Professional Doctorate in Counselling, DCouns

Professional Doctorate in Counselling, DCouns


Applications will open soon.

Our degree aims to progress you through initial training as a counsellor or psychotherapist to a doctoral qualification in alignment with the professional standards for therapists across the UK. Drawing on contemporary approaches to therapy, you will learn how to work with clients experiencing mental health difficulties in different contexts. We focus on professional practice and competencies, offering the opportunity to undertake pluralistic practice, the fastest-growing therapy modality in the UK.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
Blended Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months or 92 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

The programme is structured into three integrated stages, allowing you to advance through the professional standards to achieve the doctorate. We offer the following designated exit points:

  • MSc – consists of core learning required to become a practicing therapist.
  • MPhil – gain advanced therapist training required to achieve accredited status as a practitioner.
  • DCouns – the most advanced level of training available to practitioners.

We have a robust, contemporary curriculum, built on a pluralistic model which ensures creative collaboration and responsiveness to client needs when undertaking therapeutic practice through a social justice lens. You will discover and deploy different interventions and methods for working with diverse client groups while enhancing your personal and professional development as an ethical, self-aware therapist.

You will learn from leading academics in pluralistic practice within a vibrant, inclusive community of practitioners, opening diverse perspectives to share and explore. You will engage in client practice under supervision using a pluralistic approach to counselling and therapy at advanced levels of competence.

Our tutors will support you in establishing your philosophical and operational approach to therapy based on key principles of pluralism. We emphasise linking research to practice, enabling you to complete an initial project in year 2 (full time) or year 3 (part-time) before progressing onto the doctoral dissertation from year 3 (full-time) or year 5 (part-time).

To complete the doctorate, you will undertake a total of 450 client hours minimum to develop your practice. At the MSc stage, you will complete 100 client hours of voluntary placement within the Bounds research clinic or approved placement providers. After completing your first 100 hours and registering with a professional body, you will undertake a further 350 paid or voluntary client hours at the MPhil and DCouns stage at an organisation of your choice.

What You'll Study

Topics you will explore include:

  • The philosophical foundations, theoretical concepts, evidence base, and methodological use of Pluralistic practice.
  • Personal and professional development in key areas of competence and growth as a therapeutic practitioner.
  • Contemporary models and interventions and how these are used in pluralistic therapy including person-centred and experiential therapy, cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic approaches.
  • Professional issues, ethical working, and the impact of socio-cultural contexts on therapy.
  • Knowledge of creative methods and cultural resources in therapy.
  • Delivery platforms and modalities including online and phone therapy, group therapy and nature-based approaches.
  • An opportunity to study in depth a topic of your choice leading to an empirical doctoral dissertation
Year 1

Compulsory Courses

  • Foundations of Pluralistic Counselling (30 Credit Points)
  • Therapeutic Process in Pluralistic Counselling (30 Credit Points)
  • Therapeutic responses to cultural identity (15 Credit Points)
  • Professional Issues in Counselling (15 Credit Points)
  • Critical Issues in Practice (15 Credit Points)
  • Research to Practice (15 Credit Points)
Year 2

Compulsory Courses

  • Masters project/dissertation (60 Credit Points)
  • Advanced therapeutic practice in pluralism (60 Credit Points)
Year 3

Compulsory Courses

  • Compulsory training (non-award bearing) Research Integrity - internal course (0 Credit Points)
  • Practice placement (30 Credit Points)
  • Literature Review and research proposal (60 Credit Points)
Reflexivity and Professional Enquiry (ED55ND)

30 Credit Points

This course aims to enable students to develop the personal qualities and professional skills necessary for competent and reflective practitioners within a person centred framework. Self-awareness, counselling theory, practice and research are integrated to a level that enables course members to engage with therapeutic processes in a range of counselling relationships. Although the counselling programme is structured on a modular basis it is conceptualised as a comprehensive experience. The programme has four strands: Counselling Relationship and Therapeutic Process; Counselling Theory and Research; Personal Development; Professional Development. This course constitutes the 4th module of the counselling programme.

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

  • Research Dissertation (180 Credit Points)

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Please refer to our Tuition Fees page for fee information for this programme, or contact

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our Tuition Fees page.


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

Assessment Methods

A range of inclusive assessment methods are used for example, essays, case-studies, reflective accounts, portfolios of training experiences, and client work.

Learning Methods

  • Clinical Learning
  • E-learning
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Peer Learning
  • Professional Placements
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Why Study Professional Doctorate in Counselling?

  • Explore philosophical and operational approaches to therapy based on key principles of pluralism.
  • A flexible structure with multiple exit points to obtain MSc, MPhil or DCouns in Counselling.
  • Engage in voluntary and paid placements to build your practice working with clients in diverse contexts.
  • Learn from leading academics in pluralistic practice.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

SCQF Level 10 degree (any subject) or equivalent Interview to assess suitability for personal development and professional practice working.

PVG in place before entry.

Proficiency in English language (spoken and literate) IELTS.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


The programme opens professional pathways for graduates to enter counselling and psychotherapy practice in a range of contexts including education, the healthcare sector, third-sector agencies, and self-employment. Our courses build your analytical and research skills, allowing you to progress into teaching and research in mental health and academia.

Top 20 in the UK for Education

We are ranked top 20 in the UK for Education by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Our Experts

Other Expert
Mrs Julia McLeod
Programme Coordinator
Professor Kate Smith

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.


The Bounds

Our counselling and research centre, The Bounds, aims to respectfully promote the practice and study of relating to others, self, and the world around us.

Find out more

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX