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A Guide to Clinical Psychology

Interested in studying psychology at a postgraduate level? This popular, fascinating subject gives insight into the behaviour and thoughts of both individuals and groups, and the environmental factors that influence these. Psychology is both a stimulating and wide discipline, covering many areas from theoretical to practical applications. It can also lead to fulfilling careers, like clinical psychology. If you’re looking to find out more about studying psychology and becoming a clinical psychologist, read on to see what sort of qualifications you could get, what sort of salary you could expect and more. 


What qualifications can you get in psychology? 

There are more than 1,000 psychology postgraduate courses available in the UK, for both those with an entirely unrelated undergrad degree and those wishing to specialise or pursue professions such as Clinical Psychology.  

The qualifications that you can get in the subject range from shorter PGDips and PGCerts, to taught master’s degrees, to research-based PhDs and doctorates.  

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How can you become a clinical psychologist? 

Clinical psychologists work to support, organise and create psychological practice, either with individuals or as part of a team. To become a clinical psychologist, you will need to complete a three-year doctorate. These courses have limited places, so competition can be stiff.  

Having work experience and a relevant undergraduate degree are basic requirements. Often people will also have an MSc or PGDip in an area of psychology to demonstrate their commitment and ability.  

Gaining some experience will inevitably boost your chances. This could range from work as an assistant psychologist, to other areas, like nursing, social work or mental health. Working as a research assistant in an area of psychology is particularly helpful. 

What checks are needed to become a clinical psychologist? 

If you are offered a place on a clinical psychology course, you will have to pass various checks before you begin it, as it will involve working with vulnerable adults and children. This will include criminal records checks (known as a CRB), physical and psychological health checks and your employment history. 

What salary can you expect as a clinical psychologist? 

While training to become a clinical psychologist, you will be paid at band 6 of the NHS Agenda for Change Pay Rates, which is at least £33,706. When you are qualified, in the NHS you will start at band 7, which is at least £41,659. More experienced clinical psychologists could be able to earn more, depending on the amount of experience gained. 

What other postgraduate psychology subjects are available? 

If you want to explore other areas of psychology at the postgraduate level, you could look at one of the variety of options at universities across the UK. These include... 

  • Child psychology 
  • Educational psychology 
  • Behavioural psychology 
  • Social psychology 
  • Forensic psychology 
  • Sports psychology 
  • Business psychology 

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