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PgDip|Postgraduate Taught

Systemic Practice and Family Therapy

Entry year
Entry requirements
2 years (Part-time)
Places available
20 (Part Time)

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 training: Foundation (PG Certificate), Intermediate (PG Diploma) and Qualifying (MSc Systemic Psychotherapy).

This Postgraduate Diploma is designed for those who have completed Foundation level training and who wish to further enhance their ability to work systemically with families, individuals and organisations. The programme aims to develop reflexive and ethical practitioners who have a solid knowledge of the theories and research underpinning systemic family practice and its application to their specific area of work.

Please note that this course is not eligible for a Student route visa.

Closing date for applications: Wednesday 31st July 2024 at 4 pm. Late applications may be considered.

The PG Diploma constitutes year 2 of the four year Qualifying level Systemic Family Psychotherapist training.

Systemic Practice and Family Therapy highlights

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

Industry Links

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

Career Development

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.

The Systemic Practice and Family Therapy programmes provide knowledge and skills which are highly valued in both child and adult services across health and social care.

Internationally Renowned Experts

Over 88% of research submitted by colleagues from Criminology, Social Policy, Sociology and Social Work to the Social Policy and Social Work Unit of Assessment was similarly judged to be World Leading or Internationally Excellent. An endorsement of the quality of our research and its impacts in areas such as the penal system, mental health and trauma; work once again achieved through work undertaken in partnership with the health, social care and criminal justice sectors.

Further Study Opportunities

MSc Systemic Psychotherapy (Qualifying level)

MSc Systemic Practice and Family Therapy (academic Master's qualification)

Student Testimonials

Course Structure

Three modules are taken, providing a balance of academic theory, skills development, personal development and application to the student’s work setting. It requires a minimum of 360 study hours, including direct contact with QUB staff, supervised systemic practice in the student’s workplace or other suitable setting and independent study.

The PG Diploma has 15 taught days, organised as one day per fortnight during the academic year from 9.30 to 4.30 each day.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Systemic Practice and Family Therapy is awarded to students who successfully complete taught modules amounting to 120 CATS points.

People teaching you

Senior Lecturer and Year 2 Convener


Lecturer in Social Work (Family Therapy)


Teaching Times

9.30am-4.30pm, one day per fortnight.

Learning and Teaching

Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:

  • Consolidation of Learning

    Students have regular small group sessions led by a facilitator to consolidate and apply course learning.

  • Overview

    Lectures and seminars are provided by a range of experienced Systemic Psychotherapists.


Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

  • 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. 20 of these systemic practice hours must be with more than one person, i.e. conjoint work.


The School is situated across a suite of three buildings in Belfast's Queen's Quarter. We provide student and staff common rooms, computer suites and designated study spaces.

Explore the teaching and social spaces in our School through our 360 Virtual Tour:

The Graduate School




The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2023/24). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

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.

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: Wednesday 31st July 2024 at 4pm

An interview will form part of the selection process for this course.

Late applications may be considered.

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students

Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.

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.



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.

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.

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,867
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,867
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £6,167
EU Other 3 £14,333
International £14,333

1EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.

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 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

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

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

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.

How do I fund my study?

The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 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 £11,836 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 - please check this link regularly, even after you have submitted an application, as new scholarships may become available to you.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at



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.

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