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Why study this course

Students' personal development is supported during the course with weekly process groups facilitated by counselling practitioners

Our Counselling courses are taught by experienced counsellors, many of whom have their own practices

A real focus on developing your interpersonal and relationship skills

Course summary

If you don’t have, or don’t think you will attain, the normal tariff points for studying at BGU, this course will enable you to study for a degree without any UCAS points. The course is delivered over four years and includes a Foundation Year, which gives you a perfect introduction to what it means to be a university student and prepares you for effective undergraduate study. In your Foundation Year, you will study eight modules, all of which are designed to equip you with the necessary academic skills and knowledge to progress successfully in your chosen subject. You will also engage in a series of bespoke subject sessions delivered by experts, designed to introduce you to your chosen subject area.

Find out more about our Foundation Year programme.

The BA (Hons) Counselling Practitioner degree provides a pathway for students who wish to train to become counselling practitioners. The programme adopts a humanistic approach to counselling practice; the ‘humanistic’ label is an umbrella term for counselling approaches which are client-centred and fundamentally focused on the therapeutic relationship. Humanistic counselling requires a high level of self-awareness and, consequently, students will embark upon a journey of personal development throughout the programme. Alongside this process, students will learn about both the theoretical underpinnings of humanistic counselling and the practical application of that theory.

There are multiple rich opportunities, over the course of the degree, to learn and refine practical counselling skills. These skills will be employed in a real-world context when students begin their supervised client work with adults in their second year of study. The degree programme offers students the opportunity to engage with a contemporary curriculum, informed by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Guidelines for Stage 3 Core Practitioner Training (2022), the BACP Gold book criteria for the accreditation of training courses (2021), and the subject benchmarks for Counselling and Psychotherapy (QAA, 2022).

Key facts


BA (Hons)

UCAS code



4 years

Mode of study


Start date


Awarding institution

Bishop Grosseteste University

Institution code


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About this course

There are multiple rich opportunities, over the course of the degree, to learn and refine practical counselling skills. These skills will be employed in a real-world context when students begin their supervised client work with adults in their second year of study. The degree programme offers students the opportunity to engage with a contemporary curriculum, informed by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Guidelines for Stage 3 Core Practitioner Training (2022), the BACP Gold book criteria for the accreditation of training courses (2021), and the subject benchmarks for Counselling and Psychotherapy (QAA, 2022).

As the programme aligns with the BACP requirements, upon successful completion of the programme, students can apply for BACP membership. Such professional membership is an important aspect of ethical practice. Graduates may also apply to sit the BACP’s Certificate of Proficiency test, allowing them to join the BACP register, a public record of counsellors who meet the BACP quality standards. This level of BACP membership is often listed as a pre-requisite for employment as a counsellor in key organisations such as the NHS, educational establishments and third sector providers of counselling services. Students are also encouraged to apply for student BACP membership whilst on this course.

What you will study

As a student on this course, you may study some or all of the modules listed below.

In this module you will explore and consider what it means to be a successful learner at university. You’ll explore the principles of effective learning and engage with a range of tools and techniques to practise and develop strategies for your own learning. These include for example, understanding your needs as a learner, effective time management and organisational skills.

You will learn about a range of resources and practise locating and using these resources to support effective learning. These resources will include, for example, textbooks, websites, academic journals, and popular press. In addition to these key techniques, the module covers academic conventions including referencing, citation and the risks of plagiarism.

This module will allow you to learn to utilise sources in a considered and critical way. You will begin to engage effectively with literature and other sources in a meaningful manner that promotes deep learning and enables knowledge and understanding of a topic. You will also begin to differentiate qualitative and quantitative data and consider their appropriate interpretation and use.

Critical thinking is an integral part of university study. While studying this module you will define critical thinking, its importance and how it can help you in your learning. A range of critical thinking models will be utilised to demonstrate how this works in action, allowing you to recognise critical thinking and identify barriers and challenges.

The skilled use of digital technologies is an important element in university study and is used to support both the obtaining and demonstration of knowledge. This module will develop your digital capabilities and confidence, encouraging you to develop techniques for the purposeful use of a range of digital tools to support learning. These include specific tools such as the Virtual Learning Environment and appropriate and effective uses of wider applications such as social media, email and the internet.

This module explores, compares and evaluates a range of communication types, giving you opportunities to combine written and spoken communication in a range of contexts and for a range of audiences. From a theoretical, sociological perspective you will explore different communication media and styles of discourse, for example, discussion, debate, enquiry and reporting.

Reflection is a powerful learning tool that enables you to consider your existing knowledge and also to plan for your future learning and professional development. The module content includes the principles of reflective learning and collaborative planning with reference to structured models.

Academic writing is an essential element of successful university study, so this module explores a range of techniques to help develop your own academic writing style. It will enable you to draw together your learning throughout the Foundation Year and reflect on the feedback you have received. You will structure a clear and effective piece of academic writing on a subject-linked topic in which you will apply standard academic conventions.

You will explore the main exponents in shaping the world of counselling today, against the backdrop of their historical contexts. The theoretical origins and core concepts of the three main approaches used in contemporary counselling will be introduced. These are the psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural and humanistic approaches. Issues pertaining to equality, power-structures and ethics will also be considered in the light of the socio-political history of the field.

This module introduces you to the theory of person-centred counselling. You will be introduced to the philosophical underpinnings and influences that inform the theory and practice of person-centred counselling. The module provides an introduction to: person-centred theories of personality, growth, and human development; Rogers’ core conditions and the importance of the therapeutic relationship; the therapeutic process and therapeutic change. You will consider the relationship between theory, research and practice by discussing and practising counselling skills appropriate to the Person-Centred approach. The development of practical skills will include the consideration of issues such as confidentiality, contracting and professional boundaries, with specific consideration of ethics that relate to person-centred theory. As part of your personal development, you will explore your own patterns of interpersonal relating and emotional intelligence through personal development group.

The purpose of this module is for you to learn and practice core counselling skills. This is a key aspect of your professional development. Counselling involves the use of skills with clients in the context of the therapeutic relationship. Similarly, counselling skills can be used by helping professionals in many contexts. You will develop counselling skills through practice, peer observation, reflection and tutor feedback. You will be introduced to the concepts and processes of client assessment, engaging with arguments for and against formal assessment in both therapeutic and helping contexts. You will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal to chart your learning from practical work and to consider how this has fed into your development.

The purpose of this module is to build on the essential skills which you developed in introduction to helping skills and to develop the higher skills needed in level 5 and 6 modules in counselling as well as to prepare you for your placements. You will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal to chart your learning from practical work and to consider how this has fed into your development.

In this module, there is a focus on the development of your self-awareness, personal growth and interpersonal awareness. As part of your personal development, you will explore your own patterns of interpersonal relating and emotional intelligence through personal development group. You will explore themes relating to counselling practice such as personal values and beliefs; the dynamics and functioning of groups; the relational self in counselling (including the use of the therapist’s own feelings, experiences or personality to enhance the therapeutic process); self-awareness; therapeutic awareness; and reflective practice. This module will provide a grounding for clinical practice which will prepare you for your placement work at Level 5, and will include a practical assessment of clinical skills at the end of Level 4.

Debates within the field of counselling have centred around the tension between a bio-medical model of psychological distress, and psychosocial models that consider the effects of culture, environment, power structures and associated social inequalities. In order to support your understanding of people and their experiences, this module will consider issues of difference and equality in counselling and the ways the culture and belief systems of both counselling clients and counsellors may influence how psychological distress is conceptualised and addressed. As part of your personal development, you will be encouraged to reflect on your own cultural background and belief systems and how these may influence both your personal life and future professional practice.

To further your understanding of the professional role and responsibility of the therapist, as well as the social, professional and organisational context for therapy, in this module, you will consider the application of guidance and legislation to counselling practice. This will include the examination of issues such as safeguarding, record keeping, consent, confidentiality, boundaries, contracting, client assessment (including risk-assessment), and diversity and equality of opportunity. You will be encouraged to identify and critically reflect on the tensions between legal, ethical and professional responsibilities that can lead to challenges and dilemmas for practicing counsellors. Alongside an examination of government policies and recommendations, such as those in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, you will be supported in the critical consideration and application of the BACP ethical framework and current legislation on practice, the client and the counsellor. Themes to be considered will include working with clients prescribed common medications, ethical boundaries and managing dual relationships. You will be assisted in an exploration of your own values and belief systems in the light of these legal, ethical and professional Issues.

A key aspect of the professional role and responsibility of the therapist is to engage in rigorous self-examination, monitoring thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviour in the therapeutic relationship. As part of your personal development, you will explore your own patterns of interpersonal relating and emotional intelligence through personal development groups. This module is designed to support your development as a reflective counselling practitioner to ensure sound counselling practice as you undertake counselling work with clients. The module will give you the opportunity to develop and practice professional skills gained at Level 4, as you begin to engage with the nuanced complexities of the therapeutic relationship. Alongside personal development and the deepening of competencies in therapeutic practice, themes may include exploring transference and countertransference; working with imagery, metaphor and dreams; and the use of the self in therapy (e.g., transparency, immediacy, self-disclosure and resonance). In addition, the module will include a review of the you placement experience and practice hours to ensure you are on target to meet BACP requirements for counselling practitioners for by the end of Level 6.

This module is designed to be an introduction to counselling children and young people. The module provides a theoretical and practical introduction to a range of research-informed therapeutic responses, strategies and interventions, which therapists may employ in their work with children and young people of a variety of ages and development levels. These may include the use of: story telling as a therapeutic tool; metaphor and puppets; arts and creative activities; and emotional literacy cards. You will also be encouraged to develop an awareness of specific ethical issues associated with working with children and young people, including an understanding of professional responsibilities in relation to safeguarding. You should note that completing this module alone does not provide you with the necessary skills to counsel children and young people. Rather, this is a ‘taster’ module to help you consider if this is an area you would like to investigate further post-graduation.

Engagement with a range of theoretical perspectives is key to understanding people and their experiences. To this end, this module will explore a range of theories of human development. You will engage critically with these theories, in the light of an awareness of their philosophical origins. Influential theorists such as Bowlby and Erikson will be considered alongside perspectives on human development within wider frameworks informing humanistic counselling (person-centred theory, Gestalt theory, transactional analysis and existential theory). You will consider how theories of human development theories may apply to yourself and your clients, and subsequently reflect on implications you may have within humanistic counselling practice.

This module comprises an introduction to three humanistic approaches: existential therapy, transactional analysis, and Gestalt therapy. The work of key exponents of each approach will be examined, alongside associated theory and research evidence. There will be an examination of how ideas such as the therapeutic relationship, psychological distress and models of change are conceptualised in each approach. You will also consider potential limitations of these three approaches.

This module provides you with the opportunity to develop your knowledge of and skills in research in the field of counselling. This will include a critical consideration of qualitative and quantitative approaches, and their associated methods, as well as philosophical positioning in research. You will be supported in the identification of a research topic and the articulation of a research question. Key aspects of design will be considered, and you will be taught how to develop and write a research proposal. Ultimately, the module will prepare you for applying this learning to a dissertation research project at Level 6. You will be taught how to conduct a literature review in a systematised way. This will include the use and reporting of a rigorous search strategy and clear criteria for inclusion of studies in the review. Approaches to analysing and synthesising the review results will be considered along with the discussion of the review findings. You will be taught how the development of a rationale for a research project must be underpinned by the literature. Research ethics and integrity will be explored, with a focus on the particular complexities and challenges associated with research in counselling.

This module will focus on ways in which counsellors enable clients to find their voice by articulating their views, issues and experiences within the therapeutic relationship. You will examine the limitations of talking therapy and will explore potential mitigation of such limitations via a range of techniques and creative therapeutic approaches for example creative artwork, sand tray, clay, expressive writing, empty chair techniques and music therapy. You will engage with both the theoretical and practical aspects of creative approaches in counselling. With reference to relevant ethical codes of practice, you will be encouraged to consider how to use the techniques in a sensitive and ethical way maintaining the client's autonomy and safeguarding their wellbeing.

This module explores the relatively new concept of working at relational depth in counselling. The development of the therapeutic relationship is central to any encounter in counselling. Working at relational depth can significantly intensify this experience, and can have a profound and enduring impact on both client and counsellor. Drawing on the work of Mearns and Cooper (2017) alongside other contemporary research, you will examine the concept of relational depth, and study how different aspects of the counsellor as ‘self’ combine to facilitate this deep and intense encounter. Thus, a focus on relational depth can be seen as integral to (and dependent upon) the therapists’ own personal development. You will also consider some of the barriers to working at this level, both for the counsellor and the client, as well as the impact of the repair of empathic failures and relational ruptures on the therapeutic alliance. As part of your personal development, you will explore your own patterns of interpersonal relating and emotional intelligence through personal development groups.

With a focus on the professional and organisational context for therapy, this module brings together elements of continuing personal and professional development to prepare you to work as a counsellor in practice after qualification. A deepening understanding of the professional role and responsibility of the therapist will be fostered through reflexive engagement with issues such as boundaries and contracting you will consider how the use of supervision can enhance both personal and professional development. You will explore the ethical challenges and considerations of working in a demanding and often isolating profession. You will reflect on how to build both professional and personal supportive networks and how to develop strategies for managing stress in the workplace. This will include the management of your own self-care needs and the development of appropriate self-support and self-care strategies. Consideration will be given to working in private practice and counselling organisations, and the differences between them. Guidance will be given in how to start in private practice, including: the need for professional indemnity insurance; ethical marketing; continuing professional development; the counselling environment and the ethical implications of working independently. As part of your personal development, you will explore your own patterns of interpersonal relating and emotional intelligence through personal development groups.

This module examines ways of working with clients who present with a range of issues that affect their everyday living to such an extent that help is sought to address them. You will learn to recognise the signs and symptoms associated with mental distress. You will engage with a range of research-informed therapeutic responses to work with clients who present with challenges such as anxiety; depression; bereavement; loss; and suicidal ideation or intent. Particular consideration will be given to the use of supervision when working with this latter population, as well as legal and ethical implications; when to refer on to more specialist services; and local and national support services that are available. More generally, you will think about referral and the compatibility of counselling/psychotherapy and psychopharmacological interventions in conjunction with other professionals. you will consider client assessment (in relation to a range of presentations) against a backdrop of critical awareness of different perspectives on assessment, diagnosis and case conceptualisation. You will reflect on client assessment as it pertains to risk management, especially where there may be additional considerations concerning client competence, capacity, understanding, awareness and decision making. You will also critically engage with the concept of measuring outcomes and how we conceptualise progress and success in therapy.

The module provides an opportunity for you to build upon and apply the key intellectual, transferable and practical skills gained at Levels 4 and 5 of the programme in order to design an appropriate research project for your counselling dissertation. Throughout the module a series of lectures, seminars and workshops will further develop your research design skills in quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition, you will develop a critical understanding of ethical challenges associated with carrying out counselling research leading to the development of a research project that adheres to the BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions (2018) and BGU’s Research Ethics Committee standards.

The aim of this module is to enable you to undertake a small-scale research project on a topic of your choice in the field of counselling practice. It will build on the methods and skills developed in the module Research skills and methods. This dissertation module includes obtaining ethical approval, collecting data, analysing data, and reporting and discussing findings. The module will enable you to demonstrate ethical awareness when undertaking a research project; problem solving; project planning and organisational skills; reasoning and the development of an argument through familiarity with the literature; the ability to present data and information; use of analysis, synthesis and evaluation skills; and the ability to apply theory to practice.

In this module, you will consider the theory and practice of contemporary and emerging counselling approaches in the world of therapy. For example, these may include, feminist approaches, ecotherapy, holistic and social prescribing and the influence of neuroscience in counselling practice. You will critically consider online delivery of therapy, with an emphasis on the development of a strong therapeutic alliance and the creation of a safe space for clients’ discussion of your experience. Ethics, boundaries and contracting in relation to online working will also be considered. You should note that the content of this module alone will not equip you to deliver therapy online, and that if you should wish to offer this service to clients further training will be required post-graduation.

This is a non-credit bearing pass or fail module. To align with the PRSB guidelines for BACP Gold book for the accreditation of training courses, you are required to complete 100 hours counselling placement as an integral part of the programme. You are able to begin your placements at Level 5 and accumulate these hours through Levels 5 and 6 of the programme. You must also engage in clinical supervision for your counselling practice in alignment with the PRSB required hours. Additionally, you are required to undertake 40 hours of personal counselling at any point across the duration of the overall programme. This supports your personal development and self-care during the programme. It also provides experiential learning on the process of counselling from participating in the role of clients as providing counselling during your placement. This learning is assessed and supported continuously within modules across Levels 5 and 6. As such, this module is designed to provide a formal opportunity to submit pro-forma evidence via your e-portfolio, of completion of the required hours for these activities, and confirmed in a written report in the e-portfolio by your counselling placement provider, clinical supervisor and counsellor.

Entry requirements

Application for this course is via UCAS, although there is no formal requirement for UCAS points to access the course (normally GCSE English or equivalent is desirable). As part of your application you will have the opportunity to speak with a member of BGU Admissions staff to resolve any questions or queries you may have.

Different degree subjects may have specific entry requirements to allow you to progress from the Foundation Year. Whilst not a condition of entry onto the Foundation Year, you will need to have met these by the time you complete the first year of this four year course.

As part of your Foundation Year, through a series of subject specific sessions, you will also develop the foundational listening skills used by counsellors and those in helping or support roles. These subject sessions will enable you to develop skills that are applicable in a wide variety of professional settings and can help to enhance communication at work and in personal relationships in addition to providing a useful foundation for further study in counselling or related fields.

Further information

Click here for important information about this course including additional costs, resources and key policies.

The Foundation Year syllabus does not include any specific element of upskilling in English language and you are not entitled to apply for Accredited Prior Learning, AP(C)L into a Foundation Year.

How you will be taught

There is no one-size-fits-all method of teaching at BGU – we shape our methods to suit each subject and each group, combining the best aspects of traditional university teaching with innovative techniques to promote student participation and interactivity.

You will be taught in a variety of ways, from lectures, tutorials and seminars, to practical workshops, coursework and work-based placements. Small group seminars and workshops will provide you with an opportunity to review issues raised in lectures, and you will be expected to carry out independent study.

Placements are a key part of degree study within many courses at BGU. They provide an enriching learning experience for you to apply the skills and knowledge you will gain from your course and, in doing so, give valuable real-world experience to boost your career.


During the Foundation Year, you will have opportunities to experience a range of formative and summative assessments. These include short-form writing, annotated bibliographies, presentations, digital technologies, reflective journals, and academic essays. All modules involve early, small, and frequent informal and formal assessments so as to be supportive and build confidence, while ensuring development of the core academic skills required for successful study throughout your degree. Assessment strategies are balanced, diverse, and inclusive, ensuring that you will experience a range of assessments to support comprehensive preparation for undergraduate study. You will also have the opportunity for self-evaluation and personal reflection on your own learning progress and development of skills.

In Counselling, assessment is carried out using wide-range of approaches, including written assignments, coursework, essays and reports. You will carry out a small number of oral presentations, produce portfolios of research material, and undertake some practical assessments.

Careers & Further study

By the end of a Counselling course at BGU you will be ready to successfully complete further study to become a professional counsellor. You will also be equipped for a range of graduate employment in other career areas, including Psychology, Sociology and Health and Social Care.

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Studying at BGU is a student-centred experience. Staff and students work together in a friendly and supportive atmosphere as part of an intimate campus community. You will know every member of staff personally and feel confident approaching them for help and advice, and staff members will recognise you, not just by sight, but as an individual with unique talents and interests.

We will be there to support you, personally and academically, from induction to graduation.

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Fees & Finance

A lot of student finance information is available from numerous sources, but it is sometimes confusing and contradictory. That’s why at BGU we try to give you all the information and support we can to help to throughout the process. Our Student Advice team are experts in helping you sort out the funding arrangements for your studies, offering a range of services to guide you through all aspects of student finance step by step.

Click here to find information about fees, loans and support which will help to make the whole process a little easier to understand.

Undergraduate course applicants must apply via UCAS using the relevant UCAS code. For 2024 entry, the application fee is £27, and you can make a maximum of 6 choices.
For all applicants, there are full instructions at UCAS to make it as easy as possible for you to fill in your online application, plus help text where appropriate.

Students will need to complete a placement to meet the BACP requirements. You will be required to evidence these hours as a pass/ fail element of the programme in a placement log signed off by the placement provider and a supervisors report. This is a report from your clinical supervisor who will be external to the university.

Please be aware, as is typical with counsellor training, you will incur costs of clinical supervision for 1.5 hours per month or this will be provided by the placement organisation. We will try to establish links with local organisations that provide supervision as part of their placements offer, or pay towards the cost. However we cannot guarantee this and it is usual for students to meet supervision costs as part of their training. Further details of costs across the three year programme can be found here.

Related Counselling Practitioner with Foundation Year news