Course specification and structure
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PMPSYTHE - MSc Psychological Therapy

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Science Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Advanced Diploma in Professional Development
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Social Sciences
Subject Area Psychology
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning

The learning outcomes of the course cover a wide range of personal, intellectual, professional, clinical and academic competencies, which reflect the standards of proficiency required of counselling psychologists laid out by the Health Professions Council (HPC) and British Psychological Society (BPS). This is reflected in the course’s teaching and learning strategy, which utilises a range of methods to support student development and provide ongoing feedback. Lectures are used to present core areas of knowledge and theory. Discussion and debate encourage students to engage with complex ideas and develop their critical abilities. In-class exercises, demonstrations and workshops provide opportunities for students to observe and practice relevant clinical and research skills and techniques, and to think about professional and ethical issues. Supervised counselling psychology practice provides a key context in which students can then learn to apply theory and skills in their practice, and develop proficiency in a range of professional competencies under the tutelage of an experienced practitioner, in a variety of settings. Reflective practice groups enable students to discuss personal experiences of translating theory into practice and to develop a deeper awareness of therapeutic processes. Personal therapy supports students’ personal development, and self-reflective skills and capacities. Research supervision supports the development of students’ competencies in counselling psychology research and the successful execution of their MSc projects. Annual individual reviews and appraisals provide opportunities for staff and students to monitor evaluate and feedback on development. Weblearn is used to provide a readily accessible range of additional resources and information for students, which support autonomous self-directed learning. The University’s library service also provides a range of texts, journals and resources to support advanced scholarly activity. This includes an expanding number of e-books and e-journals, as well as inter-library loans, which enable students to order texts and articles for collection from the University library from other libraries across the UK. Students also have access to a dedicated Psychology Subject Librarian, who can provide one-to-one support and tutorials, for example on relevant research databases and academic software. The University’s campus and libraries also provide extensive access to computing, photocopying and IT facilities, including on-site Wi-Fi.

Course aims

The principle aims of the course are to produce graduates who are:

  1. Able to understand, develop and apply at a basic level models of psychological inquiry and research that enable the creation of new knowledge and which recognise the complex nature of human experience and relationships
  2. Able to adopt a questioning and evaluative approach to the philosophy, practice, research and theory that constitutes counselling psychology; and aware of the wider social, cultural and political domains within which counselling psychology operates.
  3. Possess a set of skills and competencies that are transferable to a variety of professional contexts and which enhance employability
  4. Able to demonstrate the range of counselling psychology competencies needed to be eligible to apply for doctoral level training in counselling psychology, which would lead to eligibility for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Course learning outcomes

A. Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of the programme students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate basic knowledge of the various philosophical, psychological and research knowledge bases that underpin the discipline of counselling psychology.
  2. Demonstrate an elementary understanding of the theory and practice of cognitive-behavioural therapy, as well as rudimentary knowledge of psychodynamic and person-centred approaches to counselling psychology.
  3. Demonstrate awareness of the ethical, contextual, power and discourse issues inherent in therapeutic relationships and practice, and an ability reflect how one would work with these from a counselling psychology perspective.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of a variety of psychological research methods; and an ability to argue the of use one form of data collection and analysis with a critical understanding of the potential implications that the suggested method and application could have on the participants sample and potential data.
  5. Demonstrate an awareness of the relevance of self and personal development issues in clinical and academic contexts, and an elementary understanding of how to work effectively with these issues in practice.

B. Cognitive intellectual skills

On completing the programme, students will be able to demonstrate cognitive and intellectual skills, as reflected in their ability to:

  1. Critically evaluate a range of philosophical, theoretical, practice and research perspectives
  2. Appraise the status of knowledge in a topic area of relevance to counselling psychology; and develop, present and defend original research proposals that if pursued would extend the forefront of the discipline and makes a contribution to knowledge.
  3. Reflect on the subjective processes inherent in therapeutic and professional relationships, working with difference and diversity, the production of psychological research and knowledge, and their own learning and development.

