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Postgraduate study

Course overview

This professional course combines academic content with experiential training to ensure you are competent in delivering evidence-based psychological therapy.

The course emphasises a reflective practitioner approach, allowing the integration of psychological theory, skills and research alongside a highly developed capacity for self-reflection and awareness. The core theoretical philosophy is that of an integrative/relational stance, recognising the primacy of the therapeutic relationship. As such, it is an integrated course of study, utilising critical appraisal of psychological theory, practice and research.

Professional accreditation

British Psychological Society The doctorate is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists in the UK, and graduates are eligible to apply for HCPC registration. It is a legal requirement that anyone who wishes to practise using a title protected by the Health Professions Order 2001 (for example counselling psychologist) is on the HCPC register.

The course is accredited by the British Psychological Society, and graduates are eligible to apply for Chartered Counselling Psychologist status.


Course details

This course adopts a holistic learning framework which ensures links are made between different modules, academic study and placement experiences. Modules are divided between semester-based and year-long delivery whilst therapeutic modality modules link closely with therapeutic practice modules and, consequently, student placement experiences.

The first year Level 7 modules provide a developmental transition from undergraduate study to Level 8. An introduction to the broad field of counselling psychology gives you a strong grounding in theory, ontology and epistemology. Introduction to cognitive-behavioural, relational and integrative modalities provide the theory and techniques associated with these therapeutic orientations. You cover research methods (qualitative and quantitative designs) and commence therapeutic practice. This provides a solid base from which to progress in a developmental fashion. You are encouraged to begin personal therapy which contributes to your ongoing personal development.

The second year, Level 8, contains a stronger, more focussed emphasis on the therapeutic relationship via further training in psychodynamic therapy and an understanding of psychological distress from a variety of perspectives. You are taught more advanced therapeutic modalities for working with complex presentations and provided with a clear grounding in interdisciplinary practice.

During years two and three you formally embark on your Doctorate thesis research, as advanced independent work (AIW).

Your third year develops further integrative and relational ways of working using the primacy of the therapeutic relationship and models of integrative practice. You are also encouraged to develop your knowledge of clinical governance, leadership and wider contextual and systemic issues within the counselling psychology arena. You finalise your AIW and defend the outcome during a viva voce examination.

This coherent and non-prescriptive stance allows you to develop your own personal philosophy within the framework and guidance of the course.

Trainees not achieving the full award but successfully completing the Doctorate dissertation and at least 120 credits from the taught stage will be eligible to be awarded MSc Psychology and Counselling as a named award.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Concepts in Counselling Psychology

Counselling psychology is a fascinating discipline of applied psychology is concerned with the study of being (ontology), the nature of how we know what we know’(epistemology) and praxis (clinical application). You gain a critical and integrative synthesis of how the philosophy, theory and principles of counselling psychology shape therapeutic practice in relation to reducing distress and improving wellbeing.

Fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This module targets the learning needs of counselling psychologists delivering cognitive behavioural interventions to clients with a range of mental health problems. You build up your fundamental skills and knowledge in relation to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and take an in-depth investigation into the current theories and practice of CBT which you can utilise in your therapeutic practice.

Introduction to Applied Research

The module will enable you to act independently and with originality with regards to developing a systematic literature review for a research project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or enhancing understanding at the forefront of a specific area of counselling psychology.

Research Methods for Applied Psychologists

You focus on quantitative and qualitative approaches to research. The quantitative research component allows you to develop your knowledge and skills in research design, methods and applied statistical methods. The qualitative component provides you with the skills needed to analyse, conduct and assess qualitative research. You complete a project proposal as part of this module - this prepares you to write a research proposal as a preparation for your Advanced Independent Work (AIW).

Therapeutic Practice 1

You undertake professional practice meetings which include teaching on clinical areas including risk assessment and skills work. You cover ethics and ethical dilemmas in psychological practice which allows you to develop a sound model for ethical decision-making. As the module progresses, you present clinical cases from your placements, followed by peer group and staff discussion of the case.


Year 2 core modules

Psychodynamic Theory and Practice

An in-depth investigation of the theory, research, and practical application of the psychodynamic paradigm are undertaken on this module. You are introduced to a variety concepts in psychodynamic theory and practice which will include self-psychology and object relations. You will also be introduced to several analytic/dynamic techniques such as transference work and the use of interpretation.


You gain a comprehensive grounding in the principles of psychopathology, diagnosis and neuropsychological assessment. The major diagnostic classification systems in relation to clinical practice will be studied and ethical issues inherent to diagnosis will be explored.

Therapeutic Practice 2

This is the professional practice component of the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and aims to help you develop advanced clinical skills.

Working Across Settings and the Lifespan

A range of topics which you are likely to encounter in your clinical practice as counselling psychologists when working across settings and the lifespan are introduced. Through inter-professional education you consider therapeutic interventions from the perspectives of other professionals and how collaborating with others can improve the environment and quality of care for service users.


Year 3 core modules

Clinical Leadership and Enterprise

Clinical leadership and governance, the professional, ethical and legal responsibilities inherent in the organisational work of a psychological practitioner are explored. You will be introduced to methods of clinical audit, evaluation and service development. You also explore models of leadership and where you can also reflect upon and develop your own leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

Counselling Psychology in Context

You are introduced to the concept of systemic approaches to intervention and how those can be applied in community practice. The module will also focus on a wide variety of clinical and mental health issues which may present in different therapeutic and community contexts, and the role of counselling psychologists within those contexts.

Therapeutic Practice 3

This module is the professional practice component of the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and aims to help you in the transition from trainee to independent practitioner. It also explores integrative and relational ways of working.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

Teaching and learning includes lectures, seminars, interactive workshops, case discussion groups, skills coaching sessions, supervised practice and personal development sessions.

The combination of learning and teaching methods encourages self-directed, trainee-led enquiry. The emphasis is on integrating theoretical knowledge and research with clinically relevant practice experiences on placement. Placements are offered in the third sector and in regional NHS services.

In addition to the above, you are expected to learn through experiential models as a result of receiving clinical and research-based supervision.

How you are assessed

A variety of assessment methods are utilised throughout the course to emphasise the broad range of skills being assessed. Assessment methods typically include an unseen ethics examination, critical review essays, case studies, process reports, research proposals, a thesis, oral presentation, written evaluations, supervisory reports, case work, client logs, evidence files and practical workbooks. It is expected that by using a variety of methods aimed at assessing academic and research skills alongside practical clinical skills, you are given every opportunity to demonstrate your skills.


Entry requirements

Successful application that demonstrates:

  • a good honours degree in psychology usually 2.1 or above. Other classifications may be considered
  • Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC)
  • prior training in counselling skills (Level 3 certificate in counselling skills equivalent to 10 credits and above). Other relevant therapeutic training may be considered
  • minimum of six months experience in a counselling/intervention related role is essential.

Successful completion of a formal interview that demonstrates:

  • a good understanding of counselling psychology theory and practice
  • a good understanding of the role of a counselling psychologist and why you are choosing the profession
  • good interpersonal skills and sensitivity towards others
  • the ability to cope with the demands of working with vulnerable client groups
  • capacity for self-reflection and being open to feedback from others
  • a good level of insight and awareness of your own limitations to practice
  • the ability to communicate and relate well with others
  • an understanding of the importance and contribution research plays within the profession. This is assessed through the discussion of your research ideas. You need to provide a 500-word research proposal in preparation for the interview.
  • a commitment to undertake and fund 40 hours of personal therapy during the first two years of the course. Fees vary between £35.00 and £60.00 an hour.
  • an understanding of how personal health conditions might affect interaction with service users
  • a commitment to fund some of the clinical supervision required for the practice placements should the placement not provide an appropriately qualified supervisor. Fees vary between £35.00 and £70.00 an hour.

Following a successful interview you must provide evidence of a clinical practice reference, satisfactory Enhanced Level Disclosure Barring Service check and satisfactory workplace risk assessment.

International trainees should also consider criteria for admission

We offer Recognition of Prior Learning in line with the University’s RPL policy. Up to 120 credits from a related postgraduate qualification may be considered at Level 7.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

Counselling psychologists work across a diversity of health and social care environments (for example within the NHS, outpatient and inpatient units, community organisations, educational institutions, forensic settings), and in independent practice.

Work placement

You must meet the minimum 450 hours placement requirement, supervised at the correct ratio (one hour supervision to six hours placement for the first 150 hours, and one to ten for the remaining 300 hours). If the placement does not provide qualified supervision (with a clinical or counselling psychologist) you are required to pay for an external supervisor. Fees vary but are typically between £35.00 to £70.00 an hour.

Client work may be conducted in a variety of settings. It is recommended that you obtain placements within the NHS and other settings such as the voluntary sector, independent sector, prison service, and private sector. Previous trainees have undertaken placements in areas including schools (primary and secondary), care homes, addiction agencies, hospices, bereavement agencies as well as agencies specialising in working in the areas of domestic violence, sexual abuse and eating disorders.

You are also required to engage in a minimum of 40 hours of personal therapy which contributes to your ongoing personal development. This is an added financial cost to you and is paid to your therapist. Fees vary but are typically £35.00 to £60.00 an hour.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

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2021/22 entry

Fee for UK applicants

£19,650 (£6,550 for each 180 credits). Not eligible for any fee discounts

Fee for international applicants

£39,150 (£13,050 for each 180 credits). Not eligible for any fee discounts

More details about our fees for international applicants

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Improve your project management, critical thinking, research skills, time management, presentation skills and teamwork.



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(DoE Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2018,



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