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MSc Counselling & Psychotherapy

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Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Accreditation: BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy)
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
  • Interviews: see apply section.

Study with us

  • focus on person-centred therapy throughout the course 
  • learn to apply one of the leading therapeutic approaches to mental health and wellbeing
  • opportunity to undertake work placements with clients in a range of health treatment settings
I gained the confidence to apply the counselling skills and theories I learned directly into my practice. The research skills and international academic studies were also valuable. The tutors combined theoretical knowledge with their clinical experience – a teaching method I found effective and thought-provoking.

Vicki, MSc student from Shanghai, China

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Why this course?

Person-centred-experiential counselling and psychotherapy is internationally recognised. Evidence suggests it's one of the leading therapeutic approaches to mental health and wellbeing, and it continues to develop important practical applications and theoretical knowledge.

Our long-established postgraduate courses in counselling have offered a unique opportunity to gain in-depth experience of the person-centred-experiential methods applied in counselling and psychotherapy, to Masters level. Our courses have an international reputation and attract students from the UK, Europe, Canada, the USA, China, and India.

The MSc Counselling & Psychotherapy course has been restructured to meet evolving standards for evidence-based practice, rising educational standards, increased professional regulation, and rapid social and economic change. You'll gain a solid grounding and thorough integration of theory, research and practice, as well as a capacity to engage with the wider field of human distress and wellbeing, including private, public and third sector mental health agencies.

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THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

Interested in postgraduate study?

At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be available to provide you with all the information you need to kick-start your postgraduate journey at the University of Strathclyde. Register for upcoming events below:

What you'll study

The emphasis is on person-centred therapy throughout the Counselling & Psychotherapy Masters programme. You'll undertake counselling training, including theoretical, personal and professional development and practical/skills-based components.

An integral part of your course will be training you to work with clients in-person, online and on the telephone. To reinforce this learning in your training you will be expected to work with a number of your placement clients remotely. 

The counselling practice element of the training includes the following classes:

  • The Therapeutic Relationship
  • The Therapeutic Process
  • Personality Theory
  • Counselling Case Analysis
  • Counselling Practicum
  • Personal & Professional Development

The Research Dissertation class involves training in counselling research methods and a write-up of a small empirical study, practical case study, or review of research.

Major projects

The Research Dissertation involves training in the main counselling research methods and four options for research projects: a quantitative study, a qualitative study, a systematic case study or a systematic review.

Work placement

You'll receive intensive skills training to prepare you to undertake a minimum of 100 hours of counselling experience. This counselling practice is undertaken with real clients across a range of placements within third-sector organisations, voluntary agencies and other health services, educational and community settings. If you meet your 100 hours before the end of the programme you'll need to continue to see clients until the end of your training. 

You'll develop your skills and capacity to practice as a professional therapist leading to accreditation with professional bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA).

Part-time study information

In the part-time version of the programme there are six contact hours every week, these will take place on a Tuesday, 10am-5pm. You'll be expected to dedicate two days per week to the programme. One day for placement, supervision and time for study and assignment writing. One day to attend the programme. At the start of the programme there's a two-day induction and at the end of a programme, a two-day residential.

You'll receive an MSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy at the end of the programme and the programme is accredited by the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy). There's no final exam. There are four blocks of study spaced out over two years and an assignment following each block. Work placements begin once students have passed their readiness to practice.

You'll incur supervision costs while a student on the course, as you're required to have supervision on a fortnightly basis while a student and in practice. Therefore, you'll incur supervision costs from when you start your practice with clients until you complete the course. As a result, there will be higher supervision costs when on the part-time course than on the full-time course. Details on costs are provided in the ‘Fees and Funding’ section on this page.


Strathclyde Counselling & Psychotherapy Research Clinic

The Strathclyde Counselling & Psychotherapy Research Clinic has become an established and vital mental health service open to adults aged 16 years or older across the central belt of Scotland. You'll be supported to organise your own counselling work placement opportunity by our team.

