Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology

Abstract head with lit up brain, psychology

We integrate academic and practical work to produce generalists who adapt to societal needs and changes in service delivery, think critically, and communicate clearly. Our graduates evaluate the effectiveness of professional services, embrace standards of professional ethics, recognise the importance of personal values, and appreciate and respect individual and cultural differences.

The programme was the first of its kind in New Zealand and our graduates have broad areas of practice beyond traditional mental health services, including primary care, general medical, criminal justice, social welfare, education, research and senior administrative/management positions in related areas.

Programme details

Due to the intensity and demands of the course, entry requirements are a minimum of an Honours Bachelor’s degree in psychology (BA (Hons)/BSc (Hons)) or Part I of a Master’s degree in psychology (MA/MSc) from a New Zealand university, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University and approved by the Head of Department.

At a minimum, applicants need to take PSYC 335 Abnormal Psychology (or equivalent) and an honours (400/600) level research methods course prior to applying. Any course combination at honours level is acceptable as long as one of the courses is a research methods course.

It is strongly recommended that students wishing to undertake a placement or internship in the Psychological Service of the Department of Corrections, or those seeking employment within this area upon graduation, take PSYC 441 Forensic Psychology.

Students completing PSYC 470 Research Project as part of their fourth year degree have the option of enrolling in a PhD straight from their honours year. This project is an automatic part of a BSc (Hons). Students with a BA (Hons) wishing to pursue a PhD and who did not complete PSYC470 would need to first enrol in/for a Master’s degree and then upgrade to a PhD.

Completion of a Maori language course prior to entry is also strongly recommended.

Candidates wishing to qualify as clinical psychologists are required to complete a minimum of a three-year course.

Selection for the clinical course is competitive. Typically, a maximum of 16 people are selected from a total of more than 80 applicants each year. The course is intellectually demanding so good academic ability is required, and as it involves work with distressed people, some experience with such people is desirable. A high level of tact and competence in interpersonal interactions is also necessary. Previous course work in Māori language is also preferred. The main criteria for selection are:

  • Academic record
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Research interests and experience
  • Experience in social service work, broadly defined

The four criteria above pertain to the shortlisting process. Applicants are shortlisted in October on the basis of the information provided, and interviews are held in November with members of clinical staff and representatives of the Department of Corrections and Canterbury District Health Board. Shortlisted applicants are notified of the outcome in early December when examination results are released.

Selection Process

  • Applications are reviewed for completeness, prerequisites, and grades.
  • Incomplete applications and lack of prerequisites will not be shortlisted.
  • Grades play a contributing factor in the shortlisting process. The grade required for shortlisting varies from year to year, depending on the quality of applications. Generally, shortlisted applicants will have a shortlisted grade in prerequisite courses of B+ or higher.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be asked to submit a digital audio recording demonstrating their reflective listening skills prior to interview. This will be reviewed and rated for empathy, and reflection to question ratio.
  • Attendance at 'Selection Day' is required. This will comprise a welcome, and three separate interviews; two with staff and community psychologists and one with current postgraduate students.
  • A decision as to who will be offered a place in the programme will be based on: application, references, performance on the audio recording and during Selection Day.

How to apply

From 4 August 2023, applications for the 2024 intake can be commenced in myUC if you need to apply before then please contact

Applicants must also complete this Clinical Psychology Additional Information form (PDF, 1258KB), and upload this as part of your enrolment in myUC.

Application deadline

The closing date for applications is 20 September 11:59pm in the year preceding entry.

Please ask that your referees aim to have referee reports in by the closing date, but late referee reports will not affect your application. Referee reports that are outstanding after the closing date will be followed up by programme administration staff. Applicants will be notified by email only when all referee reports are received.

More information 

Please consult the Clinical Psychology Handbook in conjunction with your application.

Further details are available on UC's qualifications pages.

Year 1

PSYC 641   Advanced Psychopathology (0.25EFTS)
PSYC 642 Psychometric Assessment Methods (0.15EFTS)
PSYC 643 Year 1 Practicum (0.20 EFTS)

Year 2

PSYC 651   Psychotherapeutic Methods (0.25EFTS)
PSYC 653 Year 2 Practicum (0.25EFTS)
PSYC 654 Comprehensive Exam in Clinical Psychology (0.10 EFTS)

Year 3 (or 3/4)

PSYC 661   Advanced Topics in Clinical Psychology I (0.25EFTS)
PSYC 662 Advanced Topics in Clinical Psychology II (0.25EFTS)
PSYC 670   Internship in Clinical Psychology (0.50 EFTS)
  (part-time options are PSYC 671 and PSYC 672)


Full course details are available on the UC regulations pages.

Students are eligible to request this qualification if they have:

  1. been credited with PSYC 670, or PSYC 671 and PSYC 672, and PSYC 441 Forensic Psychology; and
  2. completed requirements for an MA or MSc or PhD in Psychology with a thesis on a topic approved by the Tumuaki Kura | Head of School as relevant to criminal justice; and
  3. completed 300 hours' work in a criminal justice setting

Some employers/placement sites may have vaccination or health and safety policies that recommend or require workers to be vaccinated against Vaccine Preventable Diseases*. Students in this qualification must comply with all vaccination mandates or employer requirements and supply evidence of their vaccination status to UC before they start placements or as requested.

Please Note: Clinical placements may be restricted for those students who are not fully vaccinated against Vaccine Preventable Diseases*.

*Vaccine Preventable Diseases refers to an infectious disease for which an effective vaccine exists that may modify the risks of catching and transmitting the disease and reduce the severity of infection.

Available resources

The Psychology Centre is the clinical psychology training and research centre for the Clinical Psychology Programme at UC.

The Centre offers students an opportunity to participate in a wide range of psychological assessments and treatments as part of their practicum course. It is staffed by senior clinical psychologists who teach clinical skills and supervise student's work with clients.

Need more information?

For Clinical Psychology related enquiries, please email

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