MSc Counselling

Develop your theoretical understanding, hone practical skills and achieve a higher level of personal awareness and resilience by studying counselling.

Course detail

Start Date



3 years (part-time)

Award Title



Apply Direct

Programme Overview

Develop your theoretical understanding, hone your practical skills and achieve a higher level of personal awareness and resilience by studying counselling at a postgraduate level. This MSc equips you with the skills you need to offer emotional support for people experiencing problems in their lives.

Join the only Masters programme in the UK to provide comprehensive training in the pluralistic framework for counselling and psychotherapy integration. This means you’ll absorb a wide range of theories and interventions, learning how best to adapt your approach to the needs of your clients.

We enjoy a rich tradition of providing training in counselling and counselling skills. Our teaching staff are highly respected leaders in their field, and you’ll be joining a vibrant community of practitioners and past and current students.

Abertay has a strong research orientation, and the Tayside Centre for Counselling (TCC) is based on campus. There are opportunities for you to be involved in projects that are influencing and developing the role and effectiveness of counselling interventions in modern society.

If you’re a Scottish or EU domiciled student and are planning to study this course, you could be eligible for a postgraduate loan. Find out more here.

Frequently asked questions about our MSc Counselling.

Important Information for prospective MSc Counselling students.

Postgraduate Open Evening

Join us on campus for our Postgraduate Open Evening, on Thursday 4 May, 2023, 5.30pm-7.30pm

If you are thinking about further study in order to advance your career, enter a new field completely, or to enter the world of research, come along and find out what we can offer.

  • Hear from the academics who will guide your learning
  • Check out the facilities and get a feel for the campus
  • Find out about finance and support
  • ... plus much more!

All you have to do is register and you're in! 

Register for the Postgraduate Open Evening

How the Course Works

The course offers a comprehensive selection of topics on talking therapies, interventions and professional practice, with core areas including:

  • A range of theoretical approaches to counselling, such as Person Centred and Experiential, Psychodynamic, Transactional Analysis, Existential, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies
  • Personal development and self-awareness
  • Evidence-based practice and research methods
  • Ethical and professional issues in counselling

There are three exit points on this programme. These are:

  • End of the first year: Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Studies
  • End of second year: Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Studies
  • End of third year: Masters (MSc) in Counselling


From the outset you’re engaged in skills learning, as the first year of this MSc introduces you to counselling and practical training in the application of helping interventions. This foundation year provides counselling skills, and the experience you need to undertake a practice placement.

The subsequent two years involve a fascinating combination of teaching in theory, research, practice and professional issues, and self-development, all of which are designed to be directly linked to practice placement.

Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in workshops to introduce and develop your understanding of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, addictions, and eating disorders, along with specific approaches such as solution-focussed therapies and mindfulness.

In combination with the one day a week attendance on campus, in years two and three you’ll take a placement as a counsellor – an essential part of your professional training.



You’ll be assessed by using case-studies, theory essays, literature reviews, practice observations, and reflective accounts, along with reports from supervisors and practice placement. Assessment tasks are integrated into the course and spread through the three years.

Formative assessment is ongoing and the programme team provide feedback on practice skills and activities in class.


Introduction to Counselling Theory and Skills (CNS007)

Provides students with core counselling skills, theoretical knowledge and opportunities for personal and professional development.

The Process of Counselling (CNS008)

An introduction to the process of using counselling skills in practice and strategies for facilitating therapeutic change within the pluralistic framework. This module will allow students to conceptualise counselling within professional and supervisory contexts.

Advanced Theories and Approaches (CNS011)

Provides students with a deepened and extended understanding of theoretical models of counselling to develop their capacity to use theory to facilitate change in clients.

Professional Practice 1 (CNS012)

Provides students with a supportive and critically challenging arena to reflect on and explore theoretical, ethical, professional and personal issues arising from the research and the application in practice of theory and interventions.

Foundations Of Counselling Practice (CNS009)

Provides students with essential learning in counselling theory. This module addresses key areas of practice including counselling contracts, ethical issues, personal soundness, supervision and professional skills.

