Postgraduate study

Counselling Studies

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Counselling Studies

This PhD programme is an advanced research degree enabling students to conduct in-depth independent research on a topic of their choice, thereby making a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the field of counselling and psychotherapy.

Counselling and psychotherapy specialise in qualitative, reflexive and critical approaches to research, and have particular expertise in practice-based research that draws directly on practitioners' own therapeutic work, on the client's experience of therapy, and in narrative, reflexive and auto-ethnographic methods.

We are especially keen to encourage research concerned with the interface between counselling, psychotherapy and social, cultural and political life.

Our research portfolio is highly interdisciplinary, integrating concepts, practices and scholarship from counselling and psychotherapy, psychology, sociology, philosophy, education, cultural studies, health and social care, and other social sciences.

Our interests include disability, gender, trauma, abuse, counselling children and young people, and sexualities.

You can read more about our research interests and publications on our website:

Recent successful PhD topics have included:

  • how children express emotions in aesthetic arts curricula in primary schools
  • how suffering is transacted in therapeutic work with parents of children with disabilities; and
  • how people with anorexia recover through psychotherapy.

You will be assigned two supervisors with whom you will meet monthly. The second supervisor may be drawn from another discipline relevant to your research topic.

In the first year, you will attend epistemological and research methods courses.

You will also attend and contribute to counselling and psychotherapy research seminars and School research student seminars throughout your studies, including the annual Counselling and Psychotherapy Postgraduate Student Research Conference.

All students are encouraged to present their research at national and international conferences and to publish their research findings in relevant journals. You are also welcome to attend other selected courses in counselling and psychotherapy, as well as courses provided by other subject areas in the School, and in related disciplines across the University.

Studying at a world-class institution, you will benefit from outstanding resources to support your learning on this established and recognised programme.

We welcome PhD research proposals that reflect our epistemological and methodological ethos, including our commitment to produce practice-relevant knowledge in the field.

We are very happy to hear from potential PhD students before application to discuss your research ideas and to decide whether we would be able to support and supervise your research.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

If you completed a CAE or CPE before January 2015 please contact the Admissions Office for the accepted grades.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

  • Postgraduate Research Secretary
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3967
  • Email: health@ed.ac.uk
  • Postgraduate Research Admissions Secretary
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5144
  • Email: health@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Research Secretary
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3967
  • Email: health@ed.ac.uk
  • Postgraduate Research Admissions Secretary
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5144
  • Email: health@ed.ac.uk
  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG