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Psychodynamic Counselling

Course overview

(Graduate Diploma) Graduate Diploma
Psychodynamic Counselling
University of Essex
University of Essex
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Graduate Diploma

We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.

It is desirable for you to have had some relevant experience in a caring or supportive role. Experience of your own counselling or therapy is also an asset.

With your online application you must submit a personal statement; this should detail the reasons for wanting to study the course, including any relevant experience (work or voluntary) that may support your application.

You must also have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) this is organised by the University.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

If English isn’t your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Dr Anne Elizabeth Worthington
Middlesex University
Senior Lecturer

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA217-5-AU Psychodynamic Concepts Compulsory 15
02 PA218-5-SP Personality Development Compulsory 15
03 PA216-6-FY Psychodynamic Observation for Counsellors Compulsory 15
04 PA221-6-FY Personal Development Core 15
05 PA256-6-AU The counselling relationship and counselling techniques Core 30
06 PA215-6-SU Counselling Contexts Compulsory 15
07 PA257-6-SP Group and Organisational Dynamics for Counsellors Compulsory 15

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

This programme aims to offer students a grounding in psychodynamic theory and its applications so that they can be prepared for the MA Psychodynamic Counselling with a clinical placement in the following year. It aims to provide a bridge between a BA in another discipline or relevant professional practice and psychodynamic understanding, addressing both personal and organisational dynamics.
It will provide a foundation in psychodynamic concepts and an understanding of the psychodynamics of child development. It aims to equip students with an understanding of the clinical role, its ethics and setting, to enable them to take up the professional role on the MA. It will give students counselling skills and techniques to facilitate the transition to practice.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A101 To be familiar with key theoretical ideas in psychodynamic thinking (Psychodynamic Concepts; Personality Development; PA210)
A102 To develop the capacity to be reflective about oneself and ones own learning (Psychodynamic Observation; Personal Development; PA210; Counselling Role and Contexts)
A103 To understand the principles of psychodynamic observation (Psychodynamic Observation; Counselling Skills)
A104 To begin to understand the role of the counsellor, its ethics and contexts(PA210; Counselling Role and Contexts)
A105 To understand some key counselling skills(Psychodynamic Observation; Personal Development; PA210)
A106 To understand the emotional dynamics of personality development (Psychodynamic Concepts ; PA211)
A107 To understand psychodynamic approaches to organisational dynamics(Psychodynamic Concepts; Personality Development; PA210)
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars based on set reading of texts, observation seminars, workshops on practice issues and the experience of a group relations conference
Assessment Methods: Essays for each module

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B101 Ability to understand and be able to apply psychodynamic concepts
B102 Ability to observe within a psychodynamic framework
B103 Ability to reflect on own experience and take active part in own learning
B104 Ability to understand the basics of psychodynamic practice
B105 Ability to understand the emotional dynamics of personality development (Personality Development; PA210)
B106 Ability to understand conscious and unconscious processes in organisations (Psychodynamic Concepts; PA211)
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars and observation seminars, practice workshops and some experiential learning (eg group relations).
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by essays and reflective report.

C: Practical skills

C101 To recognise and describe accurately unconscious processes in individuals and organisations
C102 To recognise and describe accurately emotional aspects of personaility development (Personal Development; PA210)
C103 To be able to use psychodynamic, reflective skills in analysing their own and others' impact on each other.
C104 Basic ability to use psychodynamic techniques (Psychodynamic Observation; PA210)
C105 To recognize and apply ethical and professional issues relating to the counselling relationship
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars, observation seminars, workshops and the experience of group relations.
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by essays and reflective report.

D: Key skills

D101 To communicate effectively with staff and peers and to show the ability to use therapeutic communication
D102 To use e-mail, Moodle and electronic submission of assessed work.
D103 To use psychodynamic thinking in their interactions with colleagues. To apply psychodynamic thinking in workshops and other seminars
D104 To show the ability to work effectively in an institutional setting, in which collaboration is the basic aim as well as therapeutic process. To show the ability to manage the role of counsellor so that placement in the following year is viable.
D105 To work independently, and to do so with insight into own learning strengths and difficulties
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars and observation seminars, practice workshops and some experiential learning (eg group relations).
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by essays and reflective report.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: