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International and Cross-Cultural Counselling Studies MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities


This programme equips students with critical perspectives and cultural awareness in relation to counselling and psychotherapy practice in our increasingly globalised and diverse world. Counselling and psychotherapy are growing in popularity across the globe; however, not enough attention has been paid to how this discipline might work in differing contexts and with diverse populations.

As a primarily Western area of study, there are inherent biases and cultural viewpoints present in this field. In this programme students will be encouraged to question the colonial, ethnocentric, and heteronormative assumptions that underlie many psychotherapeutic practices. Drawing on contemporary perspectives, post/de-colonial approaches, and social theory, students will challenge traditional discourses of suffering and healing.

Staff members in the programme come from different parts of the world and bring with them both their diverse lived experiences and academic and professional credentials to foster a climate of dialogue and encounter with difference. Interdisciplinary, arts-based, experiential, and embodied pedagogic and research practices are integral to the programme.

The programme will engage with critical perspectives and psychosocial approaches to Counselling Studies, drawing on theories from within psychotherapy as well as from other disciplines within social sciences, cultural studies and philosophy. Further, the programme will offer students the flexibility to engage with a wide variety of optional courses to tailor and enrich their learning for both professional and research endeavours.

Students will be trained in qualitative, creative and relational approaches to research and inquiry. Exploring and working with different research paradigms, they will examine approaches that resist the established rigidity in research practice. The course will culminate with the undertaking of an original research project.

This MSc is not a full professional practice training in counselling and psychotherapy. The latter is offered through the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue), two years full-time, or the Master of Counselling, four years part-time, or the Doctor of Psychotherapy and Counselling, which may be taken full-time or part-time.

Teaching and learning methods include lectures, theory seminars, experiential group work, practice-skills workshops, research supervision and independent study. Assessment is through essays, presentations and the research dissertation.

The programme involves four compulsory courses, two option courses and the research dissertation. The compulsory courses are:

  • Counselling Across Borders
  • Decolonising Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Counselling across languages and cultures
  • Between Counselling and Research 1: Approaches, Issues and Debates (L12)

There are a wide range of options from Counselling and Psychotherapy, Global Mental Health Studies and other relevant disciplines. They include practice, theory and research courses. Options from Counselling and Psychotherapy include:

  • Queering Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Rethinking subjectivity in practice and research
  • Counselling Children and Young People
  • Creative Therapies with Children and Young People
  • Body Talk: Embodiment, Physical Dialogue and Authentic Movement
  • Autoethnographic Research Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Humanities and Arts-informed Research Methods in the Social Sciences

By engaging with, and completing, the MSc in International and Cross-cultural Counselling Studies graduates will be able to:

  • Respond to the changing social and political contexts and policy environments of counselling and mental health care whilst retaining proactivity and flexible thinking
  • Critically explore how their personal history, difference, intersectionality and diversity emerge, influence and are worked with in helping relationships with others
  • Recognise and exercise their ethical responsibilities as human beings, citizens, professionals and scholars in the context of global social injustice
  • Conceptualise problems, issues and debates from both therapeutic and critical social science perspectives
  • Critically assess established professional assumptions about counselling, health and society
  • Absorb new ideas from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and be able to work with them creatively
  • Critically assess existing understanding with reference to the socio-cultural and disciplinary contexts in which knowledge and research are produced
  • Recognise and challenge the epistemological and methodological foundations and limitations of existing research

Graduates of the MSc in International and Cross-Cultural 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 by introducing them to new ways of thinking about practice, research and understanding the needs of diverse client groups. 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.

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

Your personal statement should demonstrate a high level of motivation. It should indicate why you want to study counselling and demonstrate an understanding of the relevance of international and cross-cultural perspectives in counselling and the capacity to reflect on personal aptitude for work in this field.

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.
  • 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScInternational and Cross-cultural Counselling Studies1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScInternational and Cross-cultural Counselling Studies2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

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:

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Elsie Inglis Quad
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 July 2024

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit one reference with your application.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

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

Further information

  • School of Health in Social Science
  • Elsie Inglis Quad
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG