Foundation Degree in Counselling
On this page
The value of counselling to improve well-being and quality of life is increasingly recognised in society. From everyday worries to serious mental health issues like chronic anxiety and depression, counsellors and psychotherapists are helping us cope with the stresses and strains of life. At the OU, we’ve responded to this growing interest by developing the Foundation Degree in Counselling in partnership with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB). You’ll engage in a unique mix of learning experiences, initially taking some CPCAB courses, which include practical, work-based learning delivered in conjunction with local Further Education colleges and other registered training providers, followed by some knowledge-based modules with the OU. This foundation degree course will prepare you to become a professional counsellor, equipping you with the theoretical understanding and practical skills required to work in this field. If you already have the required CPCAB qualifications, you can top these up with the OU modules needed to get the foundation degree.
Further information and Frequently Asked Questions about this qualification can be found on the
Social Sciences faculty website.
The programme of study for this foundation degree is also offered as the
Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling (W09). The diploma of higher education might be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.
Fees and facts
Where will you be resident whilst you study?
If your country isn’t listed here, visit our
Choose country above to see fee and ways to pay.
Flexible, part-time study through
Foundation degrees are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession; they combine work place learning with academic study. Designed and developed with external partners, you must be working either as a paid employee or as a volunteer in a related work setting.
A foundation degree is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They aim to enhance the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or those intending to go into that profession.
You can use a foundation degree to:
change careers or progress your current career, gain technical and professional skills, gain professional recognition, achieve a full honours degree through further study.
Most of our foundation degrees are also offered as diplomas of higher education for those living and working in Scotland.
To study the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma course you need to have completed the CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills or its equivalent, plus the CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies or its equivalent, such as the OU’s
Introduction to counselling (D171), followed by a successful interview with the training provider.
This qualification is limited to areas where the CPCAB courses are delivered, so you should check the
CPCAB website to ensure the CPCAB courses are available in your area before beginning to study this qualification.
Career relevance and employability
This foundation degree in counselling allows you to:
practise as a professional counsellor in a wide range of settings, from the statutory to voluntary sector
work with a diverse range of people and issues such as mental health problems, relationship problems, physical illness and trauma.
It also provides the required hours of specified learning which – with appropriate practice, supervision and personal development – will enable you to apply for individual accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). You can also use it as a staging post for further professional development, including the possibility of topping up to an honours degree.
Studying this foundation degree course will provide you with knowledge and understanding of the major theoretical perspectives employed within counselling; the historical and cultural context of this profession; and the appropriate professional principles required for effective counselling practice. You’ll acquire professional skills that are transferable to many other roles in health, social care and education and include the ability to:
practise safely and effectively in a recognised model of counselling
act in accordance with the relevant legal, ethical and procedural boundaries
make professional judgements and interventions
reflect on, review and audit your professional practice.
There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the
OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication and look at our OU study and your career subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
Choose a pathway and register
It is not possible to apply online to study for this qualification. For more information, read
our entry requirements for this qualification.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
If you have already completed some successful study at higher education level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible, and before you register for this qualification.
If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete this qualification. This may also mean that the next start date and the maximum time limit for this qualification are different to those shown above.
Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
Knowledge and understanding
Practical and professional skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Foundation Degree in Counselling, and you will be entitled to use the letters FD (Open) after your name.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our
Essential Documents website.
If you have a disability
Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:
the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
any work-based competency requirements.
Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:
You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007),
Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you
will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you
register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.
The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities
we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move.
As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed
feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online
tutorials, or by phone.
For more information read
Distance learning explained.