Counselling Social Work - 8930

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Contact: Ms Kerrie James

Campus: Sydney

Career: Postgraduate

Typical Duration: 2 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 12

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 12

Min UOC For Award: 48


Master of Counselling Social Work

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The Master of Counselling Social Work (MCSW) is a 2-year part-time program offered through the School of Social Sciences. Please note that the intake for this program occurs every 2nd year. The next intake of commencing students will be for Semester 1, 2017.

The MCSW is designed for practising social workers, to consolidate and extend counselling knowledge and skills. Two commitments provide the cohering framework of the program - the first is to family-sensitive practice, and the second is to counselling methods that are orientated to clients' strengths and that promote resilience.

The MCSW develops students' knowledge and skills in counselling by building on professional social work experience and providing a systemic and relational orientation to counselling. During the program, students study a number of counselling approaches and apply these approaches to their own counselling practice. The MCSW addresses key aspects of selected frameworks relevant to social work practice. These include systemic psychotherapy, narrative therapy, cognitive-behaviour therapy and trauma-based approaches. Students have the opportunity to engage in in-depth analysis of their own counselling practice in peer and supervisor-led case discussion groups. In both theory seminars and practice seminars, a participatory format is used to assist students to integrate ideas with their own counselling orientation.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

The Masters program is designed for social workers who want to consolidate and extend their knowledge and skills in counselling practice. Objectives include the development of knowledge of counselling frameworks consistent with a strengths-based and family-sensitive approach, the development of clinical skills, and the development of an appreciation of the research process in this field.

Program Structure

Students are required to complete 6 courses (48 units of credit) over 2 years.

An exit-only Graduate Diploma in Counselling Social Work (5930) is available on completion of 36 units of credit.

Students who achieve a minimum distinction-level average in courses totalling 18 UOC are eligible to apply to substitute the 12 UOC course SOCF5107 Professional Practice Research Project for the courses SOCF5105 and SOCF5106. Admission will be at the discretion of the program convenor. Students who complete SOCF5107 at distinction level or above will meet the research training entry requirement for doctoral study (PhD or Doctor of Social Work DSW).

Two capstone courses, SOCF5105 and SOCF5106, draw together the various strands of the program and focus on the broader context of counselling in social work settings.

Year 1
Semester 1
Semester 2

Year 2
Semester 1
Semester 2
Note: Some courses are subject to prerequisite and corequisite requirements.

ARTS5503 Academic Writing (6 UOC)
This course can be taken as an additional course for students wishing to develop their academic writing skills. It will not count towards the program requirements. Click here for further details about the course.

Academic Rules

Please refer to Program Structure for the academic requirements relating to this program.

Credit Transfer
If you are seeking credit transfer you must submit documentary evidence of courses completed at the time of initial enrolment. Faculty will then determine the number of units of credit to be granted. Credit transfer will not be granted for courses completed more than ten years previously. The maximum credit transfer for a Masters is 18 UOC (equivalent to three courses).


For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:  UNSW Fee Website.

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for the new Master of Counselling Social Work are as follows:
  • A UNSW Bachelor of Social Work degree or equivalent qualification, and
  • Two years of specialised practice experience, and
  • Must be eligible for membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), meeting professional association requirements including professional development and supervision
It is a requirement of the program that students have at least two years' full time social work experience in contexts where they are able to provide counselling, case management or other direct practice interventions with clients. This is in contrast to social workers who may have worked primarily in administrative or management roles. This requirement means that students in the program are already skilled clinicians in their respective work contexts.

Eligibility of the AASW ensures that students are professional social workers, are committed to the values and ethics of the profession and have had prior education in social work practice methods including counselling. The AASW also expects social workers to have participated in professional development activities (of up to 50 hours per year) and to have received professional supervision.

These criteria ensure that applicants meet Level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and have the skills and knowledge to be capable of reaching the specified Learning Outcomes within the volume of learning of a 48 UOC Masters program.

Area(s) of Specialisation