Course specification and structure
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RPPPFCOU - Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology

Course Specification


Validation status Validated
Highest award Professional Doctorate Level Doctoral
Possible interim awards Master of Science
Total credits for course 540
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 3 YEARS  
Part-time 4 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-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 and Care Professions Council (HCPC) 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 doctoral research 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. Competent, informed, reflective, ethical and professionally sound practitioners of counselling psychology; who are able to work in a range of settings, and committed to their own personal and professional development.

2. Able to understand, develop and apply models of advanced psychological inquiry and research that enable the creation of new knowledge and which recognise the complex nature of human experience and relationships

3. 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.

4. Possess a set of skills and competencies that are transferable to a variety of professional contexts and which enhance employability

5. Able to demonstrate the range of counselling psychology competencies needed to be eligible to apply for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Course learning outcomes

The following learning outcomes incorporate and depend on the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of [the discipline], and merit publication.

On successful completion of the DProf Counselling Psychology students will be able to:

1. underpin their work with a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge that is at the forefront of Counselling Psychology

2. conceptualise, design and implement a research project for the generation of new knowledge or understanding at the forefront of researching work and to adjust the research design in the light of unforeseen problems

3. apply on the basis of a detailed understanding, techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry

4. make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences

5. continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches

6. apply the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Code
PY7173
PY7174
PY7175
PY7176
PY7177
PY7164
PY7PB4
PY8PB7
PY8PB8
PY8PB6

Learning Outcomes LO1 - LO6

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 review 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;
• a research thesis to assess the student’s ability to conduct and write up a piece of doctoral level research that extends the forefront of the discipline and makes an original contribution; 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 three years of the (full time) programme, students must:

• Complete a minimum of 450 hours of supervised counselling psychology practice in at least two different placements, to be approved and supported by the Placement Coordinator, with at least 100 of the 450 hours completed in a non-specialist placement
• Gain a range of practice placement experience including work in more than modality of therapy, i.e. individual, couple, family or group work
• Undertake placements that will normally last for at least 6 months
• Complete a minimum of 60 hours of personal psychological therapy during the period of enrolment, of which at least 20 must be accrued by the end of year 1
• Receive a minimum of 64 hours of clinical supervision, of which at least 40 must be provided by a counselling psychologist.

Further details about practice placements and requirements are provided below in section 25.

Course specific regulations

i) Practice placement requirements
Students on the doctoral programme are required to complete 450 hours of supervised client-contact hours by the time they complete the course in order to meet BPS requirements. Practice placement work may only be undertaken whilst a student is enrolled on the course.

To meet Year 1 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, Year 1 students will require a minimum of 16 hours of supervision. Client and supervision hours during Year 1 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. Year 1 students on the part-time pathway can take two years to accumulate the required 80 client and 16 supervision hours. By the end of Year 2, students on the doctoral programme must have accrued a minimum of 250 client hours (maximum of 275) and, by the end of Year 3, the total of 450 must be secured. Once 100 client-contact hours have been accrued, the required supervision ratio for students on the doctoral programme becomes one hour of supervision to every eight hours of client contact time. This equates to a minimum of 64 hours of supervision over the duration of the programme.

Please read Course Handbook for the full text.

Modules required for interim awards

All of the course modules at Level 7 and 8 are core-compulsory and required for the award of Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology. Students who do not complete the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology may be eligible for the following awards:

MSc in Psychological Therapy
Students who pass all seven modules at Level 7 attaining 180 credits, but who do not go onto complete the doctoral programme, will be eligible for the award of MSc in Psychological Therapy.

Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Therapy
Students who pass six core modules at Level 7 and accrue 120 credits, but who do not successfully complete either the Research Project and Critical Skills or Advanced Research Design and Analysis for Psychology modules, will be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Therapy

Postgraduate Certificate in Psychological Therapy
Students who successfully complete the following three core modules at Level 7 accruing 60 credits will be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Psychological Therapy:

• Psychological Knowledge and Models of Therapy
• Therapeutic and Reflective Skills
• Counselling Psychology Practice and Development

Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Psychology Studies
Students who accrue 60 credits at Level 7 involving a combination of modules that differs from the above will be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Psychology Studies.

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’. 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; and future learning needs identified. The course aims to foster an ongoing commitment to personal and professional development in students.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

QAA descriptors, Levels 7 and 8

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Career opportunities for counselling psychologists include posts in a variety of areas. These include NHS settings, such as primary care, IAPT services, community mental health teams, drug and alcohol, rehabilitation, eating and personality disorder services, as well as the prison service, voluntary sector, private practice, academia, training, supervision, management and consultancy. Graduates from the programme frequently go into work in one or more of these areas. Some have gone onto provide practice placements, or to supervise or teaching students on the programme. The range of advanced clinical and research skills and abilities gained through the course prepare graduates to undertake work in a variety of fields of activity.

Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) accreditations & exemptions

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology leads to a doctoral qualification that automatically confers professional registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and accreditation as a fully qualified chartered counselling psychologist with the British Psychological Society.

Career opportunities

Career opportunities for counselling psychologists include posts in a variety of areas. These include National Health Service (NHS) settings such as primary care, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services, community mental health, drug and alcohol, rehabilitation, eating and personality disorder services, as well as the prison service, voluntary sector, private practice, academia, training, supervision, management and consultancy.

Graduates often find permanent employment within a few months post-qualification, with many trainees holding part-time clinical employment whilst they are in the final year of the training because their clinical skills and knowledge are of such a high standard. Other graduates from the programme have found work in academia in visiting or permanent teaching posts or as research fellows.

The range of advanced clinical and research skills and abilities gained through the course will prepare you to undertake work in a variety of fields.

Past students have even returned to London Met to supervise or teach students on the programme or provide practice placements.

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 satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

You will also need to submit a personal statement (maximum of 2,000 words) that shows:

  • 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)

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to the University for a clinical and research interview and a counselling role-play exercise.

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 with an overall score of 7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5 for each component or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) IBT with at least 110 and with a minimum of 26 in reading, and 28 in writing, speaking and reading). For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2013/14 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 01 Sep 2013 Last validation date 03 Sep 2013  
Sources of funding HE FUNDING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND
JACS codes C843 (Counselling Psychology): 100%
Route code PPFCOU

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

Stage 1 Level 07 January start Not currently offered

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

Stage 2 Level 08 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
PY8PB6 Advanced Psychological Research Core 160 NORTH AUT+SPR WED AM
          NORTH AUT+SPR THU PM
          NORTH AUT+SPR WED PM
          NORTH AUT+SPR THU AM
PY8PB7 Advanced Psychological Theory and Practice 1 Core 100 NORTH AUT+SPR THU AM
          NORTH AUT+SPR THU PM
PY8PB8 Advanced Psychological Theory and Practice 2 Core 100 NORTH AUT+SPR WED AM
          NORTH AUT+SPR WED PM