University of Chester

Programme Specification
Counselling Skills BA (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

Counselling Skills

Counselling Skills

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester - Parkgate Road 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

Wednesday 27th January 2016

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.


Knowledge and Understanding

  • Key knowledge areas are a firm grasp of the ethical realm, fundamental philosophical and theoretical concepts and theory of the application of embedded counselling skills, across a range of professional contexts. The culmination is a synthesis of understanding, application and the development of a capacity for reflexive critique.  

    (SO4402) Examine and apply key concepts of the BACP Ethical and Professional Framework for Good Practice.
  • (SO4403) Distinguish between therapeutic counselling and the use of embedded counselling skills in a helping relationship. develop understanding and application of the core values of empathy, respect and genuineness in any helping relationship
  • (SO4404) Understand and critically evaluate the use of counselling skills in a helping relationship.
  • (SO5402)Identify key concepts and theoretical understanding of adversity, transition and change and apply these to the use of counselling skills.
  • (SO5403) Understand and apply theories and models of human growth and development to the helping relationship.
  • (SO5404) Enhancing understanding of embedded Counselling skills in a professional context   
  • (SO6401) Critically examine the application of the use of embedded counselling skills to enhance the primary role in the workplace. In depth synthesis of knowledge, skills  application and reflexivity
  • SO6404) Understand at a critical reflexive level Multicultural contexts (in depth knowledge)   


These are expected to develop across the three years of study, in a deepening capacity towards a synthesis of understanding, application, and reflexive consideration of embedded counselling skills.

Level 4:

        Developing professional competence in applying a range of counselling skills to enhance their primary role in the workplace. (all modules)

Level 5:

  • SO5402, SO5403, SO5404: Ability to apply knowledge and understanding of human development, adversity, transition and change to specific contexts

Level 6:

  • SO6401 Develop the ability to reflect and critically evaluate personal learning and refine skills for employability and career planning.
  • SO6404 To apply critical and reflexive skills to multicultural contexts

Students will demonstrate their ability to manage time, to make informed choices based on models and theory, to give and receive feedback and to reflexively consider feedback. They will demonstrate their ability to present in various forms on specific topic areas their knowledge and understanding and ethical awareness. They will demonstrate their effectiveness to work as a team. They will demonstrate their developing capacity to effectively apply counselling skills to a professionally competent level. 

Level 4:

  • Developing competence in using a range of counselling skills, particularly competence in conveying empathy, in order to facilitate an effective helping relationship
  • Competence in considering ethical dilemmas 

Level 5:

  • developing competence in utilising a range of counselling skills theories, concepts and practice to enhance their primary role.
  • Enhanced reflexive skills

Level 6:

  • Professional competence in using a range of counselling skills.
  • 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.
  • Competent evaluative and critical thinking skills and a capacity to apply these to a micro individual and a macro world wide context.
  • Competent reflective and reflexive 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 professional issues 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 of appropriate interpersonal skills, exercise initiative and personal responsibility, and able to work more effectively in many professional roles that are people oriented.

Level 4:

  • (All modules) Describe, discuss theory and practice and demonstrate developing counselling skills. Develop evaluative and observational skills. Develop communication skills and articulate peer feedback from observation. The development of an openness to feedback and the capacity for working as a team.

Level 5

  • (SO5402, SO5403 and SO5404) Facilitate students with a sound knowledge of counselling skills, human development and the potential consequences of adversity, transition and change and how to encompass these theories to enhance their interaction with others, in various professional contexts.

Level 6

  • (SO6401) Fluent and accurate communication of a range of transferable practical counselling and interaction skills, and knowledge that will make them suitable candidates for employment in a wide range of occupations or postgraduate study. To provide and present evidenced based arguments.
  • (SO6404) 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 with communication skills for engagement in lifelong learning and to play a positive and effective role in the wider community.


This programme reflects current understanding of the central role that embedded counselling occupies in enhancing the effectiveness of professional relationships with the public and also within professional teams and networks. Whether in the helping professions or any profession that involves an interface between human beings. 

Level 4: Introduces students to the theoretical concepts underpinning the use of counselling skills. A focus is given to the core values of genuineness Respect and Empathy, fundamental for the creation of a climate which fosters a trusting helping relationship. At this level students begin to develop competency in their application of counselling skills that initially convey the core values and help to maintain the relationship throughout. An ethical understanding and appreciation is also considered and related to the BACP Ethical Framework. An understanding of the difference between a qualified counsellor and the use of counselling skills as embedded within a range of professions, is embodied within this level.      

Level 5: Core modules at this level provide students with an understanding of the basic principles of human growth and developing enhancement of counselling skills. Learning and teaching will lead to a developing understanding of trauma, loss and bereavement as experienced at the micro and macro levels of human experience, following natural and unnatural disasters. The core modules develop a more in depth understanding of embedded counselling within professional context. Further development and understanding of the use and application of counselling skills is a key feature of this level. A developing understanding of the ethical dimension is developed throughout level 5, informed by a deepening understanding of the BACP Ethical Framework, and of the numerous potential professional interfaces that can be enhanced by embedded counselling. At the end of level 5 students will have developed a capacity to relate with critical reflexively to the theory and practical experience of the helping relationship. Students will also have developed an awareness of the particular areas of interest that will shape their module choices at level 6, and also themes for consideration with regard to their dissertation. Research Methods is offered as the optional module in order to ensure a rigorous training in research skills and in preparation for the dissertation if applicable.

Level 6: Places the emphasis on students developing a critical awareness and applying their expertise to the wider context of using their counselling skills in the workplace. The core module explores the impact 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 The workplace, and to Multicultural Competence. The focus of level 6 is to foster in students autonomous, self-directed reflexive learning and critique that will serve to enhance their embedded counselling in future chosen professions and careers. There is opportunity for students to major or minor. Equal weighting is possible as long as the Dissertation is taken in this subject.

The major route is the core module Using Counselling Skills in the Workplace (20 credits) and Developing Multicultural Competency (20 credits) and The Counselling Skills Dissertation (40 credits)

The equal route is the core module (20 credits) and The Counselling Skills Dissertation (40 credits) 

The minor route is the core module (20 credits) and Developing Multicultural Competence (20 credits).

Students can take the programme as a four year rather than three year route which offers the possibility of one year abroad. Study Abroad students taking their third year abroad need to register on WB5008. This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year (Level 5) of study.  Students for Study Abroad must be recommended for the module, and the study programme that the student undertakes must be agreed with the department(s) that the student is studying in. Students must have successfully completed Level 5 with an overall average of 55% or higher (2.2 average), to receive final approval to participate in WB 5008.


Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
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
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO5403 5 Embedded Counselling Skills in Context 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5404 5 Enhancing Counselling Skills 20 Comp Comp Comp
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional Optional Optional
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
SO6404 6 Developing Multicultural Competence 20 Comp N/A Comp
SO6406 6 Counselling Skills Dissertation 40 Comp Comp N/A

All modules taken at all levels 4,5,6 must be passed to allow progression to the next level.

Level 4: Modules are either 20 or 40 credits. A candidate who successfully completes level 4 will have accumulated 60 academic credit points pertaining to the Counselling Skills Programme of the combined degree. These academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 5: Modules are either 20 or 40 credits. A candidate who successfully completes level 5 will have accumulated 120 academic credit points pertaining to the Counselling Skills Programme of the combined degree. These academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 6: Modules are either 20 or 40 credits. A candidate successfully completing level 6 will have accumulated 180 academic credit points pertaining to the Counselling Skills Programme of the combined degree. These academic credit points will go towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award. The total accumulated academic credits for the award of the Combined Honours Degree is 360. The other 180 accumulated credits come from the successful completion of the chosen combined programme.   


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.

UCAS points: 112 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BCC/BBC
BTEC:  BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM

 BTEC Diploma: D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers:  B in 4 subjects
International Baccalaureate:  26 points
QAA: Access to HE Diploma to include 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit
OCR: OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 2

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DMM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information: Please note that we accept a maximum of 8 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.

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. 

QAA Counselling and Psychotherapy training benchmark statements inform and underpin the counselling skills programme:

The nature and scope of counselling and its purpose

Definition of counselling and psychotherapy

Organisational contexts; Aims of counselling

Subject knowledge and understanding: philosophy; human growth and development; psychological theories; ethics and law.

Theoretical diversity: Understanding a range of therapeutic approaches.

Skills: Relationship building; communication; reflective practice.

All of the above are introduced in the level 4 modules, and then undergo in levels' 5 and 6 modules a spiral process, of deepening and reciprocal development, of the student capacity for embedded counselling, within a primary professional role. The level 6 research dissertation gives a chosen and detailed focus to the developing of a specific area of appropriate interest.   

Additional transferable skills: The capacity to work on their own initiative and in co- operation with others; the ability to make decisions in complex situations, and sometimes with incomplete information; the capacity to understand and to critically evaluate research; the ability to communicate effectively both oral and in writing - to include skills such as the ability to articulate principal concepts and arguments, to give and receive feedback, and to include self reflection in written communications where appropriate; the ability to work in small groups; the ability to form good, supportive, challenging and trusting relationships in which sensitive personal material can be considered; the capacity to tolerate the process of challenge, self-reflection and change; the use of IT skills, a capacity to use word processing facilities and a capacity to access library information; the ability to use virtual learning environments, the ability to identify appropriate sources of information and extract relevant information to suit specific contexts, the capacity to aquire new knowledge and skills.

Teaching and learning: A curriculum in which theory, personal and professional development, and competency acquisition are complementary, delivery by trained therapeutically practicing staff; core components are self awareness facilitated through experiential groups, experiential exercises, group practice experience.

Assessment: Will address both theory and competence, and evaluate knowledge and competencies in relation to learning outcomes for the programme.


Learning and Teaching:

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 emphasis 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. 

Assessment and Feedback:

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 may include: 

  • Group Presentations SO5403, SO6404
  • Portfolio Log File SO4403
  • Evidence of Application of Counselling Skills Practice SO4404, SO5404, SO6401
  • Case Studies SO5402, SO6401
  • Written Essays SO4402, SO4403, SO4404, SO5403, SO5402, SO6404
  • Evaluation of Helping Session (video) SO4404
  • Audio/Visual Tape and Critical Evaluation of a Helping Relationship with a Colleague SO5404, SO6401
  • Research Dissertation SO6406

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
  • Palliative Care 
  • Human Resource Management
  • NHS Graduate Schemes
  • Retail Management
  • Christian Organisations
  • Therapeutic Counsellor training

Equal Opportunities

The University is committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity, both as an employer and an educational institution, in all its diverse forms. This is done in consideration of diversity, 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.

For this purpose the university has an Equal Opportunities Policy and appropriate codes of practice to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and members of staff at the University of Chester have equal opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of the job. The policy also aims to eliminate unlawful or unfair discrimination. 

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 acquire the pre-requisites for the MA in Counselling delivered within this department.

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