Programme Specification for Professional Doctorate Counselling Psychology


Final award

Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology

Intermediate awards available


Mode of Delivery

UEL on Campus full time

Details of professional body accreditation

Regulatory Body HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council)

BPS (British Psychological Society)

Relevant QAA Benchmark statements


UEL Academic School


Date specification last up-dated

December 2014


Alternative locations for studying this programme


Which elements?

Taught by UEL staff

Taught by local staff

Method of Delivery







The summary - programme advertising leaflet

Programme content

Grounded in the standards for Doctoral programmes in Counselling Psychology, BPS and HCPC requirements, our programme has three main principles; critical thinking, relational perspectives and integration. These three principles underpin our approach to research and therapeutic work, and its relevance to contemporary clinical contexts. Hence, we propose that completion of this programme produces flexible, insightful, ethical and competent practitioners.

The critical position here at UEL embodies the idea that psychological process needs to be positioned within the historical and current social, political and cultural contexts that affect Counselling Psychology research and practice. The principles of psychological thinking and epistemology form the foundation of training and prepare trainees to coherently integrate evidence based theory and research both within their clinical practice on placements and in their own research study.  Trainees’ learning as researchers and clinicians will run in parallel and will be consistently reflected upon and linked throughout the programme. 

Trainees study human development across the lifespan with a focus on issues of diversity, difference, community, the impact of inequality, discrimination and social justice. As well as working with adults, there are substantial optional opportunities to gain experience of working with children and families and or other specialist work contexts across the lifespan. Trainees will have a theoretical and practical understanding of clinical assessment and formulation, treatment planning and evaluation, supervision and consultation.  Clinical practice is informed by an integrative approach, drawing on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic concepts, and its relevance to a range of client groups and contexts. There is a focus on a ‘relational perspective' within theoretical models in Counselling Psychology, and trainees are expected to value and engage in reflective practice through continuing personal development and further training, supervision and personal therapy. In summary, the programme will produce practitioners who have developed a strong identity as a Counselling Psychologist, who are responsible, holding themselves accountable to the public and the profession for their personal integrity and fitness to practise. This identity will be informed by an inquisitive, ethical, reflexive and critical standpoint. Graduates will be able to clearly articulate their identity through a process of reflexive learning both as a researcher and as a clinician, and be able to demonstrate their application of this through leadership, consultation, supervision, service audit and evaluation. These aims are achieved through an academic curriculum of 9 core modules and an independent research thesis over the three years of the programme.

Counselling Psychology at UEL

  • Integration of clinical and research work for working in a range of contexts
  • Comprehensive placement experience in a diverse range of contexts across the life span (including children and families)
  • Experiential learning and a wide range of support systems
  • Working with difference and diversity across clinical and research topics
  • Direct links between academic and placement learning
  • Focus on placement learning within the local community, we have close links with a range of placement providers in East London. Minimum of 2 days placement study
  • Individually tailored clinical support for placement to enhance employability in a range of roles in private, public and third sectors
  • Opportunities to work toward BABCP accreditation
  • Research supervisory teams provided internally, offering both clinical and academic expertise on a range of subjects
  • The programme operates within a large department of other psychology academics and professional doctorates who contribute to the programme
  • The programme team are highly experienced professional clinicians who are actively involved in research and clinical work

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

This is a three year fulltime programme, successful completion of all components leads to a Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC and Chartership with the British Psychological Society. The admissions procedure involves an online application. At least two members of academic staff will review each application before a decision is made to invite an applicant for an interview, which involves a number of different exercises and individual interviews. Please note: You will be required to provide two references, one academic and one from a clinical or related work setting. It is your responsibility to ensure that your referees receive the correct form and instructions for completion.

At UEL we are committed to working together to build a learning community founded on equality of opportunity - a learning community which celebrates the rich diversity of our student and staff populations. Discriminatory behaviour has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. Within a spirit of respecting difference, our equality and diversity policies promise fair treatment and equality of opportunity for all. In pursuing this aim, we want people applying for a place at UEL to feel valued and know that the process and experience will be transparent and fair and no one will be refused access on the grounds of any protected characteristic stated in the Equality Act 2010.