C. Practical skills.

By the end of the programme, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a range of practical and professional skills that support the provision of cognitive behavioural therapy as practiced within a counselling psychology philosophy.
  2. Practice safely and competently within a cognitive behavioural model of therapy, while using an awareness of other theoretical perspectives, including psychodynamic and person centred, to enhance practice, reflection and evaluation
  3. Critically evaluate a range of types of research relevant to counselling psychology in a way that informs and develops professional practice

D. Transferable skills, including those of employability and professional practice.
By the end of the MSc programme, students are expected to have developed a set of transferable skills that enhance employability by enabling them to:

  1. Work as a member of a service team within a mental health provision context, including the capacity to work within consultative, supervisory or managerial roles.
  2. Communicate and present information, ideas and conclusions, in written and oral forms.
  3. Evaluate and offer observations about psychological theory, research and practice.
  4. Reflect on subjective, interpersonal, therapeutic, organisational and social processes in a sophisticated manner.
  5. Conduct a critical literature review and research proposal on original research that, if pursued to doctoral level would make a valued contribution to psychological theory, practice, service evaluation and development in a variety of professional contexts
  6. Demonstrate standards of professionalism, integrity and self-management; and a commitment to ongoing personal development in the service of best practice.

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Psychology [
bject-benchmark-statement-Psychology.pdf [To gain
understanding of the L7 awards and relevant guidance]

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy used on the course combines a variety of methods that reflect the range of professional competencies and experience that students develop on the programme. This includes:

  • case studies and process reports to assess students’ ability to effectively plan, implement, reflect on, evaluate and make recommendations regarding psychological interventions, within a recognised model of therapy and service context;
  • essays and examinations to assess areas of professional knowledge and understanding;
  • practice placement competency evaluations to rate the level of proficiency attained by students in their placement work;
  • mid-year reviews and end-of-year appraisals to monitor students’ performance across the programme and their accrual of the necessary experience;
  • research assignments to assess knowledge and understanding of a range psychological research methods;
  • a reflexive critical literature and proposal to assess students’ ability to appraise the state of knowledge in a professionally relevant topic area and design a coherent research study for the generation of new knowledge; and
  • attendance monitoring to ensure that students demonstrate adequate engagement with the taught curriculum

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Counselling psychology practice placements are central to the training programme, providing the key context in which students learning to translate theory into practice and develop proficiency in the range of competencies needed for independent practice. Specifically, over the MSc programme, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 80 and maximum of 100 hours of supervised counselling psychology practice in a placement, to be approved and supported by the Placement Coordinator, ideally in a non-specialist placement
  • Undertake placements that will normally last for at least 6 months
  • Complete a minimum of 20 hours of personal psychological therapy during one year if FT or 2 years if PT or modular mode of study.
  • Receive a minimum 16 hours of supervision (minimum frequency 1 hour of supervision for 5 client hours), half of which must be with an HCPC registered counselling psychologist.

Further details about practice placements and requirements are provided below in section 30.

Course specific regulations

Practice placement requirements
Students on the doctoral programme are required to complete a minimum of 80 and maximum of 100 hours of supervised client-contact hours by the time they complete the course. Practice placement work may only be undertaken whilst a student is enrolled on the course.

To meet the MSc course requirements students must complete a minimum of 80 (and maximum of 100) hours of supervised client hours, at a ratio of one hour of supervision to every five hours of client contact time. Accordingly, MSc students will require a minimum of 16 hours of supervision. Client and supervision hours during that year can be obtained at one placement or across multiple placements. If adequate supervision is not provided by the placement provider, the student will need to obtain additional external supervision. The MSc students on the part-time pathway can take two years to accumulate the required 80 client and 16 supervision hours.

It is expected that students will undertake the majority of their client-contact hours in that year engaged in individual work with adults (persons aged 17 years or more). However, students are able to count the following alternative forms and amounts of client-contact towards the course requirements:

a) A maximum of 20 hours of appropriately supervised child and/or adolescent work OR
b) A maximum of 20 hours of appropriately supervised couples, family or group work.

It is further required that students on the doctoral programme:

  • Undertake placements that will normally last for at least 6 months
  • Have received at least 8 of the total 16 hours of required clinical supervision from an HPC registered counselling psychologist or chartered psychologists with full membership of the BPS Division of Counselling Psychology

Additional requirements regarding the accumulation of client and supervision hours for all students:

  • In order to count client-contact hours towards course requirements, students must be in the role of therapist/facilitator, not observer
  • Where only group supervision is provided within a placement, students may need to obtain additional individual supervision to ensure the required supervision – client hours ratio is met
  • When a student receives supervision in a group, each supervisee will be deemed to have received a pro rata portion of the supervision time that was provided within the session. For example, in a two hour supervision session involving a group of 4 supervisees, each individual supervisee would be able to count having had 30 minutes of supervision.
  • No time can be counted towards course requirements where clients do not attend (DNA) sessions.
  • Client and supervision hours must be face to face only.

Supervisor approval requirements
All practice placement supervisors need to be formally approved by the programme’s placement co-ordinator via completion of a Supervisor Agreement form before the placement arrangements can be approved and the trainee can begin to count client hours accrued in the setting. The criteria for approving practice placement supervisors are as follows.

  • It is a BPS requirement that students receive the majority of their practice supervision with a counselling psychologist; other kinds of therapeutic practitioners can be approved as practice placement supervisors, where they are registered with a professional or statutory body which has a code of ethics, and accreditation and disciplinary/complaints procedures.

Examples of forms of therapist accreditation that are normally considered acceptable include:

  • HPC registered Counselling Psychologist or Clinical Psychologist and/or full members of the BPS Division of Counselling and/or Clinical Psychology
  • BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) fully accredited counsellor or psychotherapist
  • BABCP (British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists) fully accredited psychotherapist
  • UKCP (United Kingdom of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) registered psychotherapist
  • Supervisors should be appropriately experienced and have a minimum of two years post-qualification clinical experience, ideally with prior training and/or experience in providing supervision.
  • Supervisors must be engaged in their own supervision.
  • Supervisors must have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions of the supervision agreement

If a supervisor is participating in the programme for the first time, a brief CV will need to be attached to the supervision agreement form along with a photocopy of their current practising certificate. It is the trainee’s responsibility to ensure these documents are supplied. Supervisor approval cannot be given without this documentation.

Any proposed change of supervisor during a placement is subject to the Placement Coordinator’s approval and this possibility should be discussed with the Placement Coordinator at the earliest opportunity. In this instance, a new supervision agreement will need to be completed.

Placement approval requirements
Approval of placements is formalised via completion of a Placement Agreement form. Students cannot start counting clinical hours completed in a placement setting until the Placement Co-ordinator has received and signed off the following documents:

  • A Placement Agreement Form
  • A Supervision Agreement Form

Although it is the trainee’s responsibility to ensure that these forms are completed and approved prior to commencing client work, placement providers should oversee the completion of these forms, particularly the Placement Agreement form, which includes sections that refer to placement policies and procedures, as well as health and safety. The basic procedure for gaining approval for the placement and supervisor is as follows:

  1. The Placement Line Manager signs the Placement Agreement Form and the clinical supervisor the Supervision Agreement Form
  2. The trainee ensures that all sections of the Placement Agreement Form and Supervision Agreement Form are completed, and then returns them to the Placement Coordinator at London Metropolitan University for approval. Forms not fully completed will be returned to trainees without approval.
  3. Trainees will be notified of approval status and given completed documentation with signed approval. From this point they can begin counting clinical hours in the placement.

Psychological models of therapy requirements
Trainees are able to gain experience of practicing within a range of psychological models of therapy in their placements and this is regarded as beneficial to their clinical development, as well as to the range of clients they may work with. However, given the programme’s emphasis on the development of competence in cognitive behavioural therapy, and because the assessment is based on cognitive –behavioural knowledge, students are strongly advised to seek a placement where they can practice within this modality.

Coursework requirements
Coursework will fail if the appropriate consent forms are not submitted with the assessment or the submission is not within the specified word limits. It is the student’s responsibility to encypt the device carrying the audio file(s) and ensure that all audio files submitted are clearly audible and must be playable on university computers. If they are not, the coursework will not be marked and automatically fail. Students must obtain consent from clients to use material for coursework purposes.

Insurance and DBS requirements
All students must ensure they have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover in place before they undertake a practice placement, and have an up to date DBS check. Where a student is completing a practice placement within an organisation in which they are formally employed, individual professional indemnity insurance is still required, as some of their practice may take place outside of normal working hours. No client or supervision hours can be completed before the student has submitted evidence of appropriate insurance cover (e.g. a policy statement) to the Placements Coordinator. This is a requirement for placement approval.

BPS Division of Counselling Psychology membership requirement
MSc students must submit to the University evidence of in-training membership of the BPS Division of Counselling Psychology to by the time of their mid-year review at the latest.

Personal therapy requirements
Students must complete a total of 20 hours of personal therapy with an HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist. A minimum of 20 therapy hours must be completed by the end of the year.

An appropriately qualified therapist is defined as one who is registered with a professional or statutory body which has a code of ethics, and accreditation and disciplinary/complaints procedures. Examples of forms of therapist accreditation that are normally considered acceptable include:

  • HPC registered Counselling Psychologist or Clinical Psychologist and/or full members of the BPS Division of Counselling and/or Clinical Psychology
  • BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) fully accredited counsellor or psychotherapist
  • BABCP (British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists) fully accredited psychotherapist<

Modules required for interim awards

All of the course modules at Level 7 are core-compulsory and required for the award of the MSc in Psychological Therapy. Students who do not complete the MSc in Psychological Therapy may be eligible for the following awards

Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Therapy
Students who pass six core modules at Level 7 and accrue 120 credits, but who do not successfully complete the Research Project and Critical Skills assessment can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Therapy.

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The concepts of reflective learning, practice and personal development are important components of the professional identity of counselling psychology, and as such form key features of the course. Developing skills in reflecting on practice are integrated into the curriculum, for example in ‘reflective practice groups’ (Module PY7177). Many of the forms of coursework used on the programme include sections in which students are required to reflect on their learning and identify future development needs. This process is also formalised within annual individual reviews and appraisals between students and staff, through which progress is formally monitored and evaluated.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

Career guidance and information is available to students through the admissions guidance for prospective applicants; support and advice from staff during the programme, e.g. in the context of individual mid-year reviews and end-of-year appraisals; teaching on preparing for independent practice; the University careers department; and professional body information.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

The programme benefits from established links with a variety of practice placement providers in the UK and Southeast of England.

Career opportunities

Graduates of this course gain the skills and experience for career development in roles as assistant psychologists, mental health practitioners, psychotherapists or counsellors.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society
  • a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree in Psychology
  • practical experience of using counselling skills in an emotionally demanding helping role gained over at least one year prior to application and ideally some training in counselling skills
  • a level of professional and theoretical understanding adequate to support work in practice placements with vulnerable clients from the beginning of the programme
  • evidence of personal maturity, self-awareness and reflective capacity
  • a clear and appropriate rationale for wanting to train as a counselling psychologist
  • evidence of a realistic appreciation of and capacity to undertake professional training and research at postgraduate level
  • research interests relevant to the field of counselling psychology and an ability to think about how these could be developed into a viable research project (applicants for the doctoral programme must submit a short draft research proposal)

All successful candidates undergo a selection interview with a panel from the programme team.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2014/15 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 01 Sep 2014 Last validation date 01 Sep 2014  
JACS codes C810 (Applied Psychology): 100%
Route code PSYTHE

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
PY7164 Advanced Research Design and Analysis for Psych... Core 20 NORTH AUT WED AM
PY7173 Psychological Knowledge and Models of Therapy Core 20 NORTH AUT+SPR THU AM
PY7174 Therapeutic and Reflective Skills Core 20 NORTH AUT+SPR THU PM
PY7175 Professional and Ethical Issues Core 20 NORTH SPR WED AM
PY7176 Working with Difference and Diversity Core 20 NORTH SPR WED PM
PY7177 Counselling Psychology Practice and Development Core 20 NORTH AUT+SPR THU PM
PY7PB4 Research Project and Critical Skills Core 60 NORTH AUT+SPR WED PM