Systemic Family Therapy MSc

Year of entry

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Start dates
September 2023
Please note there is only one intake for this course every two years.
Delivery type
On campus
24 months part time
Entry requirements
Professionally qualified in health/social care discipline + in related employment.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component
UK fees
£11,750 (total)
International fees
£25,000 (total)

Course overview

Family therapy session

The MSc in Systemic Family Therapy is a part-time course over 24 months, accredited by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. The MSc is the qualifying level of training and successful completion of the course confers eligibility to register as a Family Therapist / Systemic Psychotherapist with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

The course is designed for those who wish to train to work in the NHS, social care agencies or independent practice as a Family Therapist/Systemic Psychotherapist.

Training as a Family Therapist

The Leeds Family Therapy and Research Centre has been training Family Therapists for over 25 years to work with individuals, couples and families experiencing distress in life and relationships across the lifespan You will develop theoretical knowledge, skills and the personal professional development needed to make a positive difference through your work as a Family Therapist.

The MSc Systemic Family Therapy is the final two years of training and is preceded by Foundation and Intermediate level systemic practice training courses, which can be combined at the University of Leeds in the PGCert Systemic Practice. Foundation and Intermediate level can also be studied as standalone courses for professionals to develop systemic practice and to determine. Entry to the training programme for all professionally qualified students is at Foundation / PgCert level.

For qualified Family Therapists the Advanced Training in Systemic Supervision is also offered – contact us for more information

Please scroll down and read the essential application guidance before applying.

This course is accredited by the Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice and fulfils the training requirements for qualifying level as a Family Therapist (also known as a Systemic Psychotherapist). Read more on the Association for Family Therapy website.

Course details

The MSc is a part-time course approximating to 0.5fte with two full day teaching sessions per month at the Univiersity of Leeds campus and a weekly four-hour clinic placement in a training team of students, arranged by the course, in which your therapeutic work with families will receive live supervision. There are currently supervision clinics located in Leeds, Bradford, Keighley, Hull, Runcorn, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, and Northampton. You will also be required to engage in systemic practice in your own work agency or by alternative placement to meet the clinical hours requirements for registration as a systemic psychotherapist on completion of the course and to engage in systemic supervision of this practice.

On this professional training course you will gain a depth of knowledge of systemic theory, cybernetics, constructivism, and post-modern social constructionist ideas which inform contemporary family therapy practice. You will gain understanding of the main therapeutic models in the systemic field; Structural, Milan, Post – Milan, Narrative, and Collaborative / Dialogical psychotherapy. You will be trained in the skills and competencies associated with these models.

You will learn about a wide range of systemic approaches to draw upon to work with client preferences and strengths and be able to work with individuals, couples and families and those in close relationships who hold different perspectives and may be drawn to different actions in their lives but are seeking change through systemic family therapy.

You will develop skills to work with more severe emotional, behavioural and situational presentations and with a range of mental illness presentations including work with multi-disciplinary and agency complexity.

The course privileges a critical understanding of issues of societal and professional power and issues of marginalisation in the many contexts and relationships of people’s lives. This is considered central to systemic psychotherapeutic practice. In personal and professional development groups on University days and in clinical supervision students are encouraged to identify and respond to the range of influences on their practice, ranging from their own family life, educational and professional experiences to those held in wider social discourses.

The course provides a systemic perspective on individual psychological development and the family life cycle and the way in which these stages impact upon and are influenced by significant others in relational, cultural and societal contexts, where difficulties can be understood in the context of interpersonal relationships and wider institutional and cultural discourses. You will develop a working knowledge of other psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches that may be related to systemic work or posed as an alternative.

You will be able to use systemic skills in work with teams and other professionals in a collaborative and coordinated manner. You will develop an appreciation of the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice Code of Ethics and Practice and an awareness of the large scale and smaller operations of power and be able to attend to these in practice. You will be responsive to issues of risk and safety for clients. You will develop a capacity for self-reflexive practice and see it as part of ongoing professional discipline.

The course will develop your ability to make use of published systemic theory and to be able to critique current research in family therapy. You will develop a high level of ability in articulating theory and practice in relation to case material. Graduates of the course will have skills in teaching others systemic ideas and some basic experience in contributing a systemic perspective in supervision.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Systemic Family Therapy MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Theories of Change and Practice I 20
Introduction to Research Methods 15
Family Therapy Skills I 25
Systemic Supervision and Case Presentation I 30

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Theories of Change and Practice II 20
Advanced Research Methods 15
Family Therapy Skills II 25
Systemic Supervision and Case Presentation II 30

Learning and teaching

You will be taught through lectures, practical classes, tutorials, seminars and supervised problem based learning research projects.

We make extensive use of IT and a wide range of materials to enable students to study at their own pace and in their own time to enhance and extend the material taught formally.

On this course you will be taught by professionally qualified Family Therapists. Leading Family Therapists from other training courses and areas of specialist practice also contribute to the teaching as guest speakers.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Achievement for the degree of Master will be assessed by a variety of methods in accordance with the learning outcomes of the modules specified for the year/programme.

We monitor your progress through attendance which is expected to be a full attendance and participation in lectures and tutorials, and clinical supervision of your practice with individuals couples and families. Assessment is by written assignments, assessed group based research projects and seminars and presentations of clinical practice, an online examination in the first year and extended case study in the second year. Students receive formative feedback on each session of their clinical practice.


Entry requirements

  • You will already have professional training (normally at graduate level) in mental health or social care, eg social work, nursing, clinical psychology, psychiatry, or relevant equivalent professional experience. Further details can be found in the APEL document (Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning).

  • You will already have successfully completed Intermediate level training in Systemic Practice or equivalent.

  • While you are studying with us, you will be required to undertake 200 hours in your own agency setting during the two years of the course and this should be supervised by a a qualified family therapist/supervisor. Your workplace may be able to provide or support this or you may need to consider a placement for this practice and the course team can advise you on this.

  • You are advised to plan for the study requirement of the course which amounts to an estimate 635 hours of private study, 18- 20 course days and 40 x 5 hour (weekly) clinic placements per year. Additional time may be required to fulfil statutory and mandatory training in your placement NHS service and travel to and from your clinical placement.

  • You will need the support of your current manager in enabling your study and in consent to undertake your systemic practice requirements and reference this work in your assessments (with full attendance to client confidentiality) . Our experience is that this training offers considerable benefits to your work place and population you serve. The support of your manager is an important contributor to this process and the MSc Professional Application includes a letter for your manager which outlines the training and asks for their support for your application. It you are unable to gain support at this stage, it is important that you contact the course team to discuss this as early as possible.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

The Professional Application is available to download here This application pack covers professional training, current professional practice, interest in systemic therapeutic practice, professional and academic references. Please ensure that your referees have been notified of your request and that you provide an up to date email address for them.

Please complete this Professional Application pack and return this to and cc in by Friday 31st March 2023. You will also be required to submit the University of Leeds Taught Postgraduate Application form for the course which can be accessed below.

Download our application guidance

Eligible applicants will be invited to an interview for which preparation will be required. Interviews will be held in April and May 2023.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Admissions policy

School of Medicine Taught Postgraduate Policy 2023

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UK: £11,750 (total)

International: £25,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

Successful graduates are able to register with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and apply for family therapy posts. Some Family Therapist posts specify a prior professional qualification and graduates who do not have this (APEL students) may not be eligible for application to these posts.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Study abroad and work placements

For details of clinical placement, please see modules FAMT5470M and FAMT5480M.