University of Chester

Programme Specification
Counselling Skills BA (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

Counselling Skills

Counselling Skills

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester - Chester Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 Years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science

There are no specific Subject Bench Marks for this programme but reference is made to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Ethical Framework for Good Practice.


Social and Political Science

Friday 1st January 2010

The main aim of the programme is to offer students a relevant, integrated course of study that equips them with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to interact with others in an effective, professional and ethical manner.  It is important to note that students are not trained as therapeutic counsellors but are trained in Counselling Skills that are used in conjunction with another role such as social worker, youth worker, teacher, probation officer, human resource manager and police officer.  In other words, the Counselling Skills programme aims to enhance the primary role of students' chosen career path.

Specifically the programme equips students with the relevant expertise to enhance communication and understanding of others.  The programme enables students to gain knowledge and practical counselling skills values demanded in a wide range of people orientated employment, where helping relationships are an essential component. 

Students are equipped with knowledge and understanding of human growth and development together the consequences of adversity, transition and change across the lifespan which encompasses aspects of loss and bereavement.   Thus, the programme facilitates a deeper level of understanding of human nature and experience, and human interaction, which serves to enhance their use of counselling skills.

Students are encouraged to examine pre-conceived beliefs, values and assumptions about human nature and human interaction and place these within the context of Counselling Skills principles and the helping relationship.  Developing  personal awareness and developing the capacity for reflexivity is integral to the programme.

The importance of the relationship in any helping encounter is embedded throughout the programme.  Demonstrating empathic understanding, acceptance or respect, together with a genuine 'way of being' are the attitudes and beliefs, the 'Core Values', that form the heart of an effective helping encounter.  Students are continually challenged about their assumptions and values regarding human nature and human interaction.

Embedded throughout the programme are formative assessment, learning support and careers development learning which facilitates students to be reflexive learners and to develop and refine their skills for employability and career planning. 

Thus the programme aims to:

  • Create a learning environment that is conducive to student needs, encouraging them to achieve their best both in progression and achievement across the range of ability by providing varied learning, teaching and assessment strategies; thus meeting the needs of diversity, retention and progression agendas.
  • Provide students with an understanding of the discipline of the use of counselling skills set within the broader context of a helping relationship and human interaction.
  • Provide students with a progressive learning environment, moving from an understanding of basic theory and practice that underpins counselling skills in level 4 through to a more critical awareness of the ethical and professional issues of using counselling skills within the context of organisations and agencies.
  • Provide students with an understanding of how research informs the theories and concepts that underpin the discipline of counselling skills.
  • Facilitate students to develop a professional attitude and become competent in assessing ethical and professional dilemmas and make sound ethical decisions in their working environment. 
  • Facilitate students with a sound knowledge of human development and the potential consequences of adversity, transition and change and how to encompass these theories to enhance their interaction with others.
  • Provide students with a range of transferable skills and knowledge that will make them suitable candidates for employment in a wide range of occupations or postgraduate study.
  • Facilitate students to develop reflexive practice and learning, to gain a deeper level of self-awareness; and to develop and refine their skills for employability and career planning.
  • Equip students for engagement in lifelong learning and to play a positive and effective role in the wider community.

Also, the programme aims to:

  • Contribute to the University's portfolio of programmes for Combined Honours on the Chester campus.
  • Maintain and enhance the University's reputation for combining theory and practice in degree level academic study.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Distinguish between therapeutic counselling and the use of embedded counselling skills in a helping relationship.
  • Understand and critically evaluatethe use of counselling skills in a helping relationship.
  • Understand and apply theories and models of human growth and development to the helping relationship.
  • Identify key concepts and theoretical understandingof adversity, transition and change and apply these to the use of counselling skills.
  • Examine and apply key concepts of the BACP Ethical and Professional Framework for Good Practice.
  • Critically examine the application of the use of embedded counselling skills to enhance the primary role in the workplace.
  • Examine their own beliefs, values and assumptions regardinghuman nature and interaction.
  • Understand and apply the core values of empathy, respect and genuineness in any helpingrelationship.
  • Gain an understanding of how research, and pertinent research methods,inform thetheories and concepts that underpin counselling skills principles

