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Undergraduate course

Counselling and Mental Health BA (Hons)

Help people to make positive personal change. Learn from experienced counselling and coaching staff on this BA course.

Counselling room

We have over 30 years' experience of teaching the theory and practice of counselling. Working with us, you'll develop the professional skills you need to succeed in this field. You can make a real difference to people's lives.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – BX91
  • Duration – 3 years full-time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

On our Counselling and Mental Health programme you’ll learn to help people in a range of settings. This course will allow you to:

  • Develop the in-depth knowledge, interpersonal skills and practical experience needed to achieve your ambitions.
  • Build your self-awareness and confidence working alongside our professionally-qualified counsellors and coaches.
  • Equip yourself with key employability skills such as team-work, resourcefulness and critical thinking.
  • Discover the range of opportunities open to you.
  • Gain experience and enhance your degree through our placements programme. This also allows you to build a professional network that you can draw on after your degree. 

We'll help you discover your ambitions and open doors to a variety of job roles or further study . Our alumni are working in counselling, education, social work, probation and mental health nursing. They've also gone on to study at Postgraduate level for their master's and PhD. 

We offer you more than a degree. You'll gain the CMI Certificate in Management Coaching and Mentoring on completion of your second year. In your final year you can take the CMI Certificate in Management and Leadership. These are appealing qualifications that can help you stand out to employers.

Course structure

Level 1


  • Foundations of Helping Relationships: Introduction to the theory and practice of helping work, with lectures followed by weekly skills practice.
  • Introduction to Reading, Writing and Researching: This module will help you to develop the knowledge, skills and habits you need for effective undergraduate study.
  • Humanistic Theories: A deeper exploration of the philosophies and theories which guide humanistic practice.
  • Developing Humanistic Theory and Practice: Developing the skills and knowledge gained in ‘Foundations of Helping Relationships.’ Weekly skills practice.
  • Introduction to Professional Practice: 20 hours (minimum) of placement activity, an introduction to professional ethics and standards, and career planning.
  • Difference and Diversity in Helping: Explores issues such as gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality and disability, and how these affect helping work.


All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated.

Level 2


  • Theory and Practice of Coaching and Mentoring 1: Introduces the main theories, models and techniques used in these activities, and applies them in weekly skills practice.
  • Research Methods: Develops your understanding of key approaches to research, and helps you to prepare for the Independent Research Project in your final year.
  • Psychodynamic and Cognitive-Behavioural Approaches: A detailed look at these two theoretical schools and their contrasting approaches to helping work.
  • Theory and Practice of Coaching and Mentoring 2: Builds on the knowledge and skills gained in Semester 1, once again with weekly skills practice.
  • Developing Professional Practice: This module features 50 hours (minimum) of placement activity, develops your understanding of the world of work and organisations, and further develops your career-related knowledge and skills.
  • Key Presenting Issues: A closer look at issues which counsellors, coaches and mentors work with, such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, stress, trauma, career choices and life decisions.

All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated.

Level 3


  • Critical Practice 1: This module introduces narrative and other postmodern approaches to helping work, and enables you to focus on either counselling or coaching in your weekly skills practice.
  • Independent Research Project: In this module you complete a research proposal, then carry out a piece of independent research on a topic of your choice relating to the broad field of counselling, coaching and / or mentoring. (40 credits)
  • The Ethical and Reflective Professional: Along with the companion module Professional Identity, this module involves a minimum of 40 hours of placement activity, as well as an introduction to the theory and practice of professional supervision, with fortnightly supervision groups.
  • Critical Practice 2: This module enables you to develop a critical perspective on the field of helping work, and to develop your own personalised approach to counselling or coaching. Weekly skills practice.
  • Professional Identity: As well as placement activity and group supervision, this module enables you to further develop and finesse your career-related knowledge, skills, plans and objectives.

All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated.

Teaching & Assessment

Our approach to teaching and assessment is based on the Humanistic philosophy which underpins our work as helpers. We see each student as a person who is striving to make sense of the world in their own unique way. This means that when we introduce you to new ideas, we invite you to examine, discuss and reflect on them in relation to your experience of the world, rather than viewing them as hard facts that you need to learn.

We also see knowledge as something that’s created in relationships. A lot of your learning on the programme results from engaging with your peers and tutors in a learning community, in interactive lectures, small discussion groups, skills workshops and supervision groups. The course tutors are all trained practitioners in the fields of counselling and mental health.

In addition to the academic aspects of the programme, the Counselling and Mental Health BA (Hons) places a strong emphasis on personal development, which is a vital part of becoming an effective helper. We require you to be willing to learn about your characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and acting, to be open to feedback from your peers and tutors about how they experience you and to be willing to make some changes. This kind of personal development work can be challenging and on occasion, unsettling, but the rewards can be substantial, not only in relation to your development as a helper but also for your life in general.

The approach to teaching outlined above means that you have to be physically (and psychologically) present.  Whilst we expect you to do many hours of independent learning (see Independent Study tab below), this course is not the right choice of programme for students who prefer to learn only through solitary study, and/or who are unable or unwilling to commit to a high level of presence and participation.  There will be three modules in each semester, with ten hours of contact per week typically spread over two or three days.  Contact hours in the final year are a little lower, in order to enable you to focus on your independent research project.

In addition to reading and completing your placement hours (see Course Overview and Course Structure above), you will also be required to keep a journal in which you reflect on your experiences across all of the course modules and your placement activity.  You will also need to allow time for working on your assignments.  It is very difficult to successfully engage with all of the aspects of the course if you are doing more than 20 hours of paid work, and we ask you to bear this in mind.

So that you can flourish as an independent learner, we have introduced a first-year module that will enable you to make the transition to university-style education.  You will learn how to search, evaluate and cite academic sources; how to make sense of instructions for assignments; how to structure your work and write in an appropriately academic style; and how to develop good study habits. 

Our approach to assessment is informed by the same relationship-based philosophy.  The original meaning of the word ‘assess’ was ‘sit alongside,’ and we see assessment as one part of our ongoing conversation with you about your development as a learner.  Assessment isn’t confined to those times when you submit assignments, but is an integral part of your week-by-week experience, for example when tutors provide feedback on your skills practice with your peers, or offer comments on pieces of written work.

In keeping with this philosophy (which is sometimes referred to as assessment for learning, rather than assessment of learning), most of your assignments will be coursework-based, and will be designed to help you extend and deepen your knowledge and understanding of topics that are relevant to your overall development.  However, whilst this coursework-based approach to assessment is very effective in promoting deeper learning, this depth can sometimes be achieved at the expense of breadth.  For this reason, in order to ensure that you also develop knowledge of a broad range of topics, we require you to sit one written exam in each semester of the programme.


Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

This course is available with a foundation year

If you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto this degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education, this is a great option for you. Passing a foundation year guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.



Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry onto this course is £9,250 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

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.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

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

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

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