Postgraduate Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Course details


The Postgraduate Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a part-time course for qualified healthcare professionals, providing high-quality training and supervision in CBT theory and practice. Oxford is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in CBT and the course draws on an impressive body of local specialist skill and knowledge.

The course is taken part-time over 9 months. Students attend 21 days of teaching in Oxford over two terms, including weekly supervision groups. During the course they are expected to practice and develop their CBT skills within a treatment setting, and to complete an essay and a written case report.

After successful completion students are awarded a Postgraduate Certificate from the University of Oxford. This award can contribute towards a Postgraduate Diploma in CBT, accredited by The British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies at Level 1.

Who is this course for?

CBT is recognised by the National Health Service as a major psychological treatment modality, with a substantial and growing evidence base. The Postgraduate Certificate will appeal to a wide range of healthcare professionals. The course has attracted students from clinical and counselling psychology, psychiatry, general practice, nursing, social work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, counselling and the voluntary sector.

Coronavirus update

The admissions cycle for this programme is progressing as planned, and the University is committed to ensuring that offer holders can take up their place as expected. Information will be made available as the situation develops. Find out more here.

Course aims

The Course aims to provide students with:
  1. A sound knowledge of cognitive behavioural models, concepts and methods.
  2. An understanding of issues of importance relating to the theory and practice of CBT. These include:
    • the relationship between CBT theory and therapy
    • the use of CBT with a variety of client groups and disorders
    • related research on outcome and process
  3. Competence in assessing patient suitability for CBT
    • in developing CBT case-formulations
    • in devising and implementing individual treatment programmes
    • in evaluating their effects
  4. The ability to convey clearly the central concepts of CBT and to communicate basic treatment skills.
The Course does not aim to prepare students to teach and supervise CBT. The emphasis is on acquiring, practising and communicating specialised clinical skills, within an explicit theoretical framework in relation to associated empirical research.


The course begins with a four-day teaching block followed by one full day per week over two terms.  In teaching sessions, emphasis is placed on observation of CBT in action and on experiential learning with participation in role-play and other practical exercises.Students receive two hours of small group supervision weekly.

Reading and completion of written assignments will be undertaken in addition to the teaching days. Many students find it effective to set aside six to seven hours a week for private study.

Students will be expected to have access to treatment settings with regular clinical and CBT supervision where cognitive behavioural therapy skills can be practiced and refined on a regular basis throughout the course.

Course content & Structure
Part I: Basic concepts and skills
In teaching sessions, emphasis is placed on observation of CBT in action and on experiential learning with participation in role-play and other practical exercises.
Topics include:
· Beck’s cognitive model of emotional disorder
· CBT assessment and formulation
· The structure of CBT (agenda setting, goal setting, pacing, homework etc.)
· The style of CBT (collaboration, explicitness, feedback)
· Socratic methods
· Identifying and re-evaluating automatic thoughts
· Identifying and re-evaluating dysfunctional assumptions and core beliefs
· The role of behavioural experiments
· Working with imagery, role-play and other non-verbal methods
· Process and termination issues in CBT
Part II: Special applications - Developing the basics
This part of the course covers the use of CBT with common mental health problems (anxiety, depression, eating disorders). Sessions focus on consolidating and developing basic knowledge and skills and on emphasising concepts and methods especially relevant to each problem area. Teaching practical CBT skills is linked to outcome data and other related empirical research.
Workshops focus on problem areas such as:
· Depression and suicidality
· Simple phobias
· Panic disorder and agoraphobia
· Social anxiety disorder
· Health anxiety
· Obsessive compulsive disorder
· Generalised anxiety disorder
· An introduction to trauma

Students are required to:

  • take an active part in teaching and supervision sessions, and carry out CBT with the required number of patients
  • complete a 2000 word essay on CBT theory, research and practice
  • complete a 4000 word case report of one treated case
  • submit audio/video recordings of CBT sessions for formative and summative assessment 

Teaching staff

Alison Croft (Course Director)
Alison Croft trained as a clinical psychologist in Oxford. She has over 25 years’ experience of working in various adult mental health teams from primary to tertiary care and has extensive experience of applying CBT with a wide range of clinical presentations. She is accredited as a CBT practitioner, supervisor and trainer with BABCP.
Alison’s specialist clinical interests include promoting good mental health in doctors, working with anxiety disorders and with complex presentations related to trauma. She currently works in Oxford as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the Medic Support Service and a CBT clinician, trainer and supervisor with the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC). Alison is course director for the PG Cert in CBT and a course tutor on the PG Cert in CBT for Psychological Trauma. She has experience of delivering training and supervision to a wide range of clinicians, from beginner to expert level, both in the UK and overseas. She has published several book chapters related to CBT practice and research papers in the areas of CBT training and service innovations, and physician mental health.

Lisa Palmer (Deputy Ccourse Director)
Lisa Palmer is a BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist with a background in Mental Health Nursing before qualifying as a CBT therapist in 1992. She has a particular interest in PTSD and Complex PTSD and has worked extensively in specialist secondary care mental health services and occupational groups such as the Fire and Rescue service. Other interests are in schema focused therapy, low self-esteem, panic disorder, Long Term Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms. She has designed and taught on CBT courses for over 26 years including IAPT High Intensity and OCTC Post Graduate Courses in CBT and trauma. As well as supervising individually and in groups, she is an innovative practitioner and teacher and well known for inspiring others in the practice of CBT.

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Please visit the Postgraduate Certificate in CBT page on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website for details of course fees and costs for this programme.

Apply for this course

Applications for this course should be made via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website. This website includes further information about this course and a guide to applying.

All applications must have been fully completed before the application deadline in order to be considered.

Visa Information

For part-time courses longer than six months with a weekly or monthly attendance requirement you will not be eligible for a Tier 4 visa or the Short Term Student route based on the structure of the course.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support