Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years we have been asked many questions about the programme, the selection process and other issues. We have collated them and have tried to give you the answers in these FAQs.
1. How hard is it to get a place at Bangor?
In recent years the number of applications has steadily increased. For the 2019 interviews we had 257 applications. We usually have ten training places. We normally interview 36 candidates.
2. My A level grades were not good. Do I have a realistic chance of getting on to the Clinical training programme at Bangor?
We do not consider your A levels. We are interested in your performance at undergraduate degree level and possibly beyond. We would expect applicants to have achieved at least a 2:1 at degree level. Unfortunately, we are no longer considering applications with a 2.2. or lower, even if you have obtained a further masters degree. Only a PhD could compensate for a low undergraduate degree.
3. I am currently in the middle of my undergraduate studies and I’m unsure as to whether it is essential for my degree to be a 2:1. Although I’ve reached a 2:1 standard for most assessments, a 2:2 has been the outcome in some areas. If ultimately this brings my degree down to a 2:2, are my chances limited?
Clinical Psychology Programmes are academically demanding and we require you to have demonstrated that you can cope with these demands. Evidence of success at undergraduate studies is seen as favourable. I would urge you to focus on getting a 2:1 degree if this is at all possible. Please see also the answer to question 2.If your undergraduate degree is not of a 2.1 standard, I suggest you have a look on the Clearing House website for other programmes’ selection criteria. There are programmes that do consider a 2.2 with a Masters. On other programmes you can sit an entry exam, regardless of your undergraduate degree classification.
4. I am a final year undergraduate and am keen to get into clinical psychology. What is the best way to go about getting a place?
You need to concentrate on obtaining the highest academic grade possible. This is your priority if you want to maximise your chances. Ensure that an academic tutor, who will be able to provide a very supportive academic reference, notices your work.
We also expect candidates to have paid experience of working with a clinical population similar to the people a clinical psychologist would see. Usually this means getting experience before and/or after completing a degree in psychology. We require a minimum of one year of paid work, and most candidates will have significantly more than this. In order to obtain these sorts of posts, you are likely to need to have relevant other experience. Sometimes working in a voluntary capacity can be a stepping-stone in to paid employment. Consider posts such as care assistant, mental health advocate, classroom assistant, mental health worker. We are aware that posts in the health service can be difficult to obtain.
There are different paths to getting onto a clinical training programme. Some candidates have mainly a clinical background, while others have conducted research and also have some clinical experience.
5. I am a final year psychology student and I’m interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology. I’ve been advised to do a clinically relevant PhD before applying, as the competition is so strong. I was wondering whether you agree that this is a good route to follow, rather than getting experience as an assistant psychologist.
A clinically related PhD is an acceptable route to getting useful experience, which will then support your application for clinical training. We are looking for a blend of academic competence, research competence, clinical experience and personal qualities. A successful PhD would mean that you could demonstrate the first two but not necessarily the latter two.
6. I have just completed a degree, which may not be recognised by the BPS. Can I still pursue an interest in Clinical Psychology?
One of the minimum entry requirements is having a degree which is recognised by the BPS as fulfilling the Graduate Basis for Membership (ww.bps.org.uk/membership/). If you are in any doubt about the status of your degree programme, you should consult a member of staff in your undergraduate department or consult the BPS website for details: www.bps.org.uk/careers.
7. I have a non-psychology degree. I am interested in clinical research and wonder what opportunities there might be to get involved in this?
The DClinPsy programme is a professional training programme to train clinical psychologists. If your interest is purely in research, you could consult the School of Psychology website for details of research opportunities within the psychology department. It may also be worth investigating the possibility of undertaking a conversion programme in psychology, which might fulfil the Graduate Basis for Membership with the British Psychological Society (see question 6). Once you have completed a conversion programme, you would have the option to then apply for clinical training.
8. What kind of experience does a typical applicant have?
Successful applicants usually have more than 12 months paid employment in an area that gives them the opportunity to work with a clinical population similar to that of a clinical psychologist. See also questions 5.
