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MSc Advanced Psychotherapy and Counselling Studies

Advance your knowledge and skills in theory, research, and practice at the cutting edge of psychotherapy and counselling .


Professional development for practitioners

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Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree (2:1 classification indicative) or postgraduate degree in a relevant area

Where the undergraduate degree has not included counselling training, a counselling qualification to Level 4 minimum will usually be required.

An interview is required.

International students will be expected to meet the English language requirements of IELTS 6.5 in each category (or equivalent).

UCAS code Apply direct to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

Duration 1 Year Full-Time or 2 Years Part-Time

Any questions about postgraduate study at Marjon?

Contact Rachel Bailey-Lewis, our Student Recruitment Officer (Postgraduate).

Course Summary

MSc Advanced Psychotherapy and Counselling Studies offers psychotherapists and counsellors the opportunity to advance their knowledge, understanding, and skill in the theory, research, and practice of psychotherapy and counselling by engaging with the cutting edge of the discipline.

Students engage with advanced philosophical, psychological, and counselling theory underpinning practice, and they engage with contemporary research to support evidence-based practice. They also engage with advanced skills practice relating to relational depth, working with young people, and working with difference and diversity such as through engaging with gender, race, and sexual orientation considerations.

As professional development, the programme aims to support students in upskilling and advancing their knowledge, understanding, intellectual skills, and practical skills, and therefore improve the quality of their practice. Further, the consistent research focus throughout the programme will support students in preparing for postgraduate research opportunities such as a PhD.

Why this course at Marjon?

Visit the "cutting edge" of psychotherapy, counselling, and psychology

Learn from experienced and highly skilled psychotherapists

Complement practical training with study of the underpinning theory and research

Small class sizes enable teaching and feedback to be personalised to the needs and career aspirations of students

Study the newest theory and research that can support high quality counselling practice

Become a evidence-based critical-thinker who is well prepared for the workplace and a lifelong learner

Modules for this course

1st Year

Research in psychotherapy: consumption and production
You will learn to be both a 'consumer' and 'producer' of research. Through studying the research process, you will learn how to use research in your practice, and how to conduct professionally-relevant research to answer interesting and novel research questions.
Philosophy and practice in psychotherapy and counselling
You will critically reflect on your own philosophy of practice, thinking about how you want to practise and how your own beliefs and values influence your choice of theoretical framework.
Relational depth in psychotherapy and counselling
Learn about 'relational depth', the deep connection that can be present between a counsellor and client within their therapeutic relationship. Learn about how it is experienced by the client and therapist, and how it can be nurtured.
Psychotherapy and Counselling with Young People
Learn about the theory and practice of counselling young people. The module engages with: legal and ethical frameworks; child protection and safeguarding; developmental needs of young people; young people practice settings (e.g., health and social care services, school, education settings); working with transitions in education; and mental health, emotional wellbeing, and interpersonal issues in young people.
Psychology and counselling
Learn about contemporary research findings from different areas of psychology (e.g., social, developmental), and how they can inform your evidence-based practice.
Working with difference and diversity
You will engage with topics such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, age, and class. You will critically think about how these apply to counselling and to your own life more broadly.
Empirical project in psychotherapy and counselling
With a research supervisor, you will complete a substantial piece of research on a self-chosen counselling topic of your interest. These could be quantitative or qualitative, and they could include profession-specific reflective studies or case studies.

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

What's the newest research on psychotherapy and counselling, and how can it improve my practice?

What does Psychology offer those working in counselling and other helping professions?

How can I build relational depth with my clients?

How do theoretical approaches to psychotherapy and counselling align with my own beliefs and values? How does theory enable me to become an effective professional?

What are the considerations and skills for counselling young people?

How can my own research answer questions currently unanswered in psychotherapy and counselling?

What might you become?

This course aims to upskill those who are already trained in counselling and/or psychotherapy, to further develop your skills and knowledge for your existing practice. 

The transferrable nature of counselling and psychotherapy theory and practice means that you might also use your advanced skills and knowledge in other helping professions. 

The consistent research focus of the course also supports students who wish to go on to complete a PhD or professional doctorate.

Please note: This course does not qualify you become a counsellor/psychotherapist. Those who wish to become a qualified practitioner should explore our MPsy Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling.


How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Students are taught using a combination of lectures, seminars, practical work, group work, and independent study, with the goal of developing a range of skills and knowledge through an engaging learning experience. You will also be taught using experiential and skills-based activities, such as triad practice, drawing upon your existing counselling training, and in accordance with a counselling/psychotherapy ethical framework (e.g., BACP, NCS, BPS etc.)

How will you be assessed?

Similarly varied, using a combination of coursework, group work, presentations, and practical work.


Dr Alister McCormick

Course leader

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Alister is a registered Practitioner Psychologist (HCPC) who teaches psychology and its applications to counselling, sport, exercise, and health. He is passionate about teaching psychology and counselling in an evidence-based way so that your practice is based on the latest research and is ethical, informed, and effective.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £8,000 per annum

Fees for International students: £14,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Additional costs:

This degree is likely to impact upon you at a personal level. There is an ethical duty to aspire to be psychologically self-aware. A free counselling service is available or you may opt to pay for private personal therapy.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

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Your schedule

Our counselling degrees attract students who have work, family, and caring responsibilites outside of university. To support our students, we set a fixed timetable where you are on campus for teaching on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

You might then complete two to three days (or part-time equivalent) of reading, studying, and assessment work flexibly in your own time, around your other commitments. Our mature students speak very highly of this timetabling model. As counselling is a practical, skills-based profession, most of our teaching needs in-person attendance.

Course location(s):

Main campus at Plymouth Marjon University


Anne Bentley


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Dr Lucy Cooper


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Lucy has clinical experience is in supporting students within Higher Education as a Counsellor/Psychotherapist, a Specialist Mental Health Mentor, and in other Student Support and Welfare roles. She has worked in a variety of mental health charities and services as a counsellor or service manager. Her research focus is student mental health spanning measures perfectionism, anxiety, worry, resilience, wellbeing and social media use in students. 

Juliana Hopkins


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Juliana is a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and currently works in private practice alongside this lecturing role.

Carina Robertson

Lecturer in Psychology

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Frequently asked questions

Q1   What are the best things about this degree?

How theory, research, and practice complement each other. We teach you to engage with the theory and research behind skills work, as well as provide practical training that is built upon theory and research. Our courses also have small group sizes, which allows us to really get to know our students.

Q2   What is the best thing about Marjon?

The close and caring community of staff and students, and the awesome location as is close to the moors, the city, and the sea.

Q3   Is this degree accredited?

No. Please ask the course leader who interviews you about course accreditation and individual accreditation, so that we can discuss them with you.

Q4   I'm a mature student and I've not been in education for years. Can I do this?

Our counselling courses tend to be diverse and attract a lot of mature students, which supports us in having an inclusive teaching environment. Lots of students haven't studied for a while either, and we provide additional academic skills support when you need it.

Q5   Is there a placement?

No. There isn't a placement in this Master's, though you can choose to work part-time alongside your studies.

Q6   What does the interview involve?

Think of the interview as a conversation about the course, its academic, professional and ethical demands, and your readiness to complete the course at this particular time. It’s not intended to be intimidating, but instead to provide an opportunity for us to assess your readiness and for you to think carefully about whether it is the right course for you, at the right time. We’ll send you more information about the interviews when you apply. We’re also happy to have an informal chat with you about the interview in advance.

Apply now for this course


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