Systemic Practice & Family Therapy

Systemic practice and family therapy helps people in close relationships to better understand and support each other. It enables individuals and family members to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, understand each other's experiences and views, appreciate each other's needs, build on family strengths, and work together to make useful changes in their relationships and their lives.

Systemic family therapy has been found to be effective across the life course in helping children, young people, adults, couples and families struggling with a broad range of difficulties and circumstances.

Systemic practitioners and systemic family therapists work in many health and social care settings such as children's services, older people's services, physical health and disability, substance misuse, justice and mental health services.

Our multidisciplinary Systemic Practice and Family Therapy programmes are suitable for professionally qualified staff who wish to enhance their skills of working with families, couples, individuals, other systems and relationship networks.

There are three levels of systemic practice training: Foundation (PG Certificate), Intermediate (PG Diploma) and Qualifying level training (MSc Systemic Psychotherapy).

If you have completed the PG Diploma in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy then this MSc gives you the opportunity to achieve a Master's degree by undertaking a research dissertation. Please note this MSc is not equivalent to Qualifying level family therapy training which takes a further 2 years (MSc Systemic Psychotherapy).

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements
1. This is a multidisciplinary pathway with applications welcome from applicants with prior relevant professional training in a mental health or social care related discipline or equivalent as designated by the Association of Family Therapy (e.g. Social Work, Nursing, Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology). Normally one year's post qualification experience is required.

2. Applicants must have already completed AFT accredited Foundation level Systemic Practice training (PG Certificate Systemic Practice and Family Therapy) or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

3. Applicants must have the opportunity to apply systemic ideas to practice totalling 60 hours in a current work setting or placement with satisfactory arrangements for supervision of practice under the AFT Code of Ethics and Practice (10 hours individual or small group supervision). Where systemic supervision is not available in their place of work/placement, students may access independent systemic supervision to meet this requirement. The Programme Director will provide additional guidance and support in these circumstances. Please note that this programme is only open to applicants who are working in suitable contexts within NI/UK/RoI.

4. All Social Work applicants from NI/UK must have a recognised social work qualification and have successfully completed the Assessed Year in Employment. Social work and social care applicants must be registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and should include their NISCC Social Care Registration Number in the Additional Information section of the application form.

5. Applicants should normally have a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent recognised qualification. Equivalent qualifications include the Pre-2007 Post-Qualifying Award in Social Work. Where this is not met, applicants must show their ability to study at postgraduate level through evidence of previous postgraduate training or completion of a reflective practice assignment.

6. At least two references will be sought, one of whom must be the applicant's current employer. At least one referee should be professionally qualified and be able to comment on the applicant's current practice.

Please note the MSc Systemic Practice and Family Therapy is an academic Masters qualification and is not equivalent to the MSc Systemic Psychotherapy which is accredited at Qualification-level by the Association of Family Therapy with successful students eligible for registration as Systemic and Family Psychotherapists with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Please contact the Programme Director if you require more information about the different levels of systemic practice and family therapy training at Queen's.

N.B. Please note there are different entrance requirements at each level of the suite of Systemic Practice and Family Therapy programmes at Queen's. Should you be accepted onto the PG Diploma programme (Year 2 Intermediate) this does not automatically guarantee entry to the MSc Systemic Psychotherapy Qualifying level training. Further information may be sought to ensure eligibility.

Closing date for applications: Tuesday 31st July 2018.
Late applications may be considered.

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

•Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level

•Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


MSc (3 years) / PgDip (2 years) / PgCert (1 year).

Learning and Teaching
Lectures and seminars are provided by a range of experienced Systemic Psychotherapists. Students have regular small group sessions lead by a facilitator to consolidate and apply course learning.

The dissertation is undertaken for a full academic year.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
This course provides knowledge and skills which are highly valued in both child and adult services across health and social care.

Systemic practitioners and systemic family therapists work in many health and social care settings such as children's services, older people's services, physical health and disability, substance misuse, justice and mental health services.

On successful completion of the Diploma, you may use the professional title of 'Systemic Practitioner'.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Further enquiries

Dr Stephen Coulter, Lecturer
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work - Lecturer
Life Course Research
Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 1490

Ms Suzanne Mooney
Lecturer, Postgraduate research student
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work - Lecturer
Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3641

Subjects taught

Course Details
This programme involves an additional year of study, and is suitable for those who have completed the Postgraduate Diploma (Intermediate) Systemic Practice and Family Therapy and wish to achieve an academic Master's qualification by undertaking a research dissertation.

Course Structure
Course Details
The PG Diploma is accredited at Intermediate Level (Year 2) by the Association for Family Therapy (UK).

Core modules
- Systemic Practice Skills and Their Application to the Work Setting
- Theory, Practice and Research in Family and Systemic Practice
- Personal and Professional Development in Systemic Practice


Systemic Practice and Family Therapy highlights
Students are supported to attend these programmes across a wide range of disciplines employed in the voluntary and statutory sectors. A limited number of places are also commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board.

Professional Accreditations
•The Systemic Practice and Family Therapy programmes have been accredited by the Association of Family Therapy (AFT) and recognised by the relevant professions' continuing professional development frameworks.

Industry Links
•On these pathways there will be restricted access to relevant data by employers, the NISCC, DHSSPS, HSC Boards and any successor bodies.

Assessment method

Assessment is by written assignment and oral presentation, including a case study and learning portfolio.

Students must also demonstrate 60 hours of supervised systemic practice in a current work setting or placement and access a minimum of 10 hours of individual or small group supervision by a qualified Systemic Family Psychotherapist.

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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