Theories and Approaches in Counselling (CNS010)

An in-depth examination of the skills, concepts and professional knowledge required to use a pluralistic framework for counselling practice. It covers the framework and common interventions and approaches which are used in conjunction with it. Teaching also involves practice skills in goal collaboration, case-formulation and client process monitoring.

Professional Practice 2 (CNS507)

This module focuses on practice placement, monitoring and supervision. In addition it provides the student with an opportunity to explore critical issues around the relationship between theory, practice and research in relation to a collaborative pluralistic framework through a collaborative project.

Professional Challenge and Personal Resilience (CNS508)

The module allows the student to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge in order to demonstrate their effectiveness as a counsellor and begin preparation for their subsequent career.

Entry Requirements

All new entrants are required to undertake a criminal records check (PVG) at the point of entry to the programme. All applicants are interviewed as part of the selection process. All applicants are required to undertake a criminal records check.

Applicants should normally have:

  • An undergraduate degree (2:2 or better in any subject) which may be supplemented with professional experience and evidence of ability to study at postgraduate level
  • Interest in counselling as a profession or career/personal enhancement
  • Some experience in helping professionally or voluntarily
  • One reference - preferably academic, however, professional accepted if out of education for a number of years





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Overseas and EU

All applicants are required to provide certified proof of competence in English Language. The university's minimum requirements are:

Overseas and EU: IELTS at 7.0 (with no band less than 6.5).

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Information for International Applicants

Please provide certified proof of your English language level. Applicants should have achieved IELTS at 7.0 (with no band less than 6.5) or equivalent.

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English Language Requirements

Explore English language requirements for entry to Abertay University.

Find out more

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Visa Information

All the information you need about visa requirements for studying here at Abertay University.

Find out more

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you depends on factors such as your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. Visit the links below and scroll down to find the Postgraduate section.

More information

Find out about grants, bursaries, maintenance loans and living costs in our postgraduate taught fees and funding section.


The scholarship below is open to all international students and those applying from England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a 2.1 or above for a postgraduate course. It's paid in two instalments, in December and March. 

Abertay Postgraduate Taught rUK Scholarship

This £1,000 award is open to all prospective new postgraduate students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Register Interest

A postgraduate qualification can prepare you for a more senior position and a considerably higher starting salary. 

Information and advice is key to making sure you make the right decision for you. Thankfully, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about stepping into the world of postgraduate study.

Register your interest and find out the fantastic options available to you.


Register Interest

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Career Opportunities

By providing both foundational and professional training in a single programme, this programme gives you the opportunity to undergo a three year part-time degree as a direct entry in to a counselling career.

Our graduates have moved on to work within the field of counselling, psychotherapy, social care, research and education. Some graduates choose to enter private practice, while others remain in the voluntary sector. In addition, it’s possible to go on to train in counselling supervision.

An MSc in Counselling also provides transferable skills, and can considerably enhance career prospects for people working in health, education, the church, criminal justice, human resource management, and the voluntary sector.

Two rooms - room 1 shows a female counselling another female. room 2 shows a male counselling a female

Industry Links

Our counselling programme has strong links with a number of counselling and social care agencies within Scotland. These relationships ensure the smooth management of student placements and professional development.

All staff are members and accredited trainers for BACP, with one currently representative at BACP governance level.

Male and female in a counselling session

Graduate School

Our Graduate School is a dedicated facility providing support, training and professional development opportunities to our vibrant postgraduate community. Specially designed to promote integration and inculcation of interdisciplinary working in our next generation of researchers, postgraduates study and learn together at Abertay – from Environmental Management to Law, Psychology, Bioscience, Economics and Business, Cybersecurity and Computer Games Development.



Learn more about our Graduate School

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When joining as a post-graduate, you will

When you join us as a postgraduate student or researcher, you’ll be joining a community of creative likeminded scholars and will automatically be provided with access to our dedicated study and social spaces – a forum in which you can meet, work and learn with other researchers and postgraduates from across the University.

You’ll benefit from training and professional development opportunities, as well as support with funding applications, placement opportunities, teaching support, public engagement and outreach activity.

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Programme Leader

Mrs Sally Lumsdaine

Mrs Sally Lumsdaine

School of Applied Sciences | Lecturer

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