Strathclyde Counselling & Psychotherapy Research Clinic

Our teaching staff

Our dedicated teaching team are all active researchers, experienced trainers and counsellors in practice. We are proud that our students will be working closely with our excellent counselling placements where they can become immersed in the work of the service as well as their clients.

Lisa McGilvray, Programme Leader & Teaching Fellow

Lisa McGilvray, Programme Leader of MSc Counselling & Psychotherapy

Kay Capaldi

On completion of the MSc, our graduates are skilled in person-centred therapy and well equipped to undertake and develop research-informed practice. Our teaching team are dedicated to ensuring that students have the necessary skills to work with a wide range of people in a variety of clinical settings. All of our tutors are committed to the progression of teaching, learning, research and practice within this humanistic tradition.

Kay Capaldi, Teaching Fellow

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Course content

The Therapeutic Relationship

This class provides you with an essential entry point into the person-centred approach, the core model of the course, and provides the theoretical framework to help you focus on the relational qualities which the course aims to develop, namely accurate empathy, unconditional positive regard, genuineness and therapeutic presence.

Personality Theory

You'll learn the theoretical foundations of the person-centred approach, including the nature of human function and dysfunction, as well as how people overcome their difficulties. You'll gain the conceptual tools to support your practice as a person-centred counsellor, leading to greater confidence and clarity in your work with clients.

The Therapeutic Process

You'll learn how to track your moment-to-moment working during counselling sessions. This ability to critically analyse practice is fundamental to effective, ethical work with clients. You'll also be asked to link within-session to broader person-centred theory.

Counselling Case Formulation

You'll develop the ability to work together with your clients to develop shared understanding of their difficulties, as these evolve over the course of therapy. This provides the basis for effective, reflective practice and also enables counsellors to communicate effectively with other mental health practitioners.

Personal & Professional Development

This class has three main aims:

  • encountering one another and learning to prize personal diversity of experience
  • developing acceptance and resilience in the fact of difficult processes in self and others
  • learning how to resolve interpersonal difficulties.

Counselling Practicum

You have the opportunity to put the other elements of the course into practice with real clients in a mental health treatment setting. The rationale is that the theory, skill development and personal development need to be integrated in practice. As well as in-course group supervision, the your practice is supported by external one-to-one supervision.

Counselling Research Dissertation

The aim of this class is to enable you to apply your knowledge and skills to a research project on some aspect of counselling. It involves training in counselling research methods and four options for research projects: quantitative, qualitative, systematic case study, or systematic review.

Learning & teaching

The MSc will be delivered full-time (one-year) or part-time (two-year) and delivered using a combination of large group formats (lecture/workshop/groupwork) and small group formats (supervision, personal and professional development groups) plus pre-recorded/streaming blended learning inputs.

You'll be expected to supplement class time with directed and self-directed learning and placement experience working with clients in community settings. The research class will be delivered with a combination of lectures on the main research methods in counselling research, and small group tutorials and independent work.


Assessment is through summative written assignments and formative assessments which draw on interactions within all the aspects of the course.

Guest lectures

The Counselling Unit has a long tradition of guest lectures, particularly the annual Mary Kilborn Lecture.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements/experience

For entry to our MSc you must have a:

  • 2:1 or above Undergraduate degree or a Masters degree
  • certificate in counselling skills; completed or in the process of completion. This could be the COSCA certificate (offered by the Centre for Lifelong Learning) or the equivalent. The equivalent must contain at least 40 hours of counselling skills practice in triads, teach the basics of person-centred counselling and make use of large or tutor groups for processing.
  • strong personal statement about why you've chosen to work with the person-centred approach

For entry to our part-time programme, we're also considering the below:

  • a 2:2 or above Undergraduate degree plus;
    • COSCA certificate (or equivalent)
    • substantial experience working in the field of mental health
    • strong personal statement
  • other qualifications deemed acceptable, together with;
    • 10 years plus of experience working in the field of mental health
    • COSCA certificate (or equivalent)
    • strong personal statement

We do receive more applications than we have places to offer and the calibre of applicant is high.

If your application passes the initial selection process you'll be invited for a three-hour interview. For our full-time programme this will be held at the end of February or the beginning of March. At your interview you'll be observed by two tutors and expected to:

  • participate in a small group discussion to observe your communication skills
  • demonstrate your counselling skills in a short triad exercise
  • share why you've applied for the course to observe your personality and interests

For international students it will be as above. However, if the time zone doesn't permit you attending a group interview you'll be offered an individual interview with two tutors to make up the triad. The procedure will be similar to the above and will last up to one hour.

The aim of the interview is also for you to ask questions about the course to see if it's right for you.

If you're successful at this interview you'll be made an offer of a place on our MSc. You'll need to reply to that offer within three weeks to secure your place on the course.

Due to stiff competition for funded places deferral is not normally offered.

English language requirements

Please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Chat to a student ambassador

If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Humanities & Social Sciences student at the University of Strathclyde, a selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

Chat to a student ambassador

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

View all our scholarships
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland




January intake

Year 1:

  • Scotland: £3,150
  • England, Wales & N. Ireland: £3,150
  • International: 7,463

Year 2:

  • Scotland: £4,200
  • England, Wales & N. Ireland: £4,200
  • International: £9,950

Year 3:

  • Scotland: £1,050
  • England, Wales & N. Ireland: £1,050
  • International: £2,488
Additional costs

Students will incur the following course related costs:

  • clinical supervision: £35-£50 for a student per session required every two weeks or one hour for every eight client hours. This must start late November.    
  • PVG: the ability to undertake client work is subject to you being a PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) Scheme member. The cost of the ‘Application to Join PVG Scheme’ and the ‘Existing PVG Scheme Member Application’ is met by students, currently £59 to join or £18 for existing members applying for a scheme update. Further details will be circulated to new students prior to the start of teaching.  
  • recording equipment: £25-£40  
  • residential: £100-&150 per student

Other costs that might be incurred depending upon the student placement are:

  • professional indemnity insurance: £25-&50 
  • professional membership of BACP: £80 approximately

Whilst it's not an essential requirement of the course, we encourage students to become student members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Discounted membership, currently £80 a year, is usually available to students and information is available on their website. A small number of placement agencies ask that you join the BACP before you start with them. Some placements do specify that you need to be a student member of the BACP.

Other students opt to take out student membership with COSCA (Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland), currently £28, a professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland.

International students

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

NHS discount

A 25% discount on course fees is available for NHS staff. Find out more about the Faculty of Science Health & Care Futures MSc Scholarships for NHS Employees.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Graduates from our training courses have the potential to move into full-time or part-time positions. However, the more typical pathway is for students to continue within their placements, adding to their client experience.

Most UK employers are looking for client-contact hours greater than the minimum 100 hours gained during training. Many students quickly gain part-time employment in agencies offering telephone counselling and also in employee assistance programmes offering short-term counselling to their employees.

We encourage our graduates to work towards professional accreditation which also affords professional registration and recognition. A therapist requires 450 hours of practice to begin the accreditation process and the majority of counsellors also engage in advanced professional development to broaden their professional profile while working towards accreditation.

Ultimately, most counsellors work in a mixture of part-time settings, such as paid part-time work in the NHS or voluntary sector, plus some private practice and/or gaining a qualification to do group work or professional supervision. Other choose to mix their practice with non-counselling employment.

BACP Accreditation

If you graduate from this course with your Postgraduate Diploma, you will not be awarded accreditation status. To qualify for full BACP accreditation you must complete the full Masters programme. Further information is available from BACP.

Our students

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

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Applications for our next entry are currently closed. We will release further information on how to apply for our next intake soon.

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Contact us

Prospective student enquiries

Contact a member of our team on LiveChat between 10am and 4pm (GMT)

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 444 8600

Have you considered?

We've a range of postgraduate taught and Masters courses similar to this one which may also be of interest.