Postgraduate study

Counselling Studies

Awards: MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Counselling Studies

The MSc by Research in Counselling Studies provides students with a comprehensive understanding of research design, data collection and data analysis for research in the field of counselling and psychotherapy.

It offers an advanced education to students interested in developing research skills, including qualified counselling and psychotherapy practitioners and social science researchers.

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:

You will complete a programme of research training courses and submit a dissertation on an approved topic. The MSc by Research can be taken as a stand-alone qualification or as a foundation for PhD study.

The programme aims to provide students with advanced understandings of research design, data collection and data analysis issues in counselling research.

The programme enables students to develop their understandings of debates about research, evidence and practice in relation to counselling and related practices.

Distinctive features of this degree include:

  • integration of generic social science and discipline-specific counselling research training
  • social science approaches to research training in counselling
  • close links with social science research concerned with counselling and society
  • close links with social science research concerned with health, illness and health services

The degree may be taken as a free-standing MSc or as a foundation for PhD studies. Candidates must complete a programme of research training courses and submit a dissertation on an approved topic.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning methods include lectures, theory seminars, discussion groups and independent study.

Assessment is through essays and the dissertation.

Individual courses may have other learning and assessment methods such as student presentations, research projects and web-based learning.

Learning outcomes

The programme provides research training in counselling, opportunities to design research, a research-based appreciation of key elements of counselling practice, a critical appreciation of approaches to research in counselling and psychotherapy, and the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries.

Candidates should possess either:

  • an undergraduate degree or equivalent in social science, psychology or health studies;
  • any undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and a professional qualification in counselling or psychotherapy.

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 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 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