An innovative approach to studying counselling combined with communication as it is applied in therapeutic and helping contexts.
This is an innovative course which has been designed to meet the needs of students who wish to undertake the study of communication with a specific focus on its application within therapeutic and helping contexts.
This creative programme is for people who are interested in:
- Learning more about themselves and other people
- Developing their understanding of the areas of human growth and development; personal development; mental health and well-being
- Studying how we communicate as individuals and as groups
- Developing relationship building skills
- Gaining an understanding the complex nature of counselling as a professional activity and the contexts in which it occurs
- Acquiring a knowledge of therapeutic orientations and the philosophies and ethics which underpin them
- Gaining knowledge of the skills practised within counselling
- Developing their ability to undertake research projects.
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About this course
In this section
The creativity of the programme aims to facilitate the development of comprehensive and critical understanding of the complex nature of counselling as a professional activity; the contexts in which it occurs; relationship building; knowledge of therapeutic orientations; the skills based practice within counselling; research; monitoring, evaluation and reflective practice. It also aims to develop students’ understanding of human growth and development; personal development; mental health and well-being; philosophy and ethics; developing the therapeutic alliance and research evidence, with the outcome of developing a critical understanding of the interplay between these factors within the therapeutic setting. Students will also study key aspects of communication processes with a particular focus on interpersonal relationship interactions, group processes and language and communication.
Teaching and assessment within the School take place through a variety of methods and contexts. During your degree you will participate in lectures, seminars, small group work, examine case studies and undertake practical exercises in our communication labs. Our programmes facilitate participation and interaction and you will be encouraged and supported to become an independent learner who can understand, evaluate and challenge new ideas and concepts. We believe that this supportive environment caters for the diverse range of learning styles students bring with them to the university.
Within the School we pride ourselves on the friendly and supportive atmosphere. Teaching will be delivered by research active academic staff, many of whom are practising counsellors and members of various professional bodies. Your learning experience will be supported via the allocation of a study skills advisor who will provide you with individual support and guidance throughout your studies.
Communication has innovative recording practice labs which allow students to practice communication and counselling skills within a safe and secure environment. The University boasts a state of the art Learning Resource Centre with library staff dedicated to faculties and subject areas.
Between four and six years part-time.
Two semesters per year.
One or two modules per semester (a maximum of four modules per year).
Each module usually involves two hours of lectures plus a one hour seminar each week. In addition, students are required to undertake substantial directed independent learning.
- September 2019
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Social Psychology of Communication
This module is designed to introduce students to key Social Psychology theories and concepts directly related to the study of Interpersonal Communication. It explores social behaviour and interaction in a variety of social contexts, and is concerned with both how we as individuals understand ourselves, and how our social environment shapes us. Students are introduced to the fields of social psychology and communication, exploring key aspects of the interactive process and encouraging students to apply this knowledge base to everyday situations.
Understanding Ourselves and Others
The module provides students with a range of theoretically relevant psychological and sociological frameworks which can facilitate personal and academic development. Students are offered opportunities to develop an understanding and acceptance of "self" through experiential learning, reflection and evaluation, and through goal setting. Theoretical learning and practical applications will be facilitated through a combination of lectures, student-led seminars focusing on personal experience.
Media and Mental Health
This module introduces students to key concepts in relation to media representations of mental health and the role of the therapist in popular culture.
Communication and Language
The module explores the complex relationship between language and communication, focusing on competing models of communication and the multi-layered multi-faceted nature of meaning in communication involving language. It explores how understanding features of language informs the study of communication and how reflecting on communication aids reflection on the complex nature of language and meaning.
Interpersonal Communication: Skills and Strategies
This module introduces the students to the concept of interpersonal communication as skill and strategy. It introduces the idea of different approaches to communication performance and the importance of context in selecting an appropriate or effective approach. It presents and discusses a series of core communication skills used in interpersonal interaction. The emphasis throughout is on the application of theory to practice and on developing skills of behaviour discrimination, self-awareness, critical analysis and skill enhancement.
This module draws upon a range of developmental psychology theories and relates this to real life experiences and the counselling process. Theoretical learning and practical applications will be facilitated through a combination of lectures, seminars and student-led presentations.
Advanced Interpersonal Communication
This module extends the study of interpersonal communication by examining advanced interpersonal skills relevant to specific professional contexts. It offers the opportunity to explore underlying theories and concepts, which in turn provides knowledge and understanding of situationally specific communication processes. Behaviour analysis, critical reflection and skill enhancement are the heart of the module. A special feature is the use of CCTV laboratories in the Communication Skills Centre of the University.
This module will introduce students to the field of counselling, how it has developed as a profession and its components, including clinical assessment and case formulation. The module will focus on three approaches to counselling: person-centred therapy, psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy. Students will read a range of clinical writings in the field of counselling, and discuss a number of case studies to link theory to practice.
Communication in Relationships
Communication and Relationships is a module designed to provide an insight into the communicative dynamics of a variety of interpersonal relations which we all encounter in some way throughout our lives. It is designed largely around the following four stages of relationships: Relationship Development; Maintenance; Ending & Reconciliation. It explores the strategies and factors which may be involved throughout each of these stages, e.g. attraction; conflict (management); self disclosure; deception; skills of reconciliation & forgiveness
Mental Health and Well-being
The module will provide students with a knowledge and understanding of the complex nature of mental health, illness and well-being. This will include the knowledge and understanding of the key theories and models, and exploring the challenges and communication issues within mental health. A range of case studies will be employed to aid understanding throughout the lectures and seminars, supported by online resources.
Reflections on Workplace Experience
This practical module provides students with valuable opportunities to use counselling skills to reflect on and learn from practical experiences they have gained within the workplace. This process will support students in identifying and developing skills required by future employers and, as such, enhance their future employability.
This module has been designed to enable students to develop their skills in designing, executing and writing up quantitative and qualitative research projects. It provides an important foundation for the final year Project.
This module is optional
The module considers the theoretical and conceptual trends that appear to be shaping future notions of the study of communication. The module extends the conceptual and theoretical appreciation of the student and enables them to engage with the disputes and debates out of which the future of the domain will emerge.
Groups, Identities and Relations
This module is optional
The module focuses on the study of inter-group communication and the way in which this relates to both personal identity processes and macro-level societal and cultural issues such as prejudice, discrimination and conflict. Throughout, there a strong emphasis on empirical research applications.
Professional Issues in Counselling
This module provides students with an understanding of one of the major areas of applied communication. The module will enable students to gain an overview of the major theoretical and empirical literature in the area of counselling and psychotherapy. The wider issues relating to professional, legal and ethical matters will also be addressed. The module is assessed by coursework and examination.
This module will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of psychosocial studies and its relevance for counselling. Research in psychosocial studies focuses on how a person's subjectivity, sense of self and identity are formed through the interaction of internal and external factors. The field of psychosocial studies is underpinned by psychoanalysis, emphasising the development of observation and analytic skills, self-reflectivity and insight.
This module is optional
Building on CMM320, this module engages students in detailed examination of the sequential organization of talk-in-interaction. They will develop a firm understanding of both the analytical constructs of CA and the ethnomethodological underpinnings that distinguish Conversation Analysis from other approaches to social interaction. Students will also put that understanding into practice through a supported research project.
This module is optional
This module provides an overview of theory within healthcare communication. As the aim of the module is for students to gain theoretical knowledge and understanding of healthcare communication skills. Students will have the opportunity to explore client/patient-health professional relationship, patient-centred approach, understanding communication in clinical contexts, inter-professional communication, and communication with specific clinical populations. They will gain a detailed understanding of the different models of the provider - client/patient relationship and their implications within a range of healthcare contexts. Students will examine ethical and social issues relevant to healthcare settings and populations. The module will enable them to obtain experience in appraising the healthcare communicative needs of different population groups, and inter-professional communication. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate interaction from a transcript of clinician-client data.
The project enables students to apply methods and techniques to exending and applying their knowledge and understanding of Communication and allows them to further develop their conceptual, rational and creative thinking within the field of Communication. It incorporates all aspects of completing a research project, from topic selection through to writing up and builds upon research skills acquired in Years 1 and 2.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
Applicants should satisfy the University General Requirements e.g.
1. Provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE English Language grades A-C/ 4-9 or equivalent); and
2. Provide evidence of passes in five subjects, two of which must be at A level (grades A-E) and three at GCSE level* (grades A-C/4-9); or
3. Provide evidence of passes in four subjects, three of which must be at A level (grades A-E) and one at GCSE level* (grades A- C/4-9); or
4. Provide evidence of an approved qualification at an equivalent level such as a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma or Access to Higher Education qualification or equivalent; or
5. Provide evidence, for a process of formal accreditation by the University, of learning you have gained through work or other experience.
* GCSE English Language (grades A-C/4-9) may be used as part of the GCSE requirement.
You must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language at grade C or above (or equivalent).
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
Students enter into first year. Transfer may be possible between full-time and part-time modes of study.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
Our overall aim is to develop students' knowledge and skills to enhance their prospects for employment, academic progress and continuing professional development.
The Therapeutic Communication a Counselling Studies programme in itself is not counsellor training and will not provide the graduate with a professional counselling qualification but rather is concerned with equipping students with a knowledge base of therapeutic communication and associated counselling skills which can be built upon after graduation.
The programme provides an excellent springboard for students who wish to pursue professional counselling training and accreditation following graduation. It is also an excellent platform for graduates who wish to pursue further training for careers in a range of therapeutic or helping roles (social work, nursing, teaching). The course can be used as a route into the area of more generic graduate schemes. It is ideal for graduate entry into careers such as the civil service, police, retail management or human resource management. Graduates will also have opportunities to apply for doctoral level research.
During your time at Ulster you will have opportunities to engage with our Careers Development staff for advice and support . Careers and Employability staff develop tailored careers classes specifically for students on the BSc Therapeutic Communication and Counselling Studies, to support you with your career goals and aspirations. They will help you identify the skills and experience you need to gain along the way to enhance your CV and employability.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Fees and funding
In this section
Fees (total cost)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Dr Maggie Long
Admissions Contact: Laura Irwin
For more information visit
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