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Systemic Practice and Family Therapy (PGCert)

PgCert | Postgraduate Taught

Systemic Practice and Family Therapy

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Part Time)
Places available
20 (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    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 family and systemic psychotherapists work in many health and social care contexts across child and adult settings, including child and family support services, looked after children’s services, older people’s services, physical health and disability, substance use, justice and mental health services.

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

    There are three levels of systemic practice training: Foundation (PG Certificate - Year 1), Intermediate (PG Diploma - Year 2) and Qualifying (MSc Systemic Psychotherapy - Years 3 and 4).

    This one-year Postgraduate Certificate is the entrance programme to systemic training. This level of training provides practitioners in different settings and roles with an understanding of the core concepts of contemporary systemic practice and the opportunity to develop and utilise systemic skills and techniques in their current practice context to maximise the therapeutic benefit for individual service users or relationships groups.

    Please note that this course is not eligible for a Tier 4 visa.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 30 July 2021 at 4pm.

    Systemic Practice and Family Therapy highlights

    This Certificate is a stand-alone programme but also constitutes year 1 of the four year training to qualify as a Family and Systemic Psychotherapist.

    Professional Accreditations

    • The Systemic Practice and Family Therapy programmes are accredited by the Association of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice UK (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.
    “We aim to provide multidisciplinary students with stimulating learning experiences to enhance their skills in both child and adult service settings. We hope practitioners will leave the courses feeling better equipped to work compassionately and effectively with the many struggles individuals and families seek help with.”

    Dr Suzanne Mooney, Programme Director
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    Three modules are interwoven throughout the curriculum, providing a balance of academic theory, skills development, and personal and professional development. The course requires a minimum of 180 study hours, including direct contact with QUB staff and independent study.

    The PG Certificate has 15 taught days, organised in two-day blocks, approximately once per month during the academic year.

    The Postgraduate Certificate in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy is awarded to students who successfully complete the three taught modules amounting to 60 CATS points. Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate or seek to progress to Year 2 (Postgraduate Diploma).

    Course DetailsThe PG Certificate is accredited at Foundation Level (Year 1) by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice UK (AFT).

    Core modules:
    Introduction to Systemic Theory, Research and Practice – This module aims to provide candidates with an understanding of the central theories and principles underpinning contemporary systemic practice with individuals, families/relationship groups and organisations in different service settings.

    Systemic Practice Skills and Their Application to the Work Setting - This module aims to enable candidates to develop basic systemic practice skills and apply these in their current practice role and context. These include engaging and working with individuals, families, couples, relationship groups and other professional systems, and the use of systemic mapping techniques such as genograms and timelines.

    Personal and Professional Development in Systemic Practice - This module aims to assist candidates in considering their own family and cultural experiences from a systemic perspective and how these influence their practice; to enable and support the development of reflective practice; and to use the learning gained from the module tasks to more fully understand the service user and carer experience and the development of collaborative practice.

    People teaching you

    Dr Stephen Coulter


    Dr Suzanne Mooney
    Programme Director


    Teaching Times

    9.30am to 4.30pm on teaching days. The PG Certificate in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy is made up up of 15 taught days. These are organised in two day blocks, approximately once a month during the academic calendar (October to April/May).

    Career Prospects

    This PG Certificate programme is the entrance programme to systemic training. It provides knowledge and practice skills which are highly valued in both child and adult services across health and social care.

    Systemic practitioners, and family and systemic psychotherapists work in many health and social care contexts across child and adult settings including child and family support services, looked after children's services, older people's services, physical health and disability, substance misuse, justice and mental health services.

    The course is taught by qualified Family and Systemic Psychotherapists who work in different settings, thus bringing a great richness of practice experience to the teaching team.

    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.

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:

    Consolidation and Learning

    Students have regular small group sessions with experienced Family and Systemic Psychotherapists to develop their practice and consolidate and apply course learning to their agency setting and role.


    All taught inputs are provided by experienced Family and Systemic Psychotherapists. This course has an experiential component with students expected to consider their own lived experiences and develop reflective practice skills.


    All course materials area available on Canvas.


    Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

    Assessment is by written assignments, including a case study and learning portfolio.


    The Graduate School

  • 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. Applicants who do not hold one of the designated relevant professional qualifications, but who would find a Foundation course useful to their work may be accepted in accordance with the AFT training standards. This is at the discretion of the Programme Director and will be decided in consultation with AFT course requirements. Additional information and a full CV will be required to demonstrate equivalence.

    2. Applicants must have the opportunity to apply systemic ideas in a current practice context. Please note that this programme is only open to applicants who are working in suitable contexts within NI/UK/RoI.

    3. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    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 Certificate programme (Year 1 Foundation), this does not automatically guarantee entry to the PG Diploma programme (Year 2 Intermediate) or MSc Systemic Psychotherapy Qualifying level training. Further information may be sought to ensure eligibility.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 30th July 2021 at 4pm.
    Late applications may be considered.

    International Students

    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.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £2,150
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £2,150
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £2,417
    EU Other 3 £5,900
    International £5,900

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Systemic Practice and Family Therapy costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus