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What makes Integrative Counselling at Exeter special?

The Foundation Degree (FdA) in Integrative Counselling, offered by Iron Mill College in Exeter is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

The programme is designed to qualify competent, confident and creative counsellors, who stand out from the crowd as highly professional graduates, well resourced for entering the workplace. The programmes are exciting, vocationally relevant and with a clear focus on up-to-date counselling theory and practice.

The FdA in Integrative Counselling prepares graduates to practice as professional counsellors, and resources those who are aiming for future personal accreditation with the BACP. Graduates will also be eligible for direct progression onto the BA (Hons) Integrative Counselling, to top up to a full honours degree in just one year of study.

The BA (Hons) in Integrative Counselling is open to FdA graduates, and also open to experienced applicants who may have qualified as a counsellor many years ago, and who wish to refresh and update their professional skills and gain an advanced university validated qualification in one year (see entry criteria).



Key features

  • This advanced, two year, professional degree programme is delivered at Iron Mill College, in Exeter, and in Poole
  • Focuses attention on the importance, quality and depth of relationship as the central component of therapeutic work
  • We are in the process of applying for Accreditation to include OPT (online and phone therapy) Core Training into the programme. If successful, up to 30% of teaching will be delivered online
Integrative Counselling accredited course logo
Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

To be eligible for this course students must:

  • Have completed at least 30 hours of preliminary counselling training. Applicants not meeting this requirement will be recommended to take the Iron Mill College Certificate in counselling
  • Possess a Level 3 (or equivalent) qualification. Applicants not meeting this requirement will be assessed for academic writing ability
  • Applicants must provide a personal statement on application and provide two references.
  • Provide proof of identification

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) requirements

Students will be required to apply for their Enhanced DBS Certificate via the University. A fee will be payable at this point.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

To ensure that all students meet the criteria for BACP registration, RPL is not permitted. Students need to complete the course in its entirety to achieve their FdA award and BACP registration.

Admissions procedures

  • Applicants will apply via UCAS to the University of Worcester. The application must include a personal statement and two references
  • Students attend for a group and individual interview at the Iron Mill College (see details below)
  • The University will send a letter to successful applicants confirming the offer and requesting that the student completes the on-line registration. The student completes the registration via Sole Pages. The University of Worcester will send a confirmation letter to the student and will enclose a handbook

Admissions/selection criteria


Applicants who meet the entry criteria will be invited to Iron Mill College for an interview. The interview process includes both a group and individual element and is led by members of the FdA teaching team. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they possess the professional and personal qualities for counselling training and demonstrate that they have:

  • A good understanding of the expectations and commitments of the training
  • Strong relational and communication skills
  • Maturity, self-awareness and self-reflective ability, and the ability to engage with the academic requirements of the programme
  • The confidence and competence required to actively seek and obtain a placement, as well as having relevant professional experience which will assist with the gaining of a placement
  • Applicants also need to consider the full-time nature of the course and the personal commitment to be able to engage fully with this highly demanding training

*In preparation for interview applicants are advised to look at the BACP website and the BACP Ethical Framework which lists the values and personal qualities expected of counsellors.

Open Events at Iron Mill College

There's no better way of finding out about studying at Iron Mill College than joining them at one of their Open Events.

You can view Online Course Presentations here (

Open Events at Iron Mill College
Course content

Course content

Our courses are informed by research and current developments in the discipline and feedback from students, external examiners and employers. Modules do therefore change periodically in the interests of keeping the course relevant and reflecting best practice. The most up-to-date information will be available to you once you have accepted a place and registered for the course. If there are insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this might not be offered, but we will advise you as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative. 

Year 1

  • IMIC1101: The Art of Relationship
  • IMIC1102: Professional Competence
  • IMIC1103: Neuroscience for Counsellors 
  • IMIC1104: A Sense of Self
  • IMIC1105: Professional Development 1

Year 2

  • IMIC2101: The 'Here and Now' encounter
  • IMIC2102: Creative Arts Therapies
  • IMIC2103: Counselling in Context
  • IMIC2104: The Process of Change
  • IMIC2105: Professional Development 2
  • IMIC2106: Professional Practice


Foundation Degree (FdA) in Integrative Counselling (Levels 4 and 5) with 240 credits (for successful completion of both Years 1 and 2). This award qualifies you to practice as a professional counsellor, and meets the application requirements for full membership of the BACP (MBACP status).

HE Certificate in Integrative Counselling (Level 4) with 120 credits (for successful completion of Year 1 only). This award does not qualify you to practice as a counsellor, but will help enhance skills of those in a helping profession.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and assessment

The University places emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement. A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system enables you to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful.


You are taught through a combination of formal lectures, creative activities, experiential exercises, group process, presentations, skills practices and applied learning, large and small group activities and reflective practice.

In addition, meetings with personal academic tutors are scheduled on at least 4 occasions in the first year and three occasions in each of the other years of a course. You will be encouraged to keep in regular contact with your tutor throughout your studies. In addition, you will have the opportunity to develop your skills through your counselling placement and Work Based Learning.

Contact time

In a typical week, students will have around 7 contact hours of teaching. The precise contact hours will depend on the optional modules selected and in the final year there is normally slightly less contact time in order to do more independent study. Typically class contact time will be structured around:

  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • Skills practice
  • Large and small group activities
  • Reflective practice and experiential work

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, you are expected to undertake around 22 hours of personal self-study per week. Typically, this will involve:

  • reading of text books and journals
  • journal writing
  • professional portfolio activities, organisation and writing
  • work based learning - approx. 30-50 hours per year
  • placement - a minimum of 100 hours across the programme
  • supervision of counselling placement practice - a minimum of 1.5 hours per month
  • personal therapy - a minimum of 40 hours across the two years
  • preparation for assignments

Time spent on the above activities will vary from student to student but all of the above must be included in the process.

There are additional costs related to most counselling programmes, such as professional body membership fees, supervision if not provided by the placement, and personal therapy costs. For a breakdown of expected additional costs on this programme, please see the 'Fees' tab on the FdA page of the Iron Mill College website.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The teaching is delivered by experienced practitioners who are registered with MBACP, and/or UKCP, and who are also in ongoing supervised practice as therapists. The academic team aim to create a colourful and varied learning experience, combining up to date theory, experiential activities, practical work, and reflective opportunities. All lecturers associated with the course have teaching qualifications and substantial teaching experience at HE level, with three members of the team being Fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). You can learn more about our staff by visiting our Staff Profiles on the Iron Mill College website.


The course provides opportunities to enhance and assess understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or 'formative' assignments. Each module has one or more formal or 'summative' assessments which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.

Assessment methods include essays, presentation, portfolios, interviews, creative exhibition, case studies, oral exams, and skills assessment. There are no written exams on this course. 

Year 1
  • Written Assignments (1500 + 4000 words)
  • Reflective Skills
  • Interview
  • Presentation
  • Portfolio work
Year 2
  • Written Assignments (2500 + 4000 words)
  • Case Study
  • Portfolio Work
  • Presentation
  • Poster
  • Oral Exam

In addition, students will need to complete and evidence 100 counselling placement hours, 40 hours of personal therapy, and undertake Work Based Learning (approx. 30-50 hours per year in both Year 1 and Year 2).


Feedback is an important aspect of your learning. We provide opportunities for you to receive feedback in the following forms:

  • Verbal documented feedback provided in your 1:1 tutorial sessions
  • Written comments from your tutor, usually attached to your assignments
  • Verbal comments from your tutor associated with your work
  • Generic feedback from tutors covering particular strengths/ weaknesses found in the work of a particular student group
  • Comments from other students about your work (peer feedback)
  • Your own comments and reflections on your work (self-assessment and feedback)

You will receive feedback on your assignment and a provisional mark within twenty working days from the submission date.

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification.

Kim Sturgeon Graduate Story Profile Image

Kim Sturgeon

Lecturer teaching counselling on the Foundation Degree course at the Iron Mill College

"I feel hugely privileged to have been in a position where I could achieve a First Class degree. I have always felt supported in every area of my learning from personal welfare to academic support as well as having access to books and journals. I can’t thank the staff enough for their outstanding efforts to support students; particularly during such a turbulent time.” 



The Foundation Degree (FdA) in Integrative Counselling programme provides the opportunity for advancement in a variety of counselling-related careers, and for counselling practitioners to advance beyond their current role. Possible career opportunities include:

  • NHS initiatives e.g. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
  • Educational institutions: schools, colleges and universities
  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPS)
  • Local Authority employee services programmes
  • Charitable agencies
  • Private practice

The programme provides valuable links with employers through both the placement and work based learning components, as well as networking opportunities within the community.


Fees and funding

Full-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard fee for full-time home and EU undergraduate students enrolling on BA/BSc/LLB degrees and FdA/FdSc degrees in the 2024/25 academic year is £9,250 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

International students

The standard tuition fee for full-time international students enrolling on BA/BSc/LLB degrees and FdA/FdSc degrees in the 2024/25 academic year is £16,200 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Additional costs

There are additional costs related to most counselling programmes, such as professional body membership fees, supervision if not provided by the placement, and personal therapy costs. For a breakdown of expected additional costs on this programme, please see the 'Fees' tab on the FdA page of the Iron Mill College website.

How to apply