FT
  • International students £21,960 FT

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


  • Up to two places from St Andrews (open to existing employees only)
  • One place from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust (open to existing employees only)

For applicants considering self-funding, please contact the admissions tutor for more information and advice.

Learn more about fees and funding

For EU students applying for the 2021/22 academic year

The UK Government is currently working to determine the future fee status for new EU students for the 2021/22 academic year. The Government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021/2022 academic year and subsequent years in future. For more information please visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

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How To Apply

The opening date for applications is 29 January 2021 and the closing date is 14 May 2021. Please note that we are unable to consider late applications.

Interviews are typically held at the end of June.

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.

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
  • Candidates should apply through the University of Birmingham
  • As part of the application, a short research proposal is required (250-500 words). This is to assess research competency. It is not expected that this proposal is taken forward if a candidate is successful in obtaining a place, although in some cases it may do. Therefore, candidates are not required to identify a research supervisor.
  • Shortlisted candidates will normally be invited to the university to be interviewed, or in exceptional circumstances they can be interviewed on Skype.
  • There are two interviews - one focuses on issues of personal suitability and the practical application of psychology, and another deals with academic and research issues.  The interviews will involve academic staff, practitioners from relevant services and experts by experience, and will normally be held over the course of a single day.
  • Applicants will be asked to complete a short written exercise that will focus on either an applied or academic aspect relevant to the practice of forensic or clinical psychology.
  • Successful applicants are notified within three weeks of the interview.


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 is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 95 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): 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

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.

1106_LE-PSYtm-024-475x475For years I was unsure whether I wanted to become a forensic psychologist or a clinical psychologist. This course is the perfect combination of both, something that potential employers are really excited about." 

Forensic Clinical Psychology Doctorate student

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