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Counselling & Pastoral Care


The M.A. in Counselling and Pastoral Care is designed to prepare students to be competent and effective practitioners in pastoral care embedded in counselling principles. The programme develops competence through in-depth study, meaningful structured reflection and the integration of theory with experiential learning through practice. This Masters programme provides learners an opportunity to develop the key professional skills, knowledge, attributes and approaches required to successfully engage in counselling and pastoral care. Special attention is placed on the research element of this Masters so as to allow learners to investigate and deepen insights specific to the field of pastoral care and combine that learning with the personal learning associated with reflective practice.

As part of the M.A. in Counselling and Pastoral Care, participants will learn about a variety of areas including personhood and pastoral practice, life crisis and pastoral care, psychotherapeutic skills and engagement, principles and theories of counselling and psychotherapy, counselling and psychotherapeutic practice, evidence based practice and research methods and design.

All of these modules are designed to support you to apply all these elements of learning during the 200 hours of client work you are required to engage with in a practicum module as well as in the completion of a dissertation. The programme combines both theory and practical skills in a way that supports the academic and professional development of the learner.

The course was revised in 2015 and is validated by Quality and Qualification Ireland (QQI) who have overall responsibility for the quality of 3rd level academic programmes in Ireland.

The course commences each September and can be taken on a full time or part-time basis. Likewise, individual modules may also be taken on a stand alone basis. Taught Modules are taken across two twelve week terms through a combination of classroom based modules as well as some that are blended. Blended learning combines face to face and web based teaching and learning, which allows the learner to access classes in person or using on-line facilities to allow for a better work/life/study balance. In certain modules mandatory attendance is a requirement.

What supports will I have?

At ICHAS, every lecturer and member of staff is committed to excellence in education and professional practice. Each Module has a Module Leader who works with students to enhance their learning and will provide formative and summative feedback throughout every module. Each programme has a Programme Co-ordinator and in addition you will have direct access to the Programme Leader and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Dissertation and Practicum are central elements of the Masters programme. Each student will undertake these modules under the direction of an Academic and Practicum supervisor respectively for these modules.

Who Awards My Qualification?

On successful completion of the programme, your qualification is awarded by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). QQI is one of the principal Irish awarding body for 3rd level education in Ireland and sets the standards for awards on the NFQ. Because this programme is both validated and awarded by QQI, the Award you receive is recognised in Ireland and internationally. See for further information.

The M.A in Counselling and Pastoral Care has many features that make it one of the leading programmes of this type in Ireland, these include;

•This programme is part of a suite of programmes that have been recently revalidated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), ensuring up to date teaching methods, programme content and quality.

•It is delivered by lecturers who work in this field, who are passionate about your education and dedicated to sharing their experience and expertise.

•The programme is recognised throughout Europe. On completion you will receive the Europass Diploma Supplement in addition to your degree parchment.

•It mixes theory and practice together to provide a complete understanding of the areas.

•This course has a progression route to PHD and doctorate level.

•It is recognised widely by employers, opening opportunities to graduates in a range of different areas.

•The programme uses both classroom based and blended learning techniques. This allows the learner to access classes in person or using on-line facilities to allow for a better work/life/study balance. In certain modules attendance may be a requirement.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for this course?

To join the M.A in Counselling and Pastoral Care, applicants must meet the following requirements;

•A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.2) at Level 8,or its equivalent in a related discipline. The nature of the programme allows for the consideration of candidates from a variety of backgrounds. Those with relevant experience will also be considered through APL/RPL. Applicants are also required to complete a short interview. All applicants are expected to be fluent and competent in both written and spoken English. In the case of overseas applications, students will have to provide certification of competency in English indicating a minimum score of 6.5 IELTS. Applicants are required to : ◦Be over 18 years of age.

Complete and submit the completed application form and provide all requested information.

Complete an interview process, which is designed to explore your reasons for taking the programme and to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. ICHAS is committed to ensuring that the programme you are on is right for you.

Complete the Garda vetting procedure.

•Applicants intending to access lectures online must have suitable equipment and broadband internet access, as specified on the Blended Learning information page.

•This programme requires learners to participate in practice placements that will bring them into contact with individuals who have potential vulnerability and in which they will be required to assume a position of trust. In the interest of public trust and confidence, procedures are in place to ensure that only applicants who can demonstrate suitable motivation and characteristics are eligible for selection or progression.


1 year full-time or 2 year part-time

Number of credits

Total Credits 90

Careers or further progression

Where Can I progress to on completion of the course?

On successful completion of the M.A in Counselling and Pastoral Care, students will be qualified to access Level 10 Programmes on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Career Prospects

It is important to remember that the impending introduction of statutory regulation by the Health and Social Care Professionals Council (Coru) in the fields of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy should be an important consideration when choosing courses of this type and when considering career options following completion.

The Department of Health has repeatedly emphasized that QQI qualifications (or their equivalent) will be required for registration with Coru. This programme has been found to meet the Award Standards as set out by QQI. The Government has committed to increased funding of mental health initiatives.

This qualification offers many opportunities for employment or for career progression. Graduates with qualifications in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Masters level find employment in a range of public services such as Mental Health Services, Community Health and Social Care settings and of course in Private Practice. 
This can involve careers working with many disparate groups, including (but not limited to) young people, adults, women at risk of domestic violence, the elderly and those with mental health issues.

More non traditional areas of application increasingly include areas such as sports, which are now utilising the skills of professionally qualified Counsellors or Psychotherapists.

Further enquiries

If you have any queries in relation to this course then please contact the college on 061 216288 or email us on where we will be only too pleased to assist you.

Subjects taught

How can I complete this Course?

Students can complete this course on either a full-time or part-time basis. Class participation for classroom based teaching normally requires attendance on 1 evening per week (6pm to 10pm) and Saturdays (9.30am to 4.30pm) over 2 semesters in the academic year (September to December and January to April).

Full-time students commit to the programme for one year and complete their taught modules including the Practicum and Dissertation in that period of time.

Part-time students commit to the programme for two years and they normally complete their taught modules in the first year and spend their second year working on their Practicum and Dissertation. Please refer to timetables for exact times and dates.

The programme is taught using a combination of classroom based and blended learning techniques. This allows the learner to access classes in person or using on-line facilities. In certain modules attendance will be a mandatory requirement.

Structure of Course

The Programme is divided into Modules each of which has Educational Credits (ECTS) associated with them. Each Module may also be taken on a stand alone basis. It is also important to note that students who complete 60 ECTS and who wish to exit the programme without completing their Dissertation may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

The course covers a range of subjects which are structured to develop competent professional practitioners. The subjects covered are designed to be both practical and theoretical as per the table below:

MA in Counselling & Pastoral Care

Principles and Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling & Psychotherapeutic Practice

Psychotherapeutic Skills & Engagement

Life Crisis & Pastoral Care

Personhood & Pastoral Practice

Evidence Based Practice & Research

Research Methods and Design

Elective Module



Total Credits 90

Assessment method

How will I be assessed?

The programme has been designed to enable learners to demonstrate their academic and reflective learning in appropriate ways. The assessment strategy accommodates different learning styles and therefore the programme assesses learners using a range of practical assignments, essays, learning journals, examinations, reflective exercises and projects.

The completion of a research based dissertation is a central part of the Masters programme and each student is supported by an academic supervisor for the entire period of their dissertation.

Course fee

€6,165 – €7,165

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date Sept 2020

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