Programme Information

We want to give you the background of the programme, our connections and history, as well as information about the programme itself, our philosophy and who works here. This will hopefully give you a flavour of what studying in North Wales might be like.

General Information

This three year doctoral programme is a collaborative venture between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Bangor University which achieved a Gold Award, the highest rating possible, in the national Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017. Successful candidates will obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which confers eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, and eligibility for chartered status with the British Psychological Society. The North Wales programme was the first in the UK to establish the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, leading the way for other programmes. BCUHB clinical psychologists have exceptionally close working links with the NWCPP. The programme was commended by the BPS at its recent accreditation visit for these links and the way in which the programme works alongside clinicians within the Health Board. There are at present some 110 qualified clinical psychologists in North Wales, working across the age range, from birth to death, in mental and physical health, intellectual disabilities, neuropsychology, medium secure services. Nearly all are involved in the programme through teaching, supervision (clinical/research), assessing academic work, selection and representation on committees.

One of the other distinctive aspects of the North Wales programme is its close integration into an academic psychology department that is highly rated for both research and teaching. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, the School of Psychology maintained its status as one of the top psychology departments in the UK, with 89% of research output as internationally excellent or world leading. It has one of the most vibrant and friendly research communities and was ranked 17th (of 117) for Research Quality (Complete University Guide 2020). The Schools of Psychology, Healthcare Sciences, Sports Health and Exercise Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Education and Human Development form the College of Human Sciences. This brings Schools with an interest in health together, creating an environment for shared research strategies and health-related training activities in terms of professional learning.

The School of Psychology is a centre of excellence for training in clinical practice and has particular strengths in clinical and health psychology, cognitive neuroscience, applied behaviour analysis, and learning and developmental psychology. The School also prides itself on excellent teaching and received an excellence in teaching award in 2020, as voted by the students. During the most recent internal Quality Audit of the School of Psychology, North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme was commended for both its teaching and pastoral care of trainees. The UK’s leading Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, is also based in the School. Professor Michaela Swales, who is internationally recognised for her expertise in dialectical behaviour therapy and leader of the British Isles Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Training Team, is our programme director and is a locally practising clinical psychologist. Elizabeth Burnside, our Academic Director, is an ACT peer reviewed trainer, one of 13 in the UK, and also works clinically in local services. The trainees, programme team members and local clinical psychologists are keen to share their knowledge and expertise and have an impressive list of publications, close to 70 over the last five years alone.

During our last accreditation visit in February 2019, the programme was accredited by the BPS, and re-validated by Bangor University. We were commended for several aspects of the programme: the tight integration and commitment of the People Panel, which is our service user and carer representative group and the multi-layered support systems available to our trainees. They appreciated our innovative outreach work to secondary schools and our commitment to meeting the needs of the local population. The included our efforts to improve Welsh language mental health provision and develop skills in a cultural, linguistic and social context, the engagement and enthusiasm of the local clinical psychologists involved in the training, and the psychological and psychotherapeutic contribution to the regional community and service delivery. We were delighted to receive such strong endorsement from the BPS and Bangor University, and we believe this illustrates the robust and cohesive nature of the programme. Our next accreditation visit is due in 2024. The programme is also accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).