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Advanced Counselling Theory and Research (MA)

Through a blend of online delivery and on-campus teaching, the MA Advanced Counselling Theory and Research offers a unique non-practice Masters qualification for individuals with an already existing practice qualification or who wish to pursue a theory-based Masters.

The MA Advanced Counselling Theory and Research will provide you with a critical understanding of the role of research and theory in understanding and improving mental health and supporting human flourishing. A strong focus of this programme is the development of a range of independent research skills and critical awareness of related ethical issues within the field of counselling.


Full-time (18 months) and part-time intakes are available, with each intake starting in October. There is an opportunity to take a Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma exit awards.

Book an Open Day Request Information
Contact Email: ruth.groff@uwtsd.ac.uk
Contact Name: Ruth M Groff

Tuition Fees 2023/24:
Home: £7,800

Why choose this course?

  1. This is a unique non practice-based MA programme in the field of counselling.
  2. Staff teaching on this module are research active and active counselling practitioners.
  3. Strong professional focus with Personal Development Planning and mentoring throughout the programme.
  4. Opportunity to tailor assessments and research dissertation to your own specific interests.
  5. Small cohorts ensure a personalised learning experience.

What you will learn

Course Overview

This MA has been designed to develop your higher level knowledge of cutting edge counselling theory alongside applied research skills.

Exploring contemporary developments in counselling, ethical and professional debates, and advanced research methods, this course is designed so that you can shape your learning to best benefit you. There are a core set of compulsory modules and then a choice of two additional optional modules.

The MA in Advanced Counselling Theory & Research will provide you with a critical understanding of the role of research and theory in understanding and improving mental health and supporting human flourishing. A strong focus of this programme is the development of a range of independent research skills and critical awareness of related ethical issues within the field of counselling.

The programme is taught by accredited counsellors and research active staff, with expertise in counselling, understanding human behaviour, and advanced research methods within the counselling and psychology field.

Module Topics

Level 7

Part 1: PG Diploma

Contemporary Counselling Theory (30 credits; compulsory)

You will learn to critically consider the theoretical basis and evidence base for the therapeutic approaches to supporting different populations and a critical understanding of how to communicate specialist knowledge to non-expert audiences. Using cutting edge developments in the field of counselling you will be able to apply the key skills of critical appraisal and understanding.

Advanced Research Methods in Counselling (30 credits; compulsory)

This module focuses on developing practical research skills and an understanding of ethical issues within the counselling field. You will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience of preparing and applying research materials to small scale studies. You will develop an understanding of how to plan and design research and deciding on the appropriate methods for the counselling field. 

Human Flourishing & Resilience (30 credits; optional)

This module focuses on the understanding of human flourishing and encourages self-reflection on personal resilience, self-care and wellbeing. You will gain a critical understanding of the theoretical approaches to understanding human flourishing, how to identify, develop, and evaluate appropriate interventions to enhance resilience and flourishing as well as understanding the associated ethical considerations. You will engage in reflection about your own strategies for coping and building resilience.

Professional Research Skills (30 credits; optional)

This module provides the opportunity to work as a part of a professional research team to design and conduct a real life research study. You will develop practical research skills such as; questionnaire and scale development, experimental task creation, interview/focus group skills, data protocols and applied research ethics.

Ethical and Professional Challenges (30 credits; optional)

In this module, you will explore the range of ethical challenges and debates within the field of applied psychology and counselling. The BPS, BACP and NHS ethical frameworks will be explored to help develop a critical understanding of the role of ethics in applied research.

Behaviour Change in Context (30 credits; optional)

This module focuses on developing a critical understanding of the science underpinning behaviour change. Focusing on the individual, societal and global factors that influence human social and health behaviours. You will consider real world issues and explore potential causes and solutions to these at an individual, societal and global level.

Part 2: MA

Applied Research Dissertation (60 credits; compulsory)

Following successful completion of Part 1, all students will be required to complete their own independent research project through the 60 credit Applied Research Dissertation in Part 2.


The modules will be assessed using a range of assessment formats. There are no exams, instead each format focuses on a written or oral element. Each written element showcases different styles of academic writing and designed to encourage critical thinking and self-reflection. The skills demonstrated in the various assessment formats are directly relevant to a broad range of applied research professions and beyond.

  • Systematic Review
  • Briefing Paper
  • Professional Presentation
  • Practical Skills Assessment
  • Reflective Essay
  • Portfolio of competencies
  • Research proposal
  • Research papers

Related Links

Key Information

Entry Criteria

This programme is open to individuals with a background in counselling. Entry criteria is normally a 2.1 honours degree, but we may consider a good 2.2 honours degree (with a strong research dissertation).  Whilst we may consider applications from those with a background in a closely related area, due to the nature of this programme this would depend upon an assessment of academic writing and psychological research skills.

Career Opportunities

This programme is not a practice or skills-based programme.  It is designed for those already qualified as counsellors to engage in professional development and research, or for those wishing to pursue an academic career in the area.

Additional Costs

You may be offered the opportunity to attend a relevant conference or external event and if so you may be expected to contribute to the costs involved.

Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. Visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section to find out more.

Further Information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions related to the University or to this course in particular.