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PGDip Counselling and Psychotherapy

Course overview

Start date

September 2021

Subject area

Counselling and wellbeing




On campus, dual delivery

Course summary

This long-established and hugely popular course is fully accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

It is designed to provide training in an integrative approach to counselling and psychotherapy. It will enable you to develop your own synthesis within a framework which is not tied to a particular theoretical school or perspective. We follow current research into what actually works in counselling and psychotherapy, which means we use an integrative approach, employing a variety of techniques to respond to the needs and preferences of individual clients.

Typically, students on this course will have first degrees in other subjects, and they may be employed either part-time or full-time. 

You may be working in health, social care or education – but you don’t have to be.

This course (two years for the Diploma) is ideally suited to those with a part-time job, although it can also work for those with full-time commitments. The basis of study for the Postgraduate Diploma is one afternoon/evening per week.

The two-year Postgraduate Diploma allows you to practice as a BACP registered counsellor.  Completion of the diploma confers automatic entry to the MA Counselling and Psychotherapy final year which is a popular choice for our students. (Only the Masters is eligible for a student loan from SFE.)

The Postgraduate Diploma entails completing 100 hours of supervised work, which will be undertaken on a placement which you have to secure for yourself. However, the School has established links with  many agencies and practices where our students have worked over the years.

You may take these skills back into your workplace, use them for a change of career, or develop your own specialist practice.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

Get in touch

Accredited by the BACP

Accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) since 1990, the longest running BACP accredited programme in the UK.

Focused on therapy

This programme is founded on a secure evidence base for what works in therapy, rather than any particular modality or theoretical school

A Different Approach

We have a strong emphasis on skills and the development of a collaborative therapeutic relationship, where the client is actively involved in developing the goals of their therapy, the ways their issues are conceptualised, and the approaches used. 


What we're researching

UEL’s School of Psychology was ranked equal first in the country in terms of the impact of its research, beating Oxford and Cambridge.

The Research Excellence Framework is a six-yearly review by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

In 2014, it rated 43 per cent of our research as ‘internationally excellent’ and a further 25 per cent as ‘world-leading’ – the highest accolade. It added that UEL’s School of Psychology was one of only four in the country whose research had a ‘100 per cent impact’ at the highest level.

Dr Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa researches the understanding of psychosocial wellbeing in the context of complex multi-dimensional problems such as addictions, trauma, migration or social change.

Dr Tim Lomas has explored the impact of meditation on men’s wellbeing, using a mixed-methods design comprising narrative interviews, cognitive testing, and EEG measurement.

Dr Christian van Nieuwerburgh is an internationally recognised academic and consultant whose ground-breaking research concerns his specialist area of coaching and mentoring, in which he conducts numerous international collaborations.

Dr Kate Hefferon’s work was the first to link participation in physical activity with post-traumatic growth. She has conducted several evaluation studies on the role of physical activity during and following breast cancer.

Among last year’s publications by Principal Lecturer Donald Ridley, who is a specialist in organisational development in the public sector in the former Soviet Union, are Safety management - the lessons of experience and The unspeakable and the sublime - the relationship between Stalin and Shostakovich.

Over the past few years Dr Aneta Tunariu has delivered psychological interventions in the UK and abroad working with disenfranchised young people to foster the development of positive identities, emotional resourcing and positive future perspectives.

Currently, Dr Tunariu is engaged in projects focusing on individual capacity for growth and resilience as a means of      combating the risk of young people adopting radical belief systems.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

How you'll learn

Please note: teaching takes place over two academic years on a part-time basis, one day a week, which remains the same for the two years you are with us (plus three Saturday workshops each academic year). The cohort for 2020 will meet at the Stratford Campus on either Wednesdays or Thursdays. 

There is no facility to complete this course full-time.  Because we are BACP accredited, the course must be completed in full and we do not accept any prior qualifications gained in counselling and psychotherapy.  However, that experience may well strengthen your application.

If you decide to stay on for the third-year MA top-up, it is over one calendar year, part-time. You will have your own academic supervisor.

Once you have passed assessments in the first term you will be eligible to secure a placement and start recording hours of supervised client work.

If you have not reached 100 hours before the end of your second year, you have another year to make up the total in order to qualify for your diploma.

A maximum group total of 25 students in years one and two and 20 in year three will ensure you will benefit from an excellent student/tutor ratio.

Our teaching team have extensive clinical experience and have written and published widely. Several have or still do contribute to the work of BACP committees.

You will develop your practical skills in our suite of six on-campus interview rooms with video recording and playback equipment. There is an emphasis on working in groups and the programme contains regular interactive structured exercises.

Other modes of learning include workshops, lectures, clinical supervision groups, personal therapy, individual tutorials, self-directed private study and assessed written assignments.

“Current research shows that the theoretical approach is by no means the most important thing in counselling and psychotherapy,” says Course Leader Gordon Jinks. “It’s about responding to the individual needs of the client sitting in front of you.”

Who will teach on this course

Gordon Jinks

The teaching team includes qualified academics, practitioners and industry experts as guest speakers. Full details of the academics will be provided in the student handbook and module guides.

Fees and funding

Apply for a 50 per cent discount on your tuition fees! You can get a 50 per cent discount on course fees through a UEL Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to full-time and part-time UK and EU students of taught postgraduate courses. *Exclusions apply.

Find out more about full eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Terms and conditions apply.

How we can help you

Did you know that with a postgraduate qualification you can expect to earn more than someone who only holds an undergraduate degree?

If you want to build new skills, change career paths, or further your career prospects, a postgraduate degree can help you. Our range of scholarships and bursaries will make financing your education that much easier. Below is some of the funding available to support you in your studies:

Terms and conditions apply.

Below are some ideas on how to fund your postgraduate study:
There are a number of ways you can pay your fees to UEL
•    Online payment facilities
•    By telephone
•    In person at our Docklands or Stratford campus
•    Bank transfer
Full information on making payments can be found here
If you wish to discuss payments to the University, please contact our Income Team on 020 8223 2974 or you can email

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees

Per 30 credit module

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations. Further information can be found at UKCISA

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

We recommend all students looking to get funding through a student loan from SFE, apply for the MA programme. The Postgraduate Diploma is awarded after two years and constitutes the first two years of the full MA.  Successful Diploma students can continue to a third year of study and achieve their Masters degree.  Some students are happy to leave after two years with their Diploma.  However, it is not possible to get funding for the Diploma, so if funding is desired, apply for the Masters.

As part of the Tier 4 student visa requirements, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) estimate that you will need £1,265* per month to cover your living costs. It includes expenses for accommodation, food and drink, travel within London, text books, entertainment, clothing, toiletries and laundry. Most Tier 4 students are required to show they have sufficient funds to cover the first nine months of the course before they start- a total of £11,385- in addition to the tuition fees. You can find more information about the specific requirements of the Tier 4 student visa here. The amount that you will spend can vary depending on your lifestyle. The UKCISA International Student Calculator can help you plan and manage your money.

* Please note the Immigration Rules are subject to change and this figure is likely to be increased by UKVI year on year. Please therefore check our ISA page for more information at the time of preparing your visa application.

Deposits and paying by instalments

International students are required to pay a deposit prior to being issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Your remaining balance will be paid in five monthly instalments over your first term. The first of these instalments must be paid when completing your enrolment on arrival at UEL. Please follow the payment instructions here.

After the required payment has been made, you will be asked to complete the online International Student Reply Form to confirm your acceptance of our offer and of our terms of admittance and fees policy.

Our International team at UEL are available for advice and guidance on studying in London, fees, scholarships and visa requirements.


Tuition fees

Per 30 credit module

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations. Further information can be found at UKCISA

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.1 Honours in any discipline

We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. 


(Including European Union)


Applicants must have relevant clinical experience and the ability for self-managed learning and have adequate opportunities to carry out formal client work. 

Applicants must have appropriate personal qualities, including:

  • Self-awareness, maturity and stability
  • Ability to make use of and reflect upon life experience
  • Capacity to cope with the emotional demands of the programme
  • Ability to cope with the intellectual and academic requirements
  • Ability to form a helping relationship characterised by empathy, acceptance and genuineness.
  • Ability to be self-critical and use both positive and negative feedback
  • Awareness of the nature of prejudice and oppression
  • Awareness of issues of difference and equality
  • Ability to recognise the need for personal and professional support
  • Commitment to self-development
  • Competence in, or the aptitude to develop generic professional skills, including: literacy, numeracy, information technology, administrative skills, self management skills, communication and interpersonal skills

Successful applicants usually have some previous counselling skills training, relevant experience of working with people and some experience of their own personal therapy.

Application forms are reviewed and suitable candidates are invited for interview. No candidates are admitted to the programme without passing at interview.

Fulfilling the academic requirements is not enough to secure an interview. Please bear in mind when you are writing your personal statement that we are looking for people who can show self-awareness, maturity and stability and be self-reflective, non-defensive and able to use both positive and negative feedback.

We place great emphasis on proof of vocation.  We strongly suggest that you include in your application details of any experience and activities which further support your application. 

Many of our successful candidates can demonstrate vocation over three main areas as detailed below, although this list is not exhaustive:

  1. Undertaking a short introductory/preparatory course in counselling and/or psychotherapy (lasting between 3 and 12 months).This course usually (but not always) involves gaining experience of counselling in small groups (‘triads’).
  2. Undertaking paid or voluntary work which involves working with and/or listening to people in distress.
  3. Undertaking personal therapy.We do not need to know the reasons you sought it; we are more interested in your experience of it.

Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

If you do not meet the academic English language requirements for your course, you may be eligible to enrol onto a pre-sessional English programme. The length of the course will depend on your current level of English and the requirements for your degree programme. We offer a 5-week and an 11-week pre-sessional course.

As an inclusive university, we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course.  We will assess this from the information provided in your application – in particular your personal statement - to help us decide on your eligibility for the course.

Please note that some courses require applicants to meet the entry requirements outlined on the course page. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.
You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre.

What you'll learn

The course is designed to provide an education and training in an integrative approach to psychological counselling and therapy to a level appropriate for safe, ethical and effective practice.

Topics of study on the Diploma, which constitutes the BACP-accredited training course, include: theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy; models for integration; theoretical frameworks (for example, person-centred, cognitive-behavioural, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and gestalt); and professional and clinical studies – including the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice.

You will also engage in practical skills training, personal development and clinical supervision. You will also study social context/multiculturalism and common client presenting problems, including mental health issues. 

If you choose to stay on for a third year to take your MA, your work will be based on clinical practice and an independent research project or dissertation.

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.


Year 1 - Module 1 - Counselling and Psychotherapy: Self, Skills and Theory 1 and 2

Main topics of study:

  • Core Model and approaches to theoretical and technical integration
  • Transtheoretical Integrative Process Model (Core Model)
  • Core Model theory: themes and stage related skills and strategies, therapeutic alliance; application of theory to practice
  • Assessment and therapeutic planning
  • Boundaries, contracting and beginning, ending, process and outcome goals
  • Case notes and legal issues
  • Social context and multiculturalism
  • Journal writing
  • Transition and Life Span development
  • Coping with stress; assertiveness
  • Personal therapy; Open circle; Peer Support Groups
  • Core and generic skills; qualities, attitudes and values
  • Interpersonal Process Recall and reflection as an integral part of practice
  • BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice
  • Clinical supervision
  • Client work placement

Year 2 - Module 2 - Counselling and Psychotherapy: Application and Integration

Main topics of study:

  • Alternative approaches, for example, person-centred, cognitive-behavioural, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, gestalt, solution focus, and narrative.
  • Principles and mechanisms of change
  • Integrating concepts and techniques
  • Common client presenting problems, for example, anxiety, depression, phobias, chronic insomnia, suicide, PTSD and critical incidents debriefing
  • Myers Briggs Type Theory and clinical practice
  • Ethical decision making
  • Other mental health practitioners
  • Laboratory skills practise and audio/video recording commentary, analysis and evaluation
  • Beginning, developing and ending client work contracts
  • BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice
  • Client work
  • Clinical supervision

Year 3 - Module 3 - Counselling and Psychotherapy: Research

Main Topics of Study:

  • Research methodology – mainly qualitative
  • Writing a project proposal
  • Conducting a literature review
  • Ethical issues in research/applying for ethical approval
  • Academic supervision
  • Academic peer support/study groups
  • Writing a research project or dissertation
  • Reflection on experience
  • On-going clinical work and supervision


How you'll be assessed

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, including essays, presentations and process reports. You will be assessed on your practical skills, on your personal journal and on your professional log, which is an ongoing record of your client work, supervision, personal development and training.

Course specification

Your future career

In recent years, around half to two-thirds of students leave after completing their Diploma (which is the professional qualification), with the remainder staying on for a final year of MA study.

In either case, you will be able to work towards the next level of professional standing by seeking individual accreditation within the BACP, which requires 450 hours of supervised working. Past students have attained this level two or three years after graduating.

Even if you do not go on to work as a counsellor or psychotherapist, this course is a strong supplement and support for work you may already be doing in health, social care or education.

Completing the course often leads to career progression. Many past students have returned to previous jobs while establishing and developing their own counselling practice as a second strand to their careers. In several cases this has proved successful enough to become their main source of employment.

“Many of our graduates become portfolio workers,” says Course Leader, Gordon Jinks. “They leave the course and carry on doing whatever they have been doing, but they also start doing some sessions as counsellors.

“Two, three, four years down the line they are spending more time on their practice than their other employment.”

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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