Skip to Content

Major: Counselling Theory and Principles

Counselling Theory and Principles


Department of Psychology
Faculty of Human Sciences

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 24 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

3cp from
Identity and Difference: Introduction to Anthropology (3)
Happiness, Goodness and Justice (3)
Australian and Global Societies (3)

200 level

Counselling Approaches and Principles (3)
3cp from
Child Development Preschool to Adolescence (3)
Education: The Learner (3)
Developmental Psychology (3)
3cp from
Illness and Healing (3)
Contemporary Health Issues (3)
Psychology, Health and Wellbeing (3)

300 level

Advanced Counselling Approaches and Principles (3)
9cp from
Personality and its Disorders (3)
Psychopathology (3)
Applied Child and Adolescent Psychology (3)
Principles of Behaviour Change (3)
The Psychology of Human Relationships (3)
Contemporary Indigenous Australia (3)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Overview and Aims of the Program This major will enhance students' understanding of contemporary approaches to counselling and their applications in the workplace and community. It will provide exposure to current theories of counselling and psychotherapy, with a strong emphasis on evidence-based approaches and ethical practice. Although this major will not qualify students as professional counselors, it will help them to develop the understanding and reflective listening required for working with people who need help in dealing with difficult personal issues. The knowledge and understanding students acquire from this major will assist them in obtaining employment in a diverse range of human and community health and welfare contexts.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes After successfully completing this major, it is anticipated that students should be able to:
1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of core foundational theories of counselling; (K)
2. apply critical thinking and independent learning to solve problems related to a range of issues relating to human behaviour and mental processes; (K, T, P)
3. communicate clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing; (T, C)
4. communicate sensitively and appropriately within a variety of interpersonal and intercultural contexts;(C, E)
5. identify how psychological principles can be used to explain social issues and inform public policy, and apply psychological concepts, theories, and research findings as these relate to everyday life; (T, P, E, A)
6. apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement, based on insights gained into their own and others’ behaviour and mental processes;(T, J, L)
7. formulate a course of action to assist others(T, P, J)
8. apply a keen awareness and understanding of ethical practice within interpersonal and intercultural contexts; (A, E)
9. demonstrate a capacity for responsibility and accountability with regard to their own learning. (J, L)

Learning and Teaching Methods The learning and teaching methods employed throughout the major range from laboratory-based practical work (including role-play and simulation) through to lectures, quizzes, and student-led discussions. The overarching pedagogical approach throughout the major is student-centered learning, with an emphasis, not simply on the acquisition of discipline knowledge, but also on the development of higher-order critical thinking and problem-solving approaches to a range of issues relating to human behaviour and mental processes. Although units differ with respect to formal or recorded lecture offerings, there is a focus in every unit on small-group learning through laboratory practicals and/or tutorial exercises and discussions. Students are also encouraged to engage with iLearn discussions of lecture and tutorial material, and to test the development of their own understanding via online tests and quizzes. First-year psychology students are also required to participate in Departmental research projects in order to learn how research is conducted and to encourage interaction with more senior scholars in the field.
Assessment There is a range of assessment methods used throughout the major, each of which has been designed to measure the extent to which students can demonstrate their acquisition of the program learning outcomes. Assessment is both formative and summative, with students being presented with multiple opportunities throughout the program to improve their critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication skills, while also demonstrating their acquisition of important discipline knowledge. Across the three years of the program, assessment methods may include include:
• web-based quizzes
• research reports
• class presentations
• essays and literature reviews
• role-plays
• essay, short-answer, and multiple-choice exams
• case studies
• research participation (compulsory at 1st year)
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit.

Information can be found at:

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability This degree prepares students for entry into areas such as health and social welfare; aging, disability and mental health; and community and human services work. It also prepares students for employment in organizational contexts such as HR, coaching and mentoring.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Inherent requirements are the essential components of a course or program necessary for a student to successfully achieve the core learning outcomes of a course or program. Students must meet the inherent requirements to complete their Macquarie University course or program.

Inherent requirements for Macquarie University programs fall under the following categories:

Physical: The physical inherent requirement is to have the physical capabilities to safely and effectively perform the activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Cognition: The inherent requirement for cognition is possessing the intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative capabilities to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Communication: The inherent requirement for communication is the capacity to communicate information, thoughts and ideas through a variety of mediums and with a range of audiences.

Behavioural: The behavioural inherent requirement is the capacity to sustain appropriate behaviour over the duration of units of study to engage in activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

For more information see

2019 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148