Browser does not support script.

Postgraduate Course

Humanistic Counselling MA, PG Dip

Develop the knowledge and skills needed to become an effective and ethical counsellor on this BACP accredited course.

students practising their counselling skills

This Postgraduate Diploma provides professional counselling training. Once you have completed the 2 year part time PG Dip, you can study towards the MA. The PG Dip is accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

PgDip accredited by British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

York campus

  • Duration – 3 years part time (MA), 2 years part time (PG Dip)
  • Start date – September 2024, September 2025
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum entry requirements

    2:2 honours degree or recognised professional qualification

    Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Skills, or equivalent

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £4,720 per year part time

    International 2024-25 N/A per year part time

Course overview

Humanistic is an umbrella term for a range of approaches to counselling. These share a philosophical stance that every person is unique and capable of taking appropriate responsibility for managing their lives to their satisfaction. Humanistic counselling emphasises the client’s active role in the counselling process. It pays particular attention to the here-and-now experience, the counselling relationship and the broader context of the client’s life.

Your first 2 years of study will cover humanistic counselling theory, counselling skills and reflective practice, and personal and professional development. You will complete a total of 150 contracted counselling hours over the course of the PG Dip. Should you choose to study for the MA, the 2 year PG Dip will be followed by a year of specialised research on a topic of your choice.

Our academic staff draw on a 30 year tradition of counsellor training at York St John University. We are experienced practitioners, trainers and active researchers. We promote an inclusive and anti-oppressive approach to counsellor training, as part of a greater vision within the profession to address barriers to inclusive practice, particularly in relation to supporting systemically minoritised communities.

Studying at a university means that you will be taught by experts with a wide range of professional and academic experience. You will have 24 hour access to our extensive library resources, including online journals such as the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling and the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. You can also access support with improving your writing skills so you can approach your assessments with confidence. As a postgraduate student at York St John University you will be part of an exciting and welcoming academic community.

Professional accreditation

The Postgraduate Diploma is accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). On successful completion of the PG Dip, you will be eligible to apply for membership of the BACP Register (register of psychological therapists accredited under the Professional Standards Authority accredited register programme). We will encourage you to seek student membership of BACP.

Course structure

How you will study

You can only study this postgraduate course part time. This allows you to fit your studies around other commitments.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

In your first year you will study 3 compulsory modules.



Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module examines the development of the humanistic movement over time and the main theories associated with it. You will gain a solid understanding of person-centred, existential and gestalt approaches. You will learn to analyse and evaluate humanistic approaches, locating it within the other main philosophical approaches to counselling, such as cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic. You will also develop a knowledge of the essential ethical and professional issues of working safely with therapeutic issues.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Develop the skills to effectively and ethically practise humanistic counselling. You will have the opportunity to practise, and receive feedback on, the use of counselling skills and management of the counselling process.  Studying this module will prepare and support you in undertaking a minimum of 40 contracted counselling hours. This will be in an organisation offering 1 to 1 supervised counselling to clients and staffed by experienced practitioners.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module facilitates the development of a co-created learning environment where you will develop your awareness of self and self in relationship. Personal development groups and a residential weekend provide the opportunity for you to assess the impact of intra- and inter-personal relationships. You will explore the role of evolving self-awareness and self-acceptance in the development of effective, ethical and theory-informed practice.

Year 2

In your second year you will study 3 compulsory modules.


Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module you will deepen your understanding of humanistic theory. You will consider its place in the spectrum of counselling approaches. We will introduce you to different perspectives on the causes of psychological, behavioural and relational distress. You will debate and examine the evidence for alternative viewpoints by examining the therapeutic efficacy of these approaches. You will also explore your own developing approach to practice.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Extend and deepen your understanding of professional practice and supervision. You will develop your ability to use a complex range of counselling skills across different contexts. You will continue to engage in contracted counselling placements to complete the remainder of the required 150 hours. you will develop your capacity to make full use of individual and group supervision to support effective counselling practice.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module equips you for on-going personal and professional development, providing a good model for developing practice as a counsellor. Personal development groups and a residential weekend support you in developing your understanding of relational dynamics.

Year 3

In your third year, for MA qualification only, you will study 1 compulsory module.


Credits: 60

Compulsory module for MA qualification only 

On this module you will develop your ability to utilise and conduct research. You will explore different approaches to knowledge construction. This includes research designs, research methods and the ethical principles which guide research. You will then apply this knowledge by planning and conducting an independent piece of research. This will address an issue that interests you, in an area of academic or practical relevance. Your finished piece will take the format of a peer-reviewed journal.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

The course runs part time over 30 weeks, starting in September and finishing in June. You will attend 1 full day per week in term time. There is 1 compulsory residential weekend, usually in late January or early February, in each academic year. A contact day on campus will normally contain elements of counselling theory, counselling practice, peer supervision and personal development activities. In total you will receive 400 teaching hours.

You will have access to multiple sources of support including an induction at the start of the course. In addition to tutorial time, support is offered by Student Services on study skills such as:

  • Finding resources
  • Referencing
  • Critical thinking
  • Academic writing
  • Time management
  • Planning assignments
  • Proofreading
  • Presentation skills

They can also offer support in careers and digital training.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


You will be assessed through coursework. This comprises of written assignments, such as casework and supervision records, reflections on personal development and assessment of practical skills.

For the MA you will study 1 further module. Assessment for this will be through a research paper.


Over the 2 years you will also complete 150 hours of supervised face-to-face client work in a placement setting.

Professional skills

The course is developmental and provides integrated training in theory, process and skills as prescribed by the BACP.

Entry requirements


Minimum entry requirements

    2:2 honours degree or recognised professional qualification

    Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Skills, or equivalent

Additional requirements

For entry onto this course, you will also need:

  • 2 references along with your application one of which needs to from a referee who can comment on your counselling skills ability
  • A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

If you do not have the traditional academic qualifications for postgraduate study, but satisfy the criteria around professional experience, you can undertake the Access to Postgraduate Study module (COU6006M), as part of the entry process.

Access to Postgraduate Study

10 credits | optional

This module provides an entry route if you would like to join the course but do not have an undergraduate degree. It is designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of a range of key academic study skills, including comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, reflection and evaluation. This will help prepare you for postgraduate level study. Material relevant to counselling professions will be used and evaluated. You will be encouraged to extend your learning by sharing knowledge and resources within the group.


Work experience

You must have experience of the use of counselling skills at work, in education, helping professions or in voluntary agencies.

Progression onto the MA is achieved through successful completion of the Counselling PG Diploma.


If your application meets the entry criteria you will be offered an interview.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and funding

UK 2024 - 2025 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to the PG Diploma is £9,440:

  • £4,720 per year for 2 years, part time

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to the MA is £11,800:

  • £4,720 per year for the first 2 years, part time
  • £2,360 for the final year, part time

These costs apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

Funding opportunities

International students

Unfortunately, this course is not open to international students. Discover the other courses we offer.

Find a course

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £4,720 per year part time

    International 2024-25 N/A per year part time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for alumni

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

Where could Humanistic Counselling take you?

On successful completion of the PG Dip, you will be eligible to apply for membership of the BACP Register (register of psychological therapists accredited under the Professional Standards Authority accredited register programme).

Stand out from the crowd with postgraduate study.

Far fewer people have postgraduate degrees than undergraduate qualifications. This gives you something extra to set yourself apart in a competitive graduate job market. Those with a postgraduate qualification will earn an average of £6,500 a year more than those with only an undergraduate degree. (Department For Education Graduate Labour Market Report 2022).

Our careers service, LaunchPad, provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support does not end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed.

Apply for this course

For postgraduate degrees you must apply directly to York St John University using the links below. This will take you to the application form you need to fill out for this specific course. 

Applications for 2024 entry are now closed. We will open applications for September 2025 entry in January 2025. 

Fees and key information

Apply now

Important dates

Important dates Dates
Applications open Friday 5 January 2024
Applications close Friday 5 April 2024
Deadline for all documentation to be received by Admissions Monday 15 April 2024
Applications sent to academics to review Week commencing 22 April 2024
Interview invitations sent to successful applicants Week commencing 6 May 2024
Interview dates

Thursday 30 May 2024, Monday 3 June 2024, Wednesday 5 June 2024, Tuesday 11 June 2024

Successful applicants advised of decision Week commencing 24 June 2024
Deadline for all applicants to meet offer conditions TBC
Welcome Week TBC
Teaching begins TBC

Course highlights

More to explore

students looking at map on a desk

Discover postgraduate study

Campus buildings and gardens on Lord Mayors Walk

Why choose York St John?

Get in touch