Communication and Counselling Studies - BSc (Hons)

2025/26 Full-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Science with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

School of Communication and Media

Campus:

Belfast campus

UCAS code:

P9B4
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2025

Overview

Offering practical skills and robust understanding of the importance of effective communication in counselling, health and related contexts.

Summary

This interdisciplinary and skills-focused degree programme:

•Provides students with a theoretical, empirical and experiential understanding of applied communication studies within interpersonal, professional, social and cultural contexts.
•Offers students an introduction to counselling theories, skills and ethical-decision-making.
•Equips students with knowledge to identify opportunities to plan and undertake interdisciplinary research in the fields of communication, counselling studies and mental health.
•Develops students’ organisational, observation, analytical and reflective skills for continuing personal and professional development, all of which are a prerequisite for training or working as counsellors, psychotherapists or other healthcare professionals.
•Teaching is by an award-winning team of lecturers, researchers and practitioners with experience in the applied field of mental health, including counselling, psychotherapy and health communication.
•Holds Advanced Training Status for counselling studies from the National Counselling Society (NCS).

While this course is not formal counsellor training, it does provide a solid academic grounding for students who wish to pursue professional counselling or psychotherapy training and accreditation following graduation. It is also an excellent platform for graduates who wish to pursue further training in a range of professions, e.g. social work, social care, nursing, youth work, medicine, community work, law, business, human resources, and teaching.

Visit the School of Communication and Media homepage

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

The emphasis in this course is on developing an understanding of the emotional and psychological development of the person within family, social and cultural settings. The course also emphasises the importance of rigorous and reflective ethical decision-making practices for working with vulnerable populations and clients within counselling and healthcare settings. Students take a range of core and optional modules which provide a firm grounding in theories, practices, skills and capacities needed for effective communication in interpersonal and professional contexts. Each module combines lectures, seminars and group tasks to facilitate students gaining a comprehensive intellectual knowledge, while learning from experience.

Our programme facilitates participation and interaction. Thus, this course also offers students opportunities to apply theory to practice in the composition of a range of assignments (case studies, work-based learning report, reflective journal, essays, presentations, dissertation). Students will be encouraged and supported to become independent learners 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 a friendly and supportive atmosphere. Students' learning experience will be supported via the allocation of a study skills advisor who will provide students with individual support and guidance throughout their studies. The School also has innovative recording practice labs, which allow students to practise 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.

Attendance

Three years full-time. 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.

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Attendance and Independent Study

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:

  • 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, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses 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. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. 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

    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 assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    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, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. 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. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) 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 and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - 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 from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus

Accommodation

High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

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Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

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Modules

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.

Year one

Communication and Language

Year: 1

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.

Social Psychology of Communication

Year: 1

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.

Interpersonal Communication: Skills and Strategies

Year: 1

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.

Understanding Ourselves and Others

Year: 1

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.

Understanding the Life Course

Year: 1

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.

Nature and Contexts of Counselling

Year: 1

The module will introduce you to the nature and purposes of counselling as a professional activity. Issues of definition and context will be addressed along with broader issues relating to the contemporary status of the profession and the personal and professional challenges inherent in good practice. Through the study of counselling in action, it is anticipated that that you will become familiar with counselling theories/approaches and a range of professional, ethical, and legal issues. Additionally, you will also become aware of social justice and international perspectives on counselling.

Year two

Advanced Interpersonal Communication

Year: 2

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.

Research Methods

Year: 2

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.

Counselling Theory

Year: 2

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

Year: 2

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

Year: 2

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

Year: 2

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.

Year three

Researching Talk

Year: 3

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 Conversation Analysis 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.

Dissertation

Year: 3

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.

Critical Issues in Counselling Studies

Year: 3

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.

Psychosocial Issues

Year: 3

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.

Groups, Identities and Relations

Year: 3

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.

Gender and Representation

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module introduces students to a cultural studies approach to examining the role of popular media forms (in film, television, advertising and photography) in the construction of gendered identities (masculinity and femininity). It does this through key examples and case studies from the 1960s to the present day and post feminism. It also provides students with examples of alternative feminist practices.

Year five

Healthcare Communication

Year: 5

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.

Standard entry conditions

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.

A level

BCC*

* Applicants can satisfy the requirement for an A-Level Grade C by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.

Applied General Qualifications

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma

Award profile of DMM

We will also accept smaller BTEC/OCR qualifications (i.e. Diploma or Extended Certificate / Introductory Diploma / Subsidiary Diploma) in combination with A Levels or other acceptable Level 3 qualifications.

To find out if the qualification you are applying with is a qualification we accept for entry, please check our Qualification Checker - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/equivalence

We will also continue to accept QCF versions of these qualifications although grades asked for may differ. Check what grades you will be asked for by comparing the requirements above with the information under QCF in the Applied General and Tech Level Qualifications section of our Entry Requirements - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/undergraduate-entry-requirements

Irish Leaving Certificate

104 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

Grades BCCCC.

Scottish Advanced Highers

Grades CDD.

International Baccalaureate

Overall profile is minimum 24 points (including 12 at higher level)

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall profile of 60% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)

Overall profile of 12 credits at Distinction, 30 credits at Merit and 3 credits at Pass (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)

GCSE

For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language (or equivalent). Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.

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.

Additional Entry Requirements

Pass HND with overall Merit to include 30 distinctions in level 5 credits.

Pass HNC with overall Merit to include 60 distinctions in level 4 credits.

Successful completion of any Ulster University Foundation Degree with an average of 45% in Level 5 modules. (Entry into Year One only)

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University.

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

Career options

Our overall aim is that students develop knowledge and skills to enhance their prospects for employment, academic progress and continuing professional development.

The BSc Communication and 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, occupational therapy). 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 postgraduate doctoral level research.

During your time at Ulster you will have opportunities to engage with our Employability and Careers staff for advice and support . Employability and careers staff provide tailored classes specifically for students on the BSc 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.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.