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Counselling MSc

Studying counselling at a post-graduate level involves developing theoretical understandings, practical skills and a high level of personal awareness and resilience.

Next Start Date: September

Degree type: MSc

UCAS Code: Apply directly

Duration: 3 years part-time


Counselling is an activity and profession that provides emotional support for people experiencing problems in their lives.  Studying counselling at a post-graduate level involves developing theoretical understandings, practical skills and a high level of personal awareness and resilience. 

The first year of this programme begins with an introduction to counselling and practical training in the application of helping interventions, so from the outset you are engaged in skills learning.  This foundation year provides counselling skills, and the experience needed to undertake a practice placement. 

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

This part-time programme requires one day per week attendance.

This programme includes three exit points, these are

End of first year:         Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Skills

End of second year:    Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Studies

End of third year:       Masters (MSc) in Counselling 

Why choose this course?

This is currently the only UK programme that provides comprehensive training in the Pluralistic framework for counselling and psychotherapy integration.  A key benefit of this approach is that you will train in a wide range of theories and interventions, and learn how best to adapt your counselling approach to the needs of your clients.

Abertay University has a long tradition of providing training in counselling and counselling skills.  Our counselling teaching staff are respected within the profession as leaders in their field, and in coming here you will join a vibrant community of practitioners of past and current students.

We have a strong research orientation, and the Tayside counselling research centre 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.

As a postgraduate student you are part of our Graduate School,  a dedicated facility specially designed to promote integration and inculcation of interdisciplinary working in our next generation of researchers. 


What you study

The course offers a comprehensive selection of topics on talking therapies, interventions and professional practice.

The core areas include:

-       The pluralistic approach to counselling and psychotherapy

-       A range of theoretical approaches to counselling, such as Person Centred and Experiential, Psychodynamic, Transactional Analysis, Existential, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies

-       Practice skills in working with clients, and professional skills for working in counselling contexts

-       Personal development and self-awareness

-       Evidence-based practice and research methods

-       Ethical and professional issues in counselling

These core areas are covered in increasing depth over the three years of the programme.  In addition you will 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 year 2 and 3 you will take a placement as a counsellor as an essential part of your professional training.

Assessment is through a range of methods including case-studies, theory essays, literature reviews, practice observations, and reflective accounts, along with reports from supervisors and practice placement.

Assessment tasks are integrated in to 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.  

Entry routes

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
  • Two references (personal and professional)

All applicants are interviewed as part of the selection process. All applicants are required to undertake a criminal records check.

All applicants are required to provide certified proof of competence in English Language and the University's minimum requirements are:

Overseas and EU: IELTS 7.0 (no individual test less than 7.0).

Fees and scholarships

Fee Category

Tuition Fees

Scholarships & Bursaries

Scottish and other EU students

Current Fees

Other forms of support

English, Welsh and Northern Irish

Current Fees

Bursaries & Scholarships

Overseas (non EU) students

Current Fees

Overseas Scholarships

Fee quoted is the total cost providing that the MSc follows on immediately after the PG Dip element and is completed within the same academic year as started.  Fees may be subject to increase.

Further info

By providing both foundational and professional training in a single programme Abertay are giving 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 is 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. 

Industry links

The Abertay 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.

Additional costs

Costs beyond the programme fees include the requirement for external supervision for practice placements. Students are required to have an hour and a half  minimum of supervision per month. Costs can vary according to the supervisor, but range from around £20 - £50 per hour.

Placement requirements

Practice placement as a trainee counsellor at an organisation providing one-to-one adult counselling is an essential requirement of years one and two.

What do students studying counselling here say?

‘I am a teacher in Further Education. I'd say I find myself in a 'counselling' setting with my learners at least once a day. I chose the course so that I could improve my counselling skills and offer my students a better, more 'authentic' experience. What I am currently learning on the course is invaluable. I'd highly recommend it.’  (Anna, Fife)

 ‘The counselling department at Abertay is made outstanding by both its passionate staff, and its commitment to a pluralistic focused curriculum. As a student I felt truly valued as part of a therapeutic community, which allowed me to safely explore and expand my abilities as a counsellor. The pluralistic focus also allowed a depth and breadth of study, which was hugely rewarding, and gave me great confidence to begin practicing in innovative ways. I cannot imagine training anywhere else. ‘ (Fiona, Glasgow)

 ‘Studying counselling at Abertay has been extremely rewarding. Not only has it given me a new career path, it has also enabled me to gain insight about myself and others, which has helped me both professionally and personally.’ (Sally, Angus)

‘I met lovely people, some of whom have become really special friends. The tutors are amazing and I learned how to open up and trust those who entrusted me with their own special stories of life. This course enables one to better understand others and ourselves, giving more depth to relationships and life in general.’(Joyce, Fife)

New to Abertay then find out about being a new student.

Information for New Students

New to Abertay then find out about being a new student.

" The counselling department is made outstanding by both its passionate staff, and its commitment to a pluralistic focused curriculum. "

Fiona, Glasgow

Student Life

Student Life