9. I’ve got a couple of years experience working full time in mental health but not directly with clinical psychologists. Will my application be taken seriously?
The experience you describe sounds relevant. The strength of your previous experience does not necessarily depend upon working directly with a clinical psychologist. However, we would like you to have worked within a psychological framework and one way of achieving this is by working under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. We suggest that you keep thinking about the psychological aspects in any work you do, even if its focus is not psychological work.
10. Some universities require work experience in the mental health field or to have experience in clinical research. Which one is regarded more favourably? I am finding it extremely tough to get relevant work experience. What kind of work experience is needed to stand a good chance of getting onto the programme?
We expect candidates to demonstrate some understanding of the role of psychology in the work they are undertaking. Usually this means getting experience after completing a degree in psychology. We require a minimum of one year of paid work – but most candidates will have much more than this. In addition to purely clinical experience, research or experience of clinical service evaluation are also valuable.
11. I am a voluntary worker, which involves helping those with mental illness, but I have just been offered a job as an assistant psychologist. I was wondering which position you would look most favourably on when looking at applicants?
Your voluntary work is relevant and will be a valuable asset in your application for further paid posts. We expect candidates to have experience of paid employment in a helping profession, and there will be great advantages in a post where supervision of a clinical psychologist is available. NHS work is particularly valuable because it would enable you to gain an understanding of the context in which you will be employed during training.
12. What do you look for in applicants with regards to postgraduate experience? Would it be preferable for me to do an MSc combined with voluntary work or would it be better to spend some time working as a psychology assistant or research assistant?
In general, neither clinical experience nor clinical research is given more weight. Alongside a strong academic background, you will need to have clinical experience. Getting a good first degree, 1st class or a 2.1 is an important first step. Having some further academic or research experience in a clinically related area after your degree is certainly relevant. Non-clinical research would probably be less suitable given that you will have already demonstrated your academic abilities. Direct experience of working with a clinical population could also be obtained via research. If you find it difficult to get an assistant psychology post in a clinical setting, then you might want to consider getting experience of working with people in another clinical context with relevance to clinical psychology.
13. By the time the interviews are held I will have acquired 6 months work experience but currently have only a few weeks experience in a caring role. Do you see any merit in me applying now? Would you instantly dismiss my application?
We consider your experience up to the time of short listing (which tends to be around the middle of February), your contract will end before then. We do look for a minimum of a year experience of being in apaid role working with a clinical population, but other experiences such as working in a research role also contributes – for example, did you get involved in data gathering with either individuals or groups of people?
14. I don’t have any paid employment as an assistant psychologist but, having cared for someone in the family with depression, I feel I’ve gained a wealth of experience – does this count?
The programme looks positively on applicants who have personal experiences. While such experiences are not necessarily equivalent to professional employment, they make a good contributio and can be reflected on in the personal statement of the application form. However, you will need the additional relevant paid experience as discussed in previous questions to support your application.
15. It is really difficult to get assistant psychology jobs. How else can I obtain the experience you require?
We are aware that assistant posts are difficult to get these days. However, assistant psychologist posts are not the only way you can obtain experience. We are looking for paid experience of working with a clinical population, similar to that of a clinical psychologist. This can be achieved for example by working as a care assistant in a care home for older people, working with people with an intellectual or physical disability, a mental health advocate or a classroom assistant. IAPT post can be useful, as well as other mental health post. The challenge in a post where the supervision is not from a clinical psychologist, is to maintain a focus on the psychological perspective of your work.
16. I have previously worked in business in an area that seems relevant to clinical psychology. Will this be considered as relevant?
We can consider business and community-based work or experience in a caring profession as being relevant if this involved working with people who also come under the remit of the work of a clinical psychologist. You will need to explain the nature of your work clearly in your application.
17. I’m a trained Clinical Psychologist in Italy – do I have to do the DClinPsy programme before I can work in the UK?
For people who have trained in clinical psychology elsewhere (particularly in other EU Countries) – provision is made by Health Care Professions Council. I suggest you contact them for more information (www.hcpc-uk.org/).
