Postgraduate study
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Counselling Studies MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Counselling Studies

The programme provides advanced academic study of counselling and psychotherapeutic practices and theories. It introduces students to non-directive, relational approaches, particularly within the psychodynamic and person-centred frameworks. Its aim is to connect theoretical learning with real-world issues and encourage critical reflection on counselling practice and theory in both professional and personal contexts.

This programme complements professional training in counselling by introducing key debates and professional issues in the field of counselling and psychotherapy to students from various backgrounds. It is firmly grounded in social science inquiry, addressing psychological conditions, social relations, and counselling practice with a focus on examining context and the complex interactions between the personal and the social. Please note that this programme may not be suitable for students seeking solution-focused, diagnostic, or behavioural approaches to psychological health.

The programme includes the professionally validated Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Studies, which offers skill development in active listening skills, three other substantive taught courses, and a dissertation within the field of counselling and psychotherapy.

It's important to note that this MSc programme is not a qualifying training programme and students are encouraged to align their career prospects with the professional legislation system of their home country.

Full professional training in counselling is available through advancing on to one of the following programmes:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling
  • Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue), a two-year full-time programme
  • Master of Counselling, a four-year part-time programme

Teaching and learning methods include lectures, theory seminars and independent study. Assessment is through essays and the dissertation.

The Postgraduate Certificate component involves experiential group work, practice-skills workshops and individual tutorials, with self and peer assessment and portfolio work, complementing essay-based assessment.

The programme provides a high level of student-tutor contact and close supervision of both listening practice and research, in line with professional and academic requirements.

The MSc in Counselling Studies provides:

  • in-depth knowledge of the theories informing counselling and psychotherapy;
  • social-science perspectives on debates about counselling and psychotherapy;
  • critical appreciation of the key debates, research methods and professional issues in counselling and related fields;
  • transferable interpersonal, conceptual and analytical skills, including critical thinking, self-evaluation and research.

Graduates of the MSc Counselling Studies use the degree in a variety of ways. For some it opens up employment opportunities in a range of fields, including education, policy, research and development on health and illness, emotional health and wellbeing, and counselling, often in combination with first degrees or other professional training.

The degree also enhances the career prospects of professionally qualified counsellors and practitioners. Many graduates use the MSc as a foundation for undertaking further specialist therapeutic training in the UK or abroad.

Others enhance their careers by using newly developed conceptual, analytical and research skills and may use the MSc to embark on doctoral research.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, or a UK 2:2 honours degree with a strong personal statement, relevant experience and/or references confirming your aptitude to study at postgraduate level.

You should demonstrate a high level of motivation through your personal statement, indicating why you wish to study counselling and demonstrating an understanding of counselling and the capacity to reflect on personal aptitude for work in this field.

We may also consider your application if you have professional qualifications equivalent to an honours degree; please contact us to check before you apply.

Students who have successfully completed a counselling qualification elsewhere which is equivalent to our Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Studies can apply for Entry with Advanced Standing to allow them to complete the MSc in Counselling Studies without having to undertake the Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Studies. Your existing qualification must carry 60 academic credits at Postgraduate level and should have covered similar content in order to be eligible. (Revised 01 April 2024 to add information on Entry with Advanced Standing.)

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 06 November 2023 21 December 2023
2 11 March 2024 25 April 2024
3 27 May 2024 27 June 2024

(Revised 19 October 2023 to update application deadlines and selection dates)

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

Further information

  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG