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Counselling MA

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Course description

The MA Counselling is a 3 year, 180 credit, part-time professional training  programme requiring the completion of a significant practice requirement, professional supervision and, where appropriate, personal therapy.

After graduation, it is normal for the course member to practice for a minimum of one more year in order to attain sufficient practice experience to apply for individual accreditation by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

The course provides opportunities for its members to gain knowledge and understanding of a range of counselling theories, which are drawn together into an effective integrative framework.  It is intended that the course will enable members to become reflective, i.e. self-aware, counselling practitioners. They will be able to critically evaluate theory and practice-related issues, to apply theory to their work with clients and also to apply their learning within the differing counselling fields and settings. For those organisations which require specialist training, it will provide a solid foundation of professional training on which further professional development may be built.

For some members, their major working role is not that of counsellor. They may use counselling skills within their main role as, for example, health visitors, social workers, personal tutors, or human resource professionals. For these members, the programme will enable the transfer of key counselling skills, such as assessment, interviewing, mediating, mentoring, training and negotiating, to other areas of their professional work.


There are two major themes, which underpin the MA during years 1 & 2:

  • i. The course follows the large body of research that directs the practitioner to the client/counsellor relationship as a major vehicle for change and 
  • ii. Because of the wide range of professional backgrounds represented by its members, the course has the transferability of skills and knowledge as a major focus.

The course modules collectively provide a full professional training focusing on:

  • a critical and broad understanding of counselling theory
  • personal development and enhanced self-awareness
  • working in differing counselling settings, both long-term and short-term, with a range of presenting client issues
  • an understanding of the impact of lifespan issues and social context on the counselling relationship
  • an advanced understanding of the demands of effective and ethical practice
  • research awareness

Additional course information

BPS Graduate Route for qualification as a Counselling Psychologist

The MA Counselling meets certain requirements of the British Psychological Society qualification in Counselling Psychology, for those students with a psychology degree. For further information, check the BPS website: 

The following videos contain more information about the course:

Counselling Research Excerpt from keynote by Peter Jenkins, Director of MA Counselling, at the School of Education Student Research Conference, July 2011. For full keynote (30 minutes), click here.

Why choose an integrative course?

Student support with placements

Personal development

Using Emotional Freedom Techniques within an integrative model

Working as a counsellor after qualifying

The process of being a counselling student

Working as a counselling student on placement

Teaching and learning


The 2014 MA intake (years 1 and 2) will take place from on Wednesdays from 12.20pm to 7.30pm.

Autumn term

Introductory weekend: Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 September 2014 (2 days)

Wednesday 10 September - Wednesday 10 December 2014 (13 days) 

Spring term

Wednesday 7 January - Wednesday 25 March 2015 (11 days)

Year 1 PD Weekend: Saturday 21 - Sunday 22 February (2 days)

Summer Term

Wednesday 15 April - Wednesday 13 May 2015 (5 days)

Summer school: Monday 15 - Wednesday 17 June 2015 (3 days)

Coursework and assessment

The course incorporates a wide range of teaching and learning methods, such as formal lectures, open discussion, small group work, case discussion groups and student-led presentations. There will be extensive use of a wide variety of skills practice methods and experiential learning in small groups, using the `learning community' of course members and staff as a major resource.

The assessment methods also are characterised by diversity. Knowledge and understanding and practice are assessed in a range of ways: via formal written essays; case studies; projects; by joint statements between supervisor and course member; and by assessment of video skills work. Personal awareness, a key factor in the successful counsellor, is assessed by self, peer and tutor review and by extensive use of a personal journal.

Course unit details

The first two years of the MA consist of the following six course modules:

  • The Theories of Counselling
  • The Development of Reflective Practice
  • Lifespan & Social Context
  • Research & Evaluation
  • The Reflexive Practitioner
  • Counselling Practice and Counselling Supervision

Course content for year 1


The course consists of several complementary threads, each focusing on a key area of counsellor training and development. These threads include:

  • Counselling Theory
  • Professional Practice
  • Skills
  • Personal Development Groups
  • Case Discussion Groups; Community Meetings; Group Tutorials

Course content for year 2

The second year includes a group weekend in October. These two days focus on personal development work. It provides an important opportunity to consolidate personal learning on the course to date, as well as to pursue further personal development and understanding of group functioning.

Skills in year 2 will continue to provide an opportunity to refine and develop ways of responding to clients in counselling work. Themes and styles of practice sessions can be negotiated with tutors, depending upon learning issues and needs identified within the student group.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: