BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling with Integrated Foundation Year BSc (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling course, with an integrated foundation year. Gain wide-ranging insights into how people behave and how they can be helped to tackle problems. Learn how we interact with each other, the decisions we make and the thinking behind this. Graduate with a broad skill set that can be applied to careers in social work, public services, counselling, clinical or forensic psychology or counselling.

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Psychology is about people, how they think, act, react and interact. Counselling is about listening to people, giving them time and space to explore the issues which are important to them. Explore two complementary and exciting disciplines with this integrated course.

The British Psychological Society Logo

Why us?

  • Course is accredited by The British Psychological Society
  • You will have graduate basis for chartered membership of the BPS if you achieve at least a second class honours degree
  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience
  • Our Psychology courses were ranked 3rd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Psychology courses were ranked 3rd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey

Course structure

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, group work and e-learning. We encourage you to develop independent study skills. You will also have opportunities to present ideas to other students and develop concepts within groups. Teaching takes advantage of the University’s specialist psychological and computer laboratories.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also ongoing assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include written coursework, projects, presentations and exams.

Foundation year 

  • Succeeding at University (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundations in Health Sciences and Wellbeing (40 credits)
  • Big Issues in Health Sciences and Wellbeing (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Being a Psychologist (40 credits)

Learn the essential skills needed to study psychology at degree level including academic skills, personal development and research studies. Broaden academic and psychological literacy via a series of research projects and practicals supported by personal tutors.

Connect the twin themes of research methods/statistics and academic development and appreciate how research and statistics are designed, performed and interpreted in light of the complex theories that are created by the researcher with an emphasis on the process of becoming an ethical co-creator of knowledge alongside academic staff.

  • Genes to Mind (20 credits)

Consider the relationship between biology and the human mind. Examine how DNA ultimately gives rise to thinking, conscious and complex human beings. Explore genetics and evolution, as well as the core areas of biological psychology, cognitive psychology and individual differences across topics as diverse as addiction, altruism, and sexuality.

  • Mind to World (20 credits)

Learn the story of how single units of personhood (or ‘minds’) interact with one another and come together to create societies. Focus on the way in which humans communicate with each other and operate in their social world. Explore the core areas of developmental psychology, cognitive psychology and social psychology across topics such as perception, language, interpersonal relationships, emotion, autism, and psychopathy.

  • Introduction to Mental Health (20 credits)

Examine biological, cognitive, and social models of mental illness and mental health. Consider a number of mental health problems including mood disorders (such as depression and anxiety), psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia), eating disorders, and personality disorders. Analyse behaviours that pose a risk to physical and mental health, including alcohol and drug use, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity. Discuss public health approaches to mental health and wellbeing and how we can aim to improve the mental health of the general population and/or lower risk of mental illness, by considering social networks, social inequality, and happiness.

  • Introduction to Theories and Concepts in Counselling (20 credits)

Gain a broad introduction to counselling. Cover two key elements, the first centring on understanding the central concepts in contemporary practice across the main theoretical approaches, and the second focusing on understanding the three main counselling schools (psychodynamic, humanistic and CBT approaches).

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules:

  • Psychological Research Design and Analysis (20 credits)

Work on a number of research projects across core areas of psychology. Develop more advanced skills in research methods, and gain opportunities to have input into research design as you become more skilled. Learn more advanced data analysis skills and apply these in the research projects.

  • Future Selves (20 credits)

Explore your own potential as a lifelong learner and leader. Develop your understanding of the importance of agency and self-advocacy in relation to life and career transitions and how lifelong learning can enhance social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, but also self-sustainability and employability. 

Use research techniques that include psychometric measures, narrative and storytelling. Undertake volunteering opportunities to provide an additional context in which to consider your lifelong learning and leadership characteristics – and to develop a sense of your future professional self.

  • Cradle to Grave (20 credits)

Meet a fictional family as you learn about the psychology of the human journey through the lifespan, from parent-offspring conflict in the womb to explanations for ageing and death. Explore topics including attachment, the 'teenage brain' and challenges in adolescence, personality development and cognitive change.

  • 24/7: Everyday Motivations and Biases (20 credits)

Apply social, cognitive and biological psychology to understanding everyday motivations and biases in, for example, perception and memory. Explore topics including vision and sensory perception, social group processes, aggression, eyewitness testimony and eating disorders.

  • Foundations of Embedded Counselling and Listening (20 credits)

Develop basic counselling and listening skills. Practice different skills, watch video demonstrations, see tutor demonstrations and engage in discussions based on experience of practising skills or study of case scenarios.

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Anomalous Psychology: A Critical Introduction (20 credits)

Study the extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, including those labelled as paranormal. Understand and explain, within the context of science, the bizarre experiences people have had and why people believe in anomalous events and the explanations surrounding them. Consider various anomalous experiences (e.g. extra-sensory perception (ESP), psychokinesis, telepathy, hallucinations, hauntings, out of body experiences and near-death experiences, along with astrology and superstition) and various explanations within psychology (e.g. probability, cognitive biases, biological explanations, environmental factors and individual differences).

  • Meet the Relatives: Evolutionary Psychology and Animal Behaviour (20 credits)

Learn about theory and research in evolutionary psychology and animal behaviour and how research on human and non-human animals can be integrated and applied to understanding aspects of contemporary life. Evaluate the extent to which we can learn about human psychology by studying non-human animals, what research on other animals tells us about the idea that humans are special, and the implications of research on animal behaviour for our understanding of the abilities of other animals, and how we treat them. Topics covered on this module may include, health and happiness, mate preferences, mating strategies and parenting, evolutionary approaches to contemporary and popular culture, hormones and behaviour, social organisation and social living and intelligence and cognition.

  • Investigating Complex Issues in Psychology (20 credits)

Work in teams to study the different psychology specialisms including clinical skills, health and wellbeing, counselling and forensic psychology. Draw on your knowledge of psychology generally, and of these different specialisms to apply different perspectives to current, real-world psychological issues in a problem-based learning context. Topics will vary from year to year but may include defining normality and abnormality, the effects of the media on aspects of psychology, the role of comparative research in psychology, gender issues, schizophrenia, and the stability of personality.

  • Assessment, Formulation and Evidence Based Practice (20 credits)

Focus on three core skills of clinical psychology. Learn a range of methods used by psychologists to assess a service user such as psychometric tests, interviews and taking a history. Learn how a clinical psychologist integrates the results of assessments of various methods with different psychological models to develop hypotheses and interventions tailored to the individual service user. Learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of practice based on existing evidence through reading systematic reviews, and learn how to design your own research to evaluate the effectiveness of psychological practice.

  • The Psychology of Detection, Interviewing and the Criminal Trial (20 credits)

Investigate how psychology is used in detecting and interviewing suspects, and collecting evidence for conviction, including eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, and confessions. Examine sources of bias in the collection and presentation of forensic evidence, fallibility of eye-witness memory, and how to recognise and decrease the risk of mistakes. Examine the psychology of the courtroom, focusing particularly on jury decision-making. Focus on how different aspects of psychology can be used to understand and enhance the probability of detecting and convicting offenders. Consider forensic scenarios and case studies which will facilitate the application of knowledge and understanding of theories and research from social, cognitive, biological, and developmental psychology, and individual differences.

  • Community, Culture and Environment (20 credits)

Participate in your own research, explorations and investigations. Explore issues and problems relevant to people-context relationships. Study themes such as marginalisation and poverty, immigration and refugees, gender and power, liberation, ableism and self-determination, mental health, families and disadvantage. Consider the potential of different transformative methods as tools for engaging individuals and communities, including emerging arts-based methods and psychogeography and walking methods. Consider our relationship with natural and urban environments – and what a posthumanist perspective may offer.

Final year (national level 6):

  • Empirical Project (40 credits)

Work with a supervisor to apply what you have learned in research methods modules to your own research project. Report your findings in an extensive research report, and present your project in the form of an academic poster at our poster conference.

  • Contemporary Counselling in Context (20 credits)

Critically examine the debates surrounding the provision of counselling in the twenty-first century. Approach a number of contemporary real-world issues from a counselling perspective, including homelessness, eating disorders, alcoholism and domestic violence, for example.

  • Developing Embedded Counselling and Listening Skills (20 credits)

Gain confidence in sustaining longer skills sessions and focus on exploration of issues by the listener. Develop your practice not only by developing discrete skills, but also through developing self-awareness and recognising the impact they have on the listening process.

Optional modules (choose two):

Please note, the full list of optional modules may change from year to year. 

  • Occupational Psychology (20 credits)

Focus on the scope of occupational psychology and its application to work, employees and organisations. Cover topics aligned with the British Psychology Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology such as psychological assessment at work; learning, training, and development; leadership, engagement, and motivation; wellbeing and work.

  • Research to Reality (20 credits)

Engage with, and evaluate, some of the ‘big issues’ at the cutting edge of psychology, including free will, the nature of consciousness, the interface between psychology and politics, and cybercrime. This module will encourage you to look beyond your university experience and to engage with psychological aspects of current culture and society. 

  • Development and Neurodiversity (20 credits)

Explore the development of our understanding of neurodiversity. Address the historical progression of how we have characterised neurodiverse populations, including autism spectrum conditions and Williams syndrome, from early diagnostic formulation to current day. Examine biological aspects of neurodiversity such as brain differences, as well as their relevance to cognition and behaviour. Study relevant topics in neurodiversity, including relationships, healthcare and education.

  • Environmental Psychology (20 credits)

Gain specialist knowledge of Environmental Psychology, an applied sub-discipline of Psychology which bridges a range of core areas and related disciplines such as architecture, planning, and geography. Cover topics which include the role of the environment in social development and relationships, the relationships between environments, health and wellbeing, place attachment, place identity and the importance of home.

  • Psychology of Addiction (20 credits)

Take an introductory look at the psychology of both substance and non-substance-related addictive behaviours. Examine a variety of addictive behaviours such as alcoholism, addiction to psychoactive drugs, gambling, and sex addiction, as well as theories relating to the development, persistence, control and treatment of addictive behaviours. Link these behaviours to various areas of psychology such as the biological effects of drug use, how cognition plays a role in addictive behaviours and the social implications of addiction.

  • Dissertation in Psychology (20 credits)

Engage in a comprehensive review of the academic literature related to a specific negotiated topic in psychology, unrelated to your Stage 3 project/dissertation topic. Under supervision, critically evaluate the current understanding of the topic from multiple psychological perspectives and identify themes within the established literature. Consider possible future research directions that would extend the understanding of your chosen topic.

  • Clinical Neuropsychology (20 credits)

Look at the nature of cognitive and emotional impairments following brain damage in adults. Cover topics including the causes of brain damage in adults, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's Disease, neuropsychological assessment procedures and rehabilitation following brain injury.

  • Health Psychology and Behaviour Change (20 credits)

Examine how psychological concepts, principles and theories can be applied to understand and alleviate problems associated with health and health-related behaviours. Cover topics which include personality, health and illness, sociocultural aspects of health and illness, and stress and health. Focus on psychological interventions aimed at changing health-related behaviours.

  • Psychology and Story (20 credits)

Consider how neuroscience and psychology are used in storytelling including myths and fairytales and their function in human culture where they are said to define who we are and shape our identities and our character. Map the hero’s journey, consider its features, and apply it to a range of epic stories such as Star Wars and Harry Potter. We will consider the importance of character and compare the hero, the antihero and the superhero - and explore the relationship between hero and self.

  • The Psychology of Serious and Violent Offending (20 credits)

Apply psychology to understanding offenders and a number of common forms of serious and violent offending encountered in forensic settings. Draw on approaches from across the discipline of psychology, applying psychological theory and research to aspects of serious and violent offending, for example gang violence and crime, intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence, sexual violence, murder, terrorism, financial and corporate crime, cybercrime.

  • Digital Humans: The Psychology of Online Behaviour (20 credits)

Study cyberpsychology, the psychology of how humans interact with technology and online environments. Look at the online world and its impact on human behaviour. Explore how humans have adapted to a world with increasing amounts of technology: becoming digital humans in the process. Study the rise of artificial technology, and its impact on human behaviours. Consider how we interact with virtual environments, explore virtual identity, online vs. offline behaviours, and how we approach privacy and self-disclosure in an increasingly digital world.

  • Advanced Quantitative Methods (10 credits) 

Further develop your research design and data analysis skills, building on the foundations provided at Years 1 and 2. Cover advanced quantitative research design and acquire a number of advanced data analysis techniques.

  • Brain Plasticity (10 credits)

Explore the malleable and changeable quality of the human brain. Look at brain development running from childhood through to adulthood, and how age affects the plasticity of the brain. Examine evidence of the interconnectedness of the human brain from birth, looking at individuals with born sensory defects and synaesthesia as well as the ability of the brain to reorganise after damage.

  • Applied Memory Research (20 credits)

Study real world issues and problems relating to memory such as recovered and false memories, post-traumatic stress disorder and memory, memory closure and expressive writing, childhood amnesia, pregnancy and memory, life stories and post-traumatic growth, mindfulness and memory, role of memory making in mental health after perinatal loss, simulation of future experiences and anxiety.

  • Professional Placement (20 credits)

Acceptance onto this module is competitive and based on academic engagement and staff references. If your application to this module is successful, you will complete a 140-hour placement with a professional organisation, possibly, but not necessarily, related to psychology. Past placements have included conducting research and analysing data for NHS trusts and private clinical organisations or working as psychology teaching and research assistants.

  • Art Psychology (20 credits)

Focus on two main areas: firstly, can psychology help us to understand and explain how and why people create art. Secondly, can psychology help us to understand why (some) humans like art, how art communicates meanings and what humans gain from experiencing art.

  • Professional Practice (20 credits)

Understand key conceptual, ethical, legal, and regulatory issues in clinical psychology. Understand the regulatory framework in which clinical psychologists practice, the legal obligations they must comply with such as issues concerning consent, confidentiality, data protection, and safeguarding, and the ethical issues clinicians encounter when working with people with mental health problems such as protecting an individual’s liberty and protecting individuals from harm.

  • The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources. Resources for Counselling and Psychology include:

    • PsycARTICLES - This is an American Psychological Association (APA) database containing full-text articles from over 50 peer-reviewed Psychology journals covering 1985 to the present
    • Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection - This database provides nearly 575 full text publications and covers topics such as emotional and behavioral characteristics, psychiatry and psychology, mental processes, counselling, and observational and experimental methods
    • Science Direct - This provides some full text access to scientific and technical peer-reviewed journals. Coverage is all aspects of science, including Psychology and Counselling
    • Web of Knowledge - Provides access to ISI Web of Science, a multidisciplinary database of journal abstracts and citations from 1981 to date
    Library Services - counselling and psychology
  • We have specialist psychological and computer laboratories for counselling and psychology, plus the ‘Sandbox’, a dedicated space for students to develop ideas collaboratively.

    Our specialist facilities include:

    • High specification research cubicles, including a soundproof cubicle
    • Visual psychophysics laboratory
    • SkillsLab, a 30-seater IT suite
    • Powerlab psychophysiological measurement equipment
    • A transcranial direct-current brain stimulation machine (tDCS)
    • Private interview booths
    • Multimedia and games research room
    • Specialist data analysis and experiment building software
    Specialist laboratories for counselling and psychology
  • Map and directions


Our Psychology courses are based at Helen McArdle House, City Campus, close to the city centre and a five-minute walk from the University metro station.

You’ll find a range of specialist laboratories and excellent library resources here.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


Sunderland has a good reputation with employers - 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers).

Career options

Graduates from this course can move into a broad range of careers spanning management, personnel, social work, public services, counselling and advertising, or alternatively, pursue postgraduate qualifications in specific fields of psychological practice such as clinical or forensic psychology.

Counselling careers include educational counselling (where you help deal with difficulties in learning and social adjustment), forensic counselling (where you become an expert in psychological issues associated with criminal behaviours), and clinical counselling (where you deal with mental and physical health problems).

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