PGCert in Psychodynamic Counselling
About the course
The Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Psychodynamic Counselling is a one-year part-time course offering a broadly based knowledge of psychodynamic theory and practice, as the access point to a four-year, part-time clinical training in psychodynamic counselling/therapy, or as a stand-alone course.
The course forms part of the Oxford University Master’s Programme in Psychodynamic Studies which is accredited by the UPCA (Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association). Students who complete the full programme and the necessary clinical hours will be eligible for professional accreditation with UPCA as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. UPCA hold this accredited register on behalf of UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy). Students can also become members of UKCP, in addition to their membership of UPCA.
The PGCert may be taken as a stand-alone course, though it is not a clinical practitioner status course, or it may equip you to apply for the PG Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice or other higher level graduate courses in this area.
The course runs one evening a week over three terms at the Department for Continuing Education and consists of:
- term-time weekly theory-and-practice workshops organised around a key dimension of psychodynamic practice - 'The Psychodynamic Approach', 'Therapeutic Processes and Skills' and 'Therapeutic, Practical and Ethical Implications'
- experiential groups
- two tutorials per term with a course tutor
- two Saturday workshops.
Extensive regular reading and private study of at least 10 hours per week between the taught periods is recommended.
The course tutors will support and guide you in regard to your academic work, and offer a forum for the discussion of personal and professional development. All tutors are professionally qualified and accredited counsellors or psychotherapists.
Please note that no applicant currently in therapy/counselling with a course tutor will be admitted to the course.
The course works using the UPCA and UKCP standards which are based on a number of implicit ethical principles that highlight the important nature of boundaries, professional conduct and, in a psychodynamic course, the power of unconscious processes. Students should at all times act in accordance with the ethical codes issued by the UPCA and UKCP. Due to the psychodynamic and experiential nature of the programme, it is considered inappropriate for students to engage in romantic/sexual relationships with tutors or students whilst on course. Should any such relationship arise during the course of your studies, you must declare its existence to the Course Director as soon as possible, who may, for example, ask that you refrain from continuing your relationship or that you suspend your studies.
The PGCert course runs annually, while the PGDip and MSt courses are on a two-year cycle. A post-certificate seminar series is held on alternate years, when there is not an intake for the PGDip directly following the PGCert. The seminar series gives the opportunity for consolidation of certificate learning and facilitates a progression in psychodynamic thinking.
Counselling introductory courses
Counselling Introductory Courses are also run, separately to this PGCert - details are available in the Weekly Classes section of the Department for Continuing Education website, or from the Weekly Class Administrator via telephone at 01865 280893.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.
It is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
The course is assessed by four written assignments and end of year tutor reports. The four assignments will each count for 25% of the final mark and comprise two theoretical essays, one illustration and critique and one reflective journal assignment.
Graduates of the PGCert course may apply to progress to the PG Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice, approximately 50% of students do this. Others may apply to training courses elsewhere, or may use the PGCert course within their current employment.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the department
Psychodynamic Practice PGDip
Psychodynamic Practice MSt
The PGDip and MSt in Psychodynamic Practice are open for admission every two years. The PGDip is a two-year course and the MSt is a one-year course. There will be no admissions for either course in the year that PGDip students embark on their second year of study.
All graduate courses in medical and health sciences offered by this department
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
Relevant and suitable qualifications and/or professional experience may be accepted as alternative evidence of eligibility for the course.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Working experience in a helping role may be an advantage. Preference may be given to those who have previously studied counselling at introductory level. Previous experience of personal therapy may be an advantage.
- Publications are not expected.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process and are conducted by a minimum of two interviewers. The following criteria are taken into account when selecting candidates for interview:
- the quality and relevance of the personal statement
- relevant prior experience and/or studies
- the views of referees.
You will normally be expected to attend interview in Oxford in person.
Interviews will normally be held in the period between March and May.
Performance at interview will play a significant role in the assessment of the selection criteria. The purpose of the interview is to:
- establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study;
- establish your prior knowledge of psychodynamic theories and counselling practices;
- clarify any uncertainties about course requirements; and
- ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wi-Fi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The department's Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
This course has sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions. You are not required to take any therapy sessions for this course, however some students choose to do so. If you choose to take therapy, you will be responsible for the cost incurred. Therapy ranges from c. £40 to £80 per hour, and possibly more in London, but some therapists offer reductions for students. For accreditation purposes student membership of UPCA is required throughout the course, currently £21 per year.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
Matriculation confers membership of the University on students. Students who enrol on this course will not be matriculated and will not become a member of an Oxford college. Although not formally members of the University, non-matriculated students are expected to observe the same rules and regulations as matriculated students. Further information about matriculation is available on the Oxford Students website.
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic and/or professional
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and your ability to work in a group. Both academic and professional references are acceptable.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
A maximum of 500 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- your ability to present a reasoned case in English
- commitment to the subject
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability
- your ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.