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • Competence in applying a range of counselling skills to enhance their primary role in the workplace.
  • Ability to applyknowledge and understanding of human development, adversity, transitionand change to specific situations.
  • Assess ethical and professional dilemmas and make informed ethical and legaldecisions.
  • Develop theability to reflect and critically evaluate personallearning and refine skills for employability and career planning.

Practical Skills

  • Competence in usinga range of counselling skills, particularly empathy,in order to facilitate an effective helping relationship.
  • Ability to formulate and presentrelevant theories and models in written, oral and IT form.
  • Competence in utilising a range of counselling skills theories, concepts and practice to enhance their primary role.
  • Ability to transfer learning and provide evidence based practice of their wider University experience.
  • Ability to identify and analyse ethical dilemmas and make sound ethical and professional decisions.
  • Develop and refine skills for employability and formulate career plans.

Key Skills
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Written, oral and effective listening skills are embedded throughout the programme. Information literacy and technology is utilised to support academic requirements such as literature research, e-journals and e-books andthrough practical and project work e.g. presentations 'on-line' andmaking audio/visual tapes for assessing skills. Presenting data and evidence in appropriate format will be utilised in project work/presentations. Improving own learning and performancetogether withpersonal development work is embedded throughout the programme and students engage in reflexive practice when conducting study tasks and assessments. Formative assessment is embedded throughout the programme thus enhancing this process. Working with others is also embedded throughout the programme,small group work for skills practice, presentations, and making audio/visual tapes for skills assessment.The group process is also used to provide support and facilitate self-development. Engagement in problem solving is particularly highlighted in identifying ethical and professional dilemmas and makingethical and legaldecisions. A wide range of situations and issuesare critically examined particularly in relation to the impact of cultural, social and institutional factors on the use of counselling skills.

Transferable Professional Skills

This programme encompasses a wide range of skills for the workplace. A knowledge and understanding of human development and interaction are essential components to the use of counselling skills. The core values of empathy, respect and a genuine attitude form the basis of effective listening and enhance any form of human interaction. A developing sense of self (self-awareness) can only serve to enhance human encounters.Ethical and professionalissues are examined throughout the programme.Therefore, graduates are equipped with the necessary skills that enhance the primary role of their chosen career; they are able to competently deploy a range ofappropriate interpersonal skills, exercise initiative andpersonal responsibility, and able to work more effectively in many professional roles that are people oriented.

This is a Combined Honours programme normally studied over 3 years on a full-time basis.  The programme is a modular structure organised over a 24 week academic year.  Each module is worth 20 credits comprising of 200 hours learning activity with an average across the programme of 48 contact hours, weighted towards traditional contact activities at level 4 and independent student learning at level 6. 

At level 4 there are 3 core single modules (20 credits).  Successful completion allows students to progress to level 5.  Two core single modules (20 credits) also run at level 5 with a single module (20 credits).  Successful completion allows students to progress to level 6.  At level 6 there is a single core module (20 credits), and a single module (20 credits ) and a 40 credit Dissertation offered.  Thus, offering students flexibility in their choice of study whether minoring, equalling or majoring at level 6.  Whether a module is at level 4, 5 or 6 is determined by aligning the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria to the descriptors of the characteristics of learning for each level; assessment is informed by generic marking criteria.  Qualifications will be awarded to mark the achievement of positively defined outcomes which are made clear in the module descriptors.

The programme is informed by several agendas, including:

The requirements from the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications for honours students to have achieved specific learning outcomes (including for example \'the ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including where appropriate, the application of these concepts in an employment context - qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision making\'); the Skills Agenda;  resources from employability bodies such as the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) and guidelines from The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

There is a prgression route to the MSc in Clinical Counselling, which has met the criteria for accreditation by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).  Much of these criteria, together with the general principles of the BACP, inform the learning and teaching throughout the Counselling Skills programme. The External Examiner has regular involvement in the monitoring and evaluation of this programme and an external advisor was involved in its development.  Students\' feedback, evaluations, specific meetings with level 6 students and Student Academic Representatives also informed the development of this programme.

Students also have the opportunity to undertake Work Based Learning at level 5 as a 20 credit module.  Work Based Learning offers students the opportunity to undertake a 5-week placement with an organisation at the end of the 2nd year of an undergraduate degree programme.  During the placement, students have the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to any work setting.  Students are free to arrange their own placement, or undertake one arranged by the Work Based Learning Office. This work experience underpins the \'real life\' element of the key concepts of the use of counselling skills in the wider context of employment. Together these aspects of the programme encourage and enable students to be proactive in their Personal Development Planning.   

Education for sustainable development is embedded throughout the curriculum particularly with reference to personal awareness, embracing the 'Core Values' that serve to enhance human interaction and ethical and professional attitudes that serve ethical decision making.  Graduates from this programme will have developed a good sense of personal responsibility and accountability for their actions; attributes that inform corporate and social responsibility.

In terms of structure, at level 4 students take three core modules that introduce them to the basic principles and key theories that underpin the use of counselling skills.  Students are facilitated to distinguish between therapeutic counselling and the use of counselling skills in a wide range of helping situations.  Students undertake foundational skills training; facilitated to develop their listening skills and to use these skills more effectively; and in the process become aware of their effect on others.  Formative assessment provides a crucial element to the student\'s progression here and is utilised by means of regular constructive feedback of skills practice from tutors, colleagues and self. An initial introduction to research is implemented by informing students how research affects the theories and concepts that underpin the use of counselling skills.  Personal development work is introduced at the on set of the programme and is embedded throughout with various strategies.  Ethical and professional aspects of the helping relationship are also introduced at this stage, paying particular attention to the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice.

The core modules at level 5 provide students with an understanding of the basic principles of human growth and development together with an enhancement of counselling skills, and understanding of issues of adversity, transition and change, which encompasses aspects of loss and bereavement.  The possible consequences of these issues on people\'s lives are addressed and enable students to place the use of Counselling Skills in a professional context.  Throughout the programme theoretical concepts are illustrated with \'real life\' scenarios, case studies, role play, guest lectures, relevant topical accounts reported in the media and television programmes.  Students are continually encouraged to reflect on their personal experience in relation to theoretical perspectives. 

The third module available to students in level 5 addresses the continuum of managing adversity, transition and change and examines the impact of these issues from the micro to the macro level, from the individual to the wider social and cultural perspective. The module also examines the consequences of natural and unnatural disasters.  The content of the module serves to enhance students understanding of the wider context in which to place the use of Counselling Skills.  Various research methods are explored in relation to the theory and concepts that are addressed on the programme.  Ethical and professional issues are critically examined and students understanding of the BACP principles are further developed in relation to working with the consequences of adversity. 

The developmental progression of students'\knowledge, understanding and application of theory is closely monitored and assessed by various methods.  Progressive development of application and understanding of skills is summatively assessed by means of recorded helping sessions with a colleague.  Students are encouraged to relate their personal experience to these theories.  

Level 6 places the emphasis on students developing a critical awareness and applying their expertise to the wider context of Using Counselling Skills in the Work Place.  The core module explores the impact of social, cultural and institutional factors on the use of Counselling Skills and promotes the enhanced development of an ethical and professional attitude.  Dilemmas that are likely to be encountered are critically examined, paying particular attention to issues related to Diversity and Equality.  The contribution of various research methods continue to be examined in relation to the module content.   Students are facilitated to amalgamate the three years of study with their wider University experience and their chosen career, thereby further developing awareness of self, career planning strategies and employability. 

There is the opportunity for students to major, minor, or take equal weighting at level 6.  The route they take will inform their choice of modules within the programme. 

One of the optional modules in level 6 focuses on Loss and Trauma and the implications of working with these in the helping process.  students explore current research within the realms of grief and pain with particular attention to trauma in childhood and care at end of life. Existential issues are considered with specific reference to the significance of personal ‘meaning’ within loss and trauma, and students are encouraged to engage in group debate with the aim of enhancing reflexive practice.

A further optional module at level 6 examines multicultural issues in helping relationships. The module focuses on developing multicultural competence within the use of counselling skills. Students are facilitated to develop and enhance their understanding of the ehtical challenges of working multiculturally. Through focusing on a diverse range of cultural systems and the underlying assumptions, students gain a broarder understanding of the complexity of the helping Process.   

These optional modules offer students the opportunity to specialise in an area of contemporary significance within the wider realm of the Helping Professions.  Students have the opportunity to examine areas of particular personal interest thereby further enhancing their theoretical understanding and professional and ethical awareness, which in turn informs their Career Planning. 

At level 6 the minor route is the core module Using Counselling Skills in the Workplace (20 credits) and Trauma & Loss (20 credits) and/or Trauma and Loss(20 credits) and/or  Developing Multicultural Competence (20 credits). The equal weighting is the core module (20 credits) and Counselling Skills Dissertation (40 credits).  Or the core module (20 credits) and Trauma and Loss (20 credits) The major weighting is the core module (20 credits) the Counselling Skills Dissertation (40 credits) and/or Trauma & Loss (20 credits) and/or Developing Multicultural Competence (20 credits).


Level 4

SO4402                                                                        SO4403                                               SO4404

Ethical Issues in the Helping Relationship                    Core Values in Counselling Skills         Development of Counselling Skills

Core module 20 credits                                                 Core module 20 credits                       Core module 20 credits 

Level 5

SO5403                                                         SO5404                                      SO5402

Embedded Counselling Skills in Context      Enhancing Counselling Skills    Managing Adversity Transition and Cnage         

Core module 20 credits                                   Core module 20 credits              20 credits

Level 6 minor (40 credits)

SO6401                                                  AND               SO6402                 OR               SO6404

Using Counselling Skills in the Workplace     Working ith Trauma and Loss     Developing Multicultural Competence


 Core module 20 credits                                          20 credits                                 20 credits                                        

Level 6 Equal  (60 credits)                                  

SO6401                                            AND         SO6402                                     AND    SO6404

Counselling Skills in the Workplace                  Working with Trauma and Loss             Developing Multicultural Competence

Core module 20 credits                                    20 credits                                          20 credits


SO6401                                              AND          SO6406

Counselling Skills in the Workplace                     Dissertation

Core Module    20 credits                                    40 credits

Level 6 major (80 credits)

SO6401                                        AND          SO6406                         AND  SO6402                             OR   SO6404

Counselling Skills in the Workplace      Counselling Skills Dissertation     Working with Trauma & Loss       Developing



Core module 20 credits                                 40 credits                                       20 credits                         20 credits



Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
SO4401 4 Developing Counselling Skills 40 N/A N/A N/A
SO4402 4 Ethical Issues in the Helping Relationship 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO4403 4 Core Values in Counselling Skills 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO4404 4 Development of Counselling Skills 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5401 5 Professional Counselling Skills in Context 40 N/A N/A N/A
SO5402 5 Managing Adversity, Transition & Change 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO5403 5 Embedded Counselling Skills in Context 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5404 5 Enhancing Counselling Skills 20 Comp Comp Comp
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6401 6 Using Counselling Skills in the Workplace 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO6402 6 Working with Trauma and Loss 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6404 6 Developing Multicultural Competence 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6406 6 Counselling Skills Dissertation 40 Comp N/A Optional

120 credits@ level4 entitles students to Certificate of Higher Education
240 credits Diploma of Higher Education
360 credits Bachelor's Degree

A flexible entry system is available for applicants from groups normally under-represented in Higher Education, in keeping with the University's participation strategy and changes to the national qualifications framework.

  • A minimum of 240 UCAS points, of which 200 points must be obtained from GCE A levels including a grade C in one subject.  The remaining points may be achieved from GCE AS Levels, or from Level 3 Key Skills.
  • BTEC National Diploma/Certificate: merit/ distinction profile.
  • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects.
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points.
  • QAA recognised Access course, Open College Units or Open University Credits.

Please note: A BTEC National Award or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer. 

The University of Chester is committed to a policy of widening access and participation by groups currently under represented in Higher Education.  To this end, we will consider a diverse range of entry qualifications and, if you are a mature student and do not hold the minimum formal qualifications, your application will be treated on an individual basis and your previous experience will be taken into account when assessing your suitability to the programme.

There is no specific Subject Benchmark under the National Qualifications Framework for Counselling Skills; however the general principles of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) inform the learning and teaching strategies throughout the programme.  The programme is also informed by several agendas as detailed in section 24. 


The programme endeavours to take account of diverse ability, student progression and issues of retention.  A variety of learning and teaching methods provide opportunities for students to enhance their learning ability, personal development and practical skills throughout their wider University experience.

A variety of learning and teaching methods is utilised, including didactic presentations, experiential learning activities, small group work, discussion, videos of helping sessions, group presentations, role play, and case studies/scenarios.  Use is made of topical, relative issues recounted in the media, television programmes and in literature.  Students work in small groups for skills practice and are facilitated to provide constructive feedback to peers.  Self-reflexivity is embedded throughout the programme.  The group process is also used to encourage a supportive learning environment, facilitate self-development and develop ethical and professional attitudes.  Students are facilitated to utilise audio/video/IT equipment for recording and evaluating helping sessions and group presentations.  Formative assessment is crucial to skills development and is embedded throughout the curriculum; this process also encourages students to take ownership of their own learning.  Students are encouraged to retain a personal log/file in order to accumulate evidence of learning and ability to transfer skills into their wider University experience.  This practice encourages use of the Progress File/Portfolios and serves to facilitate links being made across the programme between personal development planning (PDP) and the supporting principles of understanding, skills, efficacy and metacognition, for future employment prospects.   

The teaching team are therapeutic practitioners who also have experience in teaching, management, industry, retail, probation and prison services, social services, nursing and palliative care and are therefore able to share their experiences with students, thus creating 'real life' scenarios.

The teaching team work closely with Learning Resources, Learning Support and the Careers Service.  The Learning Resource Department is introduced to students at induction and continues to facilitate application of study skills, computer literacy and library skills throughout the curriculum.  The programme leader and team members have regular communication regarding relevant and new texts, availability, e-books and journals.  Learning Support and Careers input is negotiated and summarised with the programme leader at the beginning of each academic year for each level.  The contribution of Learning Resources/Support is to facilitate the learning needs of students across a range of diverse ability in order to enable them to produce a coherent document in the appropriate academic style; discreet sessions form part of the modular programme at levels 4, 5 & 6.  The Careers Department aim to enable students to develop and refine their skills for employability and career planning.  Again, discreet sessions are implemented within the programme and structured according to the needs, by level, of the students.  While these discreet sessions may only form part of the expertise on offer to students, the practice facilitates students with essential information for self-management in their career development learning (CDL).

The teaching team are mindful of the possible impact of much of the content of this programme and students are encouraged at the outset to learn to identify their own support needs and how to access the various support structures within the University.  Facilitating a supportive learning community through group work and small study skills groups also serves this purpose. 

Assessment will reflect progression within the programme by acknowledging students' developmental learning of knowledge, understanding, skills and personal development.  A variety of formative and summative assessment is utilised to ensure students' progress is monitored and supported through each level of study, thereby enabling students to develop their problem solving, evaluative and reflexive skills intrinsic to their independent learning and self-managed progress. 

The learning and teaching approach emphasises dialogue and a supportive, encouraging environment.  Experiential learning activities, small group work and discussion are embedded throughout the programme and serve to enhance students' personal development, reflexive learning and peer support.  While there is traditional didactic presentation of theory, there is also an emphasise on interactive presentation, encouraging students to reflect on their own experience in relation to key models and theories, thereby facilitating self-awareness and enhanced capacity for reflexivity. 

In line with this interactive and facilitative environment there is an emphasis on formative assessment. This is embedded throughout the programme, particularly in skills practice, through self, peer and tutor feedback during 'live' helping sessions with colleagues and recorded practice sessions.

Formative assessment is actively planned throughout the programme and includes:

  • Constructive feedback of helping sessions with colleagues - from self, peers and tutors
  • Assignment plans, structure, referencing.
  • Presentation plans - written, oral and IT. 
  • Self-reflexive practice: skills, assignments and personal development.
  • Log/file evidence of skills within sessions and wider context of student's experience.
  • Case studies/real life scenarios.
  • Videos of helping sessions using counselling skills.

Summative assessments include:

  • Group Presentations
  • Individual Poster Presentations
  • Evidence of Application of Counselling Skills Practice
  • Case Studies
  • Written Essays
  • Essays in the Reflexive Style (with Creative Component)
  • Evaluation of Helping Session (video)
  • Audio/Visual Tape and Critical Evaluation of a Helping Relationship with a Colleague

Students are informed of dates of both formative and summative assessment at the beginning of the year thereby encouraging time management and self-managed learning.

Graduates from this programme are well suited to careers that are people oriented; they will have a genuine interest in people and human interaction.  They will have developed a good level of self-awareness and enhanced capacity for reflexivity and gained competence in appropriately applying a range of counselling skills in a variety of contexts.  They will have developed the ability to establish an effective helping relationship that empowers and facilitates problem solving.  Graduates will have gained knowledge and understanding of human nature and interaction together with the possible consequences of adversity across the lifespan.  They will have gained a sound ethical and professional attitude, an ability to make ethical decisions in a wide range of situations that will stand them in good stead for any people oriented career. 

Career progression is facilitated by key aspects of the programme which are concerned with forming and maintaining helping relationships; ethical conduct is a key component of counselling skills relationships and this is extensively highlighted during the programme.  Those students who complete the Work Based Learning module will also have specific experience of a particular work environment which will further add to their skills.  These qualities and attributes will serve to enhance the primary role of their chosen career.  The knowledge and skills can be further developed and used in conjunction with professional training in such areas as therapeutic counselling, social work, teaching and human resource management.   

The combination of programmes of study which has been selected will also influence the choice of careers.  Graduates from this programme have successfully gained careers or further post graduate training in the following areas:

  • Teaching
  • Learning Support
  • Social Work
  • Social care work in relation to children and the elderly 
  • Mental Health Support Worker
  • Police Force       
  • Work within the Probation Service 
  • Youth Work 
  • Human Resource Management
  • NHS Graduate Schemes
  • Retail Management
  • Christian Organisations
  • Therapeutic Counsellor training

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The University will make the promotion of diversity and equality, good relations between people of all groups and the elimination of discrimination and harassment integral to all areas of its work including policy making, service delivery, student admissions and employment practice.

The Counselling Skills Programme combines well with a wide range of subjects enabling students to create an appropriate course of study for their needs.  Criminology is a popular combination where students have an interest in joining the Police Service or working in Probation or the Prison Service.   Psychology and Sociology are also popular second subjects. Students have also combined with Drama & Theatre Studies, Theology and Religious Studies and English.  

The programme also provides a direct pathway for students embarking on Therapeutic Counsellor Training.  Students graduating from this programme aquire the pre-requisites for the MA in Clincal Counselling develivered within this department.

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