18. I am not a EU citizen. Can I apply to the programme?
If someone is offered a place on the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme, the Welsh Government funds all tuition fees and the trainee is paid a salary and has employment status within the UK. The Welsh Government will not meet the cost of fees for applicants who qualify for overseas fee status. There are other programmes in the UK that do consider applicants who have other ways of funding their training, I suggest you have a look on the Clearing House website. As the outcome of Brexit is not clear as yet, we refer you to the clearing house website for further information.
19. I am concerned about whether there is an upper age limit for training. Will my age be a problem in getting a place on the programme and securing employment afterwards?
There is no specified age limit for training and we have a diverse age profile amongst our successful applicants.
20. What is the experience of Black/Asian/ethnic minority candidates in applying for a place on the programme?
We are very positive about having people from diverse cultures and backgrounds train as clinical psychologists because that reflects the multi-cultural mix within the UK population. We are aware of the underrepresentation of black and ethnic minorities in the profession. Trainees from these backgrounds have successfully completed their training with us.
21. I have a disability that might make it difficult for me to participate in the interviews. Could you give me some advice?
We encourage applicants with disabilities to contact us at the earliest opportunity once they have been offered an interview. In consultation with you as an applicant, we will endeavor to make any reasonable adjustments for you during the interview process.
22. I have a chronic health condition. Would this prevent me from applying?
We expect all successful applicants to undergo a BCUHB Occupational Health screen. If you are judged fit to work as a trainee clinical psychologist, you would not be prevented from continuing with the programme. We will endeavor to make reasonable adjustment to facilitate your training. This could mean that the start of your training might be delayed, to allow us to put the required adjustments in place.
23. My main concern is about how accessible the programme is for a disabled person? I would appreciate any thoughts or comments you have on this matter.
We aim to actively support trainees who have a disability. However, given that each person is likely to have individual needs, this is one situation when we would suggest that you contact firstname.lastname@example.org (Admissions Tutor).
24. Is the programme accessible to wheelchair users?
Our university site is wheel chair accessible, as are all the teaching rooms and resource roo, as well as the programm staff office. We are regularly conduct surveys of placements to assess which placements can provide access for trainees who are wheelchair users. If you contact us directly, we should be able to give you up to date information regarding this.
25. How can I improve my application form and make it stand out?
We assess your application form on a range of aspects, including spelling and grammatical errors. Correctly completed forms, where the questions are answered as requested will give a good impression. There is not much space on the application form to express yourself. Draw out the relevance of your experience to clinical psychology. Don’t try to cram in additional information by using small fonts etc. Always check with your referees that they are happy to write a supportive reference.
26. I have not been offered an interview this year, can I have feedback on my application form?
You can contact Carolien Lamers at a specified time provided on the letter informing you of the outcome. We also would recommend that you look carefully at these FAQ´s to enable you to identify areas in which you might have strengths and weaknesses. We no longer provide telephone feedback on your application.
27. What are you looking for at interview?
We are looking for the qualities that make a competent clinical psychologist such as communication skills, psychological and analytical thinking. At the interviews, we want to get a sense of what you are like as a person and whether you have the academic skills to cope with the programme. Our service user and carer representatives are keen to see if they can work with you.
28. Would it be possible to call in to have a chat with someone regarding my suitability at some point?
You should find that most of the answers to your questions are addressed in this and other programme documentation such as the Clearing House entry and the Alternative Handbook. If you have a specific question that we have not addressed then you can email email@example.com.
29. What is the Alternative Handbook?
The DCP Affiliates Committee compile and publish the handbook each year, by sending questionnaires to trainees on all programmes. You can currently read the perspective and experiences of our current trainees. Please check out www.bps.org.uk › DCP Pre-Qualification Group.
30. Who employs me?
All trainees are employed on a three-year fixed term contract by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB). BCUHB provides acute, community, mental health and learning disabilities health services to North Wales, delivered through a network of hospitals, health centres and clinics.
31. Can I do the programme part-time?
We do not offer a part-time programme. However, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as we may be able to assist you if you have particular requirements for accessing the programme.
32. Do I have to work in North Wales after I finish the programme?
The aim of the programme is to provide clinical psychologists for NHS Wales. There is a strong expectation that those who train in North Wales will take up local available NHS posts once qualified. On occasion, circumstances preclude this. However, we hope all trainees will work within the NHS as qualified Clinical Psychologists.
33. How much do trainees get paid?
Trainees are paid according to the current NHS Agenda for Change. Trainees are located in Band 6. (www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/).
34. How much annual leave will I get?
You will get 27 days leave a year, 29 after 5 years NHS service and 33 days after 10 years service (plus bank holidays).
35. Are there any exams?
No, we use a variety of programme work to assess competence.
36. Will I be disadvantaged if I cannot speak Welsh?
As a substantial proportion of the clients are Welsh speakers, we strongly encourage Welsh speaking applicants to apply. On average we have one or two Welsh-speaking trainees per year, which means that the majority of successful candidates are non-Welsh speaking. We offer support for you to learn Welsh and attend the summer school. The total number of welsh speaking applicants across all programmes remains low at about 1% of all applicants UK wide.
37. What is the start and finishing time of the working day so I can sort out childcare arrangements before I get started?
The teaching normally starts at 9.30 and finishes at 5.00 pm. The teaching takes place in the School of Psychology at Bangor University. Individual working arrangements are made with trainees when they start their placements in collaboration with their clinical supervisor. As you are a BCUHB employee, you are required to work 37.5 hours per week.
38. Will I be given the opportunity to develop in a flexible way i.e. are there opportunities for me to develop my knowledge of areas which interest me in teaching and placements?
We endeavor to train you in a wide range of theories, approaches, interventions, research and professional issues. In terms of therapeutic approache,s we focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Third Wave therapies:Compassion Focused and Schema Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. Within the placements, some consideration will be given to your specific developmental needs and wishes. This can particularly take place in the third year when you can choose your elective placement. It is expected that you will complete all of your clinical placements within the North Wales area. Within most of the academic assignments the tasks allow you to focus on a clinical area or topic that is relevant at your time of training and interest.
39. Would I need to be able to drive?
Although the teaching takes place in Bangor, clinical placements can be in a wide range of places across North Wales. Public transport is not always practical when having to do home visits etc. Therefore, we strongly advise that trainees hold a full driving licence and own a car or take advantage of the NHS Lease Car Scheme. Reasonable adjustments are made for candidates who are unable to drive as a result of disability.
40. Will I get a PhD at the end of the training?
The training to become a clinical psychologist will give you a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. This is different from a PhD, which is a research degree that is obtained by completing a piece of defined research, usually over a 3-year period. The clinical training will contain several pieces of academic work, including three research projects. The first piece of work involves carrying out analysis on a large data set. One project is working with existing data from a BCUHB service to answer an audit question that is related to (and often generated by) the service. The largest project is clinical relevant research, designed and carried out by you. You spend some 24 months completing this piece of work on which you will receive a vice voce examination.
41. I will not be completing my PhD until after the interviews and have my Viva after the Programme will have started in October. Will you consider my application?
We will consider your application using our selection criteria, but we will not be able to award you points for the PhD as this is not completed at the time we undertake our shortlisting.
42. When does the programme actually start?
The programme will start on the Monday that is closest to the 1st October. For 2019, the start date will be the 30th September.
43. You require a reference from my current employer. I have only worked with them for a few months and feel that my previous employer would be able to give a better reference, as they know me better. What would you like me to do?
We would like you to provide a reference from your current employer. Always ask if your employer feels that they can give you a supportive reference. Most employers have got plenty of experience and are well placed to give a reference. Only under exceptional circumstances, ask a previous employer and please do not forget to explain why your current employer was not able to provide the reference.
44. How does the Programme contact me about whether I have been successful in obtaining an interview?
We use the e-mail address that you have provided on your Clearing House application form. Please check that our e-mails have not ended up in your spam folder. Also, please keep us informed about any changes in your contact details.