Admissions Criteria:


Applicants must meet the requirements of the HCPC Programme’s admissions criteria

  • A good honours degree in psychology (trainees normally have a 1st or 2:1) which confers Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society
  • Ability and experience of conducting independent research
  • Prior training in counselling skills and or other relevant therapeutic training, e.g. that offered by NHS IAPT programmes such as for psychological well-being practitioners; or counselling training undertaken as a health or social care worker
  • Relevant work and or voluntary experience in a mental health setting (NHS or other). This must be face-to-face and more than ‘befriending’.
  • Be academically able to succeed at doctoral level
  • Post-admission successful completion of enhanced DBS check

Personal Qualities:

  • Demonstrate a capacity for self-reflection and be open to feedback from others
  • Be open to, and respectful of, diverse perspectives, whilst showing awareness of the impact of prejudice and inequality.
  • A commitment to ongoing self-development and reflective practice
  • Demonstrate good interpersonal skills and sensitivity towards others
  • Have sufficient maturity and robustness to cope with the demands of working with vulnerable client groups

Where English is not the applicant’s first language, a minimum IELTS Academic English, or such qualifications as our University deems comparable, score of 7.0 overall, with a minimum of 6.5 in all components, is required at entry.  Such assessment of English language competence must normally have been undertaken no more than two years prior to application, though relevant and more recent study in a United Kingdom Higher Education Institution may be accepted as sufficient proof of ability.

Applicants with either prior-certified learning or prior-experiential learning that closely matches the specified learning outcomes of the taught part of the programme may be able to claim exemption via agreed university procedures. Students who apply to enter later stages of the programme may be admitted through normal Accreditation of Experiential Learning (AEL) or Accreditation of Certificated Learning (ACL) processes, or through an approved articulation agreement. Therefore such applicants must be able to demonstrate and evidence that they have the required learning outcomes as listed in the modules for which they are seeking exemption. Previous experience considered relevant for AEL or ACL must be gained from a Counselling Psychology Programme that is accredited by the BPS and approved by the HCPC. References will be requested from the previous University. Year of entry will depend on relevant learning outcomes being met on a prior Counselling Psychology programme.

International qualifications will be checked for appropriate matriculation to UK Higher Education postgraduate programmes.

No exemption can be claimed against the research part of the programme or in situations where a professional body has excluded a person. No exemption can be claimed against elements of other training programmes that were failed by that programme. 

Equality and Diversity

The University of East London is home to one of the most diverse student and staff bodies in the country, with some 60% of our students and over 20% of our staff coming from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Our Charter for Inclusivity states:

"We are committed to working together to build a learning community founded on equality of opportunity - a learning community which celebrates the rich diversity of our student and staff populations. Discriminatory behaviour has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. Within a spirit of respecting difference, our equality and diversity policies promise equal treatment and opportunity for all regardless of gender, sexuality, race, colour, disability, religion, age, and ethnic or national origin. We call on all members of our community to make a personal commitment to these aims”.

Our admission process has been devised in accordance with UEL’s Equalities policies covering equal opportunity, disability, race, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. It is UEL policy that in the recruitment, selection, education and assessment of students the only consideration must be that the individual meets, or is likely to meet the requirements of the programme. The requirements being met, no student will be discriminated against on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality (within current legislation), disability, marital status, caring or parental responsibilities, age, or beliefs on matters such as religion and politics.

We therefore aim to recruit, within a transparent admissions process a diverse cohort each year and welcome applications irrespective of age, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. The School of Psychology is wheelchair accessible and applications from people with disabilities are welcomed. It is our policy to encourage potential applicants from underrepresented groups within the profession. Helpful relevant information is also contained in the Health Care Professions Council publication: A disabled person's guide to becoming a health professional.

Essential requirements for Admission (post interview)

Enhanced DBS Check

In accordance with the UEL policy, admission to the programme will be dependent on an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check, and/or clearance from the relevant overseas authorities. A fee has to be paid by the student for this enhanced DBS check. Applicants are unable to undertake placements until a disclosure has been received. Please note that this applies to all applicants, including those who have a DBS check from their present employment.  You may also be required to have a further DBS check carried out by your placement setting.

Where a criminal conviction is disclosed, consultation will take place with the Field Leader and the Dean of School (Psychology) to consider if the conviction might affect the applicant’s ability to meet the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. In addition, confidential consultation would take place with members of the Programme Operations Committee who represent placement providers to see whether or not the conviction has implications for the applicant's ability to meet the Health Profession Councils Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. Applicants can access the DBS policy and university equality and diversity information to help them with their application process (for DBS information

Health Requirement: Fitness to practise:

On successful completion of all aspects of the programme graduates will be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. However, entry to the register is not guaranteed. Prior to submitting your application, we would strongly advise you to read the HCPC documents on registering with the HCPC and would draw your attention to the ‘Guidance for Health and Character’ document (see Counselling Psychology trainees are expected to act professionally and adhere to ethical guidelines at all times both on placement and whilst attending University. At interview applicants will be asked whether they have any health issues that they wish to declare and whether they are willing to engage in experiential work which forms part of the training.

The role of the HCPC is to protect the public, consequently, as part of the application process you will be asked to disclose any relevant health or character issues and or criminal convictions. The HCPC expect all (potential) registrants to take responsibility for managing their own fitness to practice, it is therefore important that you tell us about any existing difficulties that you have prior to starting your training so that we can best support and advise you. Having a disability does not in itself exclude students from pursuing a career as a Counselling Psychologist. You will be required to complete a Health questionnaire prior to starting the programme and expected to tell us about any changes to your physical and mental health and CRB status during your training.  Failure to disclose relevant information which subsequently comes to light, may have implications for the successful completion of placements, the training and registration with the HCPC.

All offers are also subject to the UEL’s General Conditions for Entry. Full details of which will be provided with the offer letter from registry. These conditions include the requirement that a student must comply with UEL’s registration procedure, must observe its statutes and regulations and must provide original evidence of qualification.


Programme structure

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is a three year full time programme.  All modules and the research thesis are core and compulsory. All components of the programme need to be completed to achieve Doctoral status and to become eligible for Chartership with the British Psychological Society and eligibility to apply for registration with the Health Care and Professions Council. There are taught components, individual study, and research and placement activities. Attendance is one to two days a week with further blocks of intensive teaching throughout the year. Students are expected to be on placement 2 days a week from the beginning of each academic year (September) until the end of August. We have good links with many placement providers and offer support with securing trainee placements, however, we do not guarantee placements and expect trainees to also be proactive in finding their own placements.

Learning environment

The Programme involves a variety of learning methods: The learning outcomes are achieved through:-

  • Lectures, seminars and workshops led by the tutor team and outside specialists
  • Problem based learning in small groups
  • Supervised practice on placement
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Role play
  • Experiential group work
  • Clinical discussion groups
  • Personal therapy/development work
  • Independent and directed reading
  • Completion of assessed assignments including clinical papers and the personal and professional development log; research thesis, supervised practice on placements; clinical and research presentations.  


Professional placements

It should be noted that although many therapeutic contexts vary in their model of service delivery, their emphasis and methods of learning and assessment are expected to meet the BPS Standards and the HCPC’s Standards of Proficiency. Trainees are required to evidence 450 hours of supervised practice by the end of their training. Graduates placement portfolio will include at least two adult mental health and one other specialist placement across the lifespan, such as children and young people or other specialist contexts. Placements are agreed and monitored through regular communication with the named supervisor and placement manager, clinical tutors and placement tutor where relevant. Contracts and learning outcomes are agreed, set and assessed by the placement and the University. All placements need to be agreed upon by the programme team prior to any hours being recorded. Adherence to the HCPC ‘Standards of Proficiency’ is  closely monitored and assessed over the three year programme with further learning opportunities specifically offered, if required, to ensure proficiencies are developed. Training and support is provided by the programme team for placement supervision and placement assessment.


Programme Fees

When considering the feasibility of undertaking the training, applicants are made aware of the costs involved and advised to look on the University website where the programme fees are advertised They are made aware that the fee is set annually and subject to an inflationary increase each year. 

Applicants are also reminded at interview and when offered a place on the programme that they will also incur extra costs during their training. These include personal indemnity insurance, supervision, BPS and DCoP membership and the requirement to complete personal therapy across the three years of the programme.

Supervision and Personal Therapy

Supervision provided by the NHS is usually free of charge.  Trainees are required to have the majority of their client work supervised by a Counselling Psychologist who is at least two years post qualification. In some contexts supervision is not available and this will need to be sought externally. Trainees will be required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of personal therapy from a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who has been qualified for a minimum of two years. We do not recommend therapists, however, these can be easily located on the DCoP register. The cost of supervision and personal therapy can vary, although many Chartered/Registered Counselling Psychologists will offer reduced rates for Counselling Psychologists in training.   Information about possible costs can be located on the BPS website.

Professional indemnity Insurance

You must have professional indemnity insurance; this is a condition of enrolment on the programme and is to safeguard trainees, clients and placements.  It is a requirement that trainees take out personal liability insurance in addition to that provided by their placement. The costs for insurance will depend on the cover chosen.  Further details relating to insurance can be obtained from the programme team.


BPS and DCoP membership

You are expected to become a member of the DCoP and retain your BPS membership. Rates are reduced for trainees, please see BPS website for details.


The assessment approach considered most appropriate for this subject area is one of continuous assessment.  It is our view that this method of assessment prepares trainees to meet the minimum standards of our professional body and the programme learning outcomes, whilst, at the same time, facilitate individual personal growth, recognising existing strengths and identifying areas for development.

The more specific aim of our approach is two-fold; it seeks not only to assess students' progress but also to encourage and foster achievement of high standards of performance in both practice and theory.  Accordingly, it seeks to promote and evaluate both students' academic development and their practical ability to react positively and proactively to the needs of clients in a variety of settings and to respond constructively to societal change within the framework of professional requirements.

There are no examinations. Assessment is ongoing throughout the year, designed to test student progress in developing powers of perception, recall, critical analysis, reflection, flexibility, and creative imagination and to assess personal growth.  It is intended to be progressive, both encouraging and reflecting an increasing depth of critical understanding and the continuing development of essential professional expertise and attitudes. Assessment includes; critical essays, case studies, process reports, group and individual case presentations, professional practice logs and the research thesis. You will be expected to acquire and evidence 450 hours of one-to-one supervised clinical practice by the end of your training. All components of the programme including the research thesis need to be passed in order to be awarded and to become eligible to apply for registration with the BPS and HCPC. All modules are level 8. In line with university regulations, there are two opportunities to pass the relevant assignments for each level 8 module. Students who fail a module at the final opportunity will be required to leave the programme. Trainees are expected to attend all organised classes. If attendance drops below 75%, they will have been deemed to have withdrawn from the programme.

Students with disabilities and/or particular learning needs are advised to discuss with the Programme Leader how these may impact on their ability to complete the required programme assessments, to ensure they are able to fully engage with all assessments within the programme.

All modules are core to the programme. All modules are D Level and thre are two opportunities to pass the module assessment. To obtain the degree of Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, all components of the assessment procedure in all three years must be passed. This is the only qualification which will allow the student to register with the Health and Care Professions Council and practice as a Counselling Psychologist. 

Relevance to work/profession

With a focus on widening employability opportunities, all aspects of the programme are specifically designed to optimise work based skills. The programme has close links with contemporary developments and role changes for Counselling Psychologists in the workplace. All assignments have direct relevance to placement learning. The Doctoral research thesis must have direct relevance to the development of a specific body of knowledge in Counselling Psychology.

Research/project work

Trainees are given the opportunity in the first year to develop the necessary critical thinking skills to support the development of research ideas, with relevant assignments to support this learning. There are corresponding lectures, group and individual tutorials, and workshops to assist with the development of research ideas and skills which culminates in the presentation of the research proposal at the start of year two. All students will be allocated an internal research supervisory team. Students must adhere to UEL ethical procedure for research and the UEL Code of Practice for post graduate Research. Registration of the research component can only take place following a recommendation from the relevant School Research Degrees Sub-Committee of the suitability of the candidate to undertake research. These approvals require appropriate academic judgement to be brought to bear on the viability of each research proposal. 

Once the research has been registered, progression will be formally reviewed annually in accordance with University regulations. These include annual reviews conducted by a panel comprised of staff with appropriate academic and professional expertise who are independent of the candidate’s supervisory team.  The School Research Degrees Sub-Committee and the university Research Degrees Subcommittee monitor the reports from these Panels. The examination of the research component of the Professional Doctorate has two stages: firstly the submission and preliminary assessment of the research; and secondly its defence by oral examination.

The research thesis will comprise of a 22,000 word research project and a related 8,000 word clinical integration essay which demonstrates the trainees’ integration of their epistemological perspective, development of their position on clinical work and research findings. The thesis presented will total 30,000 words (+/- 10%). 

Added value

You will study in a School of Psychology which trains chartered, clinical, occupational, education and other careers psychologists, with a large child development research group.

  • Highly professionally experienced tutor team, comprising of Counselling Psychologists
  • Opportunity to learn a range of therapeutic skills
  • Opportunities for placements across the lifespan, including children and families
  • Opportunities to develop skills in leadership, consultation and supervision
  • Range of placement opportunities
  • Good record of graduate employability
  • Focus on student support and student experience
  • Individually developed learning plans and regular progress reviews

The programme has ongoing approval from the HCPC statutory registration requirement for professional practice as a Counselling Psychologist in the UK

Your future career

The Counselling Psychology Programme at the University of East London has a strong emphasis on employability. This programme will prepare trainees to work in a range of public sector settings, including NHS, health and social care, community services, organisational, forensic and third sector settings.

This is an applied professional programme, completion of which leads to eligibility for chartered psychologist status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (please note: completion of the programme does not automatically mean registration with the HCPC).

The programme is accredited by the BPS and approved by the HCPC. 

Many trainees use their work place as one of their clinical placement, however, this needs to be individually agreed with the placement tutor

The programme allows trainees to apply for paid work as trainee Counselling Psychologists as they continue to work towards full chartered Counselling Psychologist status and registration with the HCPC.

Opportunities are available to work toward BABCP accreditation

How we support you

Trainees are fully supported in both their research and clinical development. Links are consistently made between the research and clinical components of the programme to forge integration. Trainees receive regular individual and group supervision for their research.

The Graduate School is responsible for providing support to our postgraduate research students and for our institution’s research and scholarly strategy.

Professional Doctorate students will have at least two and not normally more than three supervisors, who together demonstrate an appropriate range of academic and professional experience.  One supervisor shall be the Director of Studies with responsibility to supervise the candidate on a regular and frequent basis. The supervisory team will comprise of at least one clinical and one academic tutor.

Each trainee will have a clinical tutor who will monitor the trainee’s overall development through regular tutorials, progress reviews and placement reviews.  Progress is also monitored through clinical consultation and support groups. There is also a mentoring system for trainees.


Bonus factor

Strong links with placements and local community settings and contexts.


Programme aims and learning outcomes

What is this programme designed to achieve?

This programme is designed to give you the opportunity to:

  • Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the scientist practitioner model and its application to a range of theories and practices across the lifespan, whilst appreciating the significance of wider social, cultural, spiritual, political and economic domains within which Counselling Psychology operates.
  • Develop skills in assessment, formulation, planning and implementing interventions, consultation, supervision, service evaluation outcome and effectiveness
  • Develop competencies in integrative approaches to psychological therapy through models of cognitive behaviour therapy, and psychodynamic principles
  • Foreground a ‘relational perspective' within theoretical models in Counselling Psychology by valuing the interpretative, personal and collaborative aspects in clinical work
  • Undertake and critically engage with and develop original research at Doctoral level for the creation of new knowledge relevant to Counselling Psychology, with an awareness to the inherent tensions of integrating theory and research into clinical practice.
  • In line with HCPC and BPS regulations, exercise professional judgment and duty of care, including self- management, fitness to practise, personal conduct and ensuring safety within placements and client work

What will you learn?

A candidate who is awarded a Professional Doctorate will be expected to have achieved the following learning outcomes:

Created and interpreted new knowledge, through original research, or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, which extends the forefront of the discipline and merits publication;

Systematically acquired an understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice;

The general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, application or understanding at the forefront of the discipline and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;

A detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry;

Ability to 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:

Ability to 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;

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.


K1 critical appreciation of the epistemological underpinnings of the theories and research paradigms in Counselling Psychology

K2 depth and systematic understanding of assessment, formulation and interventions, alongside, theories and debates in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and psychodynamic theory and practice

K3 relevant dimensions of designing and conducting empirical projects at doctoral level that demonstrate the relationship between clinical issues, research theory and data

K4 critical understanding of the social, cognitive, biological underpinnings of human development across the lifespan and the significance of wider social, cultural, spiritual, political and economic domains within which Counselling Psychology operates

K5 relevant principles of integrating psychotherapeutic theory, psychological research and supervision in clinical practice, while retaining a sufficient grasp of their differences and the dilemmas implied by such differences

K6 evaluate the role of the therapeutic relationship and relational ideas in different models of therapy

Thinking skills

TS1 critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate the evidence base, in terms of research and practice, for applied professional practice in Counselling Psychology

TS2 to systematically make informed critical judgements on factors affecting human development taking into account intra and interpersonal issues within social and cultural frameworks

TS3 critically reflect on personal and professional development and learning in response to clinical work

TS4 critically reflect upon and synthesise accounts of clinical and research experience from a variety of sources, and establish connections between them

TS5 make professional judgments about the appropriateness of therapeutic interventions taking into account the evidence base and the ethical, social, political and cultural issues surrounding such interventions

Subject-Based Practical skills

SP1 use appropriate skills in supervision, consultation and leadership

SP2 demonstrate skills in evidence based assessment, formulation and treatment planning

SP3 communicate ideas in different genres and for different audiences: clinical papers and reports, essays, group and clinical presentations, and a major research thesis; to peers and other professionals, in writing and orally

SP4 act professionally and in accordance with ethical propriety following guidelines of HCPC and BPS

SP5 produce reasoned and structured accounts of reflective practice in Counselling Psychology identifying professional and personal development needs

SP6 conduct evidence based assessment, formulation, treatment planning and evaluation of clinical work meeting the individual needs of the client

Skills for life and work (general skills)

GS1 present clinical and research evidence in support of arguments and analysis

GS2 produce reasoned and structured arguments orally and in writing

GS3 use information technology effectively for clinical and research purposes

GS4 work effectively with a group as a leader or member, able to negotiate and manage conflict

GS5 analyse, integrate and communicate complex information and be able to communicate this meaningfully to individuals and groups

GS6 manage self-learning and continuous personal and professional development: plan time, act autonomously and make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations, seeking help where necessary.

GS7 engage confidently in academic and professional communications with other, reporting on action clearly, autonomously and competently

GS8 have a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development


The programme structure


All programmes are credit-rated to help you understand the amount and level of study that is needed.

One credit is equal to 10 hours of directed study time (this includes everything you do e.g. lecture, seminar and private study).

Credits are assigned to one of 5 levels:

3              equivalent in standard to GCE 'A' level and is intended to prepare students for year one of an undergraduate degree programme

4              equivalent in standard to the first year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

5              equivalent in standard to the second year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

6              equivalent in standard to the third year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

7              equivalent in standard to a Masters degree

8              equivalent in standard to a Doctorate degree

Credit rating

The overall credit rating for this programme is 540 credits for the Professional Doctorate. 

Typical duration

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is a 3 year full time programme


The normal minimum and maximum periods of registration for a Professional Doctorate are as follows:

                                                               Minimum                            Maximum


Full-time                                              18 months                           48 months

How the teaching year is divided

The teaching year is divided into 3 semesters

The teaching year begins in September and ends in August

What you will study when

The programme runs for 3 years full time. Level 8 modules run across all 3 years


UEL Module


Module Title




8   (Year 1)



Professional practice in counselling psychology 1.     




8  (Year 1)


Introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy               



8  (Year 1)


Integrating theory, research and practice 1.           



8  (Year 2)


Professional practice in counselling psychology 2



8  (Year 2)


Perspectives on research



8  (Year 2)


Integrating theory, research and practice 2.



8  (Year 2)


Professional practice in counselling psychology 3 




8  (Year 3)


Supervision, consultation and leadership  




8  (Year 3)


Integrating theory, research and practice 3   




8 (across year 2 and 3)

Research Thesis/portfolio commences at the start of year 2 for submission in semester 3 year 3

22, 000 words thesis combined with 8, 000 words integration essay

120 (not modular)


Total credits





*Please Note - A core module for a programme is a module which a student must have passed (i.e. been awarded credit) in order to achieve the relevant named award. An optional module for a programme is a module selected from a range of modules available on the programme.

Requirements for gaining an award

Please note: The programme does not include named exit awards for ‘Counselling Psychology’. To be recognised by the professional bodies you need to complete all components of the 3 year full time programme, including the research thesis. However, there are unnamed University credited exit awards available

To exit with a Postgraduate Associate Certificate you will need to obtain 30 credits at Level 8

To exit with a Postgraduate Certificate, you will need to obtain 60 credits at Level 8

To exit with a Postgraduate Diploma, you will need to obtain 120 credits at Level 8

Further Information

All modules are core and must be passed, together with the thesis in order to be eligible for the award


Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching and learning

Knowledge, Thinking Skills, Practical Skills, and Skills for Life and Work are developed through


Lectures, seminars and workshops led by the tutor team and outside specialists

Problem based learning in small groups

Supervised practice on placement

Individual and group tutorials and progress reviews

Independent and directed reading


Personal development work

Completion of essays and reflective personal and professional development log

A research thesis


Knowledge is developed through:

  • Critical academic papers
  • Process reports
  • Group/individual presentations
  • Research proposal and presentation
  • Research thesis and integration paper
  • Personal and Professional placement log 


Thinking skills are developed through

  • Critical academic papers/clinical papers and reports
  • Group/individual presentations
  • Research proposal and presentation
  • Research thesis and integration paper


Practical skills are developed through

  • Process reports
  • Case presentations
  • Case study
  • Personal and professional placement log


Skills for life and work (general skills) are developed through

  • Process report
  • Group and individual presentations
  • Case study
  • Personal and professional placement log


How we assure the quality of this programme

Before this programme started

Before this programme started, the following was checked:

  • there would be enough qualified staff to teach the programme;
  • adequate resources would be in place;
  • the overall aims and objectives were appropriate;
  • the content of the programme met national benchmark requirements;
  • the programme met any professional/statutory body requirements;
  • the proposal met other internal quality criteria covering a range of issues such as admissions policy, teaching, learning  and assessment strategy and student support mechanisms.

This is done through a process of programme approval which involves consulting academic experts including some subject specialists from other institutions.

How we monitor the quality of this programme

The quality of this programme is monitored each year through evaluating:

  • external examiner reports (considering quality and standards);
  • statistical information (considering issues such as the pass rate);
  • student feedback.

Drawing on this and other information, programme teams undertake the annual Review and Enhancement Process which is co-ordinated at School level and includes student participation. The process is monitored by the Quality and Standards Committee.

Once every six years an in-depth review of the whole field is undertaken by a panel that includes at least two external subject specialists.  The panel considers documents, looks at student work, speaks to current and former students and speaks to staff before drawing its conclusions.  The result is a report highlighting good practice and identifying areas where action is needed.

The role of the programme committee

This programme has a programme committee comprising all relevant teaching staff, student representatives and others who make a contribution towards the effective operation of the programme (e.g. library/technician staff).  The committee has responsibilities for the quality of the programme. It provides input into the operation of the Review and Enhancement Process and proposes changes to improve quality.  The programme committee plays a critical role in the quality assurance procedures.

The role of external examiners

The standard of this programme is monitored by at least one external examiner.  External examiners have two primary responsibilities:

  • To ensure the standard of the programme;
  • To ensure that justice is done to individual students.

External examiners fulfil these responsibilities in a variety of ways including:

  • Approving exam papers/assignments;
  • Attending assessment boards;
  • Reviewing samples of student work and moderating marks;
  • Ensuring that regulations are followed;
  • Providing feedback through an annual report that enables us to make improvements for the future.

The external examiner reports for this programme are located on the UEL virtual learning environment (Moodle) on the School noticeboard under the section entitled ‘External Examiner Reports & Responses’.  You can also view a list of the external examiners for the UEL School by clicking on the link below:

Listening to the views of students

The following methods for gaining student feedback are used on this programme:

  •  Module evaluations
  • Student representation on programme committees (meeting 2 times  year per year group)
  • Student/Staff consultative committee (meeting monthly)

 Students are notified of the action taken through:

  •  Circulating the minutes of the programme committee
  • Regular meetings with trainees and year reps

Listening to the views of others

The following methods are used for gaining the views of other interested parties:

  • Regular meetings with Placements and supervisors including mid placement reviews
  • Trainee feedback on modules and placements
  • Regular liaison with professional bodies


Further Information

Where you can find further information

Further information about this programme is available from:

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