Guidance Counselling & Lifespan Development

The focus of the MA is to qualify practicing teachers and other professionals to become qualified guidance counsellors. The professional Guidance Counsellor brings to bear specific skills in counselling individuals in the areas of personal, social, educational and career development. In order to fulfil their roles as Guidance Counsellors effectively, participants on the programme will be educated in a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies within the context of a lifelong learning framework. The strong focus on personal development on the programme strives to promote self-understanding and insight for a deeper appreciation of the counselling process. Consequently, participants are required to avail of external supervision provided by an accredited counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist in each academic year. Details of which will be explained to participants on the programme.

The programme is offered over two academic years on a part-time basis (mid-week evenings and weekends depending on location of delivery). It consists of a combination of taught modules across the two years, as well as a professional practice placement and a research dissertation in Year 2. The curriculum includes an off-campus residential weekend in Spring Semester of Year 1 and two Summer School modules in Year 1 (one module per full week). The average tuition contact time per week for each of the first four semesters is six hours, with a reduction to three hours in Semester 2, Year 2 to take account of the demands of undertaking a research dissertation. However, the programme requires a significant level of personal commitment from participants in terms of attendance, contribution, self-directed learning and their own time management.

This programme is recognised by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors. It is approved by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) for the purpose of appointment as a qualified Guidance Counsellor in the education sector. This qualification does not provide graduates with a recognised teaching qualification as required by the Teaching Council.

Programme Centres: University of Limerick and the Carrick on Shannon Education Centre, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Applicants need to state on their application form their first preference location: University of Limerick campus or Carrick on Shannon Education Centre.

Programme Content
The curriculum is underpinned by an andragogical approach that aims to develop graduates who are knowledgeable, self-directed, articulate, collaborative, reflective and ethically aware of professional standards in guidance counselling.

Entry requirements

Candidates for this initial qualification in guidance counselling shall be required to possess either of the following:

•A Degree in Education at 2h2 (Level 8 - QQI) or above from a concurrent undergraduate programme, or a Higher Diploma/Masters in Education, or an approved equivalent professional teaching qualification or
•An Honours Degree at 2h2 (Level 8 - National Qualifications Authority of Ireland) or above in a cognate discipline such as psychology, social and community work, human resources and health sciences.

Consideration will also be given to candidates in line with UL's Policy for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Where candidates are non-native English language speakers, they must also satisfy the English Language Requirements of UL.

The number of places on the programme is limited. Selection is a competitive process and will include short listing prior to an interview.

It is a UL requirement that students taking this post-graduate programme will need to undergo a Garda clearance process.

What to Include with your Application
•Full degree transcript and certificates/awards (including English translation if applicable)
•English language qualifications (if English is not your first language)
•A copy of your birth certificate/passport
•Please state your centre preference on the application form
•An up-to-date CV in word format
•A 500 word Personal Statement describing your interest and reason for applying for the programme.

English Language Requirements
Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of either prior successful completion of a degree qualification taught through the medium of English or meet one of the criteria below (no longer than two years prior to application):

Acceptable English Language qualifications include the following:
•Matriculation examinations from European countries where English is presented as a subject and an acceptable level is achieved
•Irish Leaving Certificate English –Ordinary Level Grade D or above
•TOEFL – 580 (paper based) or 90 (internet based)
•IELTS – Minimum score of 6.5 with no less than 6 in any one component.
•English Test for English and Academic Purposes (ETAPP) – Grade C1
•GCE 'O' level English Language/GCSE English Language – Grade C or above
•University of Cambridge ESOL –Certificate of Proficiency in English - Grade C / Certificate in Advanced English Grade A
•GCE Examination Boards – Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations – Grade C / Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate – School Certificate Pass 1-6 / University of London Entrance and School Examinations Council – School Certificate Pass 1-6

Results in examinations other than those listed above may also be accepted as meeting our English language requirements. Contact the International Education Division for advice.


2 years part time

Careers or further progression

Graduate Profile
Graduate of this programme have availed of opportunities to work as qualified guidance counsellors in the post-primary, further, higher and adult education sector, public employment sector and private practice. They have also progressed into further professional studies and research.

Further enquiries

Department: Education and Professional Studies
Dr. Lucy Hearne,
Course Director,

Subjects taught

Year 1
Semester 1
•Counselling Theory and Practice 1
•Professional Practice in Guidance Counselling

Semester 2:
•Psychology of Human Development
•Theory and Skills of Experiential Group Learning

Summer Semester:
•Theory and Practice of Psychological Assessment
•Advanced Research Methods in Guidance Counselling

Year 2
Semester 1

•Counselling Theory and Practice 2
•Contemporary Perspectives on Vocational Development and Progression Across the Lifespan
•Practicum 1: Educational Practice Placement

Semester 2:
•Guidance in Adult & Continuing Education
•Practicum 2: Educational Practice Placement
•Dissertation 1

Summer Semester:
•Dissertation 2

Content of modules can be found by using the search option on the book of modules.


The MA provides a professional qualification in guidance counselling. It provides training in the required knowledge, skills and competencies in the areas of personal, social, educational and career guidance across the lifespan. This programme is approved by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) for the purpose of appointment as a Guidance Counsellor in post-primary, further and adult education.

Application date

Application Deadlines

Taught Programmes
Applications are accepted on an ongoing basies but specific programmes have individual closing dates which can be found on our on-line prospectus

Research Programmes
Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis for research programmes. The applications for Research programmes are review each month by the Postgraduate Research Committee.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: 09/Sep/2019

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