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ACF programme in Core Psychiatry

Our three-year programme provides an entry point for doctors aspiring to a research-based career in Psychiatry. It is led by Professor Kate Saunders, who is also a member of the School of Psychiatry Board.

The programme is based at the Warneford Hospital, home to the Department of Psychiatry. ACF doctors undertake training in the Oxford region and possibly in other trusts across Health Education Thames Valley. 

Recruitment is at ST1-3. Please check availability of posts each year, as this varies.


The programme requires the acquisition of core clinical skills in psychiatry.

During the three years, the ACF doctor is offered rotation through various sub-specialties including: general adult psychiatry (GAP), old age psychiatry (OAP), child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, liaison psychiatry and psychotherapy. Each rotation usually lasts six months. Usually the ACF post will have run-through to the higher specialty which was advertised, although some flexibility over this can be available in the final year.


The Department of Psychiatry, headed by Professor John Geddes, has an international reputation for excellence. It has an annual turnover approaching £8 million, with more than 50 research grants. Approximately 180 members of staff work in scientific, research support, technical, secretarial and clinical capacities.

The Department is based at the Warneford Hospital and supports research in 4 key areas: neurobiology, psychological treatments, developmental psychiatry and social psychiatry. There are a very broad range of research opportunities available in these areas and ACFs are encouraged to explore them. (Read about the Psychiatry Department's areas of research interest.)

During a fellowship, research time is 25% of the total training time. ACF doctors have blocks of dedicated academic time incorporated into their clinical training programme. Block length will depend on the research undertaken and can vary from weekly research slots to 6 or 9 months at a time.

An academic mentor will be assigned who will meet the trainee on a six-monthly basis to ensure that mutually agreed academic milestones are being achieved. 

In Year 1, academic milestones will focus on the development of generic research methodologies. They then move to performing preliminary work (Year 2) that supports the submission of an application for peer-reviewed funding (Year 3). 

A mentorship programme over the course of the ACF post is in place, with input from peers, colleagues and senior academics. This maximises trainees’ chances to develop a successful submission for a research training fellowship or, if applicable, post-doctoral research funding.

All trainees, including non-academic trainees, are encouraged to identify a research opportunity that they wish to pursue within the Department.


Dr Tessa Lomax, ACF in General Psychiatry

Dr Maxime Taquet, ACF in General Psychiatry


Last reviewed: November 2019