MA Counselling and Psychotherapy

Entry year
Course code
School of Social Sciences
3 years
Part-time, starting in September
Programme leader
Nicola Blunden

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 30 November 2023


Our course provides professional counselling training enabling you to register with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), so when you study with us, you can rest assured you'll get all you need to become the best psychotherapeutic counsellor you can be.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Why study Counselling and Psychotherapy?

Counselling and psychotherapy is a challenging but very rewarding career area. A career where you get to make a difference, to help people, and to change lives, including your own. As a qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor, you will provide support to people experiencing emotional difficulties by helping them to identify their issues and develop strategies to address them.

Working in hospitals, health centres and in private practice, psychotherapeutic counsellors support clients with a wide range of concerns including mental health issues, challenging physical conditions and life events, as well as managing difficult emotions.

Why UWE Bristol?

Building on the solid reputation of the diploma course, UWE Bristol's Master's in Counselling and Psychotherapy degree is a professional practice course that equips you for practice by qualifying as a competent, reflective practitioner, able to think critically and integrate theory with practice. The course has been created to support your development as a counsellor while at the same time integrating your professional practice with master's level academic study. The course includes taught modules, your own personal therapy throughout the training, clinical work and supervision, as well as a small research project.

You'll learn from an enthusiastic, supportive teaching team with a real passion for their subject and a wealth of experience across all aspects of counselling and psychotherapy. The team includes active researchers and authors, so your learning will be enriched by the latest in best practice.

Where can it take me?

The master's degree will equip you with all the knowledge and experience you'll need to fast track your career progression. Having experience of a period of extended work-based learning will allow you to deepen your clinical skills, become robust and resilient so you can cope with the complexity of the mental health issues you'll be presented with.

The demand for counsellors and psychotherapists is growing in the UK so you can expect your skills to be sought after. You'll have many exciting career opportunities open to you in a wide range of roles. You could work in the NHS, for private or voluntary sector employers, in church or faith-based organisations or college or university counselling settings, for example.



Year one

You will study:

  • Professional Practice. Professional Skills and Clinical Supervision - You'll learn about the practical application of relational counselling and psychotherapy skills, be introduced to counselling and psychotherapy supervision, and take part in counselling practice at a placement. 
  • Theory and Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy - You'll learn the principles which form the foundation for professional counselling practice, including examining key relational theoretical approaches within counselling and psychotherapy to understanding how psychological problems and distress develops.
  • Professional Practice - Personal Development - You'll learn key concepts in personal development and we'll focus on how internal and external worlds affect the therapeutic relationship including an advanced awareness of how unconscious processes affect therapy.

Year two (work based)

You will study:

  • Research Project - This module introduces a methodological pluralism that acknowledges a multifaceted and contextualised approach to research inquiry in counselling and psychotherapy. 
  • Evidencing Work-based Learning in Counselling and Psychotherapy - You'll be introduced to systemic approaches taking account of the impact and interactions between organisational structures, group dynamics and counselling practice, enabling you to apply this on your counselling placement.

Year three

You will study:

  • Professional Practice. Professional Skills and Clinical Supervision - You'll be supported to apply theoretical understanding and reflective process to professional practice, encouraging you to see supervision as an interpersonal process where understanding is facilitated and co-created through relationships.
  • Theory and Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy 2 - You'll examine more complex issues in counselling theory and practice. You'll develop a deeper understanding of client concerns, and learn how to assess the most appropriate counselling interventions.
  • Professional Practice - Personal Development - This module supports critical and empathic reflection, reflective practice, and personal and professional development. The emphasis is on deepening your awareness of the process of your Personal Development group.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you. 

Learning and Teaching

Our course is varied, flexible and interactive in its approach and provides a stimulating, supportive learning environment that enables you to develop skills in theoretical learning, personal and professional development, research, and to become an independent, self-directed and reflective learner. You'll develop the skills and personal attributes you'll need to establish and maintain positive and collaborative relationships with team members, colleagues and agencies.

Personal development and self-awareness form a key element of the training and the course adopts an Integrative Relational Approach, which integrates humanistic and relational psychodynamic concepts. You'll learn how to apply your learning in your clinical placement in a way that empowers you and your clients and while also maintaining high standards of anti-discriminatory practice appropriate to the pluralistic nature of society today. 

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms

Study time

The MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy is a three-year, part-time course requiring you to attend one day a week and spend a minimum of half a day per week on placement throughout the course along with allocating 15 hours per week towards individual study time. Additionally, you will have clinical supervision for at least 1.5 hours per month and at your own expense will be required to attend therapy yourself for an hour per week.


You will be assessed throughout the course. We'll make use of a variety of assessment methods including reflective essays, theoretical essays, presentations, recordings from client sessions and reflections, self, peer and tutor assessment, research, evidencing work-based learning, projects and a final viva.

See our full glossary of assessment terms


Professional accreditation

The course is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.


Going on placement is central to all aspects of your learning and this continues throughout the course. You will undertake two different counselling placements over the three-year training, allowing you to apply your knowledge and build your professional skills working in a real-world setting. The counselling courses at UWE Bristol have strong connections to local placement providers and we keep in touch with you through placement provider meetings and reports from placement supervisors. You will have great opportunities to learn about working with different client groups and individuals, and how to adapt to the policies and practices of particular organisations. Your placement experiences will put you in a strong position for future employment.

Study facilities

Based in the department for Health and Applied Sciences at Frenchay, you'll learn in our modern, well-equipped facilities both on campus and online. We have dedicated training and counselling practice rooms as well as video and audio recording equipment, so that you get to practice and reflect in a real-world setting. You'll also have access to our impressive library open 24/7 allowing you to study flexibly. Our virtual learning environment, Blackboard, enables you to engage online with study materials, students and staff. There is also plenty of learning and study skills support available.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources

Take a Virtual Tour of the Psychology, Sociology and Criminology facilities and see what's on offer here for you.


Postgraduate support

Our support includes access to fantastic facilities, study tools and career consultants, plus practical help to access everything from funding to childcare.


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Careers / Further study

Qualified counsellors are increasingly in demand across the UK and our graduates enter careers in a wide range of roles for the NHS, private and voluntary sector employers. Our master's course enhances your ability to practise at an advanced level. Counsellors may choose to specialise in diverse settings and specialisms, such as addiction, bereavement or relationships, or may work with clients on a range of issues. The qualification opens up a fascinating world of CPD possibilities, which will help you build on the training you've had.

Joining a professional body helps you to develop your professional credibility and career, provides access to resources and networks, and keeps you in touch with developments in the profession.

As you become more experienced, you may wish to develop further by training as a counselling supervisor. This is an important role where you help supervisees reflect on their work, develop their skills and maintain best practice standards.

Our course will bring you closer to the practice hours you need to gain individual professional accreditation.


Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information. 


Entry requirements

Please note, the application deadline for this course is 28th March, however we may close early due to high demand.

You'll be notified of the outcome of your application by 30th April, and if successful invited to interview during May/June.

It is essential that applicants have:

  • A Certificate in Counselling Skills (level 3 or above) which includes a minimum of 80 hours classroom-based teaching and training. Your qualification will need to have had a strong grounding in theory, experiential and personal development. Your Certificate must have been gained within the last 5 years.
  • An honours degree of 2:2 or above in any subject OR qualified practitioner status in a relevant profession. For example, teaching, nursing, social work.
  • Personal skills suited to working as a therapist.
  • The ability and strong commitment to follow a personally demanding part-time course.
  • Recent experience (within the last 12 months) of using Counselling Skills either in a paid or voluntary setting.

We also strongly recommend that you have had personal experience of counselling therapy before starting the course.

Your personal statement should state:

  • Your reasons for wishing to follow the course and the use to which it will be put.
  • Your understanding of what is meant by 'counselling'.
  • Any background education, personal experience (self-reflection), involvement or interest that is relevant to your application.
  • Any other relevant information (for example, any relevant experience in a counselling/helping setting).

We are unable to accept applications from people who require a student visa.

Visit us at one of our Open Events to get a real sense of our courses and life at UWE Bristol.

Health assessment/declaration

Applicants must be in good health. Those offered a place are required to complete a questionnaire and be prepared to undergo a medical examination if necessary.

Disclosure of Criminal Background

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply and all convictions, including those which are spent, must be disclosed. This is in accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. Applicants who are offered a place must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and will be required to complete a Disclosure Application Form. All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